The Successors of Theseus. - The Fate of Codrus. - The Emigration of Nileus. - The Archons. - Draco.
I. The reputed period of the Trojan war follows close on the age of Hercules and Theseus; and Menestheus, who succeeded the latter hero on the throne of Athens, led his countrymen to the immortal war. Plutarch and succeeding historians have not failed to notice the expression of Homer, in which he applies the word demus or "people" to the Athenians, as a proof of the popular government established in that state. But while the line has been considered an interpolation, as late at least as the time of Solon, we may observe that it was never used by Homer in the popular and political sense it afterward received. And he applies it not only to the state of Athens, but to that of Ithaca, certainly no democracy. 
The demagogue king appears to have been a man of much warlike renown and skill, and is mentioned as the first who marshalled an army in rank and file. Returning from Troy, he died in the Isle of Melos, and was succeeded by Demophoon, one of the sons of Theseus, who had also fought with the Grecian army in the Trojan siege. In his time a dispute between the Athenians and Argives was referred to fifty arbiters of each nation, called Ephetae, the origin of the court so styled, and afterward re-established with new powers by Draco.
To Demophoon succeeded his son Oxyntes, and to Oxyntes, Aphidas, murdered by his bastard brother Thymaetes. Thymaetes was the last of the race of Theseus who reigned in Athens. A dispute arose between the Boeotians and the Athenians respecting the confines of their several territories; it was proposed to decide the difference by a single combat between Thymaetes and the King of the Boeotians. Thymaetes declined the contest. A Messenian exile, named Melanthus, accepted it, slew his antagonist by a stratagem, and, deposing the cowardly Athenian, obtained the sovereignty of Athens. With Melanthus, who was of the race of Nestor, passed into Athens two nobles of the same house, Paeon and Alcmaeon, who were the founders of the Paeonids and Alcmaeonids, two powerful families, whose names often occur in the subsequent history of Athens, and who, if they did not create a new order of nobility, at least sought to confine to their own families the chief privileges of that which was established.
II. Melanthus was succeeded by his son Codrus, a man whose fame finds more competitors in Roman than Grecian history. During his reign the Dorians invaded Attica. They were assured of success by the Delphian oracle, on condition that they did not slay the Athenian king. Informed of the response, Codrus disguised himself as a peasant, and, repairing to the hostile force, sought a quarrel with some of the soldiers, and was slain by them not far from the banks of the Ilissus . The Athenians sent to demand the body of their king; and the Dorians, no longer hoping of success, since the condition of the oracle was thus violated, broke up their encampment and relinquished their design. Some of the Dorians had already by night secretly entered the city and concealed themselves within its walls; but, as the day dawned, and they found themselves abandoned by their associates and surrounded by the foe, they fled to the Areopagus and the altars of the Furies; the refuge was deemed inviolable, and the Dorians were dismissed unscathed - a proof of the awe already attached to the rites of sanctuary . Still, however, this invasion was attended with the success of what might have been the principal object of the invaders. Megara , which had hitherto been associated with Attica, was now seized by the Dorians, and became afterward a colony of Corinth. This gallant but petty state had considerable influence on some of the earlier events of Athenian history.
III. Codrus was the last of the Athenian kings. The Athenians affected the motives of reverence to his memory as an excuse for forbidding to the illustrious martyr the chance of an unworthy successor. But the aristocratic constitution had been morally strengthened by the extinction of the race of Theseus and the jealousy of a foreign line; and the abolition of the monarchy was rather caused by the ambition of the nobles than the popular veneration for the patriotism of Codrus. The name of king was changed into that of archon (magistrate or governor); the succession was still made hereditary, but the power of the ruler was placed under new limits, and he was obliged to render to the people, or rather to the eupatrids, an account of his government whenever they deemed it advisable to demand it.
IV. Medon, the son of Codrus, was the first of these perpetual archons. In that age bodily strength was still deemed an essential virtue in a chief; and Nileus, a younger brother of Medon, attempted to depose the archon on no other pretence than that of his lameness.