wooden tablets painted
white, and made to turn on an upright axis, on which were written the laws
of Solon. According to some writers, the κύρβεις
contained the public and religious, the ἄχονες
the private laws; according to others,
had three sides, and the
four. But at Athens, at all
events, they were almost certainly identical, according to the statement of
Aristotle (ap. Plut. Sol. 25
grammarians, indeed, insist on the difference; but the opinion of most
modern scholars is in agreement with that already expressed in the former
editions of this work. The phrase ἐκ τῶν κύρβεων
in Lysias (Or. 30, c. Nicom.
17) has been relied upon by the advocates of the distinction. But the law of
murder must have been a public and religious law: and this we find was
ἐν τῷ ἄχονι
(Lex ap. Dem. c.
p. 629.28: read ἐν τῷ ά
i. e. πρώτῳ
with Cobet, Var. Lect.
p. 123; the
being always mentioned in the
The words τρίγωνοι
used of the ἄχονες
wrongly explained by some authorities, both ancient and modern, as applying
to the separate tablets, and not to the whole contrivance (κατασκεύαχμα
). The gloss in Timaeus has Κύρβεις στηλὴ τρίγωνος πυρανοειδὴς νόμους ἔχουσα
(so also Bekk. Anecd.
τρίγωνοι, πυραμίδι ὅμοιοι
pyramidal shape is accepted by Planck (ap. Pauly i,2 s.
), and Liddell and Scott (ed. 7,
s. v. κύρβεις
). But apart from its
unsuitableness for exhibiting writings, the clear account of Aristophanes of
Byzantium (in Etym. M.
p. 547; cf. Ruhnken on Timaeus, s. v.
) leaves no doubt that the
boards were rectangular, and formed, as Caillemer puts it, a prism (not
pyramid) of three or four sides.
were at first kept in the
Acropolis, but were afterwards placed, at the suggestion of Ephialtes, in
the agora for all to read. Some fragments of them were preserved in the
prytaneium in the time of Plutarch (l.c.;
cf. Paus. 1.18
Aristoph. Birds 1354
; Schol. ad
; Anaximenes ap. Harpocrat. s.
v. ὁ κάτωθεν νόμος
p. 547; Suid. s.v. Hermann, Staatsalterth.
§ 107, 1; Schömann, Antiq.
1.329, n., E.
T.; Preller, on Polemonis Periegetae fragm.
pp. 87-91 [the
fragment itself in Müller, Fr. Hist.