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date: 27 March 2023

Thirty Tyrantslocked

Thirty Tyrantslocked

  • Michael Gagarin


Upon Athens' defeat in the *Peloponnesian War (April 404 bce) Spartan support gave Athenian oligarchs the upper hand (see oligarchy). Under the peace terms imposed by *Lysander thirty men were chosen to run the government and write new laws following the ‘ancestral constitution’ (*patrios politeia). These Thirty, with *Critias leading the extremists and *Theramenes the moderates, appointed sympathetic members to the new boulē, created a board of Ten to rule *Piraeus, abolished the popular juries, and began to remove their democratic opponents and certain *sycophants (malicious prosecutors). The purge soon broadened to include respectable citizens and *metics. When Theramenes tried to broaden the franchise beyond the 3,000 citizens initially approved, Critias had him condemned and executed. 1,500 are said to have been executed in all; many others left Athens. In January 403*Thrasybulus and a few democrats outside the city took up arms against the Thirty, who responded by stationing a Spartan garrison on the Acropolis thereby further alienating the Athenian people. Thrasybulus and his band grew larger and moved to Piraeus, where they defeated the forces of the Thirty in a battle in which Critias was killed (May 403).


  • Greek History and Historiography

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