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Codrus in the government, and accordingly abolished the office of

royalty, substituting therefor the Archon. The right to be Archon,

however, was for the time limited to the family of Codrus. Eleven members

of that family succeeded one another in the government, and then, in B.

C. 752, the office was limited to a period of ten years. Thirty-eight

years later the restriction to the family of Codrus was removed and the

Archon thrown open to all the nobles. The next step in the road to

democracy was taken in B. C.683, when the office was limited to one

year's duration, and distributed to nine persons instead of one. Of these

nine, however, one continued to be the chief Archon and the rest

associates. None but the nobles were eligible to the Archon; so that the

government of Athens was peaceably transferred from royalty to oligarchy

in the same manner as in the states of Peloponnesus. As yet the people

had no voice in the direction of public affairs.

The class-distinctions of the Athenian populace were arranged-so says

tradition-by Theseus. There were three castes: the Eupatridae, or nobles;

the Geomori, or husband- men; and the Demiurgi, or artisans. The first

exercised all the political and religious rites of the people; the yeomen

tilled the soil; the artisans plied their respective crafts; but neither

wielded any considerable influence in the affairs of state.

From the institution of the annual Archon, in B. C. 683, the more

authentic history of Athens begins. Of the nine Archons who were then

appointed instead of the one who had held authority previously, one was

the President, called Archon Eponymus; for the year took its name from

him. He was the representative of the State, and decided all matters of

public importance. The second Archon was called Basileus; and to him was

committed the oversight of Religion. The third bore the title of

Polemarch, and commanded the army. The remaining six were called

Thesmothetae, or legislators. The constitution of the Court of Areopagus,

or Senate of Athens, has already been described. Such was the character

of Athenian political society in the times preceding the legislation of


The government of the oligarchy was severe and arbitrary. There were no

written laws, and the precedents of the state were not well established.

It was withal a government of partiality, administered by the nobles for

the nobles. After about a half century the public discontent became so

great that a nobleman named Draco, of whose previous history but little

is known, was appointed to draft a code of written laws. The work was

undertaken in B. C. 624. The lawgiver adopted the constitution of

Athenian society as it was, and gave his attention almost wholly to the

question of crime and its punishment. His laws were characterized by

extreme severity. All crimes were punishable with death! The theory was

that a petty theft deserved death, and for murder no greater penalty

could be affixed. It was said that his statutes were written in blood.

Perhaps, however, the code was as merciful as the spirit of the age; for

the age cared nothing for the sacredness of human life. The code of

Draco was of little utility. Violence and discontent continued to prevail

to such an extent as to prevent the growth and endanger the stability of

the state. After a few years of trouble a revolution was undertaken by

the malcontents headed by Cylon, one of the Eupatridae. He was the son-

in-law of Theagenes, the tyrant of Megara, from whom he learned the

lesson of despotism as a cure for public troubles. Obtaining from the

Delphic oracle an answer which he regarded as favorable, he seized the

Acropolis and undertook to maintain himself against the authorities of

the city, but he was soon overthrown and driven from the country. Many of

his adherents were hunted down and were slain even at the very altars of

the gods where they had taken refuge.

This act of sacrilege, however-done as it was by the orders of Megacles,

one of the Archons-terrified the people to such a degree that the family

to which Megacles belonged was put under the ban and their trial demanded

by the court. But the offending nobles could not for the time be brought

to justice, and the confusion in the state grew from bad to dangerous,

until Solon persuaded