Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XXIII.: Recovery of power by the Areopagus; Themistokles and Aristides. - Constitution of Athens
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CHAP. XXIII.: Recovery of power by the Areopagus; Themistokles and Aristides. - Aristotle, Constitution of Athens [320 BC]
Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens, trans. Thomas J. Dymes (London: Seeley and Co., 1891).
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Recovery of power by the Areopagus; Themistokles and Aristides.
At that time, then, and up to this point in its history, the state advanced together with the democracy, and gradually increased in power. But after the Median war the council of the Areopagus again became powerful, and administered the government, having got the leadership, not from any formal decree, but from having brought about the sea-fight at Salamis. For when the generals had shown themselves quite unequal to the emergency, and had proclaimed a sauve qui peut, the Areopagus came forward with funds, and distributing eight drachmæ to each sailor, so manned the ships. For this reason they yielded to its claims, and the Athenians were governed well at this particular period; for circumstances led them to give their attention to war: they were held in high esteem among the Greeks, and made themselves masters of the sea, despite the Lacedæmonians. The leaders of the people in these days were Aristides, the son of Lysimachus, and Themistokles, the son of Neokles, the latter devoting himself to military matters, while the former enjoyed the reputation of being a sagacious statesman, and conspicuous for justice among his contemporaries. They accordingly made use of the services of the one in war, and of the other in council. The rebuilding of the walls, however, was conducted by both of them together, notwithstanding their political differences; but it was Aristides who urged on the revolt of the Ionians and the alliance with the Lacedæmonians, watching his opportunity when the Laconians had been brought into ill-odour by the doings of Pausanias. This was the reason why it was he who apportioned to the cities the tributes which were first imposed in the third year after the sea-fight at Salamis in the archonship of Timosthenes, and why he made a treaty with the Ionians, offensive and defensive, in confirmation of which they sunk the bars of iron in the sea.*
[* ]Compare Herodotus, i. 165, telling how the Phocæans, on deserting their native city, sunk iron in the sea, and swore never to return till it came up again to the surface.