Scanned text contains errors.
demus. The report or information was called aTrotyatfis. This was a duty which they sometimes undertook on their own responsibility, and in the exercise of an old-established right, and sometimes on the order of the demus. (Deinarch. c. Dem. p. 97; Schb'mann, De Comitiis, p. 217, transl.) Nay, to such an extent did they carry this power, that on one occasion they apprehended an individual (Antiphon) who had been acquitted by the general assembly, and again brought him to a trial, which ended in his condemnation and death. (Dem. De Cor. pp.271, 272; Deinarch. c. Dem. p. 98.) Again, we find them revoking an appointment of the people whereby Aeschines was made the advocate of Athens before the Amphictionic council, and substituting Hyperides in his room. In these two cases also, they were most probably supported by public opinion, or by a strong party in the state. (Dem. I. c.)
They also had duties connected with religion, one of which was to superintend the sacred olives growing about Athens, and try those who were charged with destroying them. (Lysias, Ilepi rov stjkoi), p. 110.) We read, too, that in the discharge of their duty as religious censors, they on one occasion examined whether the wife of the king arch on was, as required by law, an Athenian; and finding she was not, imposed a fine upon her husband. (Dem. c. Neaer. p. 1372.) We learn from the same passage, that it was their office generally to punish the impious and irreligious. Again we are told, though rather in a rhetorical way, that they relieved the needy, from the resources of the rich, controlled the studies and education of the young, and interfered with and punished public characters as such. (Isocr. Areiop. p. 151.)
Independent, then, of its jurisdiction as a criminal court in cases of wilful murder, which Solon continued to the Areiopagus, its influence must have been sufficiently great to have been a considerable obstacle to the aggrandisement of the democracy at the expense of the other parties in the state. In fact, Plutarch (Solon. c. 18), expressly states that Solon had this object in view in its reconstruction ; and accordingly, we find that Pericles, who never was an archon or Areio-pagite, and who was opposed to the aristocracy for many reasons, resolved to diminish its power and circumscribe its sphere of action. His coadjutor in this work was Ephialtes, a statesman of inflexible integrity, and also a military commander. (Plut. Cim. 7, Peric. 10, 13.) They experienced much opposition in their attempts, not only in the assembly, but .also on the stage, where Aeschylus produced his tragedy of the Eumenides, the object of which was to impress upon the Athenians the dignity, the sacredness, and constitutional worth of the institution which Pericles and Ephialtes wished to reform. He reminds the Athenians that it was a tribunal instituted by their patron goddess Athena, and puts into her mouth a popular harangue full of warnings against innovations, and admonishing them to leave the Areiopagus in possession of its old and well grounded rights, that under its watchful guardianship they might sleep in security. (Muller, Eum. § 35.) Still the opposition failed : a decree was carried, about b. c. 458, by which, as Aristotle says, the Areiopagus was " mutilated," and many of its hereditary rights abolished. (Arist. Pol. ii. 9; Cic. De Nat, Dcor. ii. 29, De Rep. i. 27.)
Cicero, who in one place speaks of the council as governing Athens, observes in another that from that time all authority was vested in the ecclesia, and the state robbed of its ornament and honour. Plutarch (Cimon, 15) tells us that the people deprived the Areiopagus of nearly all its judicial authority (ras Kpicreis tt\^v oXiywv cmdffas), establishing an unmixed democracy, and making themselves supreme in the courts of justice, as if there had formerly been a superior tribunal. But we infer from another passage, that the council lost considerable authority in matters of state ; for we learn that Athens then entered upon a career of conquest and aggrandisement to which she had previously been a stranger; that, " like a rampant horse, she would not obey the reins, but snapped at Euboea, and leaped upon the neighbouring islands." These accounts in themselves, and as compared with others, are sufficiently vague and inconsistent to perplex and embarrass ; accordingly, there has been much discussion as to the precise nature of the alterations which Pericles effected; some, amongst whom we may mention Miiller (Eum. § 37), are of opinion that he deprived the Areiopagus of their old jurisdiction in cases of wilful murder, and one of his chief arguments is that it was evidently the design of Aeschylus to support them in this prerogative, which therefore must have been assailed. For a sufficient answer to this, we would refer our readers to Bishop Thirlwall's remarks (flist. of Greece, vol. iii. p. 24), merely stating in addition, that Demosthenes (c. Aristocr. p. 641) * expressly affirms, that neither tyrant nor democracy had ever dared to take away from them this jurisdiction. In addition to which it may be remarked, that the consequences ascribed to the innovation do not indicate that the Areiopagus lost its authority as a criminal tribunal, but rather that it was shorn of its power as superintending the morals and conduct of the citizens, both in civil and religious matters, and as exercising some control over their decisions. Now an authority of the former kind seems far removed from any political influence, and the popular belief as to its origin would have made it a dangerous object of attack, to say nothing of the general satisfaction the verdicts had always given. We may observe, too, that one of the chief features of a democracy is to make all the officers of the state responsible; and that it is not improbable that one of the changes introduced by Ephialtes was, to make the Areiopagus, like other functionaries, accountable to the demus for their administration, as, indeed, we know they afterwards were. (Aesch. c. Ctes. p. 56; Bockh, vol. i. p. 353.) This simple regulation would evidently have made them subservient, as they seem to have been, to public opinion; whereas no such subserviency is recorded in criminal matters, their tribunal, on the contrary, being always spoken of as most just and holy; so much so, that Demosthenes says (c. Arist. pp. 641, 642) that not even the condemned whispered an insinuation against the righteousness of their verdicts. Indeed, .the proceedings before the Areiopagus, in cases of murder, were by their solemnity and fairness well calculated to insure
* For an able vindication of this statement of Demosthenes, the reader is referred to Hermann, Opusc. vol. iv. p. 299.