Thirty Tyrants

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Thirty Tyrants,

oligarchy of ancient Athens (404–403 B.C.). It was created by LysanderLysander
, d. 395 B.C., Spartan naval commander and statesman. Toward the end of the Peloponnesian War he was made admiral and built up the Spartan fleet so that it defeated (407 B.C.) the Athenians off Notium. Later he was responsible for the capture (405 B.C.
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 under Spartan auspices after the Peloponnesian War. CritiasCritias
, c.460–403 B.C., Athenian political leader and writer. A relative of Plato, he was an aristocrat and had early training in philosophy with Socrates and wrote poems and tragedies.
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 and TheramenesTheramenes
, c.455–404? B.C., Athenian statesman. He helped to establish (411 B.C.) the oligarchical Four Hundred but was later active in overthrowing them. He fought in the Peloponnesian War, notably in the battle of Cyzicus (now in Turkey) and in the capture of Byzantium.
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 were prominent members. It was overthrown at Piraeus (now Piraiévs) by ThrasybulusThrasybulus
, d. c.389 B.C., Athenian statesman. A strong supporter of the democratic and anti-Spartan party, he successfully opposed (411 B.C.) the oligarchical Four Hundred and later had Alcibiades recalled.
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Thirty Tyrants


an oligarchical board consisting of 30 members who held power in Athens from April to December 404 B.C. The Thirty Tyrants were elected by the Assembly under pressure from Sparta after the defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.). Led by Critias, they were implacable foes of democracy. They limited citizenship with full rights, which they based on stringent property qualifications, to 3,000 Athenians, none of whom, however, was ever called to sit in the Assembly. They also condemned at least 1,500 persons to death and confiscated their property. A revolt against the Thirty Tyrants was instigated at Piraeus, the harbor of Athens, by returning exiled democrats under Thrasybulus. Critias was killed, and his supporters fled from Athens. The city then reestablished democracy.

References in classic literature ?
From his brother Lysias we learn that he fell a victim to the Thirty Tyrants, but no allusion is here made to his fate, nor to the circumstance that Cephalus and his family were of Syracusan origin, and had migrated from Thurii to Athens.
Working from Plato's seminal text on shame, the Gorgias, Tarnopolsky follows the winding path of Socrates' elenchus through the dialogue, as the argument progresses down a devolving path that parallels the devolving quality of interlocutor--from the good-natured, well-intended rhetorician Gorgias, to his brazen student Polus, to the intimidating Callicles, one of the Thirty Tyrants, puppets of Sparta who shamed their city, a champion of freedom, by victimizing foreigners and citizens.
Phillips concludes by analyzing changes in homicide laws under the Thirty Tyrants and information unearthed from Lysias about playing by the rules and dealing with cyclical vengeance.
He also had been closely associated with some highly controversial figures, among them Critias, who had been executed for crimes committed when he was one of the thirty tyrants, and Alcibiades, who was thought to have been involved in a set of sacrilegious acts just before the Athenians sent their ill-fated expedition off to Sicily.
The result was civil strife, defeat by the Spartans, and replacement of the discredited democracy by rule of the so-called Thirty Tyrants.