A History of Greece: From the Time of Solon to 403 B.C

By George Grote; J. M. Mitchell et al. | Go to book overview

16 [XLVI]

CONSTITUTIONAL AND JUDICIAL CHANGES AT ATHENS UNDER PERIKLES 1

THE period which we have now passed over appears to have been that in which the democratical cast of Athenian public life was first brought into its fullest play and development, as to judicature, legislation, and administration.

The great judicial change was made by the methodical distribution of a large proportion of the citizens into distinct judicial divisions, by the great extension of their direct agency in that department, and by the assignment of a constant pay to every citizen so engaged. It has been already mentioned that even under the democracy of Kleisthenês large powers still remained vested both in the individual archons and in the senate of Areopagus (which latter was composed exclusively of the past archons after their year of office, sitting in it for life), though the check exercised by the general body of citizens, assembled for law-making in the Ekklesia and for judging in the Heliæa, was at the same time materially increased. We must farther recollect, that the distinction between powers administrative and judicial, so highly valued among the more elaborate governments of modern Europe since the political speculations of the [xviiith] century, was in the early history of Athens almost unknown. Like the Roman kings, and the Roman consuls before the appointment of the Prætor, the Athenian archons not only administered, but also exercised jurisdiction, voluntary as well as contentious - decided disputes, inquired into crimes, and inflicted punishment. Of the same mixed nature were the functions of the senate of Areopagus, and even of the annual boulê of Five Hundred, the creation of Kleisthenês. The Stratêgi, too, as well as the archons, had doubtless the double competence, in reference to military, naval, and foreign affairs, of issuing orders and of punishing by their own authority disobedient parties: the imperium of the magistrates, generally, enabled them to enforce their own mandates as well as to decide in cases of doubt whether any private citizen had or had not been guilty of infringement. Nor was there any appeal from these magisterial judgments, though the magistrates were subject, under the Kleisthenean constitution, to personal responsibility for their general behaviour, before the people judicially assembled, at the expiration of their

1 See appendix to this chapter on the supremacy of Periklês. - ED.

-387-

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