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Thereupon the armies of the two states marched out and fought a decisive

battle, in which the Argives were defeated. Othryades, the Spartan who

had survived from the previous conflict, slew himself in despair because

he was left alive. Cynuria remained to Sparta, and Argos no longer dared

to oppose any impediment to the will of the conqueror.

Meanwhile, in other parts of Greece, important political changes had

taken place, by which the form of the government in most of the states

had been altered to what is known as a despotism. In all of the

commonwealths except Sparta the kingly office had been abolished. Indeed,

in such small states the institution of royalty could not flourish, for

the king was seen and known as a man rather than as a ruler. At his death

his son some- times succeeded to his power, but was frequently limited to

a term of years. The next step was the choice of some nobleman or chief,

who, with the title of Archon, exercised the same authority hitherto

possessed by the king; but the officer so chosen was not recognized as

having a dignity much above that of his fellow nobles. So the government

virtually rested, after the abolition of royalty, in the hands of the

few, and was designated as an oligarchy, distinguished on the one side

from kingly prerogative, and on the other from democracy.

Such was the general political condition at the middle of the seventh

century B. C., when a new factor appeared in Greek politics. This was the

despot. He generally came in the character of some leading citizen, who

by espousing the cause of the people gained sufficient power to overthrow

the oligarchy and make himself ruler of the city. He was generally

designated by the Greeks themselves by the name of Tyrant, but the Greek

sense of that word is so different from the English equivalent as to make

the word Despot, or Master, a better translation. As a rule the despot

arose from the ranks of the artisans, but sometimes a noble would take

advantage of his position to become a popular leader. The authority of

such a ruler when once established was generally exercised in an

arbitrary and tyrannical manner, and not infrequently the Greeks had

cause to deplore the revolution by which such a system of government had

been substituted for the oligarchy. In such cases the hatred of the

people for their own tool who had now become their master was intense,

and this led to the next step in the political evolution, namely the

substitution of democracy for the despotism.

It will readily appear that Sparta, wherein the old form of kingship had

been retained by the Lycurgian statutes, was naturally thrown in her

sympathies on the side of the oligarchies of Greece, as against despotism

and the growing tendencies towards democracy. The oligarchy stood next to

royalty, and in the light of this fact the conduct of the Spartan

government in its interference in the affairs of other Greek states must

be interpreted. Such interference became a necessity of the situation,

made so by the natural desire of the Spartans to maintain a

preponderating influence throughout Greece.

Just west of the isthmus of Corinth was the city of Sicyon. Like the

other states, Sicyonia had been under the oligarchic form of government;

but in B. C. 676, a popular leader named Orthagoras arose, and a

despotism was established instead. The primitive population of the

country, who had never been exterminated by the Dorian conquerors,

supported Orthagoras, and he was thus enabled to fix his tyranny so

firmly that the dynasty lasted for a hundred years. The last of the line

was Clisthenes, who was famed in his time for a victory won in a chariot

race at the Olympic games. He died in B. C. 560, and leaving no son the

despotism became extinct.

A similar tyranny flourished in Corinth for seventy-four years. It began

its career with the overthrow of the Bacchiadae in B. C. 655, and was

established by Cypselus. He was himself descended from the nobles, but

espoused the cause of the popular party. After conducting the government

well for thirty years, he left it to his son Periander, who was greatly

detested for his cruelty and exactions. Nevertheless, it was under his

iron rule that Corinth became one of the leading cities of Greece-a place

which she held for several