Page 0530



centuries. The tyrant patronized art and letters, and invited the most

learned men of his times to his court. After reigning for forty years he

was succeeded by a relative, Psammetichus, who reigned four years, and

with him the dynasty perished.

The despotism in Megara was established by Theagenes, in B. C. 630. He

appeared in the usual way as a leader of the people, over- threw the

oligarchy, and made himself master of the state. After holding authority

for thirty years, he was driven from the government, but his party

punished the offense by despoiling the homes of the nobles. An edict was

passed by which all existing debts were canceled, and the rich made to

refund the interest which they had received on loans. These actions,

however, so exasperated the party of the nobles that the latter rallied a

strong force and the party of Theagenes was suppressed. The oligarchy was

reestablished, and remained as the fixed form of government for several

generations. Such, then, was the general course of events in Peloponnesus

from the establishment of the Lycurgian constitution to the close of the

sixth century B. C. Meanwhile a state had arisen in Central Greece whose

fame was destined to be everlasting.

The story of the founding of Athens by Cecrops has already been given.

From that time until the age of Solon, who gave to the state its

constitution, the history of Attica contains only traditions. One of the

principal of these is the consolidation by Theseus of the twelve

districts into which Cecrops had divided the peninsula. Another is that

of the abolition of royalty. In the time of the Dorian invasion of Attica

the Delphic oracle gave answer to the invaders that they would be

successful if the life of the Athenian king was spared. The name of that

ruler was Codrus. Hearing the report of the oracle, he disguised himself,

went before the walls of Athens, provoked a quarrel with the Dorian

soldiers, and permitted himself to be killed.

Learning what they had done the Dorians broke up their camp and retired

from Attica. The Athenians, in joy for their deliverance, declared that

no one was worthy to succeed