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Polycrates (pōlĭkˈrətēz) [key], d. c.522 B.C., tyrant of Samos. He established Samian naval supremacy in the Aegean Sea and tried to control the archipelago and mainland towns of Ionia. He dominated the E Aegean, capturing the island of Rhenea (now Rinía) and defeating the Lesbians, who had gone to the aid of Miletus. His tyranny drove the philosopher Pythagoras from Samos. He sent (c.525) 40 ships manned by his main political opponents from Samos to aid the Persian king Cambyses against the Egyptians, but the crews revolted and, with Spartan aid, unsuccessfully warred against Polycrates. Oroetes, Persian satrap of Sardes, lured him to the mainland and crucified him. He did much to aid industry, increase commerce, and encourage the arts.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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