previous next

ὅταν ἴδῃ...οὐ βούλομαι λέγειν ‘When he sees many citizens drawing lots in person outside the law-courts for a doubtful chance of daily bread, while their dignity prompts them to feed any Greeks who will row their ships for them, — leading the dance in gold-spangled raiment, and passing the winter in garments which I decline to describe’. — ἐν οἷς οὐ βούλομαι λέγειν (αὐτοὺς χειμάζειν): the simple οἷς would have been by attract. for .

κληρουμένους casting lots in the morning for employment as dicasts during the day: περὶ τῶν ἀναγκαίων, because on this depended the fee, τριώβολον. — εἴθ᾽ ἕξουσιν εἴτε μή, (casting lots, to see) whether they are to have τὰ ἀναγκαῖα or not. — Every year 600 members of each φυλή were chosen ἡλιασταί by lot, thus constituting a body of 6000, of whom 1000 formed a reserve. The other 5000 were divided into 10 sections of 500 each. On the morning of each day when the courts sat, lots were cast to determine which court should be assigned, for that day, to each section. In some cases only part of one section was employed; in others, two or more sections sat together, — the number of dicasts in a court ranging from 200 to 1500 or even 2000. The courts were assigned by lots to the dicasts (τῶν δικαστηρίων ἐπικεκληρωμένων, Dem. Adv. Pantaen. § 39). Each dicast received a ticket (σύμβολον — not πινάκιον, which denoted the tablet given to each of the 6000 heliasts of the year), and a staff, βακτηρία, of the colour which distinguished the court in which he was to sit (ὁμόχροος τῷ δικαστηρίῳ, schol. Ar. Vesp. 1110). On presenting his ticket, he received his day's fee from the κωλακρέται.

All who ‘drew lots before the law-courts’ were already heliasts. The only uncertainty was as to whether they should be employed on that particular day. And this is the very point of the passage. The dicast's fee, wretched as it was, had actually become the main-stay of citizens who were living from hand to mouth. Cp. Isocr. De Pace § 130, p. 109, τοὺς ἀπὸ τῶν δικαστηρίων ζῶντας: and Antid. § 152, where he says that he should have been ashamed ‘if, having enough of his own to live on, he should stand in the way of those who were compelled to live by the law-courts (ἐντεῦθεν) and to receive the dole of the state’. Hence the power of the συκοφάνται, — the men who got up law-suits to enrich themselves and to make work for this hungry mob.

ἀξιοῦντας in contrast with αὐτούς: the citizens, who themselves have to struggle for bread, are too proud to row their own ships. In the early years of the Peloponnesian War Athens employed ξένοι ναυβάται (Thuc. I. 121), but the commanders (κυβερνῆται) and the hoplites on board (ἐπιβάται) were usu. citizens. When the soldiers were also the rowers (as in a rare emergency) they were called αὐτερέται (Thuc. III. 18). The Pentakosiomedimni and Hippeis rarely served even as ἐπιβάται (cp. ib. 16). Isocr. is not complaining of the citizens for not serving as rowers: he merely notes the contrast between their penury and their sense of dignity.

χορεύονταςχειμάζοντας A παρονομασία, like εὐφυεῖςδυστυχεῖς, § 49. Antiphanes, the poet of the Middle Comedy (flor. about 380 — 330 B.C.), was exactly contemporary with Isocr.; and, in the passage quoted by Athenaeus III. 62, he thus describes the uncertainties of human life —

ὅστις ἄνθρωπος δὲ φὺς ἀσφαλές τι κτῆμ᾽ ὑπάρχειν τῷ βίῳ λογίζεται πλεῖστον ἡμάρτηκεν. γὰρ εἰσφορά τις ἥρπακε τἄνδοθεν πάντ᾽: δίκῃ τις περιπεσὼν ἀπώλετο: στρατηγήσας προσῶφλεν: χορηγὸς αἱρεθείς, ἱμάτια χρυσᾶ παρασχὼν τῷ χορῷ ῥάκος φορεῖ.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.121
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.18
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: