Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XXXV.: The thirty and their government. - Constitution of Athens
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CHAP. XXXV.: The thirty and their government. - 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 thirty and their government.
So the thirty were established in this way in the archonship of Pythodorus. Being now masters of the state, they neglected all the other provisions regarding the government, and appointed only the five hundred members of the Council, and the other magistrates from selected candidates out of the thousand; and taking to themselves ten governors of Peiræus, and eleven guards of the prison, and three hundred attendants furnished with scourges, they kept the government in their own hands. At first they behaved with moderation to their fellow-citizens, and affected to administer the government as inherited from their fathers. They annulled in the Areopagus the laws of Ephialtes and Archestratus regarding the Areopagitæ, and such of Solon’s laws as were of doubtful interpretation, and put down the supreme authority vested in the jurors, as if they were going to restore the constitution, and remove all doubts in its interpretation. For example, in the matter of a man’s giving his own property to whom he likes, they gave him full authority once for all; and they removed such difficulties as might arise, except on the grounds of mental aberration, old age, or undue female influence, so that no door might be left open to common informers; in all other cases they proceeded in like manner and with the same object. At first then such was their line of action, and they made away with the common informers and such as associated themselves with the people to do its pleasure in opposition to its true interests, and were mischievous and bad. And men rejoiced at these doings, thinking that they were actuated by the best motives. But when they had got a firmer grip of power, not a single individual did they spare, but killed alike such as were distinguished for their wealth, birth, or rank, getting rid in this underhand way of those whom they were afraid of, and whose property, at the same time, they wished to plunder. By such means they had succeeded within a short period in making away with not less than fifteen hundred persons.