Dēmos · Classical Athenian Democracy · a Stoa Publication
→ History: Ephialtes’ Reforms.
Christopher W. Blackwell, edition of January 26, 2003
page 15 of 21
By means of Ephialtes’ reforms, according to Aristotle, “the Council of the Areopagus was deprived of the superintendence of affairs. After this there came about an increased relaxation of the constitution” (Aristot. Ath. Pol. 26.1). A fragment from Philochorus, who was a historian writing in the
To understand what Aristotle means by “deprived of superintendence of affairs”, or what Philochorus means by “only those cases pertaining to the body” we can only look at comments in the sources about the Court of the Areopagus’ role after Ephialtes’ reforms. Aristotle, describing the Court of the Areopagus and its functions in
If Ephialtes’ reforms took many crimes out of the jurisdiction of the Court of the Areopagus and assigned them to other courts, with juries of citizens, then there would have been a greater need for citizens to serve on juries. And, in fact, several of the accounts of Ephialtes and Pericles reforming the Court of the Areopagus also mention the institution of pay for jury service, an innovation that may have aimed at meeting this new need. Aristotle relates the two reforms very closely, and relates them both to an increasingly democratic government: “Ephialtes and Pericles docked the power of the Council on the Areopagus, while Pericles instituted payment for serving in the law-courts, and in this manner finally the successive leaders of the people led them on by growing stages to the present democracy” (Aristot. Pol. 1274a; also Plut. Per. 9.3; Aristot. Ath. Pol. 27.2-3).
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