Modern research has done much to elucidate the question what the reforms of Kleisthenes in fact achieved, and the work continues, but that does not settle the question what he was trying to achieve. Herodotos gives him a political motive in outline, that he brought the people over to his side because he had been defeated in a struggle for power against Isagoras (5.66.2); and in resuming this proposition after a digression he describes the Athenian people as (5.69.2). But he gives us no clear insight into the nature or mechanism of the struggle with Isagoras, and in particular he does not say that the latter's election to the archonship in 508 constituted his victory, though the dating of the reform to the archonship of Isagoras ('A.21.1) makes that highly probable; nor does he explain in what sense or by whom the Athenian people had been ‘previously excluded’.
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