The brief rise of Samos and the tyrant Polycrates - 530 B.C.

Samos was under rule of the tyrant Aeaces, when there was a difficulty in transfer of power to his sons upon his death.

Around c535BC his eldest son, Polycrates, with the help of his brothers resolved to seize power by force. He chose for this purpose the day on which all the people offered a sacrifice in the temple of the goddness Hera and there was a procession of armed men. With this festival as a pretext, he gathered together a large number of weapons and told his brothers to take part in the procession, along with the rest. They had instructions, at the moment when the others had deposited their arms in front of the temple, to kill all those who were hostile to them. At the same time, Polycrates himself gathered his friends together in the city and captured the key points.

Polycrates immediately took care to fortify the acropolis, Astypalaia, He divided Samos into three parts. He kept Astypalaia and gave Hesia to his brother Pantagnotus and Aeschrionia to Syloson. But after a short time, obtained mercenaries from the tyrant of Naxos, he killed his brother Pantagnotus and drove out Syloson, thus becoming sole tyrant of Samos.

Under his rule he made Samos became a major trade route between Egypt and the Black Sea. He developed his navy to help combat piracy and had as many as 100 penteconters and 1,000 bowmen, which in tern allowed him to dominate the seas around Samos. His fame became well known throughout Ionia and the rest of Greece.

With the advancement of the Persian Empire leading to the fall of Croesus, the naval power of the city of Miletus and Phoecia was under threat as Persia showed little interest of concequring the islands, who had previously been looked after by Croesus. This vaccum of power was filled by Polycrates who wanted to carve out a vast sea empire for himself.

For mutual benefit, Polycrates became friends with the Egyptian Pharaoh Amasis [1]. Polycrates to help consolodate his position around the Aegian and Amasis because he needed to consolodate the grain route to the Black Sea especially as the Persians were not hiding the fact that they wanted to retake Egypt and thus trade over land to the east was difficult.

With Egyptian backing, Polycrates lead Samos to captured many islands and cities on the mainland. He captured Rhenea, Syros, and others. In this way he acquired the name of " Ruler of the Seas", a title which he kept for many years.


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Note#1 fill in here the gifts Amasis gave to Samos

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