Ephialtes in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
An Athenian statesman, a friend and partisan of Pericles, whom he assisted in carrying his political measures. He was instrumental in abridging the powers of the Areopagus-a measure assailed by Aeschylus in his Eumenides. Ephialtes thus made himself so obnoxious to the aristocratic party that his enemies had him assassinated, probably in the year B.C. 456.
Ephialtes in Wikipedia
Ephialtes (Greek: Ἐφιάλτης, Ephialtēs) was an ancient Athenian politician and an early leader of the democratic movement there. In the late 460s BC, he oversaw reforms that diminished the power of the Areopagus, a traditional bastion of conservatism, and which are considered by many modern historians to mark the beginning of the "radical democracy" for which Athens would become famous. These powers included the scrutiny and control of office holders, and the judicial functions in state trials. He introduced pay for public officeholders, reduced the property qualifications for holding a public office, and created a new definition of citizenship. Ephialtes, however, would not live to participate in this new form of government for long. In 461 BC, he was assassinated at the instigation of resentful oligarchs, and the political leadership of Athens passed to his deputy, Pericles.
Ephialtes first appears in the historical record as the strategos commanding an Athenian fleet in the Aegean sea in 465 BC. Then, in August of 463 BC, he led the campaign to refuse Sparta's request for military assistance in putting down a helot revolt. Cimon, the leading Athenian politician of the time, was strongly pro-Spartan and advocated for sending assistance, arguing that "ought not to suffer Greece to be lamed, nor their own city to be deprived of her yoke-fellow." Ephialtes, meanwhile, argued that Sparta and Athens were natural rivals, and that Athens should rejoice at Sparta's misfortune rather than help the other city recover. Cimon, however, was victorious in the debate, and set out for Sparta with 4,000 hoplites.
Attack on the Areopagus
At about this time, Ephialtes and his political allies began attacking the Areopagus, a council composed of former archons which was a traditionally conservative force. According to Aristotle and some modern historians, Athens had, since about 478 BC, been governed under an informal "Areopagite constitution", under the leadership of Cimon. Ephialtes began his campaign against this body by prosecuting certain members for maladministration. Having thus weakened the prestige of the council, Ephialtes proposed and passed in the ekklesia, or popular assembly, a sweeping series of reforms which divided up the powers traditionally wielded by the Areopagus among the democratic council of the Boule, the ekklesia itself, and the popular courts. Some historians have argued that Cimon and his hoplites were still in the Peloponnese at the time of this proposal, while others have argued that the proposal followed his return. Those who place the proposals during Cimon's absence suggest that he attempted to overturn them on his return, while those who believe he was present at the proposal believe that he opposed them in the initial debate. All agree that his resistance was doomed to failure by the fact that his hoplite force had just been rudely dismissed by the Spartans, an action which demolished the political standing of Cimon and other pro-Spartan Athenians.
Death and legacy
he success of Ephialtes' reforms was rapidly followed by the ostracism of Cimon, which left Ephialtes and his faction firmly in control of the state, although the fully fledged Athenian democracy of later years was not yet fully established; Ephialtes' reforms appear to have been only the first step in the democratic party's program. Ephialtes, however, would not live to see the further development of this new form of government; In 461 BC, he was assassinated by one Aristodicus of Tanagra as part of an oligarchic plot; his political ally Pericles would go on to complete the governmental transformation and lead Athens for several decades.