Hippias succeeded Peisistratus in 527 BC. His brother Hipparchus, who may have ruled jointly with him, was murdered by Harmodius and Aristogeiton (the Tyrannicides) in 514 BC. Hippias executed the Tyrannicides and became a bitter and cruel ruler.
The Alcmaeonidae family, whom Peisistratus had exiled in 546 BC, had built a new temple at Delphi, then bribed the priestess to command the Spartans to help them overthrow Hippias. A Spartan force under Anchimolius was sent to help, but Hippias and his family, the Pisistratidae, allied themselves with Cineas of Thessaly, and the Spartans and Alcmaeonidae were at first defeated. A second attempt, led by Cleomenes I of Sparta, successfully entered Athens and trapped Hippias on the Acropolis. They also took the Pisistratidae children hostage, and Hippias was forced to leave Athens in order to have them returned safely. He was expelled from Athens in 510. Shortly before the end of his rule, he married his daughter, Archedike, to Aiantides, son of Hippoklos, the tyrant of Lampsakos, to facilitate his access to Darius's court at Susa.
The Spartans later thought that a free, democratic Athens would be dangerous to Spartan power, and attempted to recall Hippias and reestablish the tyranny. Hippias had fled to Persia, and the Persians threatened to attack Athens if they did not accept Hippias; nevertheless the Athenians preferred to remain democratic despite the danger from Persia. Soon after this, the Ionian Revolt began. It was put down in 494 BC, but Darius I of Persia was intent on punishing Athens for its role in the revolt. In 490 BC Hippias, still in the service of the Persians, led Darius to Marathon, Greece. According to Herodotus, Hippias had a dream that the Persians would be defeated, and they in fact were defeated at the Battle of Marathon although many historical texts believe that Hippias saw many omens for victory on both sides.
- Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution, Part 18
- Thucydides 6.59.3
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