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Eupatrids (Greek: Εὐπατρίδαι): name of the aristocracy of Athens and Attica in the Archaic, pre-democratic Period.


Like all Greek cities in the Archaic Period, Athens was ruled by aristocratic families like the Alcmeonids, which were called the Eupatrids ("those with good fathers"; Greek: Εὐπατρίδαι). These people were wealthy, knew how to show it, had interregional networks, and were consequently very powerful. They gathered at the Areopagus, but we do not know what the precise nature and function of this meeting were in this early period.

The orgin and original status of the Eupatrids is not very well-known, but it is certain that in the course of the sixth century BCE, the reformer Solon, Pisistratus the tyrant, and the founder of the democracy, Clisthenes, were able to delimit the power of this powerful class.

Still, being an aristocrat meant that one was wealthy enough to spend some time in politics. In the fifth century, people like Pericles greatly benefited from their Eupatrid ancestry. It was only with statesmen like Cleon and the dubious role of Alcibiades, almost a century after the democracy had been created, that aristocratic families became less influential.

This page was created in 2020; last modified on 4 May 2020.

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