|Statue honoring the tyrannicides|
It was from this plot that the cult of the tyrannicide began. The Athenians raised statues to the pair and honored their descendants by allowing them to dine at public expense in the town hall. But, all accounts agree, all the assassination actually achieved was to make Hippias suspicious and paranoid and crack down, becoming a true tyrant in that later sense. No details are given, except perhaps Herodotus' account of Kimon** son of Stesagoras. Kimon son of Stesagoras was an Athenian aristocrat banished by Pisistratus and an excellent chariot driver who won the chariot race at the Olympics. Kimon apparently later regretted his exile and wanted to return, so when he won the chariot race at the next Olympics, he waived the prize and dedicated his victory to Pisistratus. The dictator then allowed him to return. After Pisistratus died, Herodotus reports, his sons killed Kimon. No motive given.
Herodotus, in any event, has by far the most complete account of Hippias' overthrow and its aftermath. The exiled Alcaeomids*** under the leadership of Cleisthenes, son of Megacles,**** were immensely rich despite their exile and agreed to finance a refurbishing of the temple at Delphi. They went beyond what was asked for in exchange for the priestess agreeing to call on the Spartans to free Athens from its tyrants. Hippias called on Thessaly for help, but the Spartans drove them off. Hippias and his party retreated to the Acropolis for a siege, but sought to smuggle out their children. The children were caught, giving the besiegers hostages, so they were able to negotiate Hippias' exile.
When I was in school, Cleisthenes was mentioned mostly for introducing ostracism, a ten-year exile by vote without due process, but with the possibility of early recall. Exile without due process did not seem like a great advance to me, but the practice had the advantage of getting rid of potential trouble makers without killing them (which would have encouraged civil wars) or permanent exile (which would have encouraged them to raise foreign armies and seek to return by force) or corrupting the criminal justice system (not so much in the narrow sense of bribing, but in the broader sense of subverting to an improper purpose). Not so much emphasized -- he replaced the four existing tribes, traditional among all Ionian Greeks with ten new tribes, and he took care to include in each tribe members of the city, the coast and the plain. Modern historians believe that this was an attempt to break up traditional power centers (the tribes and regions) that posed a challenge to the state, and whose feuding had mightily contributed to the undoing of Solon's democracy. This is precisely the sort of radical reform challenging powerful interests that I predicted democracy was ill-suited to enact. I can only assume that Cleisthenes was able to get away with it because of the general upheaval. So radical a measure would probably not be possible in a mature and established democracy.
Although Solon was regarded in ancient times as the founder of Athenian democracy, many modern historians award that honor to Cleisthenes. He, at least, was the one who set it on a stable foundation. As for Isagoras' attempt to seize power and the Spartans' attempt to back him, I count these as rough spots in getting the democracy started, not as failures. (Besides, they are only documented in Herodotus, which is not enough to allow for in-depth analysis). But keep an eye on them. We will be seeing that pattern return.
*And his father's name was Hippocrates. (No relation to the Hippocrates; it was a common name). What is with all these "hip"'s? Well, it turns out, "hip" was Greek for horse. Since "hip" implied that the family owned horses, anyone with a "hip" in his (or her) name is generally presumed to have been an aristocrat.
**This name is most commonly given as Cimon (Simon), although Kimon (Keemon) is the more accurate. I am generally favoring familiarity and accessibility over technical accuracy, but I will make an exception for men named Kimon for one simple reason. It was the name of my earliest childhood playmate, whose father wanted him to have a Greek name that was not the name of a saint. So, in honor of my childhood friend, Kimon, I will spell this one correctly.
***Remember them, the leading family said to be under a curse?
****Remember him, leader of the coastal faction, Pisistratus' sometime partner and sometime rival?