Pisistrate au Lycée ou le temps de Cronos retrouvé – DOAJ

Kentron (Dec 2012)

Pisistrate au Lycée ou le temps de Cronos retrouvé

  • Francis Larran

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 28
pp. 53 – 88


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According to Aristotle in The Athenian Constitution, XVI, 7, the Athenians would have lived under Pisistratus as in Kronos days. Aristotle’s choice to associate the Athenian tyrant with the Golden Age can be explained by the intellectual and political context in which The Athenian Constitution had been written. If the phrase “Pisistratus’ tyranny was the life under Kronos” extends the tyrant’s golden legend – which was born thanks to the writings of Herodotus and Thucydides, it also echos the historiographical conceptions of the IVth century. Indeed, Xenophon, Isocrates, Theopompus, the Atthidographs, among others, tend to focus on very special individuals and to view the past of Athens with nostalgia and apartisan viewpoint. Pisistratus’portrait in the The Athenian Constitution is also characteristic of the methods of investigation used by the Lyceum, it draws its qualities from the pantheon of Aristotelian virtues: it also certainly aims at taking part in the debate on the good leader which began in the IVth century with Xenophon, Plato and Isocrates. Finally, it seems possible to understand the legendary overvaluation of Pisistratus in The Athenian Constitution through Aristotle’s will to use the Athenian tyrant’s portrait as a Mirror for Princes to guide Alexander’s actions. It might also be a way to convince the Athenians that they could benefit from their submission to the Macedonian authority.