Miscellaneous Texts, II
'Aristotle' Athenaion politeia 2:
After that, there was civil strife for a long time between the notables and the multitude. For their political relationships were in every respect oligarchical, and in particular the poor (both they themselves and their wives and children) were in slavery to the rich. And they were called peletai and hektemoroi, for in return for that payment they worked the fields of the rich. Now the whole land was in the hands of a few, and unless they handed over their payments, they and their children became liable to seizure. And until the time of Solon, for everyone loans were made with their bodies; he was the first to become Leader of the Demos [Prostates tou Demou]. This slavery was the most bitter and most resented part of the constitution for the many, though they had many other complaints besides these. For they had no share at all, so to speak.
s. v. epimortos
are those who pay one-sixth.
s. v. hektemoroi
: those who farm the land for a sixth-part.
s. v. pelatai
: those who work at the side of their neighbors. These and the hektemoroi
are also (called) thetes
, inasmuch as they work the land for a sixth part of the produce.
s. v. pelatai (2)
: those who are in subjection for a payment, when near a neighbor, going over as near as possible because of a lack of resources
Plutarch Solon 13
At this point, too, the inequalities between rich and poor had, as it were, come to a head; the city stood on the brink of revolution, and it seemed as if the only way to put a stop to its continual disorders was to set up a tyranny. All the common people were indebted to the rich. For, either they were farming for them, paying a sixth part of what they got ( being called hektemoroi and thetes), or else receiving money with their bodies as security, they were subject to seizure by their creditors, some being slaves for him and others being sold abroad. Many also were driven by necessity to sell their own children (for no law hindered) and to flee from the polis on account of the rapacity of the creditors. The majority, however, and the most spirited stood together and exhorted each other not to look the other way, but to choose one trustworthy man as leader, to liberate the debt-slaves and redistribute the land, and make a complete change in the politeia.
Plutarch Solon 19:
He established the Boulé of the Areopagos, which was composed of those who had been archons each year, of which he himself was a member because of his having been archon. However, seeing that the people were becoming restive and unruly because of the abolition of debts, he established a second boulé, choosing out from each tribe (of which there were four) one hundred men, whom he instructed to consider motions before they came before the Demos, and to allow nothing to be brought before the Ekklesia unless previously discussed. he appointed the other Boulé to be general supervisor and guardian of the laws, believing that with two boulai, like two anchors, the polis would be better in the tossing of the sea and the Demos would come through relatively unscathed. Now the majority say that Solon established the Boulé of the Areopagos, as has been set forth, and it seems to be a strong witness for their point-of-view that nowhere does Drakon speak of or name the Areopagos, but always refers to the Ephetai in matters of homicide. But the Thirteenth Axon of Solon has the eighth of the Nomoi, written as follows, and I quote: "As many of the atimoi as were atimoi before the archonship of Solon shall be epitimoi, except those who were convicted by the Areopagos or those who were convicted by the Ephetai or at the Prytaneion by the basileis for murder or manslaughter or tyranny, and who were in exile at the time when this thesmos appeared." This shows, on the contrary, that the Boulé of the Areopagos existed before the archonship and the nomothesia of Solon. For how could anyone have been condemned in the Areopagos if Solon was the first to give the right of judgment to the Boulé of the Areopagos? Unless perhaps some obscurity of letters or omission took place, so that those seized for the crimes which today the Areopagos and Ephetai and Prytaneis judge are to remain atimoi, and everyone else is to be epitimoi. Well anyway, each individual must decide this for himself.
Julius Pollux VIII. 125:
The Ephetai, fifty-one in number: Drakon established them, the criterion for selection being noble birth [aristinden]. They used to judge those indicted upon charges involving blood in the five dikasteries. Solon established the Boulé of the Areopagos along side of them.
Demosthenes Oration XXIII 22
Now take and read the actual statutes, that I may prove thereby the illegality of their proposal.
[Clerk: A nomos
from the Nomoi on Homicide
of the Areopagos: "The Council of the Areopagos shall take cognizance in cases of homicide, of intentional wounding, of arson, and of poisoning, if a man kill another by giving poison."]
(51) Read the statute that comes next.
[Clerk: A nomos
: "No man shall be liable to proceedings for murder because he lays information against exiles, if any such exile return to a prohibited place."]
This statute, Men of Athens, like all the other excerpts from the law of homicide which I have cited for comparison, is a statute of Drakon . . . .
- Meiggs & Lewis #86.
- Ronald Stroud, Drakon's Law of Homicide (Berkeley 1968) 5 ff.
- Charles Hignett, The History of the Athenian Consitution (1952) 308-309.