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date: 30 November 2022



  • Rosalind Thomas


Alcmaeonidae, a noble Athenian family prominent in politics. Its first eminent member was Megacles, who as archon (see archontes), perhaps in 632/1 bce, involved it in a hereditary *curse (see cylon). This led to an immediate, first expulsion of both the family and its ancestral bones (Thuc. 1. 126). The family fortunes were haunted by this curse, so later traditions are tendentious, but its importance should not be underplayed. Lacking a family cult (Davies), they were particularly vulnerable and apparently counteracted the damage ingeniously by other means, including later claims to be ‘tyrant-haters’. They are already back with Alcmaeon, Megacles' son and their eponymous ancestor, who commanded the Athenian contingent in the First *Sacred War. Herodotus relates (perhaps with mischievous irony: Strasburger) how Alcmaeon was rewarded handsomely by *Croesus for assisting him at *Delphi (6. 125) and was thus able to win a chariot victory at *Olympia (592?); *Megacles, his son, further enhanced family renown by marrying the daughter of *Cleisthenes (1), tyrant of Sicyon, but his attempt to marry his own daughter to *Pisistratus backfired, partly because of the curse (Hdt.


  • Greek History and Historiography

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