Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XXIX.: The four hundred; the proposals of Pythodorus. - Constitution of Athens
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CHAP. XXIX.: The four hundred; the proposals of Pythodorus. - Aristotle, Constitution of Athens [320 BC]
Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens, trans. Thomas J. Dymes (London: Seeley and Co., 1891).
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The four hundred; the proposals of Pythodorus.
So long, then, as successes in the war were evenly balanced, they preserved the democracy. But after the reverse in Sicily, when the Lacedæmonians became very powerful by their alliance with the king of Persia, they were compelled to change the democracy and establish the government of the four hundred, on the proposal of Melobius before the decree and Pythodorus moving . . . the masses being influenced, beyond all other considerations, by the idea that the king would gladly take part with them in the war if they made the government oligarchical. Now, the decree of Pythodorus was as follows: that the people should choose, in conjunction with the standing committee of ten, twenty others from such as were above forty years of age, and that they, after swearing solemnly to pass such measures as they might think best for the state, should so legislate for its safety; and that it should be lawful for anyone else who wished to bring forward any bill, that so, out of all, they might choose what was best. And Kleitophon spoke to the same effect as Pythodorus, but moved further that those who were elected should examine the long-established laws which Kleisthenes passed when he established the democracy, that by listening to them also they might decide on what was best, for they argued that Kleisthenes’ constitution was not democratic, but on the same lines as that of Solon. After their election they first moved that it should be compulsory on the presidents of the Council to put to the vote all proposals about the safety of the state; then they did away with indictments for proposing unconstitutional measures, and in cases not provided for by law, and legal challenges, so that any Athenian who wished might assist in the deliberations about the matters before them. They proposed, further, that if anyone, on account of these proceedings, should fine or summons anyone, or bring a case into court, an information should be laid against him, and he should be brought before the generals, and the generals should hand him over to the Eleven to be punished with death. After this they drew up the constitution as follows: that it should not be lawful to expend the incoming moneys for any other purpose than the war, and that all offices should be held without pay so long as the war might last, with the exception of the nine archons and the presidents of the Council for the time being, but that these should receive three obols a day each. They proposed, further, to vest all the rest of the administration in such of the Athenians as were best able both in person and means to perform the public services, to the number of not less than five thousand, so long as the war might last; that they should have the power also of making treaties with whomever they liked; and that the committee should choose ten men from each tribe over forty years of age to enrol the five thousand, after having taken an oath on perfect sacrifices.