Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XVIII.: Harmodius and Aristogeiton. - Constitution of Athens
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CHAP. XVIII.: Harmodius and Aristogeiton. - Aristotle, Constitution of Athens [320 BC]
Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens, trans. Thomas J. Dymes (London: Seeley and Co., 1891).
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Harmodius and Aristogeiton.
Hippias and Hipparchus were at the head of affairs by right of their claims and their ages; Hippias, being the elder, and by nature fitted for state affairs, and endowed with good sense, presided over the government. But Hipparchus was fond of trifling, amorous, and a votary of the Muses; it was he who sent for Anacreon and Simonides, and the rest of the poets, with their companions. Thessalus was much younger, and in his manner of life overbearing and insolent. And from him came the beginning of all their ills. For being enamoured of Harmodius, and meeting with no response to his affection, he could not restrain his wrath, but took every opportunity of displaying the bitterness of his hatred. At last, when Harmodius’ sister was going to act as basket-bearer in the Panathenæa, he forbade her, and made use of some abusive expressions about Harmodius being a coward, the result of which was that Harmodius and Aristogeiton were incited to do their deed in conjunction with many of their fellow-citizens. The celebration of the Panathenæa was proceeding, and they were lying in wait for Hippias on the Acropolis (now, he happened to be following whilst Hipparchus was getting the procession ready), when they saw one of their fellow-conspirators in friendly conversation with Hippias; thinking that he was turning informer, and wishing to do something before they were arrested, they descended from the Acropolis, and without waiting for the rest of the conspirators, killed Hipparchus by the Leokoreum as he was arranging the procession. Thus they ruined the whole plot, and of their number Harmodius was straightway killed by the spearmen, and Aristogeiton was subsequently apprehended, and for a long time subjected to outrage. When he was put to the torture he accused many who were both of illustrious birth and friendly to the tyrants. For it was impossible on the spot to get any clue to the affair, and the story that is told how Hippias disarmed those who were taking part in the procession, and thus caught such as had daggers upon them, is not true; for at that time armed men did not take part in the procession, and the practice was introduced by the people in after-times. And he accused the friends of the tyrants, as the popular side say, on purpose that they might commit an act of impiety, and show their baseness by destroying the guiltless and their own friends; but some say, on the other hand, that it was not an invention on his part, but he informed against such as were actually privy to the plot. And at last, when he was unable, do what he would, to compass his death, he promised to reveal many others, and persuading Hippias to give him his right hand as a pledge of his good faith, as he held it he reviled him for giving his right hand to the murderer of his brother, and so exasperated Hippias that he could not restrain his rage, but drew his sword and despatched him on the spot.