UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
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