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Tyranny to Democracy 546-483BC Teacher's Guide

This Teacher's Guide is taken from the OCR Tyranny to Democracy 546-483BC Teachers' Guide which can be accessed at the OCR website and downloaded in full here.

Overview of the topic

The origin of political systems has fascinated writers and thinkers in every age, and ancient Greek political history is a particularly interesting and varied area of exploration for students of the ancient world. This depth study will allow candidates to explore aspects of that political history in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, focusing on two systems of government (tyranny and democracy) and two Greek city-states (Athens and Samos).

Tyranny was very common across the Greek world during the 6th and 5th centuries BC. In this depth study, candidates will examine and compare the origins, workings and development of the tyrannies of Athens and Samos. Moreover, they will investigate how and why the tyrannies in each city-state collapsed. In Athens, the reforms of Cleisthenes led to the creation of the western world’s first known democracy. We will examine how this democracy functioned in its early years. We will look in particular at the achievements and treatment of individual politicians (such as Miltiades, Themistocles and Aristides), and at how the new government reacted to the growing power of Persia. Candidates who choose this depth study will therefore find that it complements their period study.

This depth study also aims to train candidates as historians. There will therefore be a focus on the skills and methods used by historians of all periods when working with sources. Candidates will meet and read portions of key Greek and Roman authors and will work with archaeological sources such as statues and buildings. They will learn to assess the reliability of a source and the usefulness and accuracy of the information it provides.

This depth study is designed to take approximately 27–32 hours of teaching time to complete. This guide will provide an overview of how this content might be taught in that timeframe. The planning guide is structured around the narratives / content and contains possible points that might be considered or discussed in class. The planning guide does not contain activities. This is intentional to enable you to choose a series of activities that compliment your own teaching.

Teachers may use this guide as an example of one possible way of approaching the teaching of the ‘From Tyranny to Democracy’ depth study and NOT a prescriptive plan for how your teaching should be structured.

What this guide is intended to do is to show you what the teaching outline might look like in practice. It should then help you to build your own scheme of work, confident that you’ve covered all the required content in sufficient depth.



Common misconceptions

The items below are key areas which students may need explaining in more depth. As a teacher it is important that you have a really good working knowledge of these aspects.

The differing meanings of the terms ‘tyranny’ and ‘tyrant’
Students should be encouraged to recognise the key differences between contemporary and ancient understandings of the terms ‘tyranny’ and ‘tyrant’. It is particularly important to make them aware that an ancient Greek ‘tyrant’ was simply someone who had gained power unconstitutionally. Whilst many tyrants (such as Periander) became famous due to their bad deeds, there is also significant evidence that the tyrants of Athens, Samos and Corinth all contributed significantly to the prosperity of their respective poleis in different ways.

The similarities and differences between ancient (Athenian) and modern democracy
Students are likely to have a good understanding of certain aspects of UK and perhaps US democracy. There is therefore a significant danger that they will interpret Athenian democracy through a contemporary lens and make value judgements about its procedures and distribution of power. Teachers should be alert to this and should encourage students to analyse Athenian democracy very much on its own terms. It might be helpful to remind students that many core aspects of UK democracy were achieved in recent times. Indeed, democracy was not employed in the medieval or early modern period in the West. Even when it had been achieved in the UK, voting rights were only significantly increased amongst the male population after the parliamentary reform of the nineteenth century. Votes were only granted to women in the UK in the twentieth century, and this initially applied only to women who were aged 30 or above and who met certain property qualifications.

General statements about tyranny drawn from a comparison of Athenian, Samian and Corinthian tyrannies
Whilst students should be encouraged to make comparisons between the tyrannies under examination, teachers should draw attention to the potential problems that this entails. It is likely that students will want to make general statements about tyranny from such comparisons. There are indeed some common themes, as suggested by Thucydides 1.13 and the general progression of tyrannies within the Greek world. For example, it is true that the tyrant often came from the ruling class that he usurped, that tyrants tended to benefit their poleis (perhaps as a way of keeping morale high) and that tyrannies tended to last only 2 generations before being replaced by a different from of government. Nevertheless, it is clear that tyrants came to power in different places for a variety of different reasons and students should avoid being too eager to make generalisations.

The differing attitudes of Greek and Roman writers towards tyranny/democracy/politicians of the period
Students must be careful not to trust the judgements made by our written sources about tyranny and democracy, and the accounts of the lives of key politicians found in the Roman writers Plutarch and Nepos, at face value. It is important when analysing any source’s accuracy and reliability to think about its genre, the circumstances in which the author was writing, and any other potential causes of bias. For example, students might want to think about whether Plutarch is more interested in telling a good story than historical accuracy, and whether his desire to provide examples of good and bad character has caused him to exaggerate particular stories or to show a preference for certain individuals from the period.

Planning guide

It is important to note that ‘From Tyranny to Democracy, 546–483 BC’ is a depth study. This means that students need to understand the complexity and development of the tyrannies of Athens and Samos. They also need to understand the significance of the reforms of Cleisthenes on the development of Athenian democracy down to 483 BC. They need to know about the workings of this democracy. Finally, they must understand how it dealt with the various challenges it faced and how it treated individual politicians and the people as a whole. Focus will be on a wide range of historical concepts including: causation, consequence, change and continuity, significance, and similarity and difference.

The basic format of this termly planning guide is to take the events in chronological order as the easiest approach for students to gain familiarity with the facts and sources. The themes in the specification can be accessed at various points in the scheme. Throughout this planning guide the relevant prescribed ancient sources are mentioned, as well as useful themes for discussion in the classroom.



Relevant ancient sources

Themes for Discussion

Introduction of key concepts

(Suggested timing: 2 hours)

· Definition of key terms used in Greek political history: ‘tyranny’, ‘democracy’, ‘aristocracy’ and ‘oligarchy’. Students and teachers might like to consider how the meanings of these words have changed over time.

· Thucydides gives us some potential reasons for the rise of tyranny in Greece in the 6th and 5th centuries (1.13). Students might like to think of others.

· Introduction to the main events in Greco-Persian history during the time-period covered by the depth study (546-483). Students could use overviews created during the Persian Period study as a starting point.

· Introduction to key (textual) ancient source authors, including dates, circumstances in which they were writing, sources and methods: Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristotle, Old Oligarch, Plutarch, Nepos.

· Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 1.13


· Student understanding of the words ‘tyranny’ and ‘democracy’; student expectations of Athenian democracy based on understandings of UK/US democracy.

· Discussion of potential reasons behind the rise of tyranny in 6th and 5th century Greek city-states, using (but moving beyond) Thucydides 1.13.

Tyranny in Athens: the Peisistratids, their actions and characteristics of their rule; political structure under the tyrants

(Suggested timing: 3 hours)

· The reforms of the poet and archon Solon (from 594) provide us with a convenient starting point for examining the rise of tyranny in Athens.

· Amongst other things, Solon divided the people into four classes based on agricultural production: this rather than birth would form the basis for political power.

· His reforms did not last, but temporary success suggested that at least some Athenians were eager for political change. An ambitious Athenian aristocrat called Peisistratus decided to use this to his own advantage.

· After some false starts, Peisistratus finally came to power in 546 by gaining the support of some of the poorest members of society. He ruled continuously until his death in 527 when either one or both of his sons succeeded him. Students should read study in detail the account of his rise to power found in Aristotle’s Athenian Constitution and think carefully about which details they believe to be accurate/inaccurate and why.

· According to Aristotle (ch 16-17), the rule of Peisistratus and his sons brought prosperity and peace to Athens. They initiated many reforms, many of which (e.g. the granting of loans to farmers) focused on improving the lives of the poor.

· The tyranny did not, however, mark a complete break with the past. There was a large amount of continuity in terms of political structures: many of Solon’s changes were maintained.

· Continuity can also be found in the area of political appointments. The Peisistratids ensured that all major political appointments were held by themselves or their friends/relatives. Thus, to a large extent, Athens continued to be ruled by the aristocratic families which had been in charge throughout the archaic period.

· Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 14–17

· The causes behind the rise of the tyrant Peisistratus.

· The effect of the reforms of the Peisistratids on individual Athenians and on Athens as a whole.

· The (lack of) continuity in terms of political structures and appointments under the Peisistratids.


The Assassination of Hipparchus; Changes to the nature of Hippias’ tyranny after Hipparchus’ death

(Suggested timing: 1–2 hours)

· According to our three main literary sources for this period, Peisistratus’ son Hipparchus, brother of the tyrant Hippias, was assassinated in 514 by Harmodios and Aristogeiton.

· The most detailed account of this event can be found in Thucydides (students should study this in detail). He suggests that a love triangle was the principal cause.

· Thucydides wishes to correct previous (incorrect) versions of this story. A common version stated that Hipparchus, not Hippias, had been tyrant at this time, and that the assassination had been an attempt to overthrow the tyranny. This ‘incorrect’ version is the one followed by Aristotle and Herodotus. Indeed, it was so widespread amongst Athenians that statues of the two ‘tyrannicides’ could be found in the agora. It would be useful for students to discuss which version they believe to be correct and why.

· Whatever Harmodios’ and Aristogeiton’s true motives, the tyranny did not end here. Hippias continued to rule and our written sources suggest that he became harsher as a result of his brother’s murder.

· Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 6.53.3–6.59

· Herodotus, Histories, 5.55-56; 6.121–6.124

· Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 18–19

· Roman copy of the lost tyrannicides statue

· Reasons for the assassination of Hipparchus, using but moving beyond the suggestions made in the ancient sources.

· Reliability and accuracy of Thucydides’ account of the assassination of Hipparchus.

Invasion by Sparta to remove Hippias; the fall of Hippias

(Suggested timing: 2 hours)

· The tyranny was eventually overthrown in 510 by an ancient Aristocratic Athenian family, the Alcmaeonids, with help from the Spartans. It would be useful for students to think about the reasons why each group wished to overthrow the tyrants.

· The relationship between the Alcmaeonids and the Peisistratids had always been uneasy. The tyrants had exiled the Alcmaeonids, so we might see the actions of the latter as an attempt to secure their own return.

· Spartan involvement came about, according to Herodotus, because of bribery. The Alcmaeonids bribed the priestess at Delphi to instruct the Spartans to liberate the Athenians from the tyrants. Modern readers might question whether Herodotus is concealing other Spartan motivations.

· According to Herodotus, the Spartan king Cleomenes besieged Hippias and his allies on the Acropolis, and managed to capture the Peisistratids’ children as they were being smuggled away to safety. Using these children as a bargaining tool, Cleomenes secured the removal of Hippias from Attica. Hippias fled to Persia.

· Herodotus, Histories, 5.62–5.65; 6.121–6.124

· The motivations behind the Alcmaeonid and Spartan involvement in the removal of Hippias.


Tyranny and Samos: accession of Polycrates; his treatment of political opponents; policy towards Egypt and Persia

(Suggested timing: 1–2 hours)

· Students will now move on to study another tyrant, Polycrates of Samos. He came to power in c.535 BC, probably by raising a small revolt. He was clearly ruthless: he killed one brother and banished the other in order to rule alone.

· In order to consolidate his power, he formed a pact with Amasis, king of Egypt. He subsequently built up the Samian navy and used it in a series of piracy raids, capturing many islands around the Aegean. Polycrates was the first tyrant to use a navy in this way. Students might like to think about the potential impact of this on relations between Samos and Persia.

· The Persian ruler Cambyses invaded and captured Egypt in 525 BC, with Polycrates secretly supplying the Persian forces with 40 triremes (see below). Herodotus states that Amasis ended his alliance with Polycrates soon after this. Students will want to think about whether or not they trust this account, and why Polycrates may have instigated the break-up of the alliance.

· Herodotus demonstrates Polycrates’ attitude towards his political opponents through the story of the 40 triremes. According to the historian, Polycrates filled the triremes with those who opposed him and asked Cambyses to ensure that they would never return to Samos. Herodotus gives two accounts of what happened to them; in one account, they make an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the tyrant.

· Herodotus, Histories, 3.39; 3.44–3.45; 3.120

· Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 1.13

· Reasons for Polycrates’ accession, using Thucydides 1.13 as a starting point.

· The size of the opposition movement against Polycrates, and reasons for this opposition.

· The accuracy of the account of Polycrates’ treatment of his political opponents as reported by Herodotus.


Spartan and Corinthian opposition to his tyranny; attempted removal of Polycrates

(Suggested timing: 2 hours)

· Polycrates’ exiled political enemies subsequently asked the Spartans for help. Both the Spartans and their allies, the Corinthians, agreed to offer assistance. Herodotus offers a number of potential reasons as to why such help was offered. Some of these seem rather far-fetched to a contemporary reader, who is likely to consider Polycrates’ relationship with Persia, and the growing power of the latter, or the Spartan preference for oligarchy over other forms of government, to have been more important factors.

· Herodotus uses the reference to the Corinthian response to Polycrates to tell two hostile stories about Periander, tyrant of Corinth, and the island of Corcyra. Students should be encouraged to know these stories in detail, and it would be useful to discuss why Herodotus includes such a long digression on Periander.

· The Spartan/Corinthian opposition led to an(other) unsuccessful attempt to remove Polycrates: the Spartans besieged Samos for 40 days then departed. A digression again follows with Herodotus using a story about the Siphnians to discuss two recurring themes: the dangers of wealth and prosperity (foreshadowing Polycrates’ demise) and cycles of revenge.

· Students could use these chapters (3.46-59) as a springboard to remind themselves of Herodotus’ methods of collecting evidence and of writing and structuring history.

· Herodotus, Histories, 3.46–3.59

· Spartan and Corinthian attitudes towards Polycrates (and tyranny in general).

· Reliability and accuracy of the reasons given by Herodotus for the Spartan/Corinthian offer of support to the Samians.

· Herodotus’ presentation of Periander, the tyrant of Corinth.


Building and engineering achievements of Polycrates

(Suggested timing: 1 hour)

· Polycrates’ naval successes undoubtedly benefited the people of Samos, as did his building and engineering achievements. We know (from Herodotus 3.60 and archaeological remains) of 3 important structures: an aqueduct to channel fresh water into the town; an artificial harbour with a breakwater to protect warships; and a temple dedicated to Hera.

· There were of course other structures, and Herodotus did other things to raise the profile of the island, for example, he invited artists and poets to settle on Samos and encouraged trade with Cyprus and Egypt.

· A preliminary comparison could be made between the public works of Polycrates and the reforms of the Peisistratids.

· Herodotus, Histories, 3.60

· Temple of Hera, Samos

· The potential benefits of Polycrates’ building achievements for the people of Samos.

The end of the tyranny at Samos: failed succession of Maeandrius; Persian interference in Samian politics; support for the accession of Syloson

(Suggested timing: 1–2 hours)

· Polycrates was eventually assassinated by Oroetes, the Persian governor of Sardis. The reasons given by Herodotus are probably intended (yet again) to distract readers from the truth. It is likely that Persian fear at Polycrates’ growing naval power required the assassination of the tyrant.

· After Polycrates’ death, Samos was ruled in the first instance by his secretary, Maeandrius, who attempted unsuccessfully to declare ‘isonomia’ (equality before the law of all citizens, essentially a form of democracy). After changing his mind and reverting to tyrannical behaviour, Maeandrius became ill and eventually left the island.

· Samos fell to the Persians in 517 and Syloson (Polycrates’ exiled brother) was installed as ruler of the island. According to Herodotus, Darius supported Syloson because he owed him a favour – Syloson had given Darius a nice cloak for free. It seems probable that Samos’ naval and economic prosperity may have been factors as well.

· Herodotus, Histories, 3.120–125, 3.139–3.147

· The reasons for Persian involvement in the removal of Polycrates and the installation of Syloson, starting with but moving beyond those provided by Herodotus.


Comparison (of Samian tyranny) with Athenian tyranny

(Suggested timing: 1 hour)

· Teachers could generate a number of different questions to enable students to revise aspects of each tyranny whilst practising the skills of comparison and evaluation.


· Comparison between the tyrannies of Athens and Samos.


The emergence of democracy in Athens: Cleisthenes’ rivalry with Isagoras

(Suggested timing: 1 hour)

· Students will now return to Athens in order to examine what happened after the tyranny of Athens had fallen. It might be useful to recap the fall of the Peisistratids.

· Two men rose to prominence after the fall of the tyranny: the Alcmaeonid Cleisthenes and another aristocrat, Isagoras.

· Isagoras was elected chief archon in 508, with the backing of aristocracy. Cleisthenes therefore turned to the people for support. It was possibly at this stage that he introduced his reforms (see below). In retaliation, Isagoras invited Cleomenes, king of Sparta, to invade Attica.

· It would be good to discuss potential reasons for Cleomenes’ involvement, e.g. the extension of his own power and (possibly) a desire to spread oligarchy.

· Cleomenes banished Cleisthenes, the Alcmaeonids and many other Athenian families (it might be useful at this point to remind students of the Alcmaeonid curse). Cleomenes and Isagoras then attempted to limit the political power of most citizens and to install an oligarchy of 300.

· However, the Athenian people did not care for his plans. They besieged Isagoras and Cleomenes on the Acropolis, eventually allowing them to leave under a truce. Cleisthenes returned to Athens and after another failed attempt by Cleomenes to reinstall Isagoras as ruler in Athens in 506, Cleisthenes came to power for good and started work on his reforms.

· Herodotus, Histories, 5.66–5.78

· Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 20

· Reasons for Cleomenes’ (and Sparta’s) support for Isagoras over Cleisthenes.

· Reasons for Cleisthenes’ introduction of his reforms: pragmatism or idealism?

· Controversy over the dating of Cleisthenes’ reforms: before or after the defeat of Cleomenes?


Cleisthenes’ reforms and introduction of isegoria

(Suggested timing: 2 hours)

· Many of Cleisthenes’ reforms centred on limiting the power of the aristocracy.

· Cleisthenes dissolved the four tribes into which Athenians had been divided and created ten new ones (note the unusual reason for this suggested by Herodotus), ensuring that each tribe contained a cross-section of society. He also removed the role of the phratries in the granting of citizenship.

· Cleisthenes then divided Attica into 139 demes. These became the basis of citizenship, rather than the phratries. This made it easier to extend citizenship to non-Athenians and meant that the deme (rather than the name of one’s father) would become part of a citizen’s self-designation.

· Finally, he reformed Athens’ political structures. He expanded the Solonian boule (council) of 400 (if such a thing ever existed) to 500. He also introduced isegoria, or equal right for each citizen to speak, in the ecclesia (assembly).

· Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 21–22

· Herodotus, Histories, 5.66–5.69

· The significance of the reforms of Cleisthenes for the movement towards fifth century Athenian democracy, focusing on the potential impact of each individual reform/action.


Spartan attempts to restore Hippias; Corinthian arguments against restoring Hippias as a tyrant; Corinthian opposition to tyranny on principle: the examples of Cypselus and Periander

(Suggested timing: 2–3 hours)

· As we have seen, the Spartans had been instrumental in the removal of the Peisistratids. However, according to Herodotus they later came to regret this.

· They therefore held an assembly to discuss the possibility of reinstalling Hippias as tyrant in Athens. This was a surprising action considering Sparta’s general dislike of tyranny, but Herodotus suggests that she wished to weaken Athens.

· Socles, Corinth’s representative at the Spartan assembly, delivered a speech in which he argued against the reinstallation of Hippias (or indeed of any tyrant), using as evidence the history of the 7th century Corinthian tyrants Cypselus and Periander.

· Herodotus uses this as another opportunity to tell a series of hostile stories about these tyrants, and students will want to think carefully about the accuracy of these accounts.

· In the end, the assembly voted not to reinstall Hippias and he subsequently approached the Persians for help. It would be useful for teachers to point out how attitudes towards tyranny as a form of government had changed across Greece by the late fifth century, as evidenced by Socles’ speech, the vote of the Spartan assembly, and the fact that Herodotus reports this.

· Herodotus, Histories, 5.90–5.95

· Reasons for the Spartan wish to restore Hippias in Athens, starting with but moving beyond those provided by Herodotus.

· The presentation of the Corinthian tyrants Cypselus and Periander (using the stories told in book 3 in addition to the material found here).

· Comparison between the tyrannies of Athens, Samos and Corinth.


Democracy in action: Athenian democratic policy towards Persia; establishment of the ten strategoi; Athenian decision to support the Ionian revolt and subsequent withdrawal; the development of democracy in Ionia after Ionian revolt

(Suggested timing: 2–3 hours)

· In recognition of her growing power, many Greek city-states had offered submission to Persia at the end of the sixth century, and Athens was no exception.

· Very soon after this (i.e. in 501/500), Athens started electing a board of 10 generals (strategoi). Unlike almost all other offices in the democracy, these men were elected rather than chosen by lot and there were restrictions on the number of times that someone could hold the office.

· Athens voted to send 20 ships to support the Ionian cities when they revolted against Persian rule in 499. This decision seems surprising given her recent submission to Persia. The Persian demand that Athens should reinstall Hippias as tyrant was an important factor, suggesting the extent to which tyranny was now despised as a form of government in Athens.

· However, Athens remained very conscious of the growing power of Persia and withdrew as soon as it became clear that Persia had the upper hand (498).

· The Battle of Lade (494) and the fall of Miletus signalled the end of the revolt, and the Ionian cities returned to Persian rule.

· The consequences of the Ionian Revolt (in as far as they relate to the topic of Athenian democracy) should be discussed, not least the development of democracies in Ionia at the instigation of Darius’ commander Mardonius, and the impact of the outcome of the revolt on yet another change in Athens’ policy towards Persia.

· Herodotus, Histories, 5.73; 5.96–5.103; 6.25; 6.43–6.44

· Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 22

· Old Oligarch 1.2–1.3

· The reasons behind the decision to create a board of elected generals.

· The reasons behind Athens’ decision to support the revolt of the Ionian cities.

· Changing Athenian perceptions of tyranny over the course of the end of the sixth/start of the fifth centuries.

· Changing attitudes of Athens towards the Persian threat at the end of the 6th/start of the 5th centuries.

The role and treatment of Miltiades, Themistocles and Aristides in the newly democratic Athens; the development of the navy under Themistocles and its significance for democracy

(Suggested timing: 2–3 hours)

· Individual politicians could still gain a lot of both power and influence under the democracy. However, the treatment of three men in particular shows that everyone was accountable under the new regime.

· According to Herodotus, Miltiades, an aristocrat from the tyrant family ruling the Chersonese, was heavily responsible for the Athenian victory at Marathon (see below).

· However, after a failed subsequent expedition against the pro-Persian islands, he returned to Athens in disgrace, was tried for treason, and died of injuries sustained during his campaigns.

· The non-aristocratic Themistocles was elected chief archon in 493 and focused on building up the Athenian navy:

o He encouraged the Athenians to construct a new harbour at Piraeus and, later, to build 100 triremes, ostensibly to use against Aegina.

o He interpreted a cryptic statement of the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, that Athens should put her trust in “wooden walls”, as referring to her naval power.

· Themistocles became a spokesman for the poor. This was one of the causes of his rivalry with Aristides, who sided with Cleisthenes and other aristocratic leaders of the democracy.

· The rivalry between the two politicians is well-documented by Plutarch (and Nepos). It would be good for students to read these stories carefully.

· (Teachers may prefer to save some of the material on all three politicians for its appropriate chronological position, i.e. after the section below on the battle of Marathon).

· Herodotus, Histories, 6.102–6.107; 6.109

· Plutarch, Life of Aristides, 2.1–2.2; 2.4–4.5; 5.1–5.2; 7

· Plutarch, Life of Themistocles, 3.1–3.2; 4; 5.4

· Cornelius Nepos, Miltiades, 6–8; Themistocles, 2; Aristides, 1

· The ways in which the Athenian democracy dealt with her politicians: fair or brutal?

· The ways in which Themistocles benefited the democracy, focusing on the navy.

· The reasons for the popularity (or lack of it) of each politician.

· The reliability and accuracy of Plutarch’s stories about Themistocles and Aristides, bearing in mind his aims and the genre in which he writes.

The battle of Marathon and its significance for democracy; Changes to the status of the archonship; Onset and uses of ostracism

(Suggested timing: 2–3 hours)

· Students should use this as an opportunity to revise the events of the Battle of Marathon from the period study.

· Athenian success at the Battle of Marathon gave the democracy a huge sense of confidence. There were several further consequences for key players on the political stage:

o The Alcmaeonids were accused of treachery.

o The disgrace and death of Miltiades after the battle left a power vacuum in Athens, leading to the rivalry between Aristides and Themistocles (see above).

o Themistocles was thus able to convince the Athenians to build up her navy (see above).

o Ostracism was introduced as a way of temporarily removing any politicians who were becoming too powerful (although some scholars would argue that it had been introduced earlier, under Cleisthenes).

· The process of ostracism is described in detail by Plutarch, who also records an interesting story about the ostracism of Aristides. It would be good for students to think carefully about the reliability and accuracy of this story.

· Further important political changes took place during this period, namely regarding archonships:

o Archons could now only hold office for 1 year.

o They were selected by lot, rather than elected (from 487).

o However, they were required to undergo a pre-office scrutiny.

· Many of our sources, such as the funeral oration of Pericles found in Thucydides, suggest that Athenian democracy put power into the hands of many rather than just a few. However, despite the wide distribution of magistracies, the distribution of political power remained heavily uneven, and some sections of society had little or no political power at all.

· Herodotus, Histories, 6.102–107; 6.121–124

· Plutarch, Life of Aristides, 7

· Cornelius Nepos, Aristides 1

· Example ostraka

· Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 22

· Old Oligarch 1.2–1.3

· Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 2.37.1

· The consequences of the Battle of Marathon for Athenian democracy.

· The pros and cons of ostracism for Athenian society.

· The inequality of political power between different groups under the democracy (male citizens, metics, women, slaves).

· The problems with using Thucydides as a source for the democracy of the period we are studying.



Endorsed textbooks from Bloomsbury

Resources for OCR specification for first teaching September 2017



OCR Ancient History GCSE Component 1: Greece and Persia

Sam Baddeley, Paul Fowler, Lucy Nicholas, James Renshaw

ISBN-13: 978-1350015173

Released July 2017


OCR Ancient History GCSE Component 2: Rome

Paul Fowler, Christopher Grocock, James Melville

ISBN-13: 978-1350015203

Released July 2017


This textbook supports OCR's GCSE Ancient History Component 1. It covers the period study on the Persian Empire and the three optional depth studies.


This textbook supports OCR's GCSE Ancient History Component 2. It covers the longer period study on the Foundation of Rome and the three optional depth studies.

These textbooks have been written by experts and experienced teachers in a clear and accessible narrative. Ancient sources are described and analysed, with supporting images. Helpful features include study questions, further reading, and boxes focusing in on key people, events and terms.


Suggested resources


A lot has been written about Athenian tyranny and democracy. However, not all of it is accessible, and much of it could potentially confuse students by going much further into the fifth century than the period covered by this depth study. The books suggested below are accessible and readable. Students who wish to read further might be encouraged to look at some of the books on the teacher list (below), bearing in mind the end date for the depth study of 483 BC. Material on the tyranny of Samos is harder to find. Students might be advised to make use of some of the books on the teacher list, making careful use of the index to find those sections dealing with Polycrates.

Student resources



Translated Texts:


The prescribed sources have all been translated for you in the OCR Source booklet. However, useful notes on aspects of some of the sources can be found in the following translations:


  • Herodotus, The Histories, translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt; intro and notes by John Marincola, Penguin (Further revised edition, 2003)
  • The Landmark edition of Herodotus is particularly useful due to its generous use of maps and notes that cross reference with other sources.
  • Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, translated by Rex Warner; intro by M.I. Finley, Penguin (2000)




  • James Renshaw’s In Search of the Greeks, Bloomsbury (2nd edition, 2015) provides a very useful overview of all aspects of ancient Greek (especially Athenian) history, culture and society. Chapter 6 (‘Athenian Democracy’) is particularly relevant.
  • Oswyn Murray’s Early Greece, FontanaPress / HarperCollins (2nd edition, 1993), remains a core introductory textbook on Archaic and early Classical Greece. Chapters IX (‘Tyranny’), XIV (‘The Coming of the Persians’) and XV (‘The Leadership of Greece: Athens and Sparta’) will be particularly useful for students studying this depth study.
  • Although now a little dated, useful material on the Peisistratids can be found in J.A. Smith, Athens Under the Tyrants, Bristol Classical Press (1989).
  • A highly accessible and informative guide to the origins and workings of Athenian democracy can be found in Christopher Carey’s Democracy in Classical Athens, Bristol Classical Press (2nd edition 2017)




Teacher resources (in addition to those recommended for students)







Detailed analyses of some of the prescribed sources, and further source material, which could be used to stretch the most able students, can be found in each of the following volumes:


  • Terry Buckley, Aspects of Greek History 750–323 BC: A source-based approach, Routledge (2nd edition, 2010)
  • Matthew Dillon and Lynda Garland, Ancient Greece: Social and Historical Documents from Archaic Times to the Death of Socrates (c. 800–399 BC), Routledge (2nd edition, 2000)
  • Matthew Dillon and Lynda Garland, The Ancient Greeks. History and Culture from Archaic Times to the Death of Alexander, Routledge (2013)
  • J. Rhodes, The Greek City States: a Sourcebook, Cambridge University Press (2nd edition, 2007)


Moreover, for a detailed and robust overview of various aspects of Greek political history, teachers should consult:


  • G. Forrest, The Emergence of Greek Democracy: the character of Greek politics, 800–400 BC, Weidenfeld and Nicolson (1972)


The Peisistratids


  • R. Stanton’s, Athenian Politics c. 800–500 BC: a Sourcebook, Routledge (1990) provides additional source material on the Peisistratids.




There is not a vast amount of accessible literature on Polycrates. The following learned volume will provide a lot of interesting information for those eager to find out more about him:


  • Graham Shipley, A History of Samos, 800–188 BC, Clarendon Press (1987), Part 2: ‘The Independent Tyrants’ (c.590–522), pp. 69–99, is the most relevant section.


Athenian Democracy


  • A further guide to Athenian democracy can be found in John Thornley’s, Athenian Democracy, Lancaster Pamphlets in Ancient History (2nd edition, 2004)
  • Although not a recent publication, Robin Barrow’s, Athenian Democracy, Bristol Classical Press (1996) still provides useful introductory material.