Battle of Pallene [1]- 546 B.C.

The city of Athens found itself at this time under the sway of three political parties. Pisistratus was the leader of one of these, he championed the poor rural farmers and workers who lived outside the city of Athens. The other two political parties represented other sections of Athens closer to within Athens.

All three political parties were at loggerheads with each other and any alliances were always short lived. Pisistratus has tried twice before to overthrow the other political parties and take control of Athens but had failed, the second time lead to his exile. But with his exile he found new found friends in the north, and gained finanical reward through family mines he owned.

In 546 B.C. Pisistratus made another attempt at gaining power in Athens. From the north he arrived at Marathon reinforced with men from Thrace. When the news of his arrival and obvious intentions arrived at Athens, the common man and rural farmers and the discontent flocked towards him, as they felt disgrunttled at the way Athens was being run by the remaning two political parties. Pisisstratus let it be known that he returned to take control of Athens and put an end to it's internal political problems, he had no issues with any Athenian, and would not harm anyone who would not get in his way.

In Athens the arrival of Pisistratus at Marathon was meant with indiffernce, he moved closer to the temple of Athena to which by this time Athens had organised forces to arrive and encamp wishing to engage Pisistratus's forces away from Athens.

Pisistratus' took advance of that time of day when Athenians relaxed and slept during the heat of the day to begin his attack. The Athenians attempted to draw up in order to face the invader however, many of the Athenians did nothing and watched Pisistratus on his attack run, as the common hoplites had nothing to personally gain from opposing Pisistratus, and many were disgruntled at the way Athens were being ruled. Pisistratus soon scattered the foe and trampled under foot those that did try to resist him, he then ordered his sons (Hippias and Hipparchusto) overtake them in flight and bid them to return to their homes and fear nothing from his vengeance.

On his third attempt Pisistratus took Athens.



About twenty years after this battle a popular image begins to appear on pottery made in Athens, this masterful amphora was made by the Greek potter Exekias (Εξηκίας, in Greek, pronounced Eh-hee-key-us) . Two hero's from the Illiad, Achillies and Ajax (a national hero both on the island of Salamis and in Athens) playing a board game appear on it. It has been conjected that there are connections between the image and the Battle of Pellene.

The importance for us here is that Exekias was an Athenian potter and his work here is one of only a few works done showing hoplites 'lazing about', not being warriors, but sitting down and generally passing the time. The hoplites of Athens did the same 'lazing about' at Pellene.

Where Herodotus was describing the battle he says that 'Athenian's from the city and from the country went out and joined Pisistratus to help aid him to take over Athens, and those sent out against him ended up not only not going against him, but allegedly played dice as Peistraistratos attacked and won his final tyranny. (Hdt.1.63) The presence of the Lakonian cult hereos Kastor and Polydeukes on the back of the same vase supposedly indicates Exekia's pro-Spartan symphathies as well.

Addition Note: The link to the Battle of Marathon

We should also add here that in 490 B.C. the son of Pisistratus, Hippias who had been ousted from Athens returned with Persian forces to reclaim the sovrentiy of Athens. He had the Persian navy land at Marathon while they organised there attack on Athens. In ancient literature, it is stated that the Persian forces landed at Marathon because it was a good area for their cavalry, however Pallene and Marathon are very close by to each other and Hippias no doubt wanted to emulate his father's victory at the Battle Of Pallene. His attempt turned into the Battle Of Marathon, and Hippias and his Persian forces failed, on the return home to Asia Minor, Hippias died, he was an old man.


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Note#1: Pallene is spelt Παλλήνη in Greek

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