Hippias of Athens (Greek: Ἱππίας ὁ Ἀθηναῖος) was one of the sons of Peisistratus, and was tyrant of Athens between about 527 BC and 510 BC when Cleomenes I of Sparta successfully invaded Athens and forced Hippias to leave Athens.
Hippias succeeded Peisistratus in 528/7 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 it was said that he became a bitter and cruel ruler. Hippias' cruelty soon created unrest among his subjects. As he began losing control, he sought military support from the Persians. He managed to form an alliance by marrying his daughter, Archedike, to Aiantides, son of Hippoklos, the tyrant of Lampsakos. This relationship with Hippoklos helped facilitate Hippias' access to Darius' court at Susa.
The Alcmaeonidae family of Athens, which Peisistratus had exiled in 546 BC, was concerned about Hippias forming alliances with the Persian ruling class, and began planning an invasion to depose him. In 510 BC Cleomenes I of Sparta successfully invaded Athens and trapped Hippias on the Acropolis. They also took the Pisistratidae children hostage forcing Hippias to leave Athens in order to have them returned safely.
The Spartans later thought that a free, democratic Athens would be dangerous to Spartan power, and attempted to recall Hippias and re-establish the tyranny. Hippias had fled to Persia, and the Persians threatened to attack Athens if they did not accept Hippias back. 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 into 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
- Fine, John V.A. (1983). The Ancient Greeks: A Critical History. Harvard University Press. p. 226. ISBN 9780674033146.
- Thucydides 6.59.3
- Roper, Brian S. (2013). The History of Democracy: A Marxist Interpretation. Pluto Press. pp. 21–22. ISBN 9781849647137.
- Sacks, David et al. (2009). "Hippias". Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World. Infobase Publishing. p. 157. ISBN 9781438110202.
|Tyrant of Athens
527 BC - 510 BC