The Ancient Library

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On this page: Somnus – Sophista




to the State. For this purpose he divided the population into four classes, founded on the possession of land. (1) Pentdr.osiB-medimni, who had at least 500 medimni (750 bushels) of corn or mStretoe of wine or oil as yearly income. (2) Hippels, or knights, with at least 300 medimni. (3) Zeugltoe (possessors of a yoke of oxen), with at least 150 medimni. (4) Thetis (workers for wages), with less than 150 medimni of yearly income. Solon's legislation only granted to the first three of these four classes a vote in the election of responsible officers, and only to the first class the power of election to the highest offices; as, for instance, that of archon. The fourth class was excluded from all official positions, but possessed the right of voting in the general public assemblies which chose officials and passed laws. They had also the right of taking part in the trials by jury which Solon had instituted. The first three classes were bound to serve as hoplites; the cavalry was raised out of the first two, while the fourth class was only employed as light-armed troops or on the fleet, and appa­rently for pay. The others served without pay. The holders of office in the State were also unpaid. Solon established as the chief consultative body the Council of the Four Hundred (see boule), in which only the first three classes took part, and as chief administrative body the Areopagus (q.v.) which was to be filled up by those who had been archons. Besides this, he promulgated a code of laws embracing the whole of public and private life, the salu­tary effects of which lasted long after the end of his constitution.

[According to Aristotle's Constitution of Athens, 4, a Council of 401 members was part of Dracon's constitution (about 621 B.C.). The members were selected by lot from the whole body of citizens. Solon (who was archon in 594) reduced the Council to 400, one hundred from each of the four tribes; and extended in some particulars the powers already possessed by the Areopagus (ib. 8).]

Somnns. The Eoman god of sleep (q.v.). Sophists (Gr. sSphistai). Properly a name given by the Greeks to all those

who professed knowledge, or a particular knowledge or a particular art. Hence the Seven Wise Men are often thus called; but the name was especially applied to the educated men of ready speech, who, from about the year 450 B.C., used to travel through Greece from place to place, and

imparted what they knew for money. They have the merit of having popularized the interest in knowledge which had up to that, time been confined within narrow circles, and especially of having contributed to the formation of eloquence. For they were the first to make style an object of study, and to institute serious investigations into the art of rhetorical expression. Their teach­ing was chiefly intended to give their pnpils versatility in the use of speech, and thus to fit them for taking part in public life. As the subject of their dis­courses, they chose by preference questions of public interest to persons of general education. The expression, however, al­ways remained the important thing, while positive knowledge fell more and more into the background. Some of them even started from the position, that virtue and knowledge were only subjective notions. PrOMgOras of Abdera, who appeared about 445 b.c., is named as the first Sophist; after him the most important is Gorgias of Leontlni; PrOdicus of Ceos and Hipplai of EHs are contemporaries of the other two. Wherever they appeared, especially in Athens, they were received with the greatest enthusiasm, and many flocked to hear them. Even such men as Pericles, Euripides, and Socrates sought their society; and Socrates owed to them much that was suggestive in his own pursuit of practical philosophy, though, on the other hand, he persistently attacked the principles under­lying their public teaching. These prin­ciples became further exaggerated under their successors, who did not think they needed even knowledge of fact to talk as they pleased about everything. Accord­ingly the skill of the Sophist degenerated into mere technicalities and complete absence of reason, and became absolutely contemp­tible. [See Grote's History of Greece., chap. Ixvii, and Dr. H. Sidgwick's essay in the Journal of Philology, iv 288.]

With the revival of Greek eloquence, from about the beginning of the 2nd cen­tury a.d., the name of Sophist attained a new distinction. At that time the name was given to the professional orators, who appeared in public with great pomp and delivered declamations either prepared be­forehand or improvised on the spot. Like the earlier Sophists, they went generally from place to place, and were overwhelmed with applause and with marks of distinc­tion by their contemporaries, including even the Roman emperors. Dion Chrysos-

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