Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


In Greek mythology, Pisistratus (also transliterated as Peisístratos) was a friend of Telemachus' and a son of Nestor's.

Odyssey III, 36, 400.

Pisistratus (also Peisistratus, Peistratus or Pesistratus) (c.607 - 528 BCE) was a Greek statesman who became the Tyrant of Athens following a (quite popular) coup and ruled in 561 , 559-556 and 546- 528 BCE.

He was son of a man called Hippocrates and was named for the youngest son of Nestor. A friend of Solon he assisted him in his endeavours, he fought bravely in the conquest of Salamis. When Solon left Athens Pisistratus became leader of the party of the Highlands (poorer, rural people) in 565 BC. In 560 BC he seized the Acropolis with a group of bodyguards, becoming turannos (tyrant). His rule did not last - he was driven out by Lycurgus, Megacles and others from the party of the Coast within the year. He returned in 559 BC with the help of Megacles, who had split from Lycurgus. Megacles had allied with Pisistratus on the condition that Pisistraus marry Megacles' daughter. The Athenians were persuaded by MEgacles that Athena was bringing Pisistratus home and Pisistratus returned from exile in a carriage accompanied by a woman disguised as Athena. Later, Megacles was angered by the fact that Pisistratus refused to have children with his daughter, and Pisistratus was again exiled again in 556 BC by Lycurgus and Megacles. He went to Euboea and remained there for almost ten years, becoming quite rich through mining. He returned to Athens in 546 BC with a considerable force and regained power with the support of Lygdamos of Naxos. This time he worked well to retained his position.

He rewarded Lygdamos by making him tyrant of Naxos. He consolidated his power by favouring rural citizens with new land laws, but he also kept a large force of mercenaries and took hostages. He kept the democratic forms introduced by Solon but ensured that family members held the highest offices. Pisistratus promoted the cults of Athena and Dionysus. He began the construction of the temple to Athena on the Acropolis and also promoted a number of other public works including the Lyceum, temples to Apollo and to Zeus as well as the Fountain of the Nine Springs. He also supported literature and the arts. The Panathenaic Festival (reintroduced shortly before his reign) and the city Dionysia festival flourished during his time. Athenian coinage was introduced by about 550 BC, and may reflect policy of his, though there is no reference in contemporary documents to such.

He was succeeded by his son Hippias. But his other son, Hipparchus, is also mentioned together with Hippias, suggesting some form of joint rule.