The Thirty Tyrants ruled Athens over a short period after her defeat in the Peloponnesian War, and the ensuingdemise of democracy.Imposed bythe Spartans, i.e, the winners of the War, the Thirtyestablished a cruel and rancorous oligarchic regime. Famous men like Critias and Theramenes were among them.

The Thirty appointed a new Council (Boule) and other offices according to their own interests. They ruled the city alongwith 3000 selected citizens, who were allowed to carry weapons.All other Athenians were deprived of their political rights. One of the first things the Thirty did was to condemn to death prominent democratic Athenian leaders, and metics. Some prosecutions were due to the practise of property confiscation. The toll was about 1500 men executed. Some 5000 fled to Thebes and other places of exile. The moderate oligarch Theramenes opposed the cruelty of the regime, and for that reason was killed by Critias.

In the January of 403, Thrasybulus, a democratic leader exiled in Thebes, assisted by 70 men of one mind, seized a fort at Phyle, and started the resistance against oligarchy and the Spartan garrison/guard/Spartan forces. His initial success gathered more democrats around him, and they soon took control of Piraeus. In May of the same year, Critias was killed in a critical battle. The Spartan king Pausanias II arranged the negotiations between the two parties, and they finally reached a reconciliation. In September of the same year, democracy was re-established. All members of the Thirty that survived the combat along witha fewother oligarch leaders were executed.The reconciliation terms ordered a general pardon that the democrats upheld in a remarkable way

Author: Dimitris Kirtatas
  • Mossé, C. Histoire d'une démocratie: Athènes: dès origines à la conquête macédonienne. Seuil, 1971.
  • Cooper, J. ed. Plato: Complete Works. Indianapolis, 1997.
  • Rackham, H. Aristotle in 23 Volumes. London, 1934.
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