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A fairer order of civil polity is displayed in the constitution of Athens; a conftitution, which furi nished not only a model for the laws of Rome, but for most of the nations of modern Europe. It was a regular system of jurisprudence, extending to every class of citizens. The most judicious writers agree, that those improvements, which formed the peculiar merit of Athens, were introduced by Solon, about two centuries and a half after the reign of Lycurgus.
The situation of Attica naturally directed the attention of its inhabitants to commerce, and naval affairs. They poffeffed a country, which although fruitful in vines and olives, was not adequate to the support of its inhabitants, without à supply of foreign produce. This defect naturally pointed out the sea to them as the proper fphere for their exertions, and in process of time they rose to the highest eminence, as a commercial state ; their great intercourse with strangers gave a particular direction to their laws, and promoted that urbanity of manners, by which they were so eminently distinguished ?
See the beautiful pi&ture of Attica, drawn by Sophocles, in the first Chorus of Edipus Coloneus. He celebrates the beauty of his native country, the various productions of the Solon an Athenian, of the race of Codrus, attained the dignity of Archon 594 years before Christ, and rendered his name immortal by framing for his countrymen a new form of government, and a new system of laws. He secured peculiar privileges to the rich, and admitted the poor to an ample share of the government. He divided the citizens into four classes; to the three first, composed of the rich, were confined all the offices of the state; the fourth, consisting of the poor, had an equal right of voting in the public assembly, in which all laws were paffed. As they were more numerous than all the rest, their suffrages might have given them an influence in all deliberations dangerous to the public tranquillity. In order to prevent this evil, and to regulate the proceedings of an afsembly thus constituted, he established a balance of power in the council of five hundred. The members of this council were appointed every year by lot, and were obliged to stand the test of a severe scrutiny into their characters, before they were invested with their office. They directed all political concerns, and prepared business for the assembly of the people, to whom no measure was proposed without their previous fanction. Solon likewise restored the court of Areopagus, so much famed for the pure administration of justice,
foil, and the matchless kill of the Athenians in horsemanship and naval affairs. It abounds with images to truly poetical, that the Old Scholiaft might well call it to yra Qupon you wdixos Hea@u. Johnson's Soph. Tom. ii. p. 225. VOL. I.
and the unsullied character of its members, who exercised a judicial power, and tried criminals for capital offences. It was their duty to inspect the general behaviour of the citizens, fuperintend the conduct of youth, and take care they were educated and employed in a manner suitable to their rank. But their greatest privileges consisted in a power of reversing the decrees of the popular assembly, in rescuing the condemned from their sentence, and condemning the acquitted. Of the justice, impartiality, and wisdom of the Areopagus, in the exercise of their fupreme authority, no higher idea can be given than by the losty panegyric of Cicero, who affirmed, that this council was as essential to the prosperity of Athens, as the providence of the Gods to the government of the world. By the establishment of these two affemblies, a large mixture of aristocracy was infuled into the commonwealth, and the administration of public affairs was secured against much of the danger of popular tumult and violence.
In addition to the general assembly of the people, the Areopagus, and the council of five hundred, there were no less than ten courts of judicature; four for criminal, and fix for civil causes. Over these presided nine archons, who were invested. with great authority, and the magistrate who for the sake of pre-eminence was stiled “the Archon," exercised a religious, as well as a civil jurisdiction. But the merits of the causes, and the validity of the evidence which were submitted to their con
sideration, were decided by a certain number of men, selected from the citizens at large. This Athenian establishment may bring to our mind one of the most celebrated institutions in the legal polity of Great Britain ; and the experience of Englishmen, from the days of the immortal Alfred to the present times, can give the fullest testimony to the general equity and singular excellence of our Trial by Jury.
The number of Naves both in Athens and Sparta, when compared to citizens, was very large. From a computation made in the time of Demetrius Phalereus, it appears, that there were more than twenty thousand Athenians qualified to vote in the public afsembly; at the same time, the Naves amounted to twenty times that number'. Plutarch has enabled us to ascertain the numbers of the Lacedemonians at one particular period, as he states, that by the division of their lands, a competent subsistence was procured for thirty-nine thouland families. Their flaves appear not to have been less in proportion than those of Athens, even after repeated massacres to diminish their number. It was not merely by the effects of conqueft, that fo many were reduced to a servile state, as was the case of the unfortunate Helots; but many of the citizens of Athen's were driven by extreme indigence to sell themselves to the wealthy.
• After the death of Solon, Pififtratus succeeded to the fovereign power. He was called indeed a tyrant; but his government was fplendid and mild. He transmitted the command to his fons Hippias and Hipparchus. llarmodius and Ariftogiton, celebrated as patriots in a very beautiful fong of high antiquity, succeeded in putting Hipparchus to death, and restored the democracy. Illustrious birth was for fome time considered necessary to enable a citizen to obtain the adminiftration of public affairs. Themistocles and Aristides were the first who gained high offices from the mere influence of their characters and talents. The distribution of money afterwards secured an undue authority. Cimon bribed the people at his own expence, and Pericles set the more ruinous example of paying them out of the public treasury, The great conceffions made to the populace at various times, tended to undermine the institutions of Solon, and before the age of Demofthenes, the ancient spirit of the Constitution was extinguished, and the whole management of state affairs was abandoned to intriguing and unprincipled demagogues.
The different laws of Sparta and Athens produced, in the course of time, a corresponding difference in their manners; the performances of the theatre, the popular assemblies, and the sacred festivals, employed the inhabitants of Athens, while the Spartans, indulging in no amusement or relaxation, were incessantly bufied in the exercises of war. The streets of Athens