Did Thucydides Believe In The Story Of Athenian Democracy

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Much of Athenian life and politics was based on stories of Athenian history. These historical events shaped the way and life of Athenian actions. Yet what happens when the histories that become integral aspects of Athens are based on inaccuracies? The history of Harmodius and Aristogeiton and the impact that it had on Athens was so deep that it led to the catastrophe that was the trials surrounding the defacement of the statues of Hermes. However, Athenian misunderstanding of the situation brings into question the legitimacy of Athenian democracy as a whole, something Thucydides uses his retelling of Harmodius and Aristogeiton to convey. As Athens was preparing for the siege on Sicily, the city fell into a panic after all of the statues of …show more content…

Thucydides tells that they had taken this story very much to heart (6.60.1) and it had a deep effect on the mood of Athenian political life. Believing that it was a statement against tyranny and for democracy, the story caused them to be fearful of anything involving tyranny and oligarchy. The fear that this story caused is what led to the massive paranoia surrounding the Herms and Mysteries. Alcibiades enemies used the accusation against him as a way to suggest he was conspiring against Athenian democracy. The Athenian misunderstanding of the history that led to their fear of tyrants is the same as their current misunderstanding of the truth in these trials. They took the defacement of the Herms as an omen for political uprising in the same way that they took the killing of Hipparchus as a sign against tyranny. The situations of the defacement of the statues and the mocking of the Mysteries were not connected in any way. Yet the Athenians took them as one in the same, similarly to how they viewed the death of Hipparchus as the death of a tyrant. In reality, the killing of Hipparchus was a statement of personal revenge against someone who sought to come between two …show more content…

Aristogeiton and Harmodius can stand for the demos. Both groups become overcome by their paranoia, which lead them to make disastrous mistakes. The enemies of Alcibiades and Hipparchus were both in a position of almost being the one in power. Hipparchus used his position to attempt to seduce Harmodius and then seeking revenge by embarrassing his sister. Alcibiades enemies seek to destroy his reputation so that they can move up in power. Alcibiades can be compared to Hippias in the fact that they were both destroyed by the actions of those below them. Alcibiades enemies sought to undermine his reputation and get him ousted from power. Eventually, he is in exile and is never found by the Athenians. Hippias was a moderate leader who was not oppressive. Yet the actions of his brother, which led to his death, took a major toll on Hippias. He was overcome by paranoia and became an oppressive tyrant because of

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