Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VII.: His constitution. - Constitution of Athens
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CHAP. VII.: His constitution. - Aristotle, Constitution of Athens [320 BC]
Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens, trans. Thomas J. Dymes (London: Seeley and Co., 1891).
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So he established a constitution and made other laws, and they ceased to use the laws of Draco, except in matters of homicide. They inscribed the laws on the tablets,* and placed them in the court where the king archon sat, and all swore to abide by them; and the nine archons, swearing beside the stone, declared that they would make an offering of a gold statue if they transgressed any of the laws; hence it is that they so swear even to this day. And he ratified the laws for a hundred years, and constituted the government in the following way: He divided property qualifications into four ratings, just as a division had existed before, viz., the Pentakosiomedimnos, the Knight, the Zeugites, and the Thes (poorest class). He assigned as officers of state out of Pentakosiomedimni and Knights and Zeugitæ, the nine archons and the treasurers, and the government-sellers* and the Eleven and the Kolakratæ, to each class assigning office in proportion to the magnitude of its assessment. To the class of Thetes he gave a share only in the Assembly and courts of justice. And all had to class as Pentakosiomedimni who, from their own property, made five hundred measures, dry and wet combined, and in the class of Knights such as made three hundred, or, as some say, were able to keep a horse: the latter bring as evidence both the name of the class, as if it had been given from that fact, as well as the votive offerings of men of old; for there is an offering in the Acropolis of a figure of Diphilus with the following inscription:
And there stands beside it a horse, witnessing that it means the class of Knights. Not but what it is more reasonable that they were classified by measures just in the same way as the Pentakosiomedimni. And all had to be rated as Zeugitæ who made two hundred measures combined, and all the rest as Thetes, having no share in any office of state; for which reason even now, if anyone going to be elected to an office were asked in what class he was rated, he would never think of saying in that of the Thetes.
[* ]These were of a triangular pyramidical form, written on the three sides and turned round on a pivot.
[* ]Government-sellers. Their duties are described in chap. xlvii., and those of ‘the Eleven’ in chap. lii. The Kolakratæ in old times had the general charge of the finances.