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[38] And we may judge what this institution was at that time even by what happens at the present day; for even now, when everything connected with the election and the examination of magistrates1 has fallen into neglect, we shall find that those who in all else that they do are insufferable, yet when they enter the Areopagus hesitate to indulge their true nature, being governed rather by its traditions than by their own evil instincts. So great was the fear which its members inspired in the depraved and such was the memorial of their own virtue and sobriety which they left behind them in the place of their assembly.

1 With special reference to the archons, who became members of the Areopagus. He means that they were no longer taken necessarily from the best class of citizens. They did, however, have to undergo an examination ( εὔθυνα) on their conduct in office at the end of their term, and a further examination ( δοκιμασία) before the Council of the Areopagus to determine their worthiness to become members of that body. See Gilbert, Greek Constitutional Antiquities p. 282. What such an examination was like is described by Aristot. Ath. Pol. 55. Perhaps such examinations became largely perfunctory, and this may be the ground of Isocrates' complaint.

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