Not very long after Solon had given the new laws to the Athenians, the two political parties of the city again began to quarrel. One of these parties was composed wholly of rich men and nobles, or aristoi, from which Greek word is formed our English word “aristocrat;” the other party included the farmers and poor people, or demos, the Greek term which has given rise to the word “democrat.” [“democrat”, “democracy”, etc, come from demos (community of people) and cratos (authority, power,leadership) – ELLOPOS BLOG‘s note.]
Among the aristocrats, or nobles, there was a nephew of Solon called Pisistratus. He was very rich; but, instead of upholding his own party, he seemed to scorn the rich, and always sided with the poor. To make friends with the democrats, he pretended to obey the laws with the greatest care, and addressed every man with the utmost politeness.
Once, having killed a man by accident, Pisistratus came of his own free will before the judges of the Areopagus, confessed his crime, and was so humble that he quite disarmed the anger of the people.
As soon as he felt quite sure that he had won many friends among the poor, Pisistratus appeared one day in the market place, covered with blood, which flowed from slight wounds which he had made upon his own body.
His polite manners and kindly words had been only a pretense, however; and he was not only a hypocrite, but also a liar. So he now said that the aristocrats had tried to kill him because he was the friend of the people.
In proof of these words, he pointed to his wounds. The poorer Athenians, who believed him, were very indignant, and began to talk angrily about the wicked nobles, who had hurt Pisistratus only because he was ready to help them.