Saturday, February 14, 2004


I am currently reading Athens by Christian Meier. So far it is a reasonably good book. The Prolgue chapter "Salamis - the Eye of the Needle" was an excellent portrayal of the momentousness of that occasion sometime in the autumn of 480BC (John Stuart Mill said of the Battle of Salamis that it was more important to the history of the England than the Battle of Hastings).

In the second chapter, not as good in my opinion though, there was one little detail that I found fascinating. It mentions the law-giver Dracon, who lived in Athens in the second half of the 7th century BC, and gave Athens its first conclusive law-code in around 620 or so. The punishments he advocated were severe, and he is today remembered cheifly by the adjective draconian.

However, he also made a law for manslaughter. If someone was accidentally killed, if the dead person's family was unwilling to forgive him, he would be exiled as opposed to being executed in turn. Solon reformed most of the Draconian law-code a generation or so later, but this law apparently remained on the statute-books for many, many years.

I just thought that was interesting (there is a reason why I read more blawgs than other blogs).

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