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Solon   


First, then, he repealed all Draco's laws, except those concerning
homicide, because they were too severe, and the punishment too great;
for death was appointed for almost all offences, insomuch that those
that were convicted of idleness were to die, and those that stole
a cabbage or an apple to suffer even as villains that committed sacrilege
or murder. So that Demades, in after time, was thought to have said
very happily, that Draco's laws were written not with ink but blood;
and he himself, being once asked why be made death the punishment
of most offences, replied, "Small ones deserve that, and I have no
higher for the greater crimes."
Next, Solon, being willing to continue the magistracies in the hands
of the rich men, and yet receive the people into the other part of
the government, took an account of the citizens' estates, and those
that were worth five hundred measures of fruit, dry and liquid, he
placed in the first rank, calling them Pentacosiomedimni; those that
could keep an horse, or were worth three hundred measures, were named
Hippada Teluntes, and made the second class; the Zeugitae, that had
two hundred measures, were in the third; and all the others were called
Thetes, who were not admitted to any office, but could come to the
assembly, and act as jurors; which at first seemed nothing, but afterwards
was found an enormous privilege, as almost every matter of dispute
came before them in this latter capacity. Even in the cases which
he assigned to the archon's cognisance, he allowed an appeal to the
courts. Besides, it is said that he was obscure and ambiguous in the
wording of his laws, on purpose to increase the honour of his courts;
for since their differences could not be adjusted by the letter, they
would have to bring all their causes to the judges, who thus were
in a manner masters of the laws. Of this equalisation he himself makes
mention in this manner:-
"Such power I gave the people as might do,
Abridged not what they had, now lavished new,
Those that were great in wealth and high in place
My counsel likewise kept from all disgrace.
Before them both I held my shield of might,
And let not either touch the other's right." And for the greater security
of the weak commons, he gave general liberty of indicting for an act
of injury; if any one was beaten, maimed, or suffered any violence,
any man that would and was able might prosecute the wrong-doer; intending
by this to accustom the citizens, like members of the same body, to
resent and be sensible of one another's injuries. And there is a saying
of his agreeable to his law, for, being asked what city was best modelled,
"That," said he, "where those that are not injured try and punish
the unjust as much as those that are."
When he had constituted the Areopagus of those who had been yearly
archons, of which he himself was a member therefore, observing that
the people, now free from their debts, were unsettled and imperious,
he formed another council of four hundred, a hundred out of each of
the four tribes, which was to inspect all matters before they were
propounded to the people, and to take care that nothing but what had
been first examined should be brought before the general assembly.
The upper council, or Areopagus, he made inspectors and keepers of
the laws, conceiving that the commonwealth, held by these two councils,
like anchors, would be less liable to be tossed by tumults, and the
people be more quiet. Such is the general statement, that Solon instituted
the Areopagus; which seems to be confirmed, because Draco makes no
mention of the Areopagites, but in all causes of blood refers to the
Ephetae; yet Solon's thirteenth table contains the eighth law set
down in these very words: "Whoever before Solon's archonship were
disfranchised, let them be restored, except those that, being condemned
by the Areopagus, Ephetae, or in the Prytaneum by the kings, for homicide,
murder, or designs against the government, were in banishment when
this law was made; and these words seem to show that the Areopagus
existed before Solon's laws, for who could be condemned by that council
before his time, if he was the first that instituted the court? unless,

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