Monday, December 28, 2015

Athens: History Starts to Rhyme

Remember our old friend Isagoras?  No?  Quick reminder, then.  The Spartans had driven out the tyrants, followed by a standoff between the democratic Athenians led by Cleisthenes and the oligarchs led by Isagoras.  Isagoras easily won the support of the Spartan king, Cleomenes, who was having an affair with his wife.  (Herodotus doesn't exactly say that Isagoras pimped his wife to Cleomenes as a bribe, but it is easy to infer).  Cleomenes set up shop with a Spartan garrison.  Isagoras persuaded him to expel Cleisthenes and 700 political rivals, along with their families.  But when Isagoras dissolved the Council and attempted to replace it with 300 cronies, even the oligarchs turned against him.  A general uprising ensued, and the outnumbered Spartans were soon expelled, along with Isagoras.  His followers were massacred.

What about the overthrow of democracy in Argos?  No?  Quick reminder.  The Argives were defeated by Sparta and made peace on what seemed like very reasonable terms. But the terms soon turned out to be a facade, and the Spartans aligned with the elite Argive military forces to establish an oligarchy.  It proved short-lived.

Now, remember the old saying that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme?  Well, get ready for some heavy-duty rhyming.

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