Cleisthenes, Founder of Democracy - Herodotus V. 66-70

The power of Athens had been great before; but, now that the tyrants
were gone, it became greater than ever. The chief authority was lodged
with two persons, Clisthenes, of the family of the Alcmaeonids, who
is said to have been the persuader of the Pythoness, and Isagoras,
the son of Tisander, who belonged to a noble house, but whose pedigree
I am not able to trace further. Howbeit his kinsmen offer sacrifice
to the Carian Jupiter. These two men strove together for the mastery;
and Cleisthenes, finding himself the weaker, called to his aid the
common people. Hereupon, instead of the four tribes among which the
Athenians had been divided hitherto, Clisthenes made ten tribes, and
parcelled out the Athenians among them. He likewise changed the names
of the tribes; for whereas they had till now been called after Geleon,
Aegicores, Argades, and Hoples, the four sons of Ion, Clisthenes set
these names aside, and called his tribes after certain other heroes,
all of whom were native, except Ajax. Ajax was associated because,
although a foreigner, he was a neighbour and an ally of Athens.
 
My belief is that in acting thus he did but imitate his maternal grandfather,
Clisthenes, king of Sicyon. This king, when he was at war with Argos,
put an end to the contests of the rhapsodists at Sicyon, because in
the Homeric poems Argos and the Argives were so constantly the theme
of song. He likewise conceived the wish to drive Adrastus, the son
of Talaus, out of his country, seeing that he was an Argive hero.
For Adrastus had a shrine at Sicyon, which yet stands in the market-place
of the town. Clisthenes therefore went to Delphi, and asked the oracle
if he might expel Adrastus. To this the Pythoness is reported to have
answered- "Adrastus is the Sicyonians' king, but thou art only a robber."
So when the god would not grant his request, he went home and began
to think how he might contrive to make Adrastus withdraw of his own
accord. After a while he hit upon a plan which he thought would succeed.
He sent envoys to Thebes in Boeotia, and informed the Thebans that
he wished to bring Melanippus, the son of Astacus, to Sicyon. The
Thebans consenting, Clisthenes carried Melanippus back with him, assigned
him a precinct within the government-house, and built him a shrine
there in the safest and strongest part. The reason for his so doing
(which I must not forbear to mention) was because Melanippus was Adrastus'
great enemy, having slain both his brother Mecistes and his son-in-law
Tydeus. Clisthenes, after assigning the precinct to Melanippus, took
away from Adrastus the sacrifices and festivals wherewith he had till
then been honoured, and transferred them to his adversary. Hitherto
the Sicyonians had paid extraordinary honours to Adrastus, because
the country had belonged to Polybus, and Adrastus was Polybus' daughter's
son; whence it came to pass that Polybus, dying childless, left Adrastus
his kingdom. Besides other ceremonies, it had been their wont to honour
Adrastus with tragic choruses, which they assigned to him rather than
Bacchus, on account of his calamities. Clisthenes now gave the choruses
to Bacchus, transferring to Melanippus the rest of the sacred rites.
 
Such were his doings in the matter of Adrastus. With respect to the
Dorian tribes, not choosing the Sicyonians to have the same tribes
as the Argives, he changed all the old names for new ones; and here
he took special occasion to mock the Sicyonians, for he drew his new
names from the words "pig," and "ass," adding thereto the usual tribe-endings;
only in the case of his own tribe he did nothing of the sort, but
gave them a name drawn from his own kingly office. For he called his
own tribe the Archelai, or Rulers, while the others he named Hyatae,
or Pig-folk, Oneatae, or Assfolk, and Choereatae, or Swine-folk. The
Sicyonians kept these names, not only during the reign of Clisthenes,
but even after his death, by the space of sixty years: then, however,
they took counsel together, and changed to the well-known names of
Hyllaeans, Pamphylians, and Dymanatae, taking at the same time, as
a fourth name, the title of Aegialeans, from Aegialeus the son of
Adrastus.
 
Thus had Clisthenes the Sicyonian done. The Athenian Clisthenes, who
was grandson by the mother's side of the other, and had been named
after him, resolved, from contempt (as I believe) of the Ionians,
that his tribes should not be the same as theirs; and so followed
the pattern set him by his namesake of Sicyon. Having brought entirely
over to his own side the common people of Athens, whom he had before
disdained, he gave all the tribes new names, and made the number greater
than formerly; instead of the four phylarchs he established ten; he
likewise placed ten demes in each of the tribes; and he was, now that
the common people took his part, very much more powerful than his
adversaries.
 
Questions
Why did Cleisthenes split the Athenians into ten tribes?
How did Cleisthenes gain the support of the common people?
Who is Adrastus?
Why did the Greeks honor the heroes of the Iliad?
What was the significance of the oracle of delphi?
 
 
 
Analysis
This passage of Herodotus deals mainly with the cultural, religious, and political climate of ancient Greece. There is something to learn in this passage about the political situation at the time of Cleisthenes.  With the tyrants gone, a struggle ensued between oligrachy, represented by Isagoras, and democracy, represented by Cleisthenes.  Having the support of the people, Cleisthenes won out over the oligarchy imposed by Isagoras.  With the splitting of the Athenians into ten tribes based on location, the deme a person lived in became more important politically than the family they were born into.  This passage also reveals information about Greek culture.  The Greeks worshipped and venerated heroes and kings from the Iliad, mostly those that hailed from their own city.  The city of Sicyon, for example, had ceremonies and festivals to celebrate Adrastus.  When Cleisthenes of Sicyon went to war with Argos, he tried to remove Argive influences, principally by banning the performance of the epics of Homer, and by trying to end the celebration of Adrastus. The cultural importance of the oracle at delphi is shown when Cleisthenes consults with her and is rebuked, causing him to remove Adrastus by replacing his celebrations with that of another hero, Melanippus.  The tribes of Athens created by Cleisthenes were named after local heroes, as were the Sicyonian tribes when they changed their names from the insulting ones picked out by Cleisthenes of Sicyon.
This passage, despite it's title, spends a rather small amount of time discussing either Cleisthenes or democracy, instead explaining in detail the irrelevant tale of Cleisthenes' grandfather.  Herodotus provides some information on the topic at hand, but the passage is overall lacking in relevant information concerning its topic. Athenian politics are barely discussed except for the division and naming of tribes, and what little information there is is repeated.  The struggles between Isadoras and Cleisthenes for power are almost completely ignored, and Cleisthenes' reforms are barely mentioned at all.  The information in this passage mostly concerns Greek culture, with little attention given to politics.
Answers
Cleisthenes split the Athenians into ten tribes to weaken clan loyalties, and to limit the possibility of tyrants gaining power.
Cleisthenes gained the support of the common people by setting up a democracy which enfranchized the average citizen.
Adrastus is a legendary Greek hero and ruler of Argos and Sicyon, featured in the Iliad.
The oracle at delphi was a fortuneteller used by the Greeks when they wanted to consult with the gods.  Apollo was said to speak through the oracle.
Works Cited
"Cleisthenes" Wikipedia.  Wikimedia. 10/28/12 <[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleisthenes]]>
"Cleisthenes of Athens" Encyclopedia Britannica 10/30/12 <[[http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/120922/Cleisthenes-Of-Athens]]>
"Cleisthenes and the 10 tribes of Athens" 10/27/12 <[[http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/riseofdemocracy/a/aa121900a.htm]]>
"Greek hero cult" Wikipedia.  Wikimedia. 10/29/12 <[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero_cult]]>
"Athenian democracy" Wikipedia.  Wikimedia. 10/28/12 <[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_democracy]]>




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