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Harmodios and Aristogeiton, the tyrant slayers

Harmodios and Aristogeiton were honoured for bringing an end to tyranny and restoring democracy in Athens in 514 BCE.

In the early fifth century BCE the emerging democracy in Athens was crushed by the coming to power of two tyrants, Hippias and Hipparchos. Although only partially successful — Hippias escaped death — Harmodios and Aristogeiton were celebrated for overthrowing the tyranny. They are shown here, in heroic action.

This is a Roman copy of a bronze sculpture commemorating them, set up on the Acropolis in Athens in 477 BCE, replacing an earlier original plundered in the Persian wars after just three years. The Athenians erected replacements because the memory of the two men was so important to civic pride. The message is: tyrants beware, this is a democratic society

Location of Original: 

Naples, National Archaeological Museum


Purchased in 1884 from Naples Museum


Lippold: Griechische Plastik, 107 (n.5), pl. 34
Richter: Sculpture & Sculptors of the Greeks (1950), figs.571-577
Buschor: Die Tyrannen Morder (1940), Sitzungberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Jahrgang 1940, Heft 5
Poulsen: Der Strenge Stil, Acta Archaeologica VIII (1937), 134-
Payne & Young: Archaic Marble Sculpture from the Acropolis, 44 (n.3)
Walston: Catalogue of Casts in the Museum of Classical Archaeology (1889), 27, no.108
Reporter: 19 June 1885, 891, no.100
Vaughan in Journal of the History of Collections, vol.3, no.2 (1991), 196, note 40
Richter: The Portraits of the Greeks, 124, & pl.86a-b

Roman; original c.484 BCE
Of original: Kritios and Nesiotes

Found at Tivoli outside Rome

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