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Encyclopedia > Draco (lawgiver)

Draco (IPA pronunciation: [ˈdreɪkoʊ]; from Greek Δράκων, IPA ['drakɔːn]) was the first legislator of ancient Athens, Greece, 7th century BC. Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... Athens (Greek: Αθήνα - Athína) is the largest city and capital of Greece, located in the Attica periphery of central Greece. ... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 7th century BC started on January 1, 700 BC and ended on December 31, 601 BC. // Overview Events Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria who created the the first systematically collected library at Nineveh A 16th century depiction of the Hanging Gardens of...



Very little is known of his life. He probably belonged to the Eupatridae.[1] The Suda states that he was contemporaneous with or older than the Seven Sages of Greece, and established the legal code with which he is identified late in life, in the 39th Olympiad. It also relates a story of his death in the Aeginian theater by acclamation. His admirers "threw so many hats and shirts and cloaks on his head that he suffocated, and was buried in that selfsame theatre".[2] Aristotle specifies that Draco laid down his code in the archonship of Aristaechmus (Ἀρισταίχμος), 620 or 621 BC.[3] Eupatridae (Sons of noble fathers or the well-born) refers to the ancient nobility of Attica. ... Suda (Σουδα or alternatively Suidas) is a massive 10th century Byzantine Greek historical encyclopædia of the ancient Mediterranean world. ... The Seven Sages (of Greece) (c. ... Coordinates 37°45′ N 23°26′ E Country Greece Periphery Attica Prefecture Piraeus Population 13,552 source (2001) Area 87. ... Centuries: 8th century BC - 7th century BC - 6th century BC Decades: 670s BC 660s BC 650s BC 640s BC 630s BC - 620s BC - 610s BC 600s BC 590s BC 580s BC 570s BC Events and Trends 627 BC - Death of Assurbanipal, king of Assyria; he is succeeded by Assur_etel_ilani (approximate...

The Draconic constitution

The laws (θεσμόι) he laid down were the first written constitution of Athens. So that no one would be unaware of them, they were posted on wooden tablets (άξονες), where they were preserved for almost two centuries, on steles of the shape of three-sided pyramids (κύρβεις). The tablets were perhaps called axones because they could be pivoted along the pyramid's axis, to read any side. Lady Justice or Justitia is a personification of the moral force that underlies the legal system (particularly in Western art). ... Ancient Egyptian funerary stele Suenos Stone in Forres Scotland A stele (or stela) is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerary or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living—inscribed, carved in relief (bas...

The constitution featured several major innovations:

  • Instead of oral laws known to a special class, arbitrarily applied and interpreted, all laws were written, and thus made known to all literate citizens, who could make appeal to the Areopagus for injustices.
  • The laws distinguish between murder and involuntary homicide.

The laws, however, were particularly harsh: For example, any debtor whose status was lower than that of his creditor was forced into slavery.[citation needed] The punishment was more lenient for those owing debt to a member of a lower class. The death penalty was the punishment for even minor offenses. Concerning the liberal use of the death penalty in the Draconic code, Plutarch states: Slave redirects here. ... Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is the execution of a convicted criminal by the state as punishment for crimes known as capital crimes or capital offences. ... Look up Punishment in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In law, an offense is a violation of the penal law. ... Mestrius Plutarchus (Greek: Πλούταρχος; 46 - 127), better known in English as Plutarch, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist. ...

αὐτὸς δ' ἐκεῖνος, ὥς φασιν, ἐρωτώμενος διὰ τί τοῖς πλείστοις ἀδικήμασι ζημίαν ἔταξε θάνατον, ἀπεκρίνατο τὰ μὲν μικρὰ ταύτης ἄξια νομίζειν, τοῖς δὲ μεγάλοις οὐκ ἔχειν μείζονα.[4]

In Stewart and Long's translation,

It is said that Drakon himself, when asked why he had fixed the punishment of death for most offences, answered that he considered these lesser crimes to deserve it, and he had no greater punishment for more important ones.[5]

Draco introduced the lot-chosen Council of Four Hundred (in reality, 401)[6]—distinct from the Areopagus— which evolved in later constitutions to play a large role in Athenian democracy. Aristotle notes that Draco, while having the laws written, merely legislated for an existing unwritten Athenian constitution[7], such as setting exact qualifications for eligibility for office. This article concerns the Classical judicial body. ... The speakers platform in the Pnyx, the meeting ground of the assembly where all the great political struggles of Athens were fought during the Golden Age. Here Athenian statesmen stood to speak, such as Pericles and Aristides in the 5th century BC and Demosthenes and Aeschines in the 4th...

Draco's code was later largely revised by Solon, in the early 6th century BC, with the exception of homicide laws.[8] For other uses, see Solon (disambiguation). ... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 6th century BC started on January 1, 600 BC and ended on December 31, 501 BC. // Monument 1, an Olmec colossal head at La Venta The 5th and 6th centuries BC were a time of empires, but more importantly, a time...


Look up Draconian in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

The stringency of his legal code gave rise to the modern English word "draconian," meaning marked by extreme severity or cruelty, especially about laws or governments. Sample quotes: Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 150 languages. ...

  • "Emancipation at the price of a ruinous war and a Draconian peace." (G.W. Johnson)
  • "by draconian labor laws the regime makes life harder than it need be." (F.C. Barghoorn)
  • "The threat…could never be eliminated unless he were empowered to take draconian punitive measures." (S. Rushdie.)
  • "increasingly draconian immigration policy" (Bishops attack Home Office plan)[9]


  1. ^ French entry.
  2. ^ Suidas. "Δράκων", Suda On Line, Adler number delta, 1495.
  3. ^ Aristotle. The Athenian Constitution.
  4. ^ Plutarch. "Solon," Lives.
  5. ^ Plutarch, et alia. Plutarch's Lives, Volume 1 (of 4). Aubrey Stewart and George Long, translators.
  6. ^ Aristotle. The Athenian Constitution, 4.1.
  7. ^ Aristotle. Politics, 1274a.
  8. ^ Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 7.1.
  9. ^ BBC on Bishops attack Home Office plan



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