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of the first assembly held every year, to receive the proposals that might be made by individuals for a change in the existing laws. If these appeared sufficiently well grounded to merit farther investigation, the third ordinary assembly of the year might direct the appointment of a committee of legislation," drawn by lot from the whole body of Jurors, to compare the relative merits of the old law with that which was proposed to be substituted for it. The latter, in the mean while, was exposed to a conspicuous place for the inspection of every citizen, to enable them to determine the numbers of the legislative committee, and the time to be allowed for their task, during which they received a stipend from the treasury. The committee proceeded according to the forms of a legal trial. Five advocatest were chosen to defend the old law; if they failed in making out their case, that which was approved came immediately into force, though its author was still responsible for his measure. But as this kind of ref. ormation depended on the vigilance and sagacity of private citizens, Solon added a more certain provision for correcting defects and incongruities, which might creep in through error and inadvertency. The thesmothetes, who were naturally led by their judicial practice to notice the imperfections of the law, were officially authorized to review the whole code, and to refer all statutes which they deemed void, contradictory, or superfluous, to the legislative committee, in order that the law might be restored to its pristine simplicity. The wisdom and ingenuity displayed in many of these arrangements must command our admiration; but it may appear surprising that so cautious and temperate a statesman as Solon should have thought it safe to commit such extensive powers to so numerous a body, taken indiscriminately and by chance from the great mass of the people, without any peculiar advantages of fortune and education, or any special training to prepare them for the execution of such apparently arduous and delicate tasks. He manifestly believed that no higher qualities were requisite for the discharge of the duties he assigned to them than the ordinary degree of intelligence and integrity which might be expected in every citizen, aided by that practical experience which it was the great object of his institutions to impart equally to all. Nothing seems more directly opposite to his views and to the genius of his system than the design attributed to him by Plutarch, who fancies that he wrapped his laws in studied obscurity for the purpose of multiplying the causes of litigation. It is possible that their antique simplicity itself may have laid them more open to be wrested by chicanery than those framed in ages of greater refinement. But the legislator himself assuredly thought their sense so plain as to be within the reach of the commonest capacity. Hence he was not led to draw that nice distinction which is so familiar to us, between the province of the judge and the jury: hence every magistrate, within whose sphere of administration legal controversies might arise, was empowered to preside over the court to which they were referred: hence at Athens there was no class of men who dedicated them
selves to the study of the law as a profession;
the only persons who there corresponded in some degree to the Roman jurists were the ex
pounders of the traditional rules and forms con
cerning religious observances.” It was Solon's wish to accustom every citizen to consider himself as personally concerned in the maintenance of the laws: the best state, he is reported to have said, is that in which all who witness wrong are no less active in procuring its re
dress and the punishment of the aggressor than
the sufferer himself. Hence he permitted and encouraged every citizen to come forward as prosecutor in cases affecting the interests of
the state; and he multiplied the avenues to justice by affording the means of choosing among a great variety of modes of proceeding.
But how far removed he was from any design of cherishing litigation, sufficiently appears from his institution of the public arbitrators;f a body of persons annually created by lot, but who were required to have passed the age of sixty,
before each of whom all private causes might be brought, and from whom, when they were selected by the common consent of the parties, no appeal was allowed. The motive which led Solon to direct that so great a number of jurors as composed each of the Heliastic courts, never amounting to less than several hundreds,t should sit together on the same cause, must be referred to the view he took of them as representatives of the people. Hence, to ensure that the spirit with which they were animated should always be in accordance with the opinions and
'sentiments of the whole body, it might seem
necessary to collect them in large masses. For the same reason they were free from all legal responsibility; and they were screened from disgrace, not only by the greatness of their numbers, but by the secrecy of their votes. It might reasonably have been expected that the danger arising from the certainty of impunity accompanying the exercise of almost absolute power would have been in some measure compensated by the security which seemed to be afforded by the same causes against venality and corruption. We learn, however, that means were at length discovered of eluding these obstacles, and that the practice of bribery in the courts of justice was reduced to a regular system.) Solon was the less apprehensive of any dan
'ger, as he had provided the state with a second
anchor in the council or court of Areopagus. The Areopagus, or, as it was interpreted by an ancient legend, Mars' Hill, was an eminence on the western side of the Acropolis," which from time immemorial had been the seat of a highlyrevered court of criminal justice. It took cognizance of charges of wilful murder, maiming, poisoning, and arson. Its forms and modes of
* 'Eonymrqi. Tim., Plat., Lex., and Ruhnken.
f The étairnrai, on whom there is a useful treatise by Hudtwalcker.
: The o number seems to have been 500 (Wachsmuth, ii., i. p. 315, has made a curious mistake in reserring to Pollux, viii., 124), but in some cases to have been as saw as 400 and 200. See Boeckh, in a note at the end of Sueveru's Essay on the Clouds of Aristophanes.
* First routrived, according to Aristotle, by one Anytus. Harpocration, Aex-Ruw.
| Meier (in an Essay in the Rhein. Mus., ii., p.266) considers'Apolo; as equivalent to p worås.
* Hence the council was sometimes called the upper# divu, Bouko-to distinguish it from the Four Hundred.
proceeding were peculiarly rigid and solemn. It was held in the open air," perhaps that the judges might not be polluted by sitting under the same roof with the criminals. The defendant was kept closely to the point at issue, and restrained from all rhetorical digressions and appeals to the passions. Both parties, before the pleadings began, were bound to affirm the truth of their allegations with the most awful oaths. But before sentence was passed, the culprit might withdraw out of its reach into voluntary exile. It is not certain whether Solon introduced, or only retained the regulation which fixed the manner in which the court was henceforth composed. It was filled with the archons who had discharged their office with approved fidelity, and they held their seats for life. The venerable character of the court seems to have determined Solon to apply it to another purpose; and, without making any change in its original jurisdiction, to erect it into a supreme council, invested with a superintending and o authority, which extended over every part o the social system. He constituted it the guardian of the public morals and religion, to keep watch over the education and conduct of the citizens, and to protect the state from the disgrace or pollution of wantonness and profaneness. He armed it with extraordinary powers of interfering in pressing emergencies, to avert any sudden and imminent danger which threatened the public safety. The nature of its functions rendered it scarcely possible precisely to define their limits; and Solon probably thought it best to let them remain in that obscurity which magnifies whatever is indistinct. The strength of the council rested on public opinion, not on the letter of the law. It could only exercise its trust with advantage so long as it retained the confidence of its fellow-citizens; when that was lost, it became time that its legal authority should cease. We cannot here attempt to give anything more than a very general outline of Solon's institutions, especially as we have still to notice some changes which before long were introduced in them. We therefore abstain from entering upon a survey of his civil and penal codes, our whole knowledge of which is scanty and fragmentary, and made up of particulars which are often obscure and disputable. We shall only remark on a few points connected with the progress of society, and the state of manners and education at Athens. Solon had neither the means nor the inclination to exercise the same degree of control over the pursuits and the domestic habits of his people as the Spartan lawgiver had found to be practicable and politic. To the age of sixteen the education of the Athenian boy was left entirely to the care of his parents or guardians. During the next two years the state seems to have interfered, to compel his attendance at the gymnastic schools, where he was trained to manly exercises under masters publicly appointed,t and subject to a discipline not much less severe than that of Sparta. At eighteen the youth might become mas
|ter of his patrimony, and entered upon what
may be considered either as the beginning of his military service or his apprenticeship in arms. He was sent into the country to keep watch and ward in the towns and fortresses on the coast and frontier, and to perform any other tasks which might be imposed upon him for the protection of Attica. It appears to have been on this occasion that he took the military oath,” by which he pledged himself never to disgrace his arms nor to desert his comrade; to combat to the last in defence of Attica, its altars, and its hearths; to leave his country not in worse, but in better plight than he found it; to obey the magistrates and the laws, and resist all attempts to subvert them; and to respect the religion of his ancestors. This service lasted two years; at the end of it he was admitted to share all the rights and duties of a citizen, for which the law had not prescribed a more advanced age: they included that of voting and speaking in the general assembly. Till the end of his sixtieth year he was liable to be called out to military duty. Solon also made regulations for the government of the other sex. All their details are not perfectly intelligible; but their general object was to restrain the license it had hitherto enjoyed, and often abused, to the detriment of the public morals and decency, and peculiar officers were appointed to enforce the observance of them.t They seem to prove that at this time, at least, the Attic women were far from being subject to that jealous seclusion by which it has often been supposed that they were rigidly confined to their homes. They were forbidden to go abroad with more than three changes of apparel and a stated quantity of provisions; to pass through the streets by night otherwise than in a carriage, and with a light carried before them; to disfigure their persons, and to wail with frantic or studied vehemence at funerals, and were still more closely restricted in their attendance on the obsequies of a neighbour. Solon appears first distinctly to have perceived the peculiar advantages of the maritime position of Attica, which had either been unnoticed, or studiously kept barren by the aristocratical government. He appears to have laid the foundation of the Attic navy by charging the forty-eight sections, called naucraries,f into which the tribes had been divided for financial purposes, each with the equipment of a galley, as well as with the mounting of two horsemen. He also gave active encouragement to trade and manufactures, and with this view invited foreigners, who brought with them any branch of useful industry, to settle in Attica, by the assurance of protection, and by larger privileges. These resident aliens) were still, indeed, as they had always been, and were throughout
Greece, distinguished by a broad line from the citizens. They were restrained from acquiring property in land: their burdens were heavier, and some peculiar to themselves. Each was compelled to purchase the shelter he received from the state by the payment of a small annual sum”—in default of which he was liable to be sold as a slave—and to place himself under the guardianship of a citizen, who was his formal representative in the courts of justice.t. The aliens were also subject to some duties, which seemed designed to mark the inferiority of their condition. In certain solemn processions, as at the Panathenaic festival, they were compelled to bear a part of the sacred utensils, and their wives and daughters to pay a kind of servile attendance on the Attic women.: This, however, may have been an innovation of a later period, when the value of the civic franchise had risen with the power of the state. Solon is said to have admitted many to the freedom of the city, and those who had earned the favour of the people might be rewarded with an immunity which relieved them from their peculiar burdens, and placed them, with respect to taxation, on a level with the citizens.) It may be considered as an indication of the same spirit in which Solon cherished commerce and manufactures, that he removed one of the restraints which had before been imposed on the alienation of property, and permitted the childless testator to leave his estate out of his own family and house, which anciently had an indefeasible claim to the vacant inheritance. It is not certain how far Solon may have dewerved the praise of introducing the humane aws which, in Attica, mitigated the lot of the slave. The peculiar causes which rendered his condition there generally less wretched than in most other parts of Greece arose in later times. But he was early entitled to claim the protection of the law against the cruelty of a brutal master, who might be compelled to transfer him to another owner. As little are we able to determine whether the legislator expressly sanctioned, or only tacitly permitted, that horrible barbarity in the treatment of these unhappy beings, which is one of the foulest stains on the manners of Greece, though common to it with the rest of the ancient world, and one with which few nations of modern Europe have a right to reproach it. It is to be feared that he recognised and approved of the atrocious abuse to which the slave was subject in the Athenian courts, where, at the discretion of either of the parties, evidence might be wrung from him by torture, without even the excuse of necessity, or of so much as a probable advantage; for though he might be willing to offer it freely, it was rejected as worthless until it had been sifted by the rack. There is the less reason to doubt that in this respect Solon did not rise above the prejudices of his age and country, as even resident aliens were exposed to the same treatment, though, in their case at least, policy as well as humanity should have induced him to prohibit it. Solon was not one of those reformers who dream that they have put an end to innovation,
and that the changes they have wrought are exempt from the general condition of mutability. But the very provisions which he made for the continual revision and amendment of his laws seem to show the improbability of Plutarch's account, that he enacted them to remain in force for no more than a century. They were inscribed on wooden tablets, arranged in pyramidal blocks turning on an axis,” which were kept at first in the Acropolis, but were afterward, for more convenient inspection, brought down to the Prytaneum.f According to Plutarch, Solon, after the completion of his work, found himself exposed to such incessant vexation from the questions of the curious and the cavils of the discontented, that he sought and obtained permission to withdraw from Athens for ten years, and set out on the travels in which he visited Asia Minor, Cyprus, and Egypt, collecting and diffusing knowledge, and everywhere leaving traces of his presence in visible monuments, or in the memories of men. But there is some difficulty in reconciling this story with chronology, since it supposes him to have found Croesus reigning in Lydia, who did not mount the throne within twenty or thirty years after, and the alleged occasion of the journey is very doubtful, though it is in substance the same with that assigned by Herodotus. It is probable that Solon remained for several years at Athens, to observe the practical effect of his institutions, and to second their operation by his personal influence. He was undoubtedly well aware how little the letter of a political system can avail until its practice has become familiar, and its principles have gained a hold on the opinions and feelings of the people, and that this must be a gradual process, and liable to interruption and disturbance. Hence it could not greatly disappoint or afflict him to hear voices raised from time to time against himself, and to perceive that his views were not fully or generally comprehended. But he may at length have thought it prudent to retire for a season from the public eye, the better to maintain his dignity and popularity; and as he himself declared that age, while it crept upon him, still found him continually learning, we need not be surprised if, at an unusually late period of life, he set out on a long course of travels. On his return he found that faction had been actively labouring to pervert and undo his work. The three parties of the plain, the coast, and the highlands had revived their ancient feuds, though the grounds of their mutual animosity could not have been the same as before, and perhaps were almost reduced to a name, which, however, would serve the purpose of their leaders as well as more solid objects of contention. The first of these parties was now headed by Lycurgus, the second by Megacles, a grandson of the archon who brought the stain and curse upon his house, the third by Pisistratus, son of
Hippocrates, the kinsman of Solon, and the friend of his youth, whom we have already seen supporting Solon's measures by his eloquence and his military talents. Solon had early detected the secret designs of Pisistratus, and is said to have observed of him, that nothing but his ambition prevented him from displaying the highest qualities of a man and a citizen. But it was in vain that he endeavoured to avert the danger which he saw threatened by the struggle of the factions, and used all his influence to reconcile their chiefs. This was the more difficult, because the views of all were perhaps equally selfish, and none was so conscious of his own sincerity as to rely on the professions of the others. Pisistratus is said to have listened respectfully to Solon's remonstrances, but he waited only for an opportunity of executing his project. He had resolved to renew the enterprise of Cylon, in which his illustrious birth, eminent abilities, and winning manners, and the popularity he had acquired by his munificence towards the poorer citizens, gave him a better prospect of success. His schemes also were more artfully laid. When they appeared to be ripe for action, he was one day drawn in a chariot into the public place, his own person and his mules disfigured with recent wounds, inflicted, as the sequel proved, by his own hand, which he showed to the multitude, while he told them that on his way into the country he had narrowly escaped a band of assassins, who had been employed to murder the friend of the ple. While the indignation of the crowd was fresh, and from all sides assurances were heard that they would defend him against his enemies, an assembly was called by his partisans, in which one of them, named Aristo, came forward with a motion that a guard of fifty citizens, armed with clubs, should be decreed to protect the person of Pisistratus. Solon, the only man who ventured to oppose this proposition, warned the assembly of its permicious consequences. But as all those who were not blind to the danger shrank from facing it, his arguments were unavailing, and the body-guard was decreed. The smallness of its numbers and the simplicity of its weapon may have seemed sufficent security that it would be applied to no other purpose than that of necessary defence. But the people, which eagerly passed the decree, did not keep a jealous eye upon the mode of its execution, and Pisistratus took advantage of it to raise a force which enabled him to inake himself master of the citadel. Perhaps his partisans represented this as a necessary precaution, to guard it against the enemies of the people. Megacles and the Alcmaeonids left the city. Solon, after an ineffectual attempt to rouse his countrymen against the growing power which was making such rapid strides towards tyranny, is said to have taken down his arms, and laid them in the street before his door, as a sign that he had made his last effort in the cause of liberty and the laws. Lycurgus and his party seem to have submitted quietly for a time to the authority of Pisistratus, waiting, as the event showed, for a more favourable opportunity of overthrowing him. The usurper was satisfied with the substance of power, and endeavoured, as much as possible, to prevent his dominion from being seen
and felt. He made no visible changes in the Constitution, but suffered the ordinary magistrates to be appointed in the usual manner, the tribunals to retain then authority, and the laws to hold their course. In his own person he assected the demeanour of a private citizen, and displayed his submission to the laws by appearing before the Areopagus to answer a charge of murder, which, however, the accuser did not think fit to prosecute.” He continued to show honour to Solon, to court his friendship, and ask his advice, which Solon did not think himself bound to withhold where it might be useful to his country, lest he should appear to sanction the usurpation which he had denounced. He probably looked upon the government of Pisistratus, though at variance with the principles of his constitution, as a less evil than would have ensued from the success of either of the other parties; and even as a good, so far as it prevented them from acquiring a similar preponderance. Still, it must have been with mournful feelings that he viewed a state of things in which such an alternative could seem the best, and certainly can have set little value on a liberty which had no security but the moderation of one man. It is not certain how long he survived this inroad upon his institutions: one account,t apparently the most authentic, places his death in the year following that in which the revolution took place (B.C. 559). The leisure of his retirement from public life was to the last devoted to the Muses; and, if we might trust Plato's assertions on such subjects, he was engaged at the time of his death in the composition of a great poem, in which he had designed to describe the flourishing state of Attica before the Ogygian flood, and to celebrate the wars which it waged with the inhabitants of the vast island which afterward sank in the Atlantic Ocean. On the fragments of this poem preserved in the family, Plato, himself a descendant of Solon, professes to have founded a work which he left unfinished, but in which he had meant to exhibit his imaginary state in life and action. It is certainly not improbable that Solon, when the prospects of his country became gloomy, and his own political career was closed, indulged his imagination with excursions into an ideal world, where he may have raised a social fabric as unlike as possible to the reality which he had before his eyes at home, and perhaps suggested by what he had seen or heard in Egypt. It is only important to observe that the fact, if admitted, can lead to no safe conclusions as to his abstract political principles, and can still less be allowed to sway our judgment on the design and character of his institutions. Pisistratus did not long retain his power. The party of Lycurgus, discovering that singly it was not strong enough to attack him, entered into a coalition with the exiled Alcmaeonids, and their united forces compelled him to leave Athens. But they had soon occasion to perceive how formidable he continued to be after this defeat; for when his property was exposed to public sale, no one could be found bold enough to bid for it but Callias, an ancestor of the celebrated Alcibiades.* The two factions had no sooner accomplished the object of their temporary union, than they began to quarrel for the prize which they had wrested from their common enemy, and at the end of five years, Megacles, finding himself the weakest, made overtures of reconciliation to Pisistratus, and offered to bestow on him the hand of his daughter Caesyra, and to assist him in recovering the station he had lost. As Herodotus describes the bargain, Megacles sent to know whether Pisistratus would take his daughter, on condition of being reinstated in the tyranny. Megacles was probably desirous of the match, because the old stain still clung to his house, and he hoped that it might be effaced by the lustre of the new alliance. Pisistratus accepted the proposal, though he was now long past the prime of life, and the father of three sons and a daughter by a former marriage. When the contract was concluded, the two parties concerted a plan for executing the main condition, the restoration of Pisistratus. For this purpose Herodotus supposes them to have devised an artifice, which excites his astonishment at the simplicity of the people on whom it was practised, and which appears to him to degrade the national character of the Greeks, who, he observes, had of old been distinguished from the barbarians by their superior sagacity. Yet in itself the incident seems neither very extraordinary nor a proof that the contrivers reckoned on an enormous measure of credulity in their countrymen. In one of the Attic villages they found a woman, Phya by name, of unusually high stature, and comely form and features. Having arrayed her in a complete suit of armour, and instructed her to maintain a carriage becoming the part she was to assume, they placed her in a chariot, and sent heralds before her to the city, who proclaimed that Athené herself was bringing back Pisistratus to her own citadel, and exhorted the Athenians to receive the favourite of the goddess with good-will. Pisistratus rode by the woman's side. When they reached the city, the Athenians, according to Herodotus, believing that they saw the goddess in person, adored her, and received Pisistratus. This story would indeed be singular, if we consider the expedient in the light of a stratagem, on which the confederates relied for overcoming the resistance which they might otherwise have expected from their adversaries. But it seems quite as probable that the pageant was only designed to add extraordinary solemnity to the entrance of Pisistratus, and to suggest the reflection that it was by the especial favour of Heaven he had been so unexpectedly restored. The new coalition must have rendered all resistance hopeless, As the procession passed, the populace no doubt gazed, some in awe, all in wonder; but there is no reason to think that the result would have been different if they had all seen through the artifice. Pisistratus is said to have rewarded Phya for her services by giving her in marriage to his son Hipparchus—a kind of recompense
*An anecdote is related in Diodorus (Mai, Vet. Script., ii., p. 28) of his forbearance towards a youth who had taken the liberty of saluting his beautiful daughter as she was walking in a public procession. Plutarch, Apophth, gives a different version of the story.
t That of Phanas of Lesbos. Heraclides Pont, asserted that he lived much longer Phantas seems to have been more accurate in his dates, and his account is in itself the most probable. See Clinton's F. H., ii., p. 301.
which increases the improbability of the view which Herodotus takes of the story, but which, as we know nothing with certainty of her previous rank," may have been perfectly natural on the other.
Pisistratus, restored to power, nominally performed his part of the compact by marrying the daughter of Megacles, but it was soon discovered that he had no intention of really uniting his blood with a family which was commonly thought to be struck with an everlasting curse, and that he treated his young wife as one only in name. The Alcmaeonids were indignant at the affront and at the breach of faith, and once more they determined to make common cause with the party of Lycurgus. Once more the balance inclined against Pisistratus, and, unable to resist the combined force of his adversaries, he retired into exile to Eretria in Euboea. Here he deliberated with his sons whether he should not abandon all thoughts of returning to Attica. They appear to have been divided in their wishes or opinions, but Hippias, the eldest, prevailed on his father again to make head against his enemies. He possessed lands on the River Strymon in Thrace, which yielded a large revenue, and his interest was strong in several Greek cities, especially at Thebes and Argos. He now exerted it to the utmost to gather contributions towards his projected enterprise: the Thebans distinguished themselves by the liberality of their subsidies. By the end often years he had completed his preparations; a body of mercenaries was brought to him from Argos, and Lygdamis, one of the most powerful men in the Isle of Naxos, came to his aid, with all the troops and money he could raise. In the eleventh or twelfth year after his last expulsion he set sail from Eretria, and landed on the plain of Marathon, to recover his sovereignty by open force. The two adverse parties were firmly united by their common interest and the deadly hatred of the Alemaeonids; but their government was not popular, and Pisistratus had many friends in the country and in Athens, who, on his arrival, flocked to his camp. His enemies, who had viewed his preparations with supine indifference, now hastily collected their forces and marched to meet him. But they showed as little of vigilance and activity in the field, as of forethought in their counsels. The two armies were encamped near each other, and not far from Athens. At noon, when the Athenians from the city, after their meal, had turned, some to dice, others to sleep, Pisistratus suddenly fell upon the camp, killed many, and put the rest to a complete rout. This first success he followed up by a step which showed a spirit worthy of his fortune. Instead of pushing his troops forward, to deal slaughter among the flying enemy, he sent his sons on horseback to overtake the fugitives, and proclaim a general amnesty on condition of their dispersing quietly to their homes. The leaders of the hostile factions now sound themselves deserted by all but their most zealous adherents, who, with then, abandoned the city, and left Pisistratus undisputed master of Athens. What he had so hardy won, he prepared to
* According to Athen., xiii., p. 609, she was a garlandseller. If so, it is hard to believe that Pisistratus married her to his son.