Dr.Alkis Raftis - Dance Historian, Sociologist, Engineer, Political Sociologist, Manager


Articles View Hits

                                                    The Histories

Herodotus (6.126-130) Cleisthenes, tyrant of Sicyon from c. 600–560 BC, in order to select a husband for his beautiful daughter Agariste organizes a competition among the suitors.
[6.126.1] In the next generation Cleisthenes the tyrant of Sicyon raised that house still higher, so that it grew much more famous in Hellas than it had formerly been. Cleisthenes son of Aristonymus son of Myron son of Andreas had one daughter, whose name was Agariste. He desired to wed her to the best man he could find in Hellas. [2] It was the time of the Olympian games, and when he was victor there with a four-horse chariot, Cleisthenes made a proclamation that whichever Greek thought himself worthy to be his son-in-law should come on the sixtieth day from then or earlier to Sicyon, and Cleisthenes would make good his promise of marriage in a year from that sixtieth day. [3] Then all the Greeks who were proud of themselves and their country came as suitors, and to that end Cleisthenes had them compete in running and wrestling contests.
[6.127.1] From Italy came Smindyrides of Sybaris, son of Hippocrates, the most luxurious liver of his day (and Sybaris was then at the height of its prosperity), and Damasus of Siris, son of that Amyris who was called the Wise. [2] These came from Italy; from the Ionian Gulf, Amphimnestus son of Epistrophus, an Epidamnian; he was from the Ionian Gulf. From Aetolia came Males, the brother of that Titormus who surpassed all the Greeks in strength, and fled from the sight of men to the farthest parts of the Aetolian land. [3] From the Peloponnese came Leocedes, son of Phidon the tyrant of Argos, that Phidon who made weights and measures for the Peloponnesians and acted more arrogantly than any other Greek; he drove out the Elean contest-directors and held the contests at Olympia himself. This man's son now came, and Amiantus, an Arcadian from Trapezus, son of Lycurgus; and an Azenian from the town of Paeus, Laphanes, son of that Euphorion who, as the Arcadian tale relates, gave lodging to the Dioscuri, and ever since kept open house for all men; and Onomastus from Elis, son of Agaeus. [4] These came from the Peloponnese itself; from Athens Megacles, son of that Alcmeon who visited Croesus, and also Hippocleides son of Tisandrus, who surpassed the Athenians in wealth and looks. From Eretria, which at that time was prosperous, came Lysanias; he was the only man from Euboea. From Thessaly came a Scopad, Diactorides of Crannon; and from the Molossians, Alcon.
[6.128.1] These were the suitors. When they arrived on the appointed day, Cleisthenes first inquired the country and lineage of each; then he kept them with him for a year, testing their manliness and temper and upbringing and manner of life; this he did by consorting with them alone and in company, putting the younger of them to contests of strength, but especially watching their demeanor at the common meal; for as long as he kept them with him, he did everything for them and entertained them with magnificence. [2] The suitors that most pleased him were the ones who had come from Athens, and of these Hippocleides son of Tisandrus was judged foremost, both for his manliness and because in ancestry he was related to the Cypselids of Corinth.
[6.129.1] When the appointed day came for the marriage feast and for Cleisthenes' declaration of whom he had chosen out of them all, Cleisthenes sacrificed a hundred oxen and gave a feast to the suitors and to the whole of Sicyon. [2] After dinner the suitors vied with each other in music and in anecdotes for all to hear. As they sat late drinking, Hippocleides, now far outdoing the rest, ordered the flute-player to play him a dance-tune; the flute-player obeyed and he began to dance. I suppose he pleased himself with his dancing, but Cleisthenes saw the whole business with much disfavor. [3] Hippocleides then stopped for a while and ordered a table to be brought in; when the table arrived, he danced Laconian figures on it first, and then Attic; last of all he rested his head on the table and made gestures with his legs in the air. [4] Now Cleisthenes at the first and the second bout of dancing could no more bear to think of Hippocleides as his son-in-law, because of his dancing and his shamelessness, but he had held himself in check, not wanting to explode at Hippocleides; but when he saw him making gestures with his legs, he could no longer keep silence and said, “son of Tisandrus, you have danced away your marriage.” Hippocleides said in answer, “It does not matter to Hippocleides!” Since then this is proverbial.
[6.130.1] Then Cleisthenes bade them all be silent and spoke to the company at large: “Suitors for my daughter's hand, I thank you one and all; if it were possible I would grant each of you his wish, neither choosing out one to set him above another nor disparaging the rest. [2] But since I have but one maiden to plan for and so cannot please all of you, to those of you whose suit is rejected I make a gift of a talent of silver to each, for his desire to take a wife from my house and for his sojourn away from his home; and to Megacles son of Alcmeon do I betroth my daughter Agariste, by the laws of the Athenians.” Megacles accepted the betrothal, and Cleisthenes brought the marriage to pass. [6.131.1] Such is the tale of the choice among the suitors; and thus the fame of the Alcmeonidae resounded throughout Hellas. From this marriage was born that Cleisthenes, named after his mother's father from Sicyon, who gave the Athenians their tribes and their democracy;
Herodotus, The Histories, with an English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920.
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0126%3 Abook%3D6%3Achapter%3D126%3Asection%3D1