After he had established the council of the Areiopagus, consisting of those who had been archons year by year (and he himself was a member of this body since he had been archon), he observed that the common people were uneasy and bold in consequence of their release from debt, and therefore established another council besides, consisting of four hundred men, one hundred chosen from each of the four tribes.1
These were to deliberate on public matters before the people did, and were not to allow any matter to come before the popular assembly without such previous deliberation.
Then he made the upper council a general overseer in the state, and guardian of the laws, thinking that the city with its two councils, riding as it were at double anchor, would be less tossed by the surges, and would keep its populace in greater quiet.
Now most writers say that the council of the Areiopagus, as I have stated, was established by Solon. And their view seems to be strongly supported by the fact that Draco nowhere makes any mention whatsoever of Areiopagites, but always addresses himself to the
‘ephetai’ in cases of homicide.
Yet Solon's thirteenth table contains the eighth of his laws recorded in these very words:
‘As many of the disfranchised as were made such before the archonship of Solon, shall be restored to their rights and franchises, except such as were condemned by the Areiopagus, or by the ephetai, or in the prytaneium by the kings, on charges of murder or homicide, or of seeking to establish a tyranny, and were in exile when this law was published.’
This surely proves to the contrary that the council of the Areiopagus was in existence before the archonship and legislation of Solon. For how could men have been condemned in the Areiopagus before the time of Solon, if Solon was the first to give the council of the Areiopagus its jurisdiction? Perhaps, indeed, there is some obscurity in the document, or some omission, and the meaning is that those who had been convicted on charges within the cognizance of those who were Areiopagites and ephetai and prytanes when the law was published, should remain disfranchised while those convicted on all other charges should recover their rights and franchises. This question, however, my reader must decide for himself.