Home About Network of subjects Linked subjects heatmap Book indices included Search by subject Search by reference Browse subjects Browse texts

Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



1218
Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 10-13


nanIn his laws, then, he seems to have introduced these measures in favour of the people, but prior to his legislation to have instituted the cancelling of debts, and afterwards the increase in measures and weights, as well as in the current coin. For it was in his time also that the measures were made larger than the Pheidonean standard, as well as the mina, which had formerly contained about seventy drachmae. Now, the ancient standard coin was a double drachma. And he made the weight for the current coin sixty(-three) minae to the talent, and additional minae were assigned to the stater and all other weights.


nanWhen he had drawn up the constitution in the way that has been described, and everybody came to him and made themselves disagreeable about the laws, some blaming and others criticising, as he did not wish either to disturb these arrangements, or to become an object of hatred by his presence, he determined to go abroad for ten years, proposing to combine trade with observation and to reside in Egypt, in the neighbourhood of the city of Canopus. He came to this determination because he did not think it right that he personally should explain his laws, but his view was that each individual should do what was prescribed by them. It was his ill-fortune too that many of the upper classes had now become his enemies on account of the cancelling of debts, and that both factions had changed their attitude in consequence of the actual settlement proving to be contrary to their expectation. For the people thought that he would make a redistribution of property, and the upper ranks that he would restore again the old order of things. Having disappointed these expectations, he found himself in opposition to both sides, and although it was in his power, by combining with either side, if he wished, to make himself absolute, he chose rather to become an object of hatred to both after he had saved his country and passed the most excellent laws.


nanThat this was the position of affairs all without exception agree, and he himself in his poetry refers to it in the following words: 'For to the people I gave such privilege as suffices, Neither taking away from or aiming at honour. But such as possessed power, and from their wealth were leaders, Them I counselled to retain nothing unseemly. I stood with my mighty shield thrown around both, And suffered not either to triumph unrighteously.' And again when expressing his opinion as to how the people ought to be treated: The people in this way would follow best with its leaders Under neither too slack nor too strait a control. For satiety is the parent of insolence, whenever great prosperity follows Men whose disposition is not well ordered.' And again, read where he speaks about such as wished to divide the land among themselves: 'And they came on the spoil with a wealth of hope, And they thought each of them to find great prosperity, And that I, though talking smoothly, would manifest a harsh spirit. Vain were their thoughts then, and now angered with me, With eyes askance all regard me like enemies. Not rightly; for what I said, with the help of the gods, I have accomplished; But other things I was attempting in vain, nor does it please me To do aught by force of tyranny, or of our rich fatherland That the bad should have an equal share with the good.' And again also about the distress of the poor, and those who were before in bondage, but were made free by the cancelling of debts: 'But for what reason I the people whirling On the axle . . . . She best would bear witness in Time's justice, Mightiest mother of Olympian gods, Black Earth, whose boundaries fixed In many places I formerly plucked up, She who was before in bondage, but now is free. And I brought back to Athens, to their god-founded Fatherland, many who had been sold, one unjustly, Another justly, and the poor who from necessity Were exiles, no longer giving utterance to The Attic tongue, in many directions wandering about; Those who on this very spot were suffering Unseemly bondage, trembling at the ways of their masters, Free I set. This too by the strength Of law, fitting might and right together. I wrought and went through with it as I promised. And laws equally for the good man and the bad, To each fitting straight justice, I drew up. Another taking the goad as I did, An evil-minded and wealth-loving man. Would not have controlled the people. For if I had wished What pleased my enemies at that time, Of many men would this city have been widowed. For these reasons, girding myself with strength on all sides, I bore me as a wolf amid many hounds.' And again, when he reproaches them for the complaints that each side afterwards levelled against him: 'If it is right to reproach the people plainly, What they now possess, still sleeping, They ne'er had looked on with their eyes. All who are more powerful and in might better Would commend and claim me as their friend.' For he says that if ever anybody obtained this honour, he did: 'He would not have controlled the people, or stopt Before he had disturbed and carried off the beestings; But I between them in the gap like a barrier Planted myself.'


nanThese, then, were the reasons why Solon went and lived abroad. After he had left his country, although the city was still in an unquiet state, for four years they lived in peace; but in the fifth year after the magistracy of Solon they did not appoint an archon, owing to the factions which prevailed; and a second time in the fifth year, for the same reason, they did not appoint to the office. And after this, in the same period, Damasias was elected archon, and continued in office for two years and two months, until he was driven from it by force. Then they decided, on account of the strength of party feeling, to elect ten archons, five from the nobles, three from the landowners, and two from the handicraftsmen; and these held office the year after Damasias, thus making it clear that the archon possessed the greatest power, for it is evident that they were always engaged in party strife about this office. And they continued generally in an unhealthy state in their relations with one another, some on the score of office, and making a pretext of the cancelling of debts, for they had become poor men in consequence; some from discontent at the government, because the change had been great; and others because of their rivalry with one another. The divisions were three: one the party of the Shore, at the head of which was Megakles, the son of Alkmaeon, and they had the reputation of aiming, most of all, at a moderate government; and the second, the party of the Plain, who sought an oligarchy, with Lykurgus as their leader; and the third, the party of the Mountain, at the head of which stood Peisistratus, with the character of being a strong partisan of the people. And the ranks of this party had been swollen by such as had been relieved of their debts in consequence of their poverty, and by such as were not of pure blood from motives of fear. Evidence of this is afforded by the fact that after the establishment of tyrants they made a proclamation that it was not fitting that many should participate in the government. And each party took its name from the district in which they cultivated the land.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

4 results
1. Solon, Fragments, 4.5-4.10 (7th cent. BCE - 6th cent. BCE)

2. Thucydides, The History of The Peloponnesian War, 1.20.2, 1.89, 1.100, 1.108, 1.126.3-1.126.12, 6.54-6.59, 8.48-8.49, 8.52-8.56, 8.65-8.69, 8.81-8.82, 8.84, 8.86, 8.89, 8.97 (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

1.20.2. The general Athenian public fancy that Hipparchus was tyrant when he fell by the hands of Harmodius and Aristogiton; not knowing that Hippias, the eldest of the sons of Pisistratus, was really supreme, and that Hipparchus and Thessalus were his brothers; and that Harmodius and Aristogiton suspecting, on the very day, nay at the very moment fixed on for the deed, that information had been conveyed to Hippias by their accomplices, concluded that he had been warned, and did not attack him, yet, not liking to be apprehended and risk their lives for nothing, fell upon Hipparchus near the temple of the daughters of Leos, and slew him as he was arranging the Panathenaic procession. 1.126.6. Whether the grand festival that was meant was in Attica or elsewhere was a question which he never thought of, and which the oracle did not offer to solve. For the Athenians also have a festival which is called the grand festival of Zeus Meilichios or Gracious, viz. the Diasia. It is celebrated outside the city, and the whole people sacrifice not real victims but a number of bloodless offerings peculiar to the country. However, fancying he had chosen the right time, he made the attempt. 1.126.7. As soon as the Athenians perceived it, they flocked in, one and all, from the country, and sat down, and laid siege to the citadel.
3. Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 7.3-7.4, 9.1, 22.1, 41.2 (4th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

4. Aristotle, Politics, None (4th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
areopagus, council of Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
aristocracy, aristocrats, aristocratic, and the abuse of power Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
aristocracy, aristocrats, aristocratic Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
aristotle Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143; Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
assembly, athenian (ekklesia) Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
athenaion politeia Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
civil strife Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
class, lower Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
council, of four hundred Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
debt, bondage Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
democracy, ancient and modern, origins of Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
demos (damos), as court of appeals Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
demos (damos), empowerment of Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
demos (damos), limitations placed on Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
diodorus siculus Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
election Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
eliaia Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
equality Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
freedom Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
ho boulomenos Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
law, equality before Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
law Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
oenophyta Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
oligarchic conspiracy/revolution (nan' Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
participation in government, by all citizens Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
participation in government, by the demos Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
participation in government, by thetes Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
participation in government, military service and Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
plutarch Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
public office, officials, accountability of Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
reform Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
rotation Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
solon Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
sparta, spartans Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143
thucydides, son of melesias, manuscript traditionnan Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
timocracy Raaflaub Ober and Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007) 143