Saturday, March 28, 2009

Thrasyboulos, Son of Lykos

In his Ancient Greek History lectures, Donald Kagan urges us to remember the Athenian Thrasyboulos, who defeated the Thirty Tyrants and returned democracy to Athens following the end of the Peloponnesian War. Professor Kagan points out the remarkable reputation that Thrasybulus carried among historians in the ancient world, who probably were relying on sources now lost to us.

Here is the remarkable assessment of 1st Century B.C. Roman biographer Cornelius Nepos:
THRASYBULUS, the son of Lycus, was a native of Athens. If merit is to be valued by itself, without regard to fortune, I doubt whether I ought not to place him first of all the Greek commanders. This I can say without hesitation, that I set no man above him in integrity, firmness, greatness of mind, and love for his country; for while many have wished, and few have been able, to deliver their country from one tyrant, it was his lot to restore his country, oppressed by thirty tyrants, from slavery to freedom. But though no man excelled him in these virtues, many, I know not how, surpassed him in fame.

The 2nd Century A.D. Greek traveler, geographer and historian Pausanias likewise regarded him as "the greatest of all famous Athenians," including Pericles:
Such are their sanctuaries here, and of the graves the first is that of Thrasybulus son of Lycus, in all respects the greatest of all famous Athenians, whether they lived before him or after him. The greater number of his achievements I shall pass by, but the following facts will suffice to bear out my assertion. He put down what is known as the tyranny of the Thirty, setting out from Thebes with a force amounting at first to sixty men; he also persuaded the Athenians, who were torn by factions, to be reconciled, and to abide by their compact. His is the first grave, and after it come those of Pericles, Chabrias and Phormio.

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