But the most amazing
legislation of Charondas, we are told, was that which related to the revision of the laws.
Observing that in most states the multitude of men who kept endeavouring to revise the laws led
continually to the vitiation of the previously existing body of the laws and incited the masses
to civil strife, he wrote a law which was peculiar and altogether unique.
He commanded, namely, that the man who proposed to revise any law should
put his neck in a noose at the time he made his proposal of a revision, and remain in that
position until the people had reached a decision on the revision of the law, and if the
Assembly approved the revised law, the introducer was to be freed of the noose, but if the
proposal of revision did not carry, the noose was to be drawn and the man die on the spot.1
Such being the legislation relating to revision, fear
restrained subsequent lawmakers and not a man dared to utter a word about revising laws; and in
all subsequent time history records but three men who proposed revision among the Thurians, and
these appeared because circumstances arose which rendered proposals of revision imperative.
Thus, there was a law that if
a man put out the eye of another, he should have his own eye put out, and a man with but one
eye, having had that eye put out and thus lost his entire sight, claimed that the offender, by
the loss in requital of but one eye, had paid a less penalty; for, he maintained, if a man who
had blinded a fellow citizen paid only the penalty fixed by the law, he would not have suffered
the same loss; it would be just, therefore, that the man who had destroyed the entire sight of
a man with but one eye should have both his eyes put out, if he were to receive a like
Consequently the man with one eye, taking the
matter strongly to heart, made bold to raise in the Assembly the case of the loss he had
suffered, at the same time both lamenting bitterly over his personal misfortune to his fellow
citizens and suggesting to the commons that they revise the law; and in the end, putting his
neck in a noose, he won his proposal, set at naught the existing law, and had the revision
approved, and he escaped the death by the noose as well.