Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XII.: The testimony of his own poems. - Constitution of Athens
CHAP. XII.: The testimony of his own poems. - Aristotle, Constitution of Athens [320 BC]
Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens, trans. Thomas J. Dymes (London: Seeley and Co., 1891).
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- Explanation of Terms For the English Reader.
- The Constitution of Athens.
- Chap. I.: Kylon.
- Chap. II.: The Oligarchical Constitution.
- Chap. III.: Before Draco’s Time.
- Chap. IV.: Draco’s Laws.
- Chap. V.: Civil Dissensions; Solon.
- Chap. VI.: Solon; Charge Against Him.
- Chap. VII.: His Constitution.
- Chap. VIII.: Solon’s Constitution.
- Chap. IX.: How Solon Gave Power to the People.
- Chap. X.: Reforms the Currency, Weights and Measures.
- Chap. XI.: Goes Abroad.
- Chap. XII.: The Testimony of His Own Poems.
- Chap. XIII.: Party Divisions Immediately Following.
- Chap. XIV.: Peisistratus Makes Himself Tyrant; His Exile and Return.
- Chap. XV.: How He Disarmed the People.
- Chap. XVI.: His Government Moderate and Popular.
- Chap. XVII.: Succeeded By His Sons.
- Chap. XVIII.: Harmodius and Aristogeiton.
- Chap. XIX.: Expulsion of the Peisistratidæ.
- Chap. XX.: Isagoras and Kleisthenes.
- Chap. XXI.: The Constitution of Kleisthenes.
- Chap. XXII.: The Times Immediately Following; Ostracism; Building of a Hundred Triremes.
- Chap. XXIII.: Recovery of Power By the Areopagus; Themistokles and Aristides.
- Chap. XXIV.: Athens Lays Claims to the Leadership of Greece.
- Chap. XXV.: Overthrow of the Areopagus By Ephialtes and Themistokles.
- Chap. XXVI.: Growth of the Democracy; Kimon.
- Chap. XXVII.: Perikles.
- Chap. XXVIII.: His Successors; Nikias, Kleon, Thucydides, Theramenes.
- Chap. XXIX.: The Four Hundred; the Proposals of Pythodorus.
- Chap. XXX.: The Constitution As Proposed For the Future.
- Chap. XXXI.: The Constitution As Proposed For the Immediate Present.
- Chap. XXXII.: The Government of the Four Hundred.
- Chap. XXXIII.: It Lasted Four Months, and Was Good.
- Chap. XXXIV.: Arginusæ Ægospotami Lysander and Establishment of the Oligarchy.
- Chap. XXXV.: The Thirty and Their Government.
- Chap. XXXVI.: Protests of Theramenes.
- Chap. XXXVII.: Theramenes Put to Death, and the Lacedæmonans Call Ed In.
- Chap. XXXVIII.: End of the Thirty, and Reconciliation of Parties.
- Chap. XXXIX.: Terms of the Reconciliation.
- Chap. Xl.: Its Conclusion; Action of Archinus.
- Chap. Xli.: Recapitulation of the Preceding Changes; the Sovereign Power of the People.
- Chap. Xlii.: Admission to Citizenship; Training of the Ephebi.
- Chap. Xliii.: Election to Offices, By Lot Or Vote.
- Chap. Xliv.: the Council Continued.
- Chap. Xlv.: Deprived of the Power of Putting to Death.
- Chap. Xlvi.: the Council Continued.
- Chap. Xlvii.: the Treasurers of Athena; the Government-sellers.
- Chap. Xlviii.: the Receivers; Auditors.
- Chap. Xlix.: the Council Holds a Muster of the Knights, Etc.
- Chap. L: Surveyors of Temples; City Magistrates.
- Chap. Li.: Clerks of the Market; Inspectors of Weights and Measures, Etc.
- Chap. Lii.: the Eleven; Suits Decided Within a Month.
- Chap. Liii.: Judicial Officers; Arbitrators.
- Chap. Liv.: Surveyors of Roads; Auditors; Secretaries.
- Chap. Lv.: the Archons; How They Are Appointed.
- Chap. Lvi.: the Archon (eponymus); His Duties.
- Chap. Lvii.: the King Archon; His Duties.
- Chap. Lviii: the Commander-in-chief, Polemarch
- Chap. Lix.: the Thesmothetæ; Their Functions.
- Chap. Lx.: the Directors of Games; the Sacred Oil.
- Chap. Lxi.: Election By Vote to All Offices of War Department.
- Chap. Lxii.: Pay Attached to Offices
- Chap. Lxiii.: Appointment of Jurors.
The testimony of his own poems.
That 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.’