Were There Tyrants Ruling Over Ancient Greece?


Quick Answer

Although the Ancient Greek civilization was the first in the Western World to develop the political system of democracy, there were occasions when tyrants were able to rise to power in the Greek city-states. Peisistratos, or Peisistratus, came to power in the city-state of Athens in 564 B.C. by staging a successful coup. His rule was unpopular and he was ousted from power and exiled twice, but he managed to return to power on both occasions, ultimately ruling until his death.

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Full Answer

Based upon the modern interpretation of the term, which implies an oppressive and violent leader, the tyrants of Ancient Greece were instead rulers who came to power by non-traditional or unconstitutional means. No rule by tyranny in the Ancient Greek world lasted more than three generations. By 510 B.C., democracy was well-established as a political system in the city-state of Athens.

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