Hegesistratus of Sigeum

1. Birth - Family - Descent

Herodotus relates that Hegesistratus was the illegitimate son of Peisistratus by the Argive Timonassa, daughter of Gorgilus of Argos, and former spouse of Archinus of Ambracia.1 The word ‘illegitimate’ does not mean that Pisistratus had not married Timonassa, only that their marriage was accomplished according to the laws of the Argives. As L. Gernet has convincingly argued, the family was matrilineal and the children born in this marriage were not recognized as Athenians by Peisistratus’ fellow citizens;2 they were Argives.

2. Activity

This marriage secured for Peisistratus the military support of Argos, which was to prove important in the Battle of Pallene (546 BC). It is mentioned that Hegesistratus brought with him one thousand Argives to fight for Peisistratus' final return to Athens.3 This date is perhaps inaccurate, for Hegesistratus was underage in 546 BC.

Some years later, Peisistratus fought against the Mytilenians in order to recapture Sigeum, which had come under their control. As a reward for the military assistance he had once received from Gorgilus of Argos, Peisistratus offered his Argive son, grandson of Gorgilus, the recently vanquished city. Hegesistratus was forced to fight to maintain this city under his control.4 When Hippias, the legitimate Athenian son of Peisistratus and heir to the tyranny of Athens fled the city in 510 BC, he first sought refuge in Sigeum, before being reunited again with his daughter, Archedike, at Lampsacus.5

1. Hdt. 5.94.

2. Gernet, L., "Mariages de tyrans", Anthropologie de la Grèce antique (Paris 1968), p. 347.

3. Arist., Ath. 17.4.

4. Hdt. 5.94

5. Hdt. 5.65; Th. 6.59.4.