HARMODIUS, a handsome Athenian youth, and the intimate friend of Aristogeiton. Hipparchus, the younger brother of the tyrant Hippias, endeavoured to supplant Aristogeiton in the good graces of Harmodius, but, failing in the attempt, revenged himself by putting a public affront on Harmodius's sister at a solemn festival. Thereupon the two friends conspired with a few others to murder both the tyrants during the armed procession at the Panathenaic festival (514 B.C.), when the people were allowed to carry arms (this licence is denied by Aristotle in Ath. Pol.). Seeing one of their accomplices speaking to Hippias, and imagining that they were being betrayed, they prematurely attacked and slew Hipparchus alone. Harmodius was cut down on the spot by the guards, and Aristogeiton was soon captured and tortured to death. When Hippias was expelled (510), Harmodius and Aristogeiton became the most popular of Athenian heroes; their descendants were exempted from public burdens, and had the right of public entertainment in the Prytaneum, and their names were celebrated in popular songs and scolia (after-dinner songs) as the deliverers of Athens. One of these songs, attributed to a certain Callistratus, is preserved in Athenaeus (p. 695). Their statues by Antenor in the agora were carried off by Xerxes and replaced by new ones by Critius and Nesiotes. Alexander the Great afterwards sent back the originals to Athens. It is not agreed which of these was the original of the marble tyrannicide group in the museum at Naples, for which see article GREEK ART, PI. I. fig. 50.
See Kopp in Neue Jahrb. f. klass. Altert. (1902), p. 609.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)