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In the period of the war therefore, so long as fortunes were evenly balanced, they continued to preserve the democracy. But when after the occurrence of the disaster in Sicily the Lacedaemonian side became very strong owing to the alliance with the king of Persia, they were compelled to overthrow the democracy and set up the government of the Four Hundred, Melobius making the speech on behalf of the resolution1 but Pythodorus of the deme Anaphlystus having drafted the motion, and the acquiescence of the mass of the citizens being chiefly due to the belief that the king would help them more in the war if they limited their constitution. [2] The resolution of Pythodorus was as follows: 'That in addition to the ten Preliminary Councillors2 already existing the people choose twenty others from those over forty years of age, and that these, after taking a solemn oath to draft whatever measures they think best for the state, shall draft measures for the public safety; [3] and that it be open to any other person also that wishes, to frame proposals, in order that they may choose the one that is best out of them all.' Cleitophon moved an amendment to the resolution of Pythodorus, that the commissioners elected should also investigate the ancestral laws laid down by Cleisthenes when he was establishing the democracy, in order that they might decide on the best course to advise after hearing these laws also, on the ground that the constitution of Cleisthenes was not democratic but similar to that of Solon. [4] The commissioners when elected first proposed that it should be compulsory for the Presidents3 to put to the vote all proposals made for the public safety, and then repealed the procedures of impeachment for illegal proposals, information and summons, in order that those Athenian citizens who wished might give advice about the matters before them; and enacted that, if anybody attempted to punish or summon or bring them into court for so doing, he be liable to information and summary arrest before the Generals, and that the Generals should hand him over to the Eleven to be punished with death. [5] After this they framed the constitution in the following way: that it should not be permissible to spend the revenues on any other object than the war; that all the officers of state should be unpaid for the duration of the war, excepting those who held the posts of the Nine Archons and the Presidents, and these should draw three obols4 per man per day; and that all the rest of the functions of government should be entrusted to those Athenians who in person and property were most capable of serving the state, not less than five thousand, for the duration of the war; and that the powers of this body should include competence to contract treaties with whatever people they wished; and that they should elect ten men over forty years of age from each tribe, who should enroll the Five Thousand after taking oath over unblemished victims.

1 Or 'before the resolution.'

2 The ten commissioners appointed at Athens after the Sicilian disaster to deal with the emergency (Thuc. 8.I), and later instructed to reform the constitution (Thuc. 67.).

3 The Presidents of the Council, see Aristot. Ath. Pol. 43.2.

4 Half a drachma, see Aristot. Ath. Pol. 4.3 n.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians, 43.2
    • Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians, 4.3
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