Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XXVIII.: His successors; Nikias, Kleon, Thucydides, Theramenes. - Constitution of Athens
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CHAP. XXVIII.: His successors; Nikias, Kleon, Thucydides, Theramenes. - Aristotle, Constitution of Athens [320 BC]
Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens, trans. Thomas J. Dymes (London: Seeley and Co., 1891).
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His successors; Nikias, Kleon, Thucydides, Theramenes.
So long then as Perikles was at the head of the people, the government went on better, but on his death it became much worse. For then, for the first time, the people took for its leader a man who was not held in respect by such as entertained moderate views; whereas in former times it had always, without exception, been led by men of character. For it began with Solon, who was the first to come forward as the leader of the people; and next Peisistratus, who belonged to the nobles and upper class; and after the overthrow of the tyranny came Kleisthenes, who was of the house of the Alkmæonidæ, and had no party-leader in opposition to him after the banishment of Isagoras and his faction. After this Xanthippus was at the head of the people, while Miltiades represented the upper classes. Next came Themistokles and Aristides; after them Ephialtes was at the head of the democratic party, and Kimon, the son of Miltiades, at the head of the wealthy classes. Then Perikles represented the democratic party, and Thucydides, who was a connection by marriage of Kimon, the other side. On the death of Perikles, Nikias took the lead of the nobles, he who met his end in Sicily; and of the democratic party, Kleon, the son of Kleænetus. He has the reputation of having, more than any other man, led the people astray by his impetuosity, and was the first to raise his voice to a shriek from the rostra and indulge in abusive language, and to harangue with his apron on, while everybody else respected the ordinary decencies of public speaking. After them Theramenes, the son of Hagnon, led the other side, while at the head of the people was Kleophon, the lyre-maker, who first introduced the payment of the two obols. For some time he distributed it, but afterwards Kallikrates, the Pæanian, put a stop to it, having first promised that he would add another obol to the two obols. Later on they were both condemned to death; for it is the custom of the masses, when they discover that they have been grossly deceived, to hate those who have led them on to do anything that is not right. And from Kleophon onward the leadership of the people successively passed without interruption to such men as were the most willing to act boldly and gratify the populace, looking only to the immediate present. For of those who conducted the government at Athens, and succeeded to the old rulers, Nikias and Thucydides and Theramenes appear to have approved themselves the best. In the case of Nikias and Thucydides almost all agree that they showed themselves to be not only good and honourable men, but also fit to govern, and that they administered the state in every respect in conformity with the national traditions. With regard to Theramenes, however, as disturbances in the forms of government occurred in his time, opinions differ. Still, he seems to such as do not express a mere off-hand opinion, not to have overthrown all these forms, as his accusers charge him with doing, but to have carried on all of them so long as they did not contravene the laws; thus acting like a man who was able to live under any form of government, which is indeed the duty of a good citizen, but who would not be a party to any that was contrary to the law, and so he became an object of hatred.