Cleisthenes, fl. 510 BC, Athenian statesman. He was the head of his family, the Alcmaeonidae , after the exile of Hippias , and with Spartan help had made himself undisputed ruler of Athens by 506 BC He established a more democratic constitution by weakening the clan system and the local parties and by organizing the districts into political rather than social divisions. The Alcmaeonidae thus became leaders of a democratic party, a reorientation making them anti-Spartan instead of pro-Spartan as earlier. An attempt of his rival, Isagoras, to overturn the reforms of Cleisthenes after Cleisthenes had been sent into exile failed, and Cleisthenes was recalled.
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