Agariste of Sicyon

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Agariste (/æɡəˈrɪst/; Ancient Greek: Ἀγαρίστη) (fl. 6th century BC, around 560 BC) was the daughter, and possibly the heiress, of the tyrant of Sicyon, Cleisthenes. Her father wanted to marry her to the "best of the Hellenes" and, subsequently, he organized a competition, whose prize was the hand of his own daughter in marriage. According to his declaration, all the eligible young men had to appear in Sicyon within 60 days. Finally, twelve competitors appeared[1] and Cleisthenes held a banquet in his guests' honour.

Cleisthenes preferred the former archon Hippocleides but, during the dinner the suitor embarrassed himself. According to Herodotus, Hippocleides became intoxicated and began to act like a fool; at one point, he stood on his head and kicked his legs in the air, keeping time with the flute music. When Hippocleides was informed that he had "danced away his bride," his response was οὐ φροντίς Ἱπποκλείδῃ, ("Hippocleides doesn't care" or "It doesn't matter to Hippocleides").[2] Herodotus' description insinuates a bawdy pun: the phrase "danced the bride away" may also be read as "displayed your testicles", in reference to Hippoclides standing on his head while wearing a tunic, which would have exposed his genitals to the guests.

After these unfortunate events, Megacles of the Alcmaeonid clan was chosen to marry Agariste, who gave birth to two sons, Hippocrates and Cleisthenes, the reformer of the Athenian democracy. Hippocrates was the father of another Megacles (ostracized 486 BC) and a daughter Agariste was the mother of Pericles and Ariphron (himself the father of Hippocrates of Athens who died 424 BC). The younger son Cleisthenes was allegedly father of Deinomache (or Dinomache), mother of Alcibiades (d. 404 BC)[3] In either scenario, Agariste was a common ancestress of Pericles and Alcibiades. W. K. Lacey felt that Agariste was an epikleros, or sole heiress who was required to have children to perpetuate her father's family.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Herodotus 6.127: "From the city of Sybaris in Italy came Smindyrides, and from Siris came Damasus. Amphimnestus and Males made their way to Sicyon from the cities of the Ionian Gulf. The Peloponnesus sent Leocedes from Argos, Amiantus from Arcadia, Laphanes from Pæus, and Onomastus from Elis. From Eubœa came Lysanias; from Thessaly, Diactorides; from Molossia, Alcon; and from Attica, Megacles and Hippoclides. Of the last two, Megacles was the son of the renowned Alcmaeon, while Hippoclides was accounted the handsomest and wealthiest of the Athenians."
  2. ^ Herodotus. The Histories, 6.129-6.130.
  3. ^ Hippocrates' daughter was Agariste, the mother of Pericles. Either Hippocrates's son Megacles or his younger brother Cleisthenes was maternal grandfather of Alcibiades. According to other sources, Pericles's mother and Alcibiades's mother's father were siblings, and Pericles and Deinomache were therefore cousins, which supports the latter contention.[citation needed]
  4. ^ Lacey, W. K. The Family in Classical Greece Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1968 p. 276 note 29.
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