chapter  7
14 Pages

THE REFORMS OF CLEISTHENES AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY

There are no contemporary literary sources for the reforms of Cleisthenes. Herodotus was writing about sixty to seventy years after the affair, and his history only displays a passing interest in the constitutional reforms, concentrating more on the historical narrative of events (5.66, 5.69-73.1). Aristotle’s (or his pupil’s) ‘Athenaion Politeia’ or ‘Constitution of the Athenians’ (Ath. Pol.) was written in the third quarter of the fourth century (349-325), and covers not only the historical narrative (Ath. Pol. 20.1-3) but also Cleisthenes’ reforms in some detail (Ath. Pol. 21-2). The first part of Aristotle’s account, describing the political rivalry of Cleisthenes and Isagoras, the intervention of the Spartan king Cleomenes in Athens and the final success of Cleisthenes, is a summary of Herodotus, and is clearly based upon his work. However, the second part that deals with the constitutional reforms contains details that are present in no other existing source, and it seems probable that his information comes from one of the fourth-century Atthidographers who wrote histories (usually biased) of Athens. The reference to the law on ostracism (Ath. Pol. 22) is certainly based on Androtion, an Atthidographer, and the summary of other important events in the same chapter, listed in annalistic fashion under archon-years, points again to an Atthidographer as Aristotle’s source. It is reasonable to believe, therefore, that Androtion was the main source for the whole of Chapter 22 and probably for the reforms in Chapter 21.