Tyranny in Archaic Greece

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  • Topic: Ancient Greece, Tyrant, Archaic Greece
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  • Published : November 7, 2008
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Tyranny in Archaic Greece

In the sixth and seventh century, Archaic Greece saw to the emergence of tyrants as a form of government due to social and political inequality. The tyrant’s form of government was effective economically and socially as it stabilised social disruptions and economic distress. However, it eventually led to political rivalry, which destabilised their form of government.

With an increase of vicious infighting amongst the aristocratic families, and the lack of social and political equality, tyranny began to emerge in Archaic Greece. Although tyranny is often seen negatively, the tyrants in the sixth and seventh century were popular and had the support of the citizens. This was due to the fact that the “aristocratic families were frequently violent and highly disruptive in society” (Pomeroy, Burstein, Donlan, Roberts, 1999, p. 107). Factious and ambitious individuals in the aristocracy often brought about struggles for power within their ranks. The aristocrats were seemingly unpopular during this period as they refused political equality to the landless traders and manufactures (Langer, 1952, p. 62). The peasants were oppressed by the aristocrats and fell into debt, which eventually led to slavery or exile. With the disaffection with the oligarchic rule, the citizens of Archaic Greece were supportive of the tyrants who were opposed to the aristocrats. They were also “willing to follow any leader who offered them a new deal” (Green, 1973. p. 69). As Aristotle stated, “A tyrant is set up from among the dēmos and the multitude to oppose the notable so that the people may suffer no injustice from them.” (Pomeroy et al., 1999, p. 108). As the friction between the aristocratic families became more violent, and the social and political issues became more adamant, tyrants established themselves in the polis due to popular support of its citizens.

Establishing themselves as tyrants, the new leaders gained elevation and support by diminishing...
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