Farming and trade fueled the Athenian economy. Tyrants rose to power in Greece circa 600 B.C. as a result of escalating political and economic turmoil among city-states. Because of escalating political and economic turmoil in Greece about 600 B.C., this sort of leader rose to power — a tyrant.
These leaders seized control of cities by using military force, and they often destroyed democratic governments to do so. Once in charge of these cities, the tyrants ruled arbitrarily and sometimes even killed off many of their opponents. In addition, they often engaged in large-scale projects such as building roads, raising walls, and hiring public employees. All in all, these leaders helped their countries grow economically by creating need for resources that not enough citizens were able to provide for themselves.
Athens became a city-state in 508 B.C. It was one of several islands that made up the larger state of Athens. The other major island was called Sphacteria. Together, these two islands formed what we know today as Greece. By controlling both cities, the Athenians hoped to gain more power over other city-states.
The first ruler of Athens who can be clearly identified is King Theseus. He may have been the son of Aigeus, but there are also stories that say he was born on the island itself.
Athenian tyrants were often effective rulers. Tyrants were able to maintain power because they had powerful armies and popular backing. Peisistratus provided the city calm and prosperity. He began by enacting new policies aimed at uniting the city. Previous kings had tried but failed to bring the various parts of Athens together. Under Peisistratus, the city gates were built or rebuilt in order to create barriers between themselves and other cities. This was important because it prevented wars between Athens and her neighbors. In addition, Peisistratus built houses for those who could not afford them and gave money to help the poor.
After his death, Athens became a democracy. In fact, it is possible that he designed the system where every five years everyone went through a ballot paper to elect officials including the king. It is also possible that he just wanted to keep himself in power forever! No one knows for sure how or why he did it, but this ancient writer says that he made the people love him so much that they would not let anyone else rule over them.
In conclusion, tyranny can be useful as long as you can control it. Peisistratus probably realized that if he allowed elections then someone might defeat him and kill him like all the others before him. So, he decided to keep power by making the people love him.
Trade was the foundation of the Athenian economy. The countryside around Athens did not offer enough food for all of the city's inhabitants. But Athens was close to the sea and had an excellent harbor. To get the things and natural resources they need, the Athenians traded with other city-states and some foreign territories. They received gold and silver in exchange for their products, which they used to buy more goods.
Athens became one of the most powerful cities in Greece thanks to its political system that allowed people from different families to work together as long as they were loyal to the city.
The leadership of Athens changed many times after the death of Pericles. In 431 BC, the last leader of the Old Democracy was ostracized. This means that everyone got a chance to vote him or her out of office. The electorate could choose anyone they wanted as their leader, even someone they had just voted out of office! This way, the people kept control over who led them, instead of leaving it up to the politicians.
Ostracism was used by many other cities in Greece and beyond. It was a way for those in power to get rid of their opponents by throwing them out of town with no money or resources to return home. Today, it would be similar to how many countries around the world remove themselves from politics through elections.
In 399 BC, the leaders of Athens decided that every citizen should have equal rights.