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A 1774 Book On Ancient Athens Thomas Jefferson Recommended

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Here's an excerpt from a book, published before the revolutionary war, on the History of Greece. I'd bought the book at an auction, then about a year later, I discovered, reading in a book, Letters and Addresses of Jefferson, that Thomas Jefferson recommended the same book to a student preparing to go to college. The book tells of the history of Athens, the first Democracy-- about its leaders, their choices and challenges. The chapter on Athenian government is a pretty amazing read.

The book, by Oliver Goldsmith, describes the history and thoughts by the ancient Greeks on governing in Athens. The first edition was published in 1774, but it's been reprinted over and over again since. But first the story of how I found the book.

About ten or fifteen years ago when I was at the peak of my bout with bibliomania (owning probably 10-12,000 books, on the way to 15,000-- now I'm down to about 3-5000) I picked up the two volume Goldsmith book set, The Grecian History; From the Earliest State to the Death of Alexander The Great, at a Brown Brothers, a local auction, I bought it because there was a chapter on The Government of Athens. Cool, I thought. I'll see what people thought about democracy in Greece BEFORE the establishment of the United States. I was amazed to actually win the bidding, buying the 230+ year old set of books for the price of a new best-seller-- $30.
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title page from The Grecian History; From the Earliest State to the Death of Alexander The Great
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Then, a few months later at the same auction house, I found the book, Letters and Addresses of Thomas Jefferson. I was thrilled and astonished to find a letter Jefferson sent to a student preparing to go to college. Jefferson was advising the student on books to read. The book I'd recently acquired on the Greek history was on a short list-- and, after some research, I learned it had to be the same edition. That got me thinking-- this book on the history of Athenian democracy and governance must have had some influence on Jefferson's thinking, going into the revolutionary war, the envisioning of American democracy and the writing of the founding documents.

The set of the three books are now among my most prized literary possessions. Here's a look at the spines of the three books.


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Ah, yes, I love my leather-bound books.

You can see the crack in the binding of the book on the right. I knew that it would be destructive if I actually read from the book. So, and this must have been somewhere around 2004-2006, I photocopied the pages. Then they were shuffled gradually to deeper piles of stuff to read eventually. A few days ago I went to my storage unit, where most of my remaining books are, and I found the sheaf of photocopied pages. The books were on a bookshelf in my home. Finally, probably 11 or 12 years later, I started to read the chapter on Athens. This article will include ALL of the chapter, which is pretty amazing, but it starts with this excerpt on government, Here's how it looks on the original page, back when the letter "S" looked like "f."


page from The Grecian History; From the Earliest State to the Death of Alexander The Great
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(converted to text online here)

At a time when Greece had carried the arts of eloquence, poetry, and government, higher than they had yet been seen among mankind, Solon was considered as one of the foremost in each perfection. The sages of Greece, whose fame is still undiminished, acknowledged his merit, and adopted him as their associate. The correspondence between these wise men was at once instructive, friendly, and sincere.

They were seven in number, namely, Thales the Milesian, Solon of Athens, Chilo of Lacedaemon, Pittacus of Mitylene, Periander of Corinth, Bias and Cleobulus, whose birth places are not ascertained. Those sages often visited each other, and their conversations generally turned upon the methods of instituting the best form of government, or the arts of private happiness. One day when Solon went to Miletos to see Thales, the first thing he said, was to express his surprize that Thales had never desired to marry, or have children. Thales made him no answer then, but a few days after, he contrived that a stranger, supposed to arrive from Athens, should join their company. Solon, hearing from whence the stranger came, was inquisitive after the news of his own city, but was only informed that a young man died there, for whom the whole place was in the greatest affliction, as he was reputed the most promising youth in all Athens. Alas! cried Solon, how much is the poor father of the youth to be pitied! pray, what was his name? I heard the name, replied the stranger, who was instructed for the occasion, but I have forgot it: I only remember that all people talked much of his wisdom and justice. Every answer afforded new matter of trouble and terror to the inquisitive father, and he had just strength enough to ask if the youth was not the son of Solon? The very same, replied the stranger; at which words Solon shewed all the marks of the most inconsoleable distress. This was the opportunity which Thales wanted, who took him by the hand, and said to him, with a smile, Comfort yourself my friend, all that has been told you is a mere fiction, but may serve as a very proper answer to your question, why I never thought proper to marry?

One day at the court of Periander of Corinth, a question was proposed, which was the most perfect popular government? That, said Bias, where the law has no superior. That, said Thales, where the inhabitants are neither too rich nor too poor. That, said Anacharsis, the Scythian, where virtue is honoured and vice detested. That, said Pittacus, where dignities are always conferred upon the virtuous, and never upon the base. That, said Cleobulus, where the citizens fear blame more than punishment. That, said Chilo, where the laws are more regarded than the orators. But Solon's opinion seems to have the greatest weight, who said, where an injury done to the meanest subject is an insult upon the whole constitution.

Upon a certain occasion, when Solon was conversing with Anacharsis, the Scythian philosopher, about his intended reformations in the state;

"Alas, cried the Scythian, all your laws will be found to resemble spiders webs; the weak and small flies will be caught and entangled, but the great and powerful will always have strength enough to break through."
Amazing!! Scythian's comment reminds me of the title of Glenn Greenwald's book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.

Here's the full chapter. I learned the derivation of the term "draconian" reading it:
CHAP. III. Of the Government of ATHENS, the Laws of SOLON, and the History of the Republic from the Time of SOLON to the commencement of the PERSIAN War.

WE now return to Athens. Codrus, the last king of this state, having devoted himself for the good of his country, a magistrate, under the title of Archon, was appointed to succeed him. The first who bore this office was Medon, the son of the late king, who, being opposed by his brother Nileus, was preferred by the oracle, and accordingly invested with his new dignity. This magistracy was at first for life; it was soon after reduced to a period of ten years, and at last became annual, and in this state it continued for near three hundred years. During this inactive government little offers to adorn the page of history, the spirit of extensive dominion had not as yet entered into Greece, and the citizens were too much employed in their private intrigues to attend to foreign concerns. Athens therefore continued a long time incapable of enlarging her power, content with safety amidst the contending interests of aspiring potentates and factious citizens.

A desire of being governed by written laws at last made way for a new change in government. * For more than a century they had seen the good effects of laws in the regulation of the Spartan commonwealth; and, as they were a more enlightened people, they expected greater advantages from a new institution. In the choice, therefore, of a legislator, they pitched upon Draco, a man of acknowledged wisdom, and unshaken integrity, but rigid even beyond human sufferance. It does not appear that any state of Greece was possessed of written laws before his time. However, he was not afraid to enact the most severe laws, which laid the same penalties on the most atrocious and the most trifling offences. These laws, which punished all crimes with death, and which were said not to be written with ink, but with blood, were too cruel to be duly and justly administered. Sentiments of humanity in the judges, compassion for the accused when his fault was not equal to his suffering, the unwillingness of witnesses to exact too cruel an atonement, their fears also of the resentment of the people; all these conspired to render the laws obsolete before they could well be put into execution. Thus, the new laws counteracted their own purposes, and their excessive rigour paved the way for the most dangerous impunity.

It was in this distressful state of the commonwealth, that Solon was applied to for his advice and assistance, as the wisest and the justest man of all Athens. His great learning had acquired him the reputation of being the first of the seven wise men of Greece, and his known humanity procured him the love and veneration of every rank among his fellow-citizens. Solon was a native of Salamis, an island dependent on Athens, but which had revolted to put itself under the power of the Megareans. In attempting to recover this island, the Athenians had spent much blood and treasure, until at last wearied out with such ill success, a law was made rendering it capital ever to advise the recovery of their lost possession. Solon, however, undertook to persuade them to another trial, and feigning himself mad, ran about the streets, using the most violent gestures and language; but the purport of all was, upbraiding the Athenians for their remissness and effeminacy, in giving up their conquests in despair. In short, he acted his part so well, by the oddity of his manner, and the strength of his reasoning, that the people resolved upon another expedition against Salamis; and, by a stratagem of his contrivance, in which he introduced several young men upon the island in women's cloaths, the place was surprised, and added to the dominion of Athens.

But this was not the only occasion on which he exhibited superior address and wisdom. At a time when Greece had carried the arts of eloquence, poetry, and government, higher than they had yet been seen among mankind, Solon was considered as one of the foremost in each perfection. The sages of Greece, whose fame is still undiminished, acknowledged his merit, and adopted him as their associate. The correspondence between these wise men was at once instructive, friendly, and sincere. They were seven in number, namely, Thales the Milesian, Solon of Athens, Chilo of Lacedaemon, Pittacus of Mitylene, Perianderof Corinth, Bias and Cleobulus, whose birth places are not ascertained. Those sages often visited each other, and their conversations generally turned upon the methods of instituting the best form of government, or the arts of private happiness. One day when Solon went to Miletos to see Thales, the first thing he said, was to express his surprize that Thales had never desired to marry, or have children. Thales made him no answer then, but a few days after, he contrived that a stranger, supposed to arrive from Athens, should join their company. Solon, hearing from whence the stranger came, was inquisitive after the news of his own city, but was only informed that a young man died there, for whom the whole place was in the greatest affliction, as he was reputed the most promising youth in all Athens. Alas! cried Solon, how much is the poor father of the youth to be pitied! pray, what was his name? I heard the name, replied the stranger, who was instructed for the occasion, but I have forgot it: I only remember that all people talked much of his wisdom and justice. Every answer afforded new matter of trouble and terror to the inquisitive father, and he had just strength enough to ask if the youth was not the son of Solon? The very same, replied the stranger; at which words Solon shewed all the marks of the most inconsoleable distress. This was the opportunity which Thales wanted, who took him by the hand, and said to him, with a smile, Comfort yourself my friend, all that has been told you is a mere fiction, but may serve as a very proper answer to your question, why I never thought proper to marry?

One day at the court of Periander of Corinth, a question was proposed, which was the most perfect popular government? That, said Bias, where the law has no superior. That, said Thales, where the inhabitants are neither too rich nor too poor. That, said Anacharsis, the Scythian, where virtue is honoured and vice detested. That, said Pittacus, where dignities are always conferred upon the virtuous, and never upon the base. That, said Cleobulus, where the citizens fear blame more than punishment. That, said Chilo, where the laws are more regarded than the orators. But Solon's opinion seems to have the greatest weight, who said, where an injury done to the meanest subject is an insult upon the whole constitution.

Upon a certain occasion, when Solon was conversing with Anacharsis, the Scythian philosopher, about his intended reformations In the state;

"Alas, cried the Scythian, all your laws will be found to resemble spiders webs; the weak and small flies will be caught and entangled, but the great and powerful will always have strength enough to break through."

Solon's interview with Craesus king of Lydia, is still more celebrated. This monarch, who was reputed the richest of all Asia Minor, was willing to make an oslentatious display of his wealth before the Greek philosopher, and after shewing him immense heaps of treasure, and the greatest variety of other ornaments, he demanded whether he did not think the possessor the most happy of all mankind. No, replied Solon; I know one man more happy, a poor peasant of Greece, who neither in affluence or poverty, has but few wants, and has learned to supply them by his labour. This answer was by no means agreeable to the vain monarch, who by his question only hoped for a reply that would tend to flatter his pride. Willing, therefore, to extort one still more favourable, he asked whether at least he did not think him happy. Alas, cried Solon what man can be pronounced happy before he dies. The integrity and the wisdom of Solon's replies appeared in the event. The kingdom of Lydia was invaded by Cyrus, the empire destroyed, and Craesus himself was taken prisoner. When he was led out to execution, according to the barbarous manners of the times, he then too late recollected the maxims of Solon, and could not help crying out when on the scaffold upon Solon's name: Cyrus hearing him repeat the name with great earnestness, was desirous of knowing the reason; and being informed by Craesus of that philosopher's remarkable observation, he began to fear for himself, pardoned Craesus, and took him for the future into confidence and friendship. Thus Solon had the merit of saving one king's life, and of reforming another.

Such was the man to whom the Athenians applied for assistance in reforming the severity of their government, and instituting a just body of laws. Athens was at that time divided into as many factions as there were different sorts of inhabitants in Attica. Those that lived upon the mountains were fond of exact equality, those that lived in the low country were for the dominion of a few, and those that dwelt on the sea coasts, and were consequently addicted to commerce, were for keeping those parties to exactly balanced, as to permit neither to prevail. But, besides these, there was a fourth party, and that by much the most numerous, consisting wholly of the poor, who were grievously harrassed and oppressed by the rich, and loaded with debts which they were not able to discharge. This unhappy party, which, when they know their own strength, must ever prevail, were now determined to throw off the yoke of their oppressors, and to chuse themselves a chief who should make a reformation in government, by making a new division of lands.

As Solon had never sided with either, he was regarded as the refuge of all, the rich liking him because he was rich, and the poor because he was honest. Though he was at first unwilling to undertake so dangerous an employment, he at last suffered himself to be chosen archon, and to be constituted supreme legislator with the unanimous consent of all. This was a situation in which nothing could be added to his power, yet many of the citizens advised him to make himself king, but he had too much wisdom to seek after a name which would render him obnoxious to many of his fellow-citizens, while he was in fact possessed of more than regal authority.

A tyranny, he would say, resembles a fair garden, it is a beautiful spot while we are within, but it wants a way to get out at.

Rejecting, therefore, the wish of royalty, he resolved upon settling a form of government that should be founded on the basis of just and reasonable liberty. Not venturing to meddle with certain disorders which he looked upon as incurable, he undertook to bring about no other alterations but such as were apparently reasonable to the meanest capacity. In short, it was his aim to give the Athenians not the best of possible constitutions, but the very best they were capable of receiving. His first attempt was, therefore, in favour of the poor, whose debts he abolished at once, by an express law of insolvency. But to do this with the least injury he could to the creditor, he raised the value of money in a moderate proportion, by which he nominally encreased their riches. But his management on this occasion had like to have had very dangerous consequences, for some of his friends, to whom the scheme had been previously communicated, took up vast sums of money while it was low, in order to be possessed of the difference when it became of greater value. Solon himself was suspected of having a hand in this fraud, but to wipe off all suspicion, he remitted his debtors five, or, as others say, fifteen talents, and thus regained the confidence of the people.

His next step was to repeal all the laws enacted by Draco, except those against murder. He then proceeded to the regulation of offices, employments, and magistracies, all which he left in the hands of the rich. He distributed the rich citizens into three classes, ranging them according to their incomes. Those that were found to have five hundred measures yearly, as well in corn as in liquids, were placed in the first rank, those that had three hundred were placed in the second, and those that had but two hundred made up the third. All the rest of the citizens whose income fell short of two hundred measures, were comprised in a fourth and last class, and were considered as unqualified for any employment whatever. But to compensate for this exclusion, he gave every private citizen a privilege of voting in the great assembly of the whole body of the state. This, indeed, at first might appear a concession of small consequence, but it was soon found to contain very solid advantages. For, by the laws of Athens, it was permitted, after the determination of the magistrates, to appeal to the general assembly of the people, and thus, in time, all causes of weight and moment came before them.

In some measure to counteract the influence of a popular assembly, he gave greater weight to the court of Areopagus, and also instituted another council consisting of four hundred. The Areopagus, so called from the place where the court was held, had been established some centuries before, but Solon restored and augmented its authority. To this court was committed the care of causing the laws to be observed and put in execution. Before his time the citizens of the greatest probity and justice were made judges of that tribunal. Solon was the first who thought it convenient that none should be honoured with that dignity but such as had passed through the office of archon. Nothing was so august as this court, and its reputation for judgment and integrity became so very great, that the Romans sometimes referred causes which were too intricate for their own decision, to the determination of this tribunal. Nothing was regarded here but truth; that no external objects might pervert justice, the tribunal was held in darkness, and the advocates were denied all attempts to work upon the passions of the judges. Superior to this, Solon instituted the great council of four hundred, who were to judge upon appeals from the Areopagus, and maturely to examine every question before it came to be debated in a general assembly of the people.

Such was the reformation in the general institutions for the good of the state, his particular laws for dispensing justice were more numerous. In the first place, all persons who in public dissensions and differences espoused neither party, but continued to act with a blameable neutrality, were declared infamous, condemned to perpetual punishment, and to have all their estates confiscated. Nothing could more induce mankind to a spirit of patriotism than this celebrated law. A mind thus obliged to take part in public concerns, learns, from habit, to make those concerns its principal care, and self-interest quickly sinks before them. By this method of accustoming the minds of the people to look upon that man as an enemy that should appear indifferent and unconcerned in the misfortunes of the public, he provided the state with a quick and general resource in every dangerous emergency.

He next permitted every particular person to espouse the quarrel of any one that was injured or insulted. By this means, every person in the state became the enemy of him who did wrong, and the turbulent thus were overpowered by the number of their opponents.

He abolished the custom of giving portions in marriage with young women, unless they were only daughters. The bride was to carry no other fortune to her husband than three suits of cloaths, and some houshold goods of little value. It was his aim to prevent making matrimony a traffic, he considered it as an honourable connexion, calculated for the mutual happiness of both parties, and the general advantage of the state.

Before this lawgiver's time the Athenians were not allowed to make their wills, but the wealth of the deceased naturally, and of course, devolved upon his children. Solon allowed every one that was childless to dispose of his whole estate as he thought fit, preferring by that means friendship to kindred, and choice to necessity and constraint. From this institution the bond between the parents and children became more solid and firm, it confirmed the just authority of the one, and encreased the necessary dependence of the other.

He made a regulation to lessen the rewards to the victors at the Olympic and Isthmian games. He considered it as unjust, that a set of idle people, generally useless, often dangerous to the state, should be allotted those rewards which should go to the deserving. He wished to see those emoluments go to the widows and families of such as fell in the service of their country, and to make the stipend of the state honourable, by being conferred only on the brave.

To encourage industry, the Areopagus was charged with the care of examining into every man's method of living, and of chastising all who led an idle life. The unemployed were considered as a set of dangerous and turbulent spirits, eager after innovation, and hoping to mend their fortunes from the plunder of the state. To discountenance all idleness, therefore, a son was not obliged to support his father in old age or necessity, if the latter had neglected giving him some trade or occupation. All illegitimate children were also exempted from the same duty, as they owed little to their parents except an indelible reproach.

It was forbidden to give ill language in public; the magistrates who were not eligible till thirty were to be particularly circumspect in their behaviour, and it was even death for an archon to be taken drunk. It is observable that he made no law against parricide, as supposing it a crime that could never exist in any community.

With regard to women, he permitted any man to kill an adulterer if he was taken in the fact. He allowed of public brothels, but prohibited mercenary prostitutes from keeping company with modest women, and as a badge of distinction to wear flowered garments. The men also who were notorious for frequenting their company were not allowed to speak in public, and he who forced a woman incurred a very heavy fine.

These were the chief institutions of this celebrated lawgiver, and although neither so striking, nor yet so well authorised as those of Lycurgus, they did not fail to operate for several succeeding ages, and seemed to gather strength by observance. After he had framed these institutes, his next care was to give them such notoriety that none could plead ignorance. To this end transcripts of them were publicly hung up in the city for every one to peruse, while a set of magistrates named Thesmothetae, were appointed to revise them carefully, and distinctly repeat them once a year. Then, in order to perpetuate his statutes, he engaged the people by a public oath to observe them religiously, at least for the term of an hundred years; and thus having completed the task assigned him, he withdrew from the city to avoid the importunity of some, and the captious petulance of others. For, as he well knew, it was hard, if not impossible, to please all.

Solon being thus employed on his travels in visiting Egypt, Lydia, and several other countries, left Athens to become habituated to his new institutions, and to try by experience the wisdom of their formation. But it was not easy for a city long torn by civil dissensions to yield implicit obedience to any laws, how wisely soever framed; their former animosities began to revive when that authority was removed which alone could hold them in subjection. The factions of the state were headed by three different leaders, who enflamed the animosity of the people against each other, hoping by the subversion of all order, to indulge their own private hopes of aspiring. A person named Lycurgus was at the head of the people that inhabited the low country, Pisistratus declared for those who lived in the mountains, and Megacles was the leader of the inhabitants upon the sea coast.

Pisistratus was of these the most powerful. He was a well bred man, of a gentle and insinuating behaviour, ready to succour and assist the poor, whose cause he pretended to espouse. He was wise, and moderate to his enemies, a most artful and accomplished dissembler, and was every way virtuous except in his inordinate ambition. His ambition gave him the appearance of possessing qualities which he really wanted, he seemed the most zealous champion for equality among the citizens, while he was actually aiming at the entire subversion of freedom, and he declared loudly against all innovations, while he was actually meditating a change. The giddy multitude caught by these appearances were zealous in seconding his views, and without examining his motives were driving headlong to tyranny and destruction.

It was just at the eve of success, and upon the point of being indulged in his utmost ambition, that Pisistratus had the mortification of seeing Solon return after an absence of ten years, apprized of his designs, and willing to subvert his schemes. Sensible, therefore, of his danger, and conscious of the penetration of this great lawgiver, the aspiring demagogue used all his artifice to conceal his real designs, and while he flattered him in public, used every endeavour to bring over the people to second his interests. Solon at first endeavoured to oppose art to his cunning, and to foil him at his own weapons. He praised him in his turn, and was heard to declare, what might have been true, that excepting the immoderate ambition of Pisistratus, he knew no man of greater, or more exalted virtues. Still, however, he set himself to counteract his projects, and to defeat his designs before they were ripe for execution.

But in a vicious commonwealth, no assiduity can warn, no wisdom protect. Pisistratus still urged his schemes with unabating ardour, and every day made new proselytes by his professions and his liberalities. At length, finding his schemes ripe for open action, he gave himself several wounds, and in that condition, with his body all bloody, he caused himself to be carried in his chariot to the market-place, where, by his complaints and eloquence, he so enflamed the populace, that they considered him as the victim of their cause, and as suffering such cruel treatment in their defence. An assembly of the people was, therefore, immediately convened, from whom he demanded a guard of fifty persons for his future security. It was in vain that Solon used all his authority and eloquence to oppose so dangerous a request. He considered his sufferings as merely counterfeited. He compared him to Ulysses in Homer, who cut himself with similar designs; but he alledged that he did not act the part right, for the design of Ulysses was to deceive his enemies, but that of Pisistratus was leveled against his friends and supporters. He upbraided the people with their stupidity, telling them, that for his own part he had sense enough to see through this design, but they only had strength enough to oppose it. His exhortations, however, were vain, the party of Pisistratus prevailed, and a guard of fifty men was appointed to attend him. This was all that he aimed at, for now having the protection of so many creatures of his own, nothing remained but insensibly to encrease their number. Thus every day his hirelings were seen to augment, while the silent fears of the citizens encreased in equal proportion. But it was now too late, for having raised the number to put him beyond the danger of a repuise, he at length seized upon the citadel, while none was left who had courage or conduct to oppose.

In this general consternation, which was the result of folly on the one hand, and treachery on the other, the whole city was one scene of tumult and disorder, some flying, others inly complaining, others preparing for slavery with patient submission. Solon was the only man who, without fear or shrinking, deplored the folly of the times, and reproached the Athenians with their cowardice and treachery. You might, said he, with ease have crushed the tyrant in the bud, but nothing now remains but to pluck him up by the roots. As for himself, he had at least the satisfaction of having discharged his duty to his country and the laws; and, as for the rest, he had nothing to fear, and now upon the destruction of his country, his only confidence was in his great age, which gave him hopes of not being a long survivor. In fact, he did not survive the liberty of his country above two years; he died at Cyprus in the eightieth year of his age, lamented and admired by every state of Greece. Besides his skill in legislation, Solon was remarkable for several other shining qualifications. He understood eloquence in so high a degree, that from him Cicero dates the origin of eloquence in Athens. He was successful also in poetry, and Plato asserts, that it was only for want of due application that he did not come to dispute the prize with Homer himself.

The death of Solon only served to involve Athens in new troubles and commotions. Lycurgus and Megacles, the leaders of the two opposite factions, uniting, drove Pisistratus out of the city, but he was soon after recalled by Megacles, who gave him his daughter in marriage. New disturbances arose; Pisistratus was twice deposed, and twice found means to reinstate himself, for he had art to acquire power, and moderation to maintain it. The mildness of his government, and his implicit submission to the laws, made the people forget the means by which he acquired his power; and, caught by his lenity, they overlooked his usurpation. His gardens and pleasure grounds were free to all the citizens; and he is said to be the first who opened a public library at Athens. Cicero is of opinion, that Pisistratus first made the Athenians acquainted with the books of Homer, that he disposed them in the order in which they now remain, and first caused them to be read at the feasts called Panathanea. His justice is not less remarkable than his politeness. Being accused of murder, though it was in the time of his tyranny, he disdained to take the advantage of his authority, but went in person to plead his cause before the Areopagus, where his accuser would not venture to appear. In short, he was master of many excellent qualities, and perverted them no farther than as they stood in competition with empire. Nothing could be objected to him but his having greater power than the laws, and by not exerting that power he almost reconciled the citizens to royalty. Upon these accounts he was deservedly oppofed to usurpers of fewer virtues, and there feemed such a resemblance between him and a more successful invader of his country's freedom, that Julius Caesar was called the Pisistratus of Rome.

Pisistratus dying in tranquillity, transmitted the sovereign power to his sons, Hippias and Hipparchus, who seemed to inherit all their father's virtues. A passion for learning and its professors, had for some time prevailed in Athens; and this city, which had already far out-gone all its cotemporaries in all the arts of refinement, seemed to submit tamely to kings, who made learning their pride and their profession. Anacreon, Simonides, and others, were invited to their courts, and richly rewarded. Schools were instituted for the improvement of youth in the learned professions, and Mercuries were set up in all the highways, with moral sentences written upon them, for the instruction of the lowest vulgar. Their reign, however, lasted but eighteen years, and ended upon the following occasion.

Harmodius and Aristogiton, both citizens of Athens, had contracted a very strict friendship for each other, and resolved to revenge the injuries which should be committed against either with common resentment. Hipparchus being naturally amorous, debauched the sister of Harmodius, and afterwards published her shame as she was about to walk in one of the sacred processions, alledging, that she was not in a condition to assist at the ceremony. Such a complicated indignity naturally excited the resentment of the two friends, who formed a fixed resolution of destroying the tyrants, or falling in the attempt. Willing, however, to wait the most favourable opportunity, they deferred their purpose to the feast of the Panathanea, in which the ceremony required that all the citizens should attend in armour. For their greater security, they admitted only a small number of their friends into the secret of their design, conceiving that upon the first commotion they should not want for abettors. Thus resolved, the day being come, they went early into the market-place, each armed with his dagger, and steadfast to his purpose. In the mean time, Hippias was seen issuing with his followers from the palace, to give orders without the city to the guards for the intended ceremony. As the two friends continued to follow him at a little distance, they perceived one of those to whom they had communicated their design, talking very familiarly with him, which made them apprehend their plot was betrayed. Eager, therefore, to execute their design, they were preparing to strike the blow, but recollected that the real aggressor would thus go unpunished. They once more, therefore, returned into the city, willing to begin their vengeance upon the author of their indignities. They were not long in quest of Hipparchus, they met him upon their return, and rushing upon him, dispatched him with their daggers without delay, but were soon after themselves slain in the tumult. Hippias hearing of what was done, to prevent farther disorders, got all these disarmed whom he in the least suspected of being privy to the design, and then meditated revenge.

Among the friends of the late assertors of freedom, was one Leona, a courtezan, who by the charms of her beauty, and her skill in playing on the harp, had captivated some of the conspirators, and was supposed to be deeply engaged in the design. As the tyrant, for such the late attempt had rendered him, was conscious that nothing was concealed from this woman, he ordered her to be put to the torture, in order to extort the names of accomplices. But she bore all the cruelty of their torments with invincible constancy; and lest she should in the agony of pain be induced to a confession, she bit off her own tongue and spit it in the tyrant's face. In this manner she died faithful to the cause of liberty, shewing the world a remarkable example of constancy in her sex. The Athenians would not suffer the memory of so heroic an action to pass into oblivion. They erected a statue to her memory, in which a lioness was represented without a tongue.

In the mean time, Hippias put no bounds to his indignation. A rebellious people ever makes a suspicious tyrant. Numbers of citizens were put to death; and to guard himself for the future against a like enterprize, he endeavoured to establish his power by foreign alliances. He gave his daughter in marriage to the son of the tyrant of Lampsacus, he cultivated a correspondence with Artaphanes, governor of Sardis, and endeavoured to gain the friendship of the Lacedaemonians, who were at that time the most powerful people of Greece.

But he was supplanted in those very alliances from which he hoped the greatest assistance. The family of the Alcmaeonidae, who from the beginning of the revolution had been banished from Athens, endeavoured to undermine his interests at Sparta, and they at length succeeded. Being possessed of great riches, and also very liberal in their distribution, among other public services, they obtained liberty to rebuild the temple at Delphos, which they fronted in a most magnificence manner with Parian marble. So noble a munificence was not without a proper acknowledgement of gratitude from the priestess of Apollo, who, willing to oblige them, made her oracle the echo of their desires. As there was nothing, therefore, which this family so ardently desired as the downfall of regal power in Athens, the priestess seconded their intentions, and whenever the Spartans came to consult the oracle, no promise was ever made of the god's assistance, but upon condition that Athens should be set free. This order was so often repeated by the oracle, that the Spartans at last resolved to obey. Their first attempts were, however, unsuccessful; the troops they sent against the tyrant were repulsed with loss. A second effort succeeded. Athens was besieged, and the children of Hippias were made prisoners as they were secretly conveying to a place of safety out of the city. To redeem these from slavery, the father was obliged to come to an accommodation, by which he consented to give up his pretensions to the sovereign power, and to depart out of the Athenian territories in the space of five days. Thus, Athens was once more set free from its tyrants, and obtained its liberty the very same year that the kings were expelled from Rome. * The family of Alcmaeon were chiefly instrumental, but the people seemed fonder of acknowledging their obligations to the two friends who struck the first blow. The names of Harmodius and Aristogiton were held in the highest respect in all succeeding ages, and scarce considered inferior even to the gods themselves. Their statues were erected in the market-place, an honour which had never been rendered to any before; and, gazing upon these, the people caught a love for freedom, and a detestation for tyranny, which neither time nor terrors could ever after remove.



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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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