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Incidenza

dell’
antico
dialoghi di storia greca

anno 14, 2, 2016


Incidenza dell’Antico
dialoghi di storia greca
anno 14, 2, 2016
Pubblicazione annuale
Registrazione del Tribunale di Napoli n. 5337 del 14.10.2002
ISSN: 1971-2995
Abbreviazione assegnata da l’Année Philologique: IncidAntico
www.incidenzadellantico.it

Direzione
Alfonso Mele (direttore responsabile), MAurizio GiAnGiulio

Comitato scientifico
Corinne Bonnet, luisA BreGliA, riCCArdo di donAto, MArio loMBArdo,
MAuro MoGGi, niColA f. PArise, PAsCAl PAyen, doMinGo PláCido,
AnGelA PontrAndolfo, PAolo sCArPi

Comitato editoriale e di redazione


MAurizio BuGno, eduArdo federiCo, MArCello luPi,
GABriellA Pironti, Vittorio sAldutti, AMedeo VisConti

Impaginazione
serenA CuoPPolo

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SOMMARIO

5 Abstracts

Saggi
9 Alfonso Mele, Eforo e le colonie greche d’Occidente II
71 MAtilde Civitillo, La ‘formula/iscrizione di Archanes’ nel contesto della
glittica pre- e proto-palaziale. Un’analisi comparata
117 luCiA CeCChet, The Athenian nomos argias. Notes for a possible interpre-
tation
143 lAurA sAnCho roCher, Kerdos, philia and mesoi. Aristotle and the ways
of preventing stasis
175 lAurA loddo, Cambiamenti costituzionali nei Philippika di Teopompo di
Chio
207 GiAnfrAnCo MosConi, Polibio e la mousike (oltre l’elogio degli Arcadi)

Note
247 vittorio sAldutti, Atene e Mitilene dopo il 427 a.C. Sulla datazione di
IG I3 66
263 ClAudio vACAnti, Per un atlante geopolitico della Repubblica romana. Italia
e Magna Grecia tra II sannitica e I punica
295 CristinA PePe, Theodor Mommsen e Cassino. Osservazioni a partire da una
lettera inedita

Rassegne
305 MAurizio GiAnGiulio, Aristocrazie in discussione. Verso un nuovo modello
per la società greca arcaica?
317 elisAbettA GrisAnzio, Sortir de la guerre civile. Les traités de réconciliation
athéniens de 403 et 401 av. J.-C. et la recomposition de la cité divisée
Recensioni
333 Mariella De Simone, La lira asiatica di Apollo. Interazioni musicali tra la
Grecia antica e il Mediterraneo orientale (Sara Adamo)
337 Paola Schirripa, Il tempio, il rituale, il giuramento. Spazi del sacro in
Tucidide (Lucio M. Valletta)
341 Alex Gottesman, Politics and the Street in Democratic Athens (Massimi-
liano Lanzillo)
345 Giulia Tozzi, Assemblee politiche e spazio teatrale ad Atene (Cristina
Carabillò)
350 Claudia Brunello, Storia e paideia nel Panatenaico di Isocrate (Filomena
Caccia)
354 Archeologia italiana e tedesca in Italia durante la costituzione dello Stato
Unitario (Rossella Iovinella)
ABSTRACTS

Alfonso Mele, Eforo e le colonie greche d’Occidente II [9-70]


This paper is the second part of a wider work, aiming to investigate the narration of
Ephorus of Cyme on the Greek colonization of the West, as it can be recovered from
his fragments and from the secondary sources, particularly the Iambs to Nicomedes
(i.e. the Periegesis of the so called Pseudo-Scymnus) and Strabo.
Ephorus – apoikiai – Magna Graecia and Sicily – Iambs to Nicomedes – Strabo

MAtilde CiVitillo, La ‘formula/iscrizione di Archanes’ nel contesto della glit-


tica pre- e proto-palaziale. Un’analisi comparata [71-116]
In the multidisciplinary study into the Cretan hieroglyphic script on seals, which
advocates a synergy between anthropology, archaeology, epigraphy and semiotics,
a connection can be postulated among the inscription’s meaning, the shape and the
material of the seal on which it was engraved, the way the signs are arranged in the
graphic space, the syntax of specific sign-groupes, and the sphragistic use of seals.
Concerning these very aspects, the so-called hieroglyphic ‘Archanes formula’ reveals
a writing habitus completely different from the other hieroglyphic ‘formulas’, thus
suggesting a different meaning and scope. This inscription later reappears in Linear
A as the much discussed a/ja-sa-sa-ra-me ‘libation formula’. It now seems gener-
ally accepted, from a combinatory point of view, that its meaning is linked to the
semantic field of ‘to give/to offer to – the deity’. This in turn allow us to hypothesize
that hieroglyphic seals bearing the ‘Archanes formula’ may well have been used as
personal status symbols and sphragistic instruments by factions or corporate groups
who justified their claims to keep surplus resources thus subtracting them from the
community as ‘offerings/things delivered to the deity’.
Cretan hieroglyphic script – seals and sealings – hieroglyphic ‘Archanes formula’
– Minoan ‘libation formula’ – ‘Archanes script group’
6 abstracts

luCiA CeCChet, The Athenian nomos argias. Notes for a possible interpreta-
tion [117-142]
This essay discusses the problem of the origin and use of the Athenian nomos ar-
gias. The law was probably part of the archaic agrarian legislation and it originally
concerned inheritance and family rights. However, over the course of the classical
period, it broadened its field of application, becoming a law against unemployment
and begging.
argia – inactivity – agrarian legislation – unemployment – criminality

lAurA sAnCho roCher, Kerdos, philia and mesoi. Aristotle and the ways of
preventing stasis [143-174]
In the face of the biggest threat for the stability and endurance of any constitu-
tion – the political conflict between the rich and the poor, and their respective and
incompatible ways of understanding distributive justice –, Aristotle advises politi-
cians and legislators to recover a sense of philia among citizens and to promote the
middling class (mesoi), which comes to be seen as a mediator between both groups.
The excesses originated from covetousness, so characteristic of extreme democracy
and dynasteia, find their origin in the proportions achieved by a specific type of
market economy whose only goal is the accumulation of wealth. A city composed of
similar but not completely equal oikoi, joined by friendship and ready to exchange
their survival goods as well as political services, could take the shape of various
mixed constitutions that would eventually earn the majority’s benevolence, and
increase the economic level and the paideia of its members.
oikos – stasis – philia – mesoi – democracy

lAurA loddo, Cambiamenti costituzionali nei Philippika di Teopompo di


Chio [175-206]
This paper deals with the concept of constitutional change (metabole politeion) in
the surviving fragments of Theopompus’ Philippika. In particular, the analysis of
the Philippika let to identify three main thematic cores pertaining to this topic: the
first group is characterized by those fragments showing a clear relation between
the crisis of a form of government and the leaders’ behaviour; the second includes
those passages describing the consequences of the adoption of a new constitutional
form on the civic community’s customs; the last group is composed by those frag-
ments in which the malpractice and the licentiousness of a community are consid-
ered the main reasons for its extinction. Therefore, we can conclude that not only
Theopompus undertook a general reflection on the constitutional change, but also
his position about this topic reveals itself as very interesting, if compared with the
historiographical works of the same period.
Theopompus – Philippika – metabole politeion – universal history – tryphe
abstracts 7

GiAnfrAnCo MosConi, Polibio e la mousike (oltre l’elogio degli Arcadi) [207-245]


In Hist. IV 20-21 Polybius praises the role of music in Arcadian paideia and daily
life, and attaches great importance to the moral effect of «true music», i.e. music
respectful to tradition. However this is only a pose, useful to extol Arcadian moral
excellence. This is proved by several evidences in the rest of Polybius’ work:
Polybius (XXXVIII 5,4-7) accepts without trouble the tropos metabolikos, typical
of ‘new music’ and devoided of educational value; he pays no attention to musi-
cal styles and facts, or to musicians; he attaches no importance to the possess of
musical education or knowledge, not only by politicians or monarchs from other
Hellenic countries, but even by an exemplar Arcadian like Philopoemen; on the
contrary, Polybius often disapproves of the exhibition of musical qualities or of
interest in akroamata (the most frequent musical term in Polybius’ work), regard-
ing it as proof of baseness.
Polybius – music – Hellenistic education – symposium – metabolikos tropos

Vittorio sAldutti, Atene e Mitilene dopo il 427 a.C. Sulla datazione di IG I3


66 [247-262]
After the Mytilenian revolt against the empire, the Athenians sent to the island a
settlement, a cleruchy, according to Thucydides. The duration and, as a consequence,
the importance of it depend on the date of a fragmentary inscription (IG I3 66) found
on the south slope of the Acropolis, that records the subsequent peace treaty between
the Lesbian cities and Athens. The article rejects the traditional high date for this
decree, between 427 and 424 b.C., and proposes a lower date, after the Peace of
Nicias and before the Sicilian expedition.
Peloponnesian war – Mytilenean revolt – cleruchy – Lesbos – autonomy

ClAudio VACAnti, Per un atlante geopolitico della Repubblica romana. Italia


e Magna Grecia tra II sannitica e I punica [263-293]
This article is a case-study: for the first time, geopolitical maps are used as heuristic
and hermeneutic tools for a historical analysis of ancient history. Eleven geopolitical
cards show the geostrategic function of colonies and roads during the expansion of
Rome in Italy between the Second Samnite War and the First Punic War. The maps
outline how a dynamic limes-system, together with soft power, is a fundamental
element of the Roman grand strategy. This study is therefore a first example of
geopolitical Atlas of the Roman Republic.
geopolitical maps – Roman colonies – limes – Mid Republican Rome – grand
strategy
8 abstracts

CristinA PePe, Theodor Mommsen e Cassino. Osservazioni a partire da una


lettera inedita [295-303]
This paper presents an unknown letter by Theodor Mommsen written in 1876
and kept at the National Library ‘Vittorio Emanuele III’ in Naples. The layer and
politician Loreto Lena, born and lived in Cassino, is identified as addressee of the
letter. This document sheds light on connections between Mommsen and some
contemporary savants of Cassino, a city that the famous German scholar visited
during his journeys through Campania from 1873 to 1876 while he was working
to publish the tenth volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum.
Theodor Mommsen – CIL – epigraphic collection – Cassino – Loreto Lena
Lucia Cecchet
Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz
cecchet@uni-mainz.de

THE ATHENIAN NOMOS ARGIAS


Notes for a possible interpretation *

The problem
The condemnation of inactivity and idleness is often attested to in literary
sources, from the archaic to the classical period; ancient authors usually relate
the state of inactivity with the inclination towards parasitical behaviours and,
ultimately, with criminality. This view emerges as early as the archaic epics:
in the Odyssey, Odysseus, under the disguise of a beggar, is often subject
to accusations of refusing to work and resorting to criminality in order to
make his living1. As is well known, the Leitmotif of Hesiod’s Works and
Days is the warning against the risks entailed by argia, among which the
main ones are poverty and social exclusion2. Against this background, it is
worth noting that in several Greek poleis, the condemnation of inactivity
had a practical implementation in the field of legislation: laws and sanctions
against argia seem to have existed since the archaic period in several parts
of the Greek world3.
*
I wish to thank Prof. M. Giangiulio for reading the first draft of this paper and comment-
ing on it. My gratitude goes also to the anonymous reviewers of this journal for their comments
and suggestions.
1
For accusations of idleness against Odysseus, see, for example, Od. XVII 219-232 and
XVIII 360-367. See Cecchet 2015, esp. 59-65. Cf. Coin-Longeray 2014, esp. 182-190. On per-
ceptions of poverty specifically in Athenian society, see Rosivach 1991, 189-198; Cecchet 2013,
53-66; Pritchard 2013, 2-9.
2
Hes. Op. 303, 311 passim.
3
Evidence, however, is fragmentary and often attested to by late sources. A nomos argias
is attested to for Corinth in Nic. Dam. Müller 90 fr. 58; for doubts on the attribution of the law to

Incidenza dell’Antico 14, 2, 2016, 117-142


118 LUCIA CECCHET

A nomos argias, in classical Athens, is mentioned in two fragments


of Lysias4, as well as in a passage of Demosthenes’ Against Eubulides5.
However, these passages do not provide any information about the content
of the law. Some scholars have argued that the nomos was a fourth-century
invention, deliberately inserted in the corpus solonicum. This position is
partly due to general pessimism about the historicity of Solonian laws6.
More recent scholars have argued in favour of a less sceptical view, and the
focus of attention has shifted from the question of origin and authorship to
that of the meaning and applications of the law7.
This article offers an interpretation of the Athenian nomos argias, based
on hypotheses about its historical development. The discussion of the rel-
evant evidence will show that there are good reasons to believe that the
nomos argias was first introduced in the context of the sixth-century agrarian
crisis and it was still in use in the fourth century BC. However, its purpose
shifted from the field of agrarian legislation to a broader field of application.

1. The nomos argias as part of the archaic agrarian legislation


1.1 Argia and the rights of the oikos
Ancient authors provide diverging information about the authorship of the
Athenian nomos argias, but they all seem to agree on the fact that the law
was introduced in the archaic period. Our earliest evidence for the existence
of a law and a graphe against argia at Athens is provided by two fragments
of Lysias. The first fragment is from the speech Against Ariston8:

Periander, see Hölkeskamp 1999, 157 with n. 39. Measures against argia are also attested to for
Methymna (Theop. FGrHist 115 F 227), Abdera (Athen. IV 168b), Seriphos (Plut. Mor. 602A),
Lucania (Nic. Dam. Müller 90 fr. 108) and Sardinia (Ael. VH IV 1,18-20); see Schmitz 2004,
192 n. 105 and 108.
4
Frr. 40b and 246 Carey.
5
Dem. LVII 32.
6
Ruschenbusch 1966, 54 notably argues that, with few exceptions, neither the Attic orators
nor Plutarch contain genuine laws of Solon, and he cites the nomos argias as a clear example of
a spurious Solonian law; see Ruschenbusch 1966, 49 with specific reference to the nomos argias
(fr. 148a-e). In a famous article (Ruschenbusch 1958, 398-424), he shows that the orators began
attributing laws to Solon from 356 BC, and he advances the hypothesis that around 356 BC, a
second revision of the Solonian code (after that of 403 BC) was made. For objections to the So-
lonian authorship of the nomos argias, see also Oliva 1973, 41; De Libero 1996, 77.
7
In favour of Solon’s authorship, see Wallace 1989, 62-64; Leão-Rhodes 2015, 111-112
(cf. Leão 2001, 103-108); Loddo 2015a, 111-129; on the possible use of the law in the fourth
century, see Schmitz 2004, 190-20; for the attribution of the law to Peisistratus, see Dreizehnter
1978, 371-386.
8
Lys. fr. 40b Carey: Λυσίας ἐν τῷ κατὰ Ἀρίστωνός φησιν ὅτι Δράκων ἦν ὁ θεὶς τὸν
νόμον, αὖθις δὲ καὶ Σόλων ἐχρήσατο, θάνατον οὐχ ὁρίσας ὥσπερ ἐκεῖνος, ἀλλ’ ἀτιμίαν, ἐάν
τις ἁλῷ τρίς, ἐὰν δ’ ἅπαξ, ζημιοῦσθαι δραχμὰς ἑκατόν.
THE ATHENIAN NOMOS ARGIAS 119

In Against Ariston Lysias says that Draco is the one who introduced the nomos
(argias); also Solon used it, yet without recurring to death penalty as Draco
did, but to atimia in the event that one was spoken guilty three times; in the
event that one was found guilty once, he set a fine of one hundred drachmas.
(my trans.)

The second is from Lysias’ Against Nicides9:

It seems that [Solon] made very good laws: in the event that someone does not
maintain the parents, he shall lose his rights; similarly (this shall happen) to the
one who dissipates the patrimony of his ancestors. And the argos10 shall be lia-
ble to public prosecution by anyone who wishes. Lysias in the speech Against
Nicides says that Draco wrote the law … (my trans.)

In the first fragment, a law against argia is said to have been introduced
by Draco and repealed by Solon, who replaced the death penalty with the
payment of a fine of 100 drachmas in the event the individual was found
guilty of argia once or twice, or with a condemnation to atimia in the event
he was found guilty of argia three times. The second fragment deals with
prosecutions concerning family rights; it confirms Draco’s authorship of
the law and adds the information that, in Solon’s time, a public prosecution
(graphe) could be initiated against argia. The Draconian authorship and the
penalty change by Solon are also attested to by Plutarch11:

In the first place, then, he [i.e. Solon] repealed the laws of Draco, all except
those concerning homicide because they were too severe and their penalties
too heavy. For one penalty – death – was assigned to almost all transgressions,
so that even those convicted of argia [τοὺς ἀργίας ἁλόντας] were put to de-
ath, and those who stole vegetables or fruits received the same punishment as
those who committed sacrilege or murder. (trans. B. Perrin adapted)

The fundamental question is whether it is plausible that a nomos argias was


actually part of an archaic legislation, or if we have here the projection in
the past of a law introduced later in the corpus solonicum. The only possible

9
Lys. fr. 246 Carey: δοκεῖ δὲ καὶ κάλλιστα νομοθετῆσαι· ἐάν τις μὴ τρέφῃ τοὺς γονέας,
ἄτιμος ἔστω· ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁ τὰ πατρῷα κατεδηδοκὼς ὁμοίως. καὶ ὁ ἀργὸς ὑπεύθυνος ἔστω παντὶ
τῷ βουλομένῳ γράφεσθαι. Λυσίας δ’ ἐν τῷ κατὰ Νικίδου Δράκοντά φησι γεγραφέναι τὸν
νόμον … For a reconstruction of the possible context of the speech, and the legal suit in which it
was delivered, see now Loddo 2015b, 96-125.
10
In this and in the following translations I have intentionally maintained the original
Greek argia and argos.
11
Plut. Sol. 17,1.
120 LUCIA CECCHET

answer to this question is either an act of faith to our sources – a risky ac-
tion, since the rewriting of laws in the late fifth century and their attribution
to either Draco or Solon have long been acknowledged by scholars – or an
evaluation of these accounts in relation to the possible historical context of
the origin of the law. What we should ask is whether it is plausible that this
condemnation of argia found an implementation in the field of legislation
as early as the archaic period.
The author of the Ath. Pol. provides a list of dikai and graphai for which,
in his own day, the archons were responsible; interestingly, he mentions a
prosecution against paranoia, i.e. folly, but not a graphe argias12. It is in-
teresting to note that also in the Anecdota Graeca, the legal suit concerning
argia is classified as the same type as that concerning paranoia (i.e. both
as epidikasiai)13. The epidikasia was the claim on the inheritance advanced
by an heir in the event that the inheritance did not pass directly from father
to son or to another relative; the claim was submitted to the archon, who
presented it to the first sovereign assembly of the following month and, in
case none advanced a counter-claim, he would grant the land (kleros) to the
heir. In the event that one advanced a counter-claim, however, the case was
settled with a lawsuit before a court (diadikasia)14. If the epidikasia argias
mentioned in Anecdota Graeca existed, it must have concerned cases in
which the claim on inheritance was contested on the grounds that the heir was
judged incapable of or unwilling to take care of the inheritance. However,
the existence of the epidikasia argias has been doubted and it is more likely
that the correct reading of the text attributed the genitive argias to graphai15.
Based on these references to argia in connection with family rights in
our sources, many scholars have argued that the nomos argias aimed at

12
[Arist.] Ath. Pol. 56,6. See Harrison 1968-71, I, 80 n. 2.
13
Anecdota Graeca I 310 Bekker: πρὸς τὸν ἄρχοντα κακώσεως ἐλαγχάνοντο γραφαὶ
καὶ τῶν γονέων, εἰ τούτους τις αἰτίαν ἔχοι κακοῦν, καὶ τῶν ὀρφανῶν· ἔτι δὲ παρανοίας καὶ
ἀργίας ἐπιδικασίαι καὶ ἐπικλήρων γυναικῶν. Against the reliability of this passage, see now
Loddo 2016, 37-49, who argues that the word epidikasiai is erroneously linked to the genitive
words argias and paranoias in the text. This is the result of a synthesis in the composition of the
lexicon, while she argues in favour of a graphe argias. The textual problem was already solved
by Rose with a different emendation of the text of the Anecdota, in which he adds a comma and
a καὶ before ἐπιδικασίαι, so that the genitive words paranoias and argias refer to graphai; see
Arist. fr. 420 Rose (Historica): πρὸς τὸν ἄρχοντα κακώσεως ἐλαγχάνοντο γραφαὶ καὶ τῶν
γονέων εἰ τούτους τις αἰτίαν ἔχοι κακοῦν καὶ τῶν ὀρφανῶν, ἔτι δὲ παρανοίας καὶ ἀργίας,
καὶ ἐπιδικασίαι ἐπικλήρων γυναικῶν («before the archon public cases were brought both for
offences against parents, if someone had done wrong to them, and against orphans. Also public
actions for paranoia and argia and inheritance disputes over epikleroi [could be brought against
the archon]»; my trans.). For a mention of the graphe argias, see Poll. VIII 40.
14
See epidikasia in Thalheim, RE VI 1, 58; Lipsius 1905, II, 463-465; 581-588; Harrison
1968-71, 158-162; Biscardi 1982, 82-83, 128-129, 212; Todd 1993, 220; 228-229.
15
See n. 13 above.
THE ATHENIAN NOMOS ARGIAS 121

protecting the property of the oikos. Busolt believed that it was directed at
preventing the dissolution of the inheritance16. Lipsius classified both the
graphe argias and the dike paranoias as familienrechtliche Klagen (i.e.
prosecutions for violations of the family rights)17. Harrison considered both
of them to be under the category of ‘rights of children’, and he argued that
they were aimed at protecting the rights of heirs18, because both ho paranoos
and ho argos damage the family’s property, the first by wasting it with folly
behaviour and the second by refusing to work in order to preserve it.
From a slightly different perspective, Dreizehnter argued that the nomos
was not directed against any form of inactivity damaging the oikos, but it was
specifically aimed at fighting off the risk of agricultural maladministration;
based on the examination of the literary record for argia, he highlighted that
chorion argon designated the uncultivated land, lithos argos the non-worked
stone and sitos argos the non-grounded crops19. In fact, the adjective argos,
with reference to the state of non-cultivation of the land, is also attested to in
classical sources: Isocrates in Panegyricus uses the expression ἀργὸς χώρα
to refer to uncultivated land20; similarly, in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, we find
ἀργὸς γῆ referred to as the uncultivated soil21, and Theophrastus, speaking
about a kind of herb, notes that it grows on wild and uncultivated land, using
the expression χωρία ψυχρὰ καὶ ἀργά22. All of this indeed supports the idea
of the agricultural meaning of argia. Along the same lines, Todd considered
the graphe argias as a procedure that was specifically aimed at protecting
land cultivation23, and in the recent republication of the laws of Solon, by
Leão and Rhodes, the law is classified within the group of the laws dealing
with economic matters, and specifically with the limits to land acquisition24.

16
Busolt 1895, II, 288.
17
Lipsius 1905, I, 59-60. Cf. Biscardi 1982, 261 for the view that the crime of argia was
perceived as damaging the family rather than to the whole society.
18
Harrison 1968-71, I, 79-80.
19
Dreizehnter 1978, 379-80 with n. 38, 39, 40, 41. On p. 380, he refers to argia as «Nicht-
bewirtschaftung des oikos». On p. 78, he argues against the idea that, in the archaic period, the law
punished any form of inactivity in favour of the view that it specifically targeted the dissipation
of the property of the oikos: «Der Unterschied besteht darin, dass nicht der Müßiggang oder die
Untätigkeit des Hausherrn an sich bestraft wird, sondern die Vernachlässigung des oikos, ganz
gleich ob der Hausherr sie dadurch verschuldet, dass er sich dem Nichtstun hingibt oder dadurch,
dass er andere Geschäfte betreibt, also durchaus nicht untätig ist». Cf. Biscardi 1982, 261, accord-
ing to whom the graphe argias punished the chief of the oikos in the event he would not supply
food and means of subsistence to his family.
20
Isoc. IV 132.
21
Xen. Cyr. III 2,19.
22
Theophr. HP IX 12,2.
23
Todd 1993, 245.
24
Leão, Rhodes 2015, 109-112.
122 LUCIA CECCHET

If we have a broader look at the occurrences of argia in the literary record,


we see that the link between argia and agricultural work is clear above all in
archaic sources. In Odyssey, the kind of activities that the aergos refuses to
perform are usually small errands in the house – it is the case of Odysseus
at the palace in Ithaca25 – or the tilling of land, as well as, in general, all
of the tasks that belong in the agricultural sector. In Odyssey XXIV, Odys-
seus praises the hard-working habits of his father Laertes and, pretending
to believe that he is a slave, he observes that he has been neglected by his
master, but this cannot have happened due to his argia, for he has always
been a very keen worker26. This observation follows the list of the activities
that Laertes performs in his farm. The aergos, in the epics, is often depicted
as a type that is opposed to the hard-working27 and is doomed to an unhappy
life. In Hesiod’s Works and Days – that itself can be regarded as a poem
against argia – hunger is said to be the eternal comrade of the aergos28 and
the poet explains that the idle is destined to envy the men who enrich, thanks
to their own work29. Idle behaviour can bring the dissipation of inheritance:
the beggar Arnaeus/Irus in Odyssey XVIII is depicted as a fat fool who is
always busy eating and drinking, yet the employment of the epithet potnia
for his mother30 suggests that he did not have obscure origins. His condition
of destitution is probably due to the same argia that he shows at the court
of Ithaca and that makes him prefer begging and small errands to actively
engaging with work31.
To shed light on the origins of a law is indeed a thorny task. However,
the association of argia with agricultural work in archaic sources support

25
Telemachus, referring to the beggar Odysseus at the court of Ithaca, makes it clear that
the stranger will have to earn his daily bread at the palace, for there, the inactive is not welcomed
(Od. XIX 27-28): ξεῖνος ὅδ’˙ οὐ γὰρ ἀεργὸν ἀνέξομαι, ὅς κεν ἐμῆς γε/ χοίνικος ἅπτηται.
26
Od. XXIV 251: οὐ μὲν ἀεργίης γε ἄναξ ἕνεκ’ οὔ σε κομίζει.
27
See, for example, Il. IX 320: κάτθαν’ ὁμῶς ὅ τ’ ἀεργὸς ἀνὴρ ὅ τε πολλὰ ἐοργώς («the
end of life comes equally for the inactive and for the hard-worker»).
28
Hes. Op. 302-304: Λιμὸς γάρ τοι πάμπαν ἀεργῷ σύμφορος ἀνδρί/τῷ δὲ θεοὶ νεμεσῶσι
καὶ ἀνέρες ὅς κεν ἀεργὸς/ ζώῃ.
29
Hes. Op. 311-313: ἔργον δ’ οὐδὲν ὄνειδος, ἀεργίη δέ τ’ ὄνειδος /εἰ δέ κεν ἐργάζῃ,
τάχα σε ζηλώσει ἀεργὸς/ πλουτεῦντα.
30
Od. XVIII 5. On this, see Cecchet 2015, 65. Cf. Coin-Longeray 2014, 183-187.
31
In the sources of the classical period, argia seems to be used with a broader meaning,
i.e. in relation to wealth dissipation in general and does not only refer to agriculture. In Euripides’
Heracles, Amphitryon recalls the ruin of Thebes by referring to the power of people who dissipated
their wealth due to argia: Eur. HF 591-592: τὰ δ’ ἐν δόμοις /δαπάναισι φροῦδα διαφυγόνθ’ ὑπ’
ἀργίας. In Demosthenes’ speech Against Aphobus I, the orator, denouncing to the jury the illegal
appropriation of his property by his tutors, draws a distinction between productive and unproductive
goods: τά τ’ ἐνεργὰ αὐτῶν καὶ ὅσ’ ἦν ἀργὰ. As he explains, the productive goods (τά ἐνεργὰ)
are two factories, one of swords and one of sofas. Among the unproductive goods (τά ἀργὰ), he
lists the rough materials that are used in the factories and one house with all of its equipment; see
Dem. XXVII 10. To the two types of goods, he then adds money from loans (Dem. XXVII 11).
THE ATHENIAN NOMOS ARGIAS 123

the general consensus that the law originally referred to the cultivation of
the fields and the preservation of the land of the oikos.

1.2 Argia in the context of the sixth-century agrarian crisis


If we look at sources, there is one moment in which the structure of land
ownership and land leasing came into question in archaic Attica. This is the
sixth-century agrarian crisis, allegedly solved by Solon, and specifically, the
time following the ‘liberation of the land’ and of the hektemoroi, attested to
in [Aristotle’] s Ath. Pol. 2,2-332. The Solonic question is indeed too complex
a theme to be addressed here, yet one important point needs to be recalled.
The early sixth century saw the outbreak of a socio-political crisis in At-
tica. It seems that the core of the problem was the (illegal) appropriation of
land due to the moving of boundary stones (horoi)33. Part of the population
of Attica – the so-called hektemoroi – had to pay tithes on the land they
cultivated – as it seems to be a form of rent – and, in the case of a default
in payment, they lost their freedom34. Solon liberated the land and set free
those Athenians who were sold abroad as slaves35. The ‘liberated’ land was
not redistributed36, but after the shaking-off of the burdens (seisachtheia),
peasants had the right to cultivate the plots – in the case of public land, this
probably occurred upon payment of a rent – with no risk of losing their free
status37. Nonetheless, while enslavement for debts was no longer viable, it
is probable that specific measures had to be introduced to the effect that the
land that was liberated was also maintained and fruitful.
As well as protecting public land, such measures protected also the private
property of the oikos. If the nomos and the graphe argias were introduced in
this context, it is logical that they must have established not only the right
of citizens to denounce the state of maladministration of public fields, but
also the right of family members to advance claims on another’s share of
the land of the oikos, in the event that the legitimate heir neglected it. An
introduction of the nomos argias in the context of Solon’s agrarian legisla-

32
Cf. Plut. Sol. 15,3-4. For discussion about the sixth-century crisis in Attica and the reforms
of Solon, see Cassola 1964, 25-67; Rhodes 1981, 89-96; Stanley 1999, 160-203; Bintliff 2006,
321-333; Forsdyke 2006, 334-350; Ober 2006, 441-450; Faraguna 2012, 171-193.
33
On the possibility that the occupied land was public, see the convincing arguments of
Cassola 1964, 25-67. Cf. Papazarkadas 2011, 213-214.
34
[Arist.] Ath. Pol. 2,2.
35
Sol. fr. 4,23-25 West (= Dem. XIX 255).
36
In fr. 34 West, a reference is made to the fact that Solon did not redistribute the land; cf.
Plut. Sol. 14,1 and 15,6.
37
On the fact that Solon abolished slavery for debt but not debt bondage, see Harris 2002a,
415-430.
124 LUCIA CECCHET

tion, with the aim of regulating similar claims, is plausible and we have no
reason to reject information provided by fifth-century sources.
The fact that the two fragments of Lysias mentioned above define the
law as originally being Draconian and later on repealed by Solon might
well be the fifth-century explanation of the authorship of the law, but a real
Draconian authorship is unlikely. First, such a law is anachronistic for the
seventh-century BC, in which no issues related to the land nor to social
conflicts are attested; second, death penalty for argia is scarcely plausible;
third, as recently noted by Loddo, the information on the original death
penalty prescribed by Draco for argia (and Draconian authorship itself) in
Lysias’ Against Ariston might well be an attempt of the speaker to show
how serious a crime argia was since early times38.
Furthermore, there is an important source of the classical period that
seems to attribute a nomos argias to Solon: in describing the well-ordered
reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Amasis, Herodotus says that the pharaoh
enacted a law by which each year every Egyptian should declare before a
magistrate the activities through which he made his living and, in the event
he refused to do it or he was found guilty of making a living by illegal ac-
tivities, he was put to death39. Herodotus informs that Solon introduced the
same law in Athens and that the Athenians still use it in his own day40. As
we will see later, it is probable that over the course of the fifth century, the
nomos argias had a wider field of application than that of limiting dissipa-
tion of inheritance. But what interests us here is that Herodotus believed
that the law was Solonic.
The second possible scenario in which the nomos argias might have
been introduced relates to a later phase of the sixth century. It is bound to
the measures allegedly enacted by Peisistratus, yet the authenticity of this
tradition is more dubious than that concerning the agrarian laws of Solon.
According to Theophrastus, the nomos argias was introduced by the tyrant

38
Loddo 2015a, 126 speaks of «volontà manipolatoria a fini meramente processuali»;
Dreizehnter 1978, 382 argues that Pollux (= fr. 148d Ruschenbusch 1966) probably derived the
information on the authorship of Draco from a speech written after 356 BC and he excludes
Draconian authorship based also on the fact that the law is anachronistic for the seventh century
BC. I am more inclined to believe that the law was introduced in the context of the sixth-century
Solonian crisis; cf. Cecchet 2015, 186-188; Loddo 2015a. For other convincing arguments against
Draconian authorship, see Loddo 2015a, 125-126 (with n. 50 for references to scholars accepting
Draconian authorship).
39
Hdt II 177. Cf. Diod. Sic. I 77.
40
How, Wells 1912, I, 253: «this law, the most drastic poor law on record, is a great exag-
geration of the Egyptian custom of taking a sort of census of inhabitants and their occupation:
but such a punishment for idleness is impossible». On the plausibility of the death penalty for
idleness in Athens, see Bolkestein 1939, 285. For a comment on the passage in relation with the
question of the nomos argias, see Leão 2001, 103-108.
THE ATHENIAN NOMOS ARGIAS 125

with the aim of making the land of Attica more productive (ἐνεργεστέραν)
and the city less populated (ἠρεμαιοτέραν)41. On a similar note, we read in
the Aristotelian Ath. Pol. that Peisistratus led the people to occupy them-
selves with agriculture so that they avoided gathering in the city and had
less time for public affairs. In this way, the land became more productive
(τὰς προσόδους γίγνεσθαι μείζους, ἐξεργαζομένης τῆς χώρας), to the
point that a tithe (dekate) was levied thereafter42. Late authors stressed the
political target to which the tyrant aimed through these reforms in relation
to the preservation of his rule; Aelian reports that Peisistratus encouraged
the people to work, fearing that social unrest could derive from their un-
employment43.
As usual in the case of archaic tyrants, the problem is how far we can trust
later sources in light of the tradition of depicting tyrants as protoi euretai.
Both Busolt and Berve argued in favour of the possibility that Peisistratus
confiscated the land of the aristocrats and redistributed it to the landless44,
a step that Solon had not undertaken. This scenario encouraged Dreizehnter
towards his agrarian interpretation of the law as a measure for securing the
cultivation of the newly distributed land45. However, the above-mentioned
fragment of Theophrastus does not speak of land distribution. In fact, no
source attests that issues concerning the land came into question under Pei-
sistratus and the Peisistratids, nor do we have evidence for land redistribution
undertaken by them. It is indeed possible that measures against argia were
taken by Peisistratus in the context of his Arbeitsbeschaffungsprogramm46
and that they were used in order to ensure that the countryside of Attica was
maintained as productive. But the origin of the nomos itself is likely to be
earlier. Despite the uncertainties on the nature of this early sixth-century
crisis, it is far more certain for Solon than for Peisistratus that the lawgiver
had to cope with problems relating to the ownership, lease and cultivation
of land.

41
Theophr. fr. 99 Wimmer = Plut. Sol. 31,2.
42
[Arist.] Ath. Pol. 16.2-4. Rhodes 1981, 213f.
43
Ael. VH IX 25.
44
Busolt 1895, II, 327-328; cf. Berve 1967, I, 55.
45
See n. 19 above. On the attribution of laws against ‘Müßiggang’ to Peisistratus, Periander,
and other tyrants and skepticism on this tradition, see also Hölkeskamp 1999, 157 with n. 40, 41;
cf. Schmitz 2004, 192 with n. 105.
46
On the Arbeitsbeschaffungsprogramm and Baupolitik of the Peisistratids, see Kolb 1977,
99-138 and McGlew 1993, passim. Similar measures are also attested to for Periander of Corinth
(Nicolaus of Damascus FGrHist 90 F 58); see Engels 1989, 140. The fact that traditions about the
‘employment programme’ of Peisistratus in order to make the land of Attica more productive had
already fostered in the forms of anecdotes by the mid-fourth century is suggested by the anecdote
reported in [Arist.] Ath. Pol. 16,6 about the origin of the so called chorion ateles on Hymettus.
126 LUCIA CECCHET

To dismiss the nomos as a late-fifth or fourth-century invention, thus,


means that we refuse to take into account the frequent references to argia
in connection with land and agricultural work in the sources of the archaic
period and that we consider the attribution of the law to Solon in classical
and post-classical sources as being unreliable without good reasons. About
the archaic (Solonian) graphe against argia, we know virtually nothing;
all one can say is that, if the nomos originally aimed at ensuring that the
land was maintained as productive, the prosecution must have focussed on
verifying that the land was effectively cultivated, punishing those found
guilty of neglecting it.

2. A broader context of application in the classical period


2.1 A law against inactivity?
In Demosthenes’ speech Against Eubulides, written in the context of the scru-
tiny of the citizens’ lists (diapsephisis) carried out in 346 BC47, the speaker,
Euxitheus, defends himself against Eubulides’ accusation of being the son
of a non-Athenian woman working as a wet-nurse and a seller. Euxitheus
attacks his accuser by reminding the jury that not all of the people working
in trades are foreigners in Athens, and that citizens also occupy themselves
with ‘humble works’48. He claims that it is rather his accuser who is in a
position of illegality: Eubulides does not have a proper job – he makes his
living as a sycophant. The speaker reminds the jurors that this violates the
principles set out by the nomos argias, however without quoting the text
of the law49:

It is fitting that you, then, acting in defence of the laws, should hold, not that
those who ply a trade are aliens, but that those who bring malicious and ba-
seless suits are scoundrels. For, Eubulides, there is another law too regarding
idleness (περὶ τῆς ἀργίας νόμος) to which you, who denounce us who are
traders, are amenable. (trans. W. DeWitt)

This passage is interesting because the fact that the nomos is mentioned by
a speaker before a jury court with no further specifications as to its content
– so to say, en passant – suggests that by that time, the Athenians knew

47
Aeschin. I 77; I 86.
48
Dem. LVII 35-36.
49
Dem. LVII 32: Προσήκει τοίνυν ὑμῖν βοηθοῦσι τοῖς νόμοις μὴ τοὺς ἐργαζομένους
ξένους νομίζειν, ἀλλὰ τοὺς συκοφαντοῦντας πονηρούς. ἐπεί, ὦ Εὐβουλίδη, ἔστι καὶ ἕτερος
περὶ τῆς ἀργίας νόμος, ᾧ αὐτὸς ἔνοχος ὢν ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἐργαζομένους.
THE ATHENIAN NOMOS ARGIAS 127

what the content of the law was and what kind of behaviour it punished50.
The speaker refers to a recent past (i.e. the Social War), in which Athenian
citizens, including women, were compelled by necessity to undertake hum-
ble jobs that were normally done by slaves. Euxitheus’ words imply that
ordinary Athenians who did not have a job, nor agree to perform ‘humble’
ones, could be accused of argia. But what does that mean?
There are two possibilities. The first is that, as a remnant of the archaic
agrarian legislation, the law maintained its specification to agricultural
work: in this case, only rarely was an application found in classical Athens,
where uncultivated or abandoned land was not a frequent case – in contrast,
a shortage of land was often the primary cause of inheritance litigation51.
The second possibility is that the field of application of the nomos had wid-
ened in the fourth century and that argia did not any longer primarily refer
to inactivity in the agricultural sector. This makes much more sense in the
light of the above passage of Demosthenes and of the indirect accusation
of argia from Euxitheus against Eubulides.
The fact that the law in the classical period had a wider purpose is also
suggested by the passage of Herodotus II 177 mentioned before52:

It was Amasis also who made the law that every Egyptian declare his means
of livelihood to the ruler of his district annually, and that omitting to do so or
to prove that one had a legitimate livelihood be punishable with death. Solon
the Athenian got this law from Egypt and established it among his people; may
they always have it, for it is a perfect law. (trans. A.D. Godley)

The passage has usually been commented on by highlighting the fact that,
in this as in other cases, Herodotus attributes the origins of Greek traditions

50
Canevaro 2013a has made a strong case against the authenticity of the laws contained in
the corpus demosthenicum. However, he mainly refers to the quoted texts of the laws. In Against
Eubulides, the text of the nomos argias is not quoted and I argue that it is precisely the fact that
the speaker refers to the law briefly and without quoting it that suggests that the Athenian audience
was familiar with it. For an optimistic view on the possibility that the Athenians could easily find
and read published laws, see Sickinger 2004, 93-109.
51
See, for example, Is. VI, Is. XII and [Dem.] XL. On the practice of dividing estates and
creating excessively small plots of land and the inability of their occupants to make a living, see
Harrison 1968-71, I, 131. For the idea that cleruchies primarily benefitted the landless, see De
Ste Croix 1972, 43; Meiggs 1972, 260-261. For arguments against this view, see Moreno 2007,
93f.; 2009, 211-221; cf. also Davies 1981, 58-60; Figueira 1991, 181-182; Salomon 1997, 149;
Foxhall 2002, 215.
52
Hdt. II 177: Νόμον δὲ Αἰγυπτίοισι τόνδε Ἄμασίς ἐστι ὁ καταστήσας, ἀποδεικνύναι
ἔτεος ἑκάστου τῷ νομάρχῃ πάντα τινὰ Αἰγυπτίων ὅθεν βιοῦται· μὴ δὲ ποιεῦντα ταῦτα μηδὲ
ἀποφαίνοντα δικαίην ζόην ἰθύνεσθαι θανάτῳ. Σόλων δὲ ὁ Ἀθηναῖος λαβὼν ἐξ Αἰγύπτου
τοῦτον τὸν νόμον Ἀθηναίοισι ἔθετο· τῷ ἐκεῖνοι ἐς αἰεὶ χρέωνται, ἐόντι ἀμώμῳ νόμῳ.
128 LUCIA CECCHET

to the Egyptians53. But what interests us here is that this passage shows (i)
that Herodotus knew about the existence of this law of Solon (ii) that he be-
lieved that this was a regulation for verifying the sources of livelihood and
punishing those citizens who did not make a living from legitimate means.
It is unlikely that he implies here that the Athenians were required yearly to
provide information on their sources of living to a magistrate, but it is pos-
sible that he believed that occasional controls could take place. Ruschenbusch
interprets this passage as evidence for the declaration of the timema, hence
for membership in the census classes54, but the brief information provided
by Herodotus does not seem to confirm this possibility: the question of the
magistrate concerns the sources of living (ὅθεν βιοῦται) and not the amount
of the census or the agricultural produce.
In this respect, it is significant that Plutarch also refers to Solon’s measures
to contrast argia with a much wider scope than the cultivation of the fields55:

But Solon, adapting his laws to the situation, rather than the situation to his
laws, and observing that the land could give but a mere subsistence to those who
tilled it, and was incapable of supporting an unoccupied and leisured multitu-
de, gave dignity to all the trades, and ordered the council of the Areiopagus to
examine into every man’s means of livelihood, and chastise those who had no
occupation [τοὺς ἀργοὺς κολάζειν]. (trans. B. Perrin)

According to Plutarch, Solon’s purpose was that of making the citizen popu-
lation productive by giving importance to the crafts. He also attests that it
was the duty of the Areopagus to look into the means of livelihood of each
citizen and to punish the idle, a point on which we will return later. Though
the nomos argias is not explicitly mentioned here, it seems likely that this
is what Plutarch has in mind since he mentions it shortly before at Sol. 17,1.
In describing such measures, however, Herodotus and Plutarch are likely to
reflect the meaning and function that were attributed to the nomos in the fifth
and fourth centuries. As we shall see later, fourth-century sources suggest that
argia was perceived as a threat to public order and to the well-being of the
polis, mainly in connection with phenomena such as unemployment, poverty

53
So Asheri, Lloyd, Corcella 2007, 372-373.
54
Ruschenbusch 1966, 99 classifies this source within the group of «Einkommenserklärung
vor dem Areopag».
55
Plut. Sol. 22,3: Σόλων δὲ τοῖς πράγμασι τοὺς νόμους μᾶλλον ἢ τὰ πράγματα τοῖς νόμοις
προσαρμόζων, καὶ τῆς χώρας τὴν φύσιν ὁρῶν γλίσχρως τοῖς γεωργοῦσι διαρκοῦσαν, ἀργὸν
δὲ καὶ σχολαστὴν ὄχλον οὐ δυναμένην τρέφειν, ταῖς τέχναις ἀξίωμα περιέθηκε, καὶ τὴν ἐξ
Ἀρείου πάγου βουλὴν ἔταξεν ἐπισκοπεῖν ὅθεν ἕκαστος ἔχει τὰ ἐπιτήδεια, καὶ τοὺς ἀργοὺς
κολάζειν. Cf. Plut. Sol. 31,5 (= Theoph. fr. 99 Wimmer), in which he reports that Theophrastus
attributed the law to Peisistratus.
THE ATHENIAN NOMOS ARGIAS 129

and criminality and not so much in relation to the abandonment of the fields.
In other words, the necessity of directing citizens toward the crafts, making
sure that the crowds of the unemployed did not trouble the polis, seems to have
arisen at a much later point than during the agrarian crisis of Solon’s time56.

2.2 Concerns about argia in fourth-century sources


Let us have a closer look at the relevant fourth-century sources. In Aris-
tophanes’ comedy Plutus, from the year 388 BC, the personified character
of Poverty makes a reference to the danger entailed by argia when it is a
generalised condition of the demos57:

If Plutus could recover his sight he would divide his favours out equally to all,
and none will ply either trade or art any longer; all toil would be done away
with. Who would wish to hammer iron, build ships, sew, turn, cut up leather,
bake bricks, bleach linen, tan hides, or break up the soil of the earth with the
plough and garner the gifts of Demeter, if he could live in idleness and free from
all this work? [ἢν ἐξῇ ζῆν ἀργοῖς ὑμῖν τούτων πάντων ἀμελοῦσιν;] (trans. E.
O´Neill, adapted)

In the comedy, Plutus, the god of Wealth, is blind; this explains why wealth
is unevenly distributed among men. However, Poverty warns the protagonist
Chremylus (and thus also the spectators) about the risks derived from the
elimination of poverty in the polis: argia will become the common lifestyle
of all citizens and this will lead to the economic ruin of the city.
There are many more occupations that Poverty lists to contrast with
inactivity above just land-tilling: she lists hammering iron, building ships,
cutting up leather, baking bricks and so on. Later in the comedy, she draws
a distinction between herself (i.e. Penia) and destitution (i.e. Ptocheia) and
again she makes it clear that poverty, in contrast with destitution, is not a
danger for the polis, nor a bad condition for the citizens. It is what ensures
the constant engagement of the citizens in crafts and, therefore, the well-being

56
By contrast, Loddo 2015a ascribes the archaic nomos argias to the programme of em-
ployment of the citizens in the crafts supported by Solon. I believe that this was the explanation
of the origin of the law circulating in the classical period, in particular in connection to periods of
economic crisis, such as the Peloponnesian war and other critical moments later on. I will argue
this point below, see § 2.3.
57
Ar. Pl. 510-516: εἰ γὰρ ὁ Πλοῦτος βλέψειε πάλιν διανείμειέν τ’ ἴσον αὑτόν, /
οὔτε τέχνην ἂν τῶν ἀνθρώπων οὔτ’ ἂν σοφίαν μελετῴη / οὐδείς· ἀμφοῖν δ’ ὑμῖν τούτοιν
ἀφανισθέντοιν ἐθελήσει / τίς χαλκεύειν ἢ ναυπηγεῖν ἢ ῥάπτειν ἢ τροχοποιεῖν, / ἢ σκυτοτομεῖν
ἢ πλινθουργεῖν ἢ πλύνειν ἢ σκυλοδεψεῖν, / ἢ γῆς ἀρότροις ῥήξας δάπεδον καρπὸν Δηοῦς
θερίσασθαι, / ἢν ἐξῇ ζῆν ἀργοῖς ὑμῖν τούτων πάντων ἀμελοῦσιν; For the argument that poverty
makes men better, see Ar. Pl. 557-561.
130 LUCIA CECCHET

of the civic community58. As is obvious, these are not simply sophistic argu-
ments59: they are important points made to an audience that in 388 BC was
facing severe hardship. Penia’s praise of poverty as the force leading men to
escape argia sounds very much like a warning to the Athenians and a point
that the character/Aristophanes here wants to make against the background
of the economic hardship in the polis60.
The problem of argia is specifically addressed by Isocrates in Areopagiti-
cus, and again the necessity is that of directing citizens toward several types
of occupations. The speech was written in 358 or in 355 BC (i.e. while the
city was recovering from the food crisis of the 360s and shortly before the
outbreak of the Social War), or, according to some scholars, toward the end of
the war61. The poverty of the demos is described with the image of the crowds
of people begging for food in the city. Comparing the present distress to the
golden age of the forefathers of the Athenians, Isocrates notes62:

However, since it was not possible to direct all into the same occupations, be-
cause of differences in their circumstances, they [the ancestors of the Athenians]
assigned to each one a vocation which was in keeping with his means; for they
turned the needier towards farming and trade, knowing that poverty comes about
through idleness [διὰ τὰς ἀργίας], and evil-doing through poverty. (trans. G.
Norlin)

What is interesting is the fact that here Isocrates describes argia as the primary
cause of poverty, which, in turn, is the cause of criminality and a threat to
public life. In order to avoid these risks, the wise Athenians of the good old
times were directing the poor and the needy toward agriculture and trade.
The way in which the orator implicitly suggests fighting off argia is to recur
to a similar strategy (i.e. to enact a ‘job creation programme’ for the ordinary
citizens and not leave them idle)63. One cannot overlook that Plutarch’s de-
scription of Solon’s measures for pushing the Athenians toward crafts in Solon
22 narrowly echoes Isocrates’ nostalgic view of the past and his plea for the

58
Ar. Pl. 550-554.
59
See Valente 2011, 113-136 contra Sommerstein 1984, 329.
60
More in detail on this, Cecchet 2015, 171-182.
61
The date of Areopagiticus is controversial. The two main hypotheses are 358/7 (outbreak
of the Social War) and 356/5 (last year of the war). For a date of 356/5: Jaeger 1940, 409-450;
for 358/7: Due 1988, 84-90. For a recent overview of the discussion, see Blank 2014, 382-385.
62
Isoc. VII 44: Ἅπαντας μὲν οὖν ἐπὶ τὰς αὐτὰς ἄγειν διατριβὰς οὐχ οἷόν τ’ ἦν, ἀνωμάλως
τὰ περὶ τὸν βίον ἔχοντας· ὡς δὲ πρὸς τὴν οὐσίαν ἥρμοττεν, οὕτως ἑκάστοις προσέταττον. Τοὺς
μὲν γὰρ ὑποδεέστερον πράττοντας ἐπὶ τὰς γεωργίας καὶ τὰς ἐμπορίας ἔτρεπον, εἰδότες τὰς
ἀπορίας μὲν διὰ τὰς ἀργίας γιγνομένας, τὰς δὲ κακουργίας διὰ τὰς ἀπορίας·
63
Isoc. ibid.
THE ATHENIAN NOMOS ARGIAS 131

current emergency in the polis. This corroborates the idea that, in describing
the nomos argias as a measure enacted by Solon for stimulating employment
of the citizens in the crafts, Plutarch reflects the explanation on the origins of
the nomos that was circulating in the fourth century.

2.3 Argia as a danger in periods of economic crisis


But why is argia discussed as a matter of public concern and as a serious risk
for the polis in fourth-century sources? Indeed, we have to deal with a much
different context than that of the sixth-century agrarian crisis. If we look at
the late fifth and early fourth centuries, there are some important facts that are
likely to have contributed in fuelling new concerns about argia. The migration
of the rural population within the urban centre of Athens in the first year of the
Peloponnesian War64 posed a problem of social order with urgency. We read
very little about this in the sources, but some references to the uneasy condi-
tion of the rural mob who migrated to the city are contained in Aristophanes’
comedies, in particular Acharnians and Peace65. Though some Athenians may
have returned to the countryside even during the 420s, a good part of the rural
citizenry remained in the asty during the war. In addition to the food supply,
one of the most important problems that the polis had to cope with was to
avoid social unrest and the potential danger represented by the unemployed
gathering in the Agora. Aristophanes’ Acharnians 547-548 refers to the crowds
of people reversing daily to the porticos of the Agora, eager to get public pay
– probably a reference to daily selection as jurors – and free distribution of
food. Against this background, Rosivach has suggested that the polis coped
with the problem of mass unemployment by increasing public pay and, from
this perspective, he interprets Cleon’s increase of the jurors’ pay in the 420s66.
Whether Cleon’s measure was aimed at tackling with the problem of un-
employment, or it was simply a demagogic means to enhance his popularity,
it is clear that public pay could provide only partial and temporary relief. Fur-
thermore, the abolition of the misthoi during the first oligarchic putsch in 411
BC, however temporary, dealt a heavy blow to the precarious balance reached
in this way67. But public pay was indeed not the only source of livelihood for
the landless. Sources attest to the active involvement of citizens, together with
slaves and metics, in the building programme of the Erechtheion in 406 BC,
and indeed, in the fifth century a good number of Athenians worked in trades

64
Thuc. II 13.
65
Ar. Ach. 545f; cf. Pax 632-636.
66
Rosivach 2011, 176-183. On public pay at Athens, see now Pritchard 2015, 52-82.
67
For the abolition of public pay during the first oligarchic coup, see Thuc. VIII 67,3; cf.
[Arist.] Ath. Pol. 29,5; see Hansen 1991, 240-242; cf. Sinclair 1988, 110; Pritchard 2015, 53-54.
132 LUCIA CECCHET

and manufacturing, along with metics and slaves68. In the tense aftermath of
the Peloponnesian War, the polis needed to make sure that these activities,
and not public pay, helped its citizens to escape economic crisis. Citizens
needed to be actively involved in the rebirth of a city that, after almost thirty
years of war and the loss of the tribute of the allies, was short of cash69. It is
against this highly tense scenario that we should contextualise the concerns
and condemnation of argia in the sources and it is against this background
that we should look at the nomos argias in the fourth century.
As is well-known, the Solonian laws underwent a process of revision in
the end of the fifth century BC: in On the Mysteries, Andocides informs that
from 403 to 399 BC the laws of Draco and of Solon were revised, repub-
lished and inscribed in the Stoa70. The orator quotes the text of a decree, the
so-called Teisamenos decree, the authenticity of which has been denied by
Canevaro and Harris and recently defended by Hansen71. The decree states
that, before being inscribed and exposed, the laws had to undergo the scrutiny
of the Council and of five hundred Nomothetae, elected by the demes, and
that any private citizen could suggest improvements72. The expression used
by Andocides to describe this process is Ἐδοκιμάσθησαν μὲν οὖν οἱ νόμοι,
which suggests that the laws were scrutinised, as it seems, one by one and
only those approved (τοὺς δὲ κυρωθέντας) were then published in the Stoa73.
It is clear that several forms of intervention could affect the law code in

68
For the building accounts of the Erechtheion, see IG I3 475, 476. For possible figures
of Athenians engaged in crafts and their impact on Athenian economy, see Harris 2002b, 67-99.
69
For the view that economic recovery after the Peloponnesian War was a relatively quick
process and that damages to agricultural economy were not too severe, see Hanson 1998, 159-171;
cf. Strauss 1986, 44 (also discussed in Cecchet 2015, 124-127).
70
Andoc. I 82. As rightly noted by Canevaro, Harris 2012, 111-112, the revision of the laws
was the continuation of a process started already in 410/9 BC, which was temporarily interrupted
by the regime of the Thirty (see Lys. 30.2-5; IG I3 104).
71
Andoc. I 83-84. Against the authenticity of the decree of Teisamenus contained in An-
docides I, see Canevaro, Harris 2012, 110-116; for objections to their views and for arguments
in favour of the authenticity of the decree, see recently Hansen 2016a, 34-48 (with n. 1 p. 34 for
references to scholars who believe the decree is authentic). For nomothesia in 4th century BC, see
Canevaro 2013b (for problems concerning our sources) and Hansen 2016b, 438-474 and 2016c,
594-610 (in favour of the authenticity of the law about nomothesia attested in Demosthenes 24).
On nomothesia in Athens, from the archaic period to the late fourth century, see now Canevaro c.s.
72
Andoc. I 84. However, Canevaro, Harris 2012, 113 note that the text of the decree does
not refer to the revision of the laws of Draco and Solon, to which Andocides refers in his account,
but rather to new proposals of laws. Further, they identify other major differences between what
Andocides says and the content of the decree contained in the manuscript, as well as specific features
in its structure and language (see p. 115), which they take as proofs of the fact that the document
is a forgery. Contra Hansen 2016a, especially pp. 45-48 on the specific features of the decree; cf.
pp. 40-41 on the fact that, while the decree of Teisamenos, as quoted, ‘prescribes’ the procedure of
revision, the account of Andocides ‘describes’ the procedure three years later, when he delivered
the speech, and that some modifications between prescription and practice may have occurred.
73
Andoc. I 85.
THE ATHENIAN NOMOS ARGIAS 133

the different stages of this process: first, when the choice was made about
what laws were to be published (i.e. which laws were genuine Draconian
and Solonian); second, after proposals of improvements by the Nomothetae
or by private citizens; third, during the actual process of rewriting, which
could include a further reformulation of the text.
Whether or not the process of revision of the code did follow the proce-
dure described by Andocides, there is no reason to doubt that the Athenian
law code was revised in those years and that a lively debate about the ex-
isting laws arose in the last decade of the fifth century74. And if we accept
that an archaic nomos argias was part of the corpus of laws, as I believe,
it also follows that this law must have come to the centre of discussion in
403 BC. Since one of the urgent needs after 404 BC was that of ensuring
that the crowds who lived in the city did not simply rely on public pay or
on criminality and begging, it is plausible that the nomos, in the context of
the revision of the Solonic code, was re-interpreted as a regulation mainly
against unemployment and begging75. This was not an interpretation ex novo,
it followed the perception of argia that had already established itself in the
course of the fifth-century. As we saw before, argia is linked to the lack of
a source of livelihood and to unemployment in Hdt. II 177. In the fourth
century, we find the same perception of argia in Aristophanes’ Plutus, in
Demosthenes’ Against Eubulides and in Isocrates’ Areopagiticus.
Athens had to face some serious challenges even after the end of the
Peloponnesian War. The final years of the Corinthian War are described by
Lysias in catastrophic terms76. A shortfall in the supply of grain in 387 BC is

74
In general on the revision of Solon’s laws in the late fifth century, see Ruschenbusch
1966, 54 passim; Clinton 1982, 27-37; Natalicchio 1990, 61-90; Robertson 1990, 43-75; Hansen
1991, 163-164 and 2016a, 34-48 (see n. 71 above); Rhodes 1991, 87-100; Shear 2011, 91-96,
239-247; on the possibility of a second revision in 356 BC, see Ruschenbusch 1958, 398-424.
75
An interpretation of the nomos argias as a measure against begging was already suggested
by some: so Meyer 1893, II, 361, speaking about «Gesetzgebungen gegen den Müssiggang»;
Kahrstedt 1969 [1934] 109, 130, noting that the regulation derived from the obligation «ein
bestimmtes Gewerbe zu treiben und nicht zu betteln»; Bolkestein 1939, 285, who objects to the
idea that the nomos was intended to preserve inherited plots of land since there is no evidence of a
clause of inalienability in Athens in historical times – hence he sees the nomos as «ein Gesetz zur
Eindämmung der Bettelei». From a similar perspective, Gallo 1994, 211-223 and 1996, 107-114
argues that the law was a measure against the clients of the aristocrats; Wallace 1989, 63-64 argues
that the law targeted unemployed people with the aim of fighting off the social unrest they may
cause (cf. 2006, 119, a law for punishing thieves; but he also accepts the ‘agrarian interpretation’
of the law, ibid. 119-120, so he attributes to the law both purposes). I argue above that limiting
begging and illegal activities was the purpose that the law took during the course of the classical
period, and instead argue that the original one was the preservation of landed property (see § 1).
76
See Lys. XXX 22: the dockyards and city walls crumbled while the citizens were under
pressure to pay for military campaigns. Polemic appeals to the impoverishing of the demos occur
in two of Lysias’ speeches of the late 390s and early 380s; see Lys. XXVII 9 passim (Against
Epicrates); XXVIII 1 passim (Against Ergocles).
134 LUCIA CECCHET

to be presumed based on the cutting off of the Athenian grain supply from
the Black Sea by Antalcidas77. Furthermore, the failure of Thrasybulus’ cam-
paign in the northern Aegean might also have aggravated the difficulties in
providing Athens with grain from the northeast78. We derive an idea about the
difficulties Athens faced in the supply and sale of grain also from Agyrrhius
law of 374/3 BC: tax payments in money from the islands of Lemnos, Imbros
and Scyros were changed into payments in grain, in order grant grain supply
at fair prices for the Athenians79. Again, Athens faced severe financial hard-
ships in the 360s: Apollodorus reports that Byzantium, Chalcedon, Cyzicus,
Maroneia and Stryme had difficulty securing their grain supply around 362
BC, and it is clear that Athens must have experienced serious shortages80.
The orator mentions a drought in 361 BC that caused crop failures in Attica81,
and yet another crisis is attested to during the Social War in Demosthenes’
Against Leptines82.
The increase in the price of grain affected the landless citizens living and
working in the city much more than it did the farmers, who could always
rely on their own agricultural produce. Against this background of crisis, in
which poverty had become a motive of public concern, we should contextu-
alise speeches, such as Isocrates’ Areopagiticus and, Demosthenes’ Against
Eubulides, in which the memory of the Social War is still vivid. As is ap-
parent, fears and accusations of argia in the sources of this period must be
put in relation to this historical background, which is indeed substantially
different from that of the early sixth century. Argia had become more and
more narrowly linked to the questions of poverty, unemployment and social
order and the nomos argias was not any longer a regulation limited to the
cultivation of the fields.

3. The legal procedure in the fourth century: inferring from


comedy
According to Lysias fr. 246 Carey, the argos could be prosecuted with a
public action (graphe) since Solon’s time. This means that any citizen (ho
boulomenos) could start a prosecution for argia by presenting an accusa-

77
Xen. Hell. V 1,28.
78
On Thrasybulus’ attempts to regain control of the grain routes from the Black Sea in
the northern Aegean in the 390s, see Fornis 2009, 11 with n. 27 and 30; cf. Moreno 2007, 302.
79
Rhodes, Osborne, nr. 26; for thorough discussion of the law, see Stroud 1998 and 2016,
and the papers in Nuove ricerche, dealing not only with the law but also with the broader topic
of Athenian grain supply in the fourth century; on Athenian grain supply, see also Moreno 2007.
80
[Dem.] L 6f.
81
[Dem.] L 61.
82
Dem. XX 33.
THE ATHENIAN NOMOS ARGIAS 135

tion to the public authority in charge83. To conclude from the silence of the
author of the Ath. Pol. at 56,6 that no such a graphe existed in fourth-century
Athens would be an improper argumentum e silentio84. In all likelihood, after
someone made an accusation of argia, it was the task of an archon to verify
whether or not there were grounds to bring the case further to a court, by
asking to the defendant a set of questions (anakrisis). In the event that the
dispute could not be set within the anakrisis, the case was conducted before
a dikasterion or the Boule85.
According to Plutarch Solon 22,3, it was the Areopagus’ task «to examine
every man’s means of livelihood, and chastise those who had no occupation».
But it has been observed that this practice is unlikely to have taken place
in the classical period, when the Areopagus was expected to deal mainly
with cases concerning sacrilege or homicide: hence, Plutarch’s witness
either reflects the results of the increase in the powers of the Areopagus in
the 340s86, or this function of supervision against argia was exerted by the
Areopagus before Ephialtes’ reform of 462 BC. Schmitz notes a third pos-
sibility, namely, that the Areopagus did in fact conduct investigations for
argia between 462 BC and 339 BC: he points to [Demosthenes] Against
Neaera as relevant evidence87; the speaker says that Theogenes, who had
been appointed archon basileus, had to respond to the accusation of hav-
ing married a non-Athenian, namely the daughter of the hetaira Neaera. If
that was the case, he had no right to hold his office, since the wife of the
archon basileus was also supposed to administer cult matters. Theogenes,
therefore, had to appear before the Areopagus, where he managed to prove
his innocence and avoid a fine by proving that he believed his wife was the
daughter of the Athenian Stephanus and promising to annul the marriage. In
Schmitz’s view, this episode shows that the Areopagus could indeed conduct
investigations and impose fines during the classical period. However, this
merely confirms the fact that the Areopagus was responsible for trying cases

83
On the graphe, the related procedure and the difference from dike, see Lipsius 1905, I,
243-246; Paoli 1974 [1930], 249-251; Harrison 1968-71, 74-82; Biscardi 1982, 256-257; Todd
1993, 99-102.
84
As noted above, in Anecdota Graeca, we read about an epidikasia argias, but it is more
likely that the lexicographer made here a mistake and that the text referred to a graphe argias.
On this, see n. 13 above.
85
For the hypothesis that the graphe argias could also be initiated in the context of the euthy-
nai (public examinations of the accountability of the magistrates), see Loddo 2015b, esp. 116-117.
86
For the so-called Areopagus decree of Demosthenes (Deinarch. I 62), see Wallace 1989,
113-120; 176-177; for objections to Wallace and for a discussion of the powers of the Areopagus
in the fourth century, see now Harris 2016, 76-80.
87
Schmitz 2004, 198-199. On the Areopagus as the court trying cases of argia, see also
De Bruyn 1995, 79-81.
136 LUCIA CECCHET

of sacrilege, which the case of a non-Athenian administering a public cult


probably was. The idea that it could also judge cases of argia is unlikely88.
As far as the procedure against argia is concerned, Schmitz has brought
to scholarly attention a piece of comic literature that seems to shed light on
this question. The piece is a fragment of Diphilus’ comedy, Emporos89. The
following case is described: in Corinth, the speaker says that if someone
appears to live with great expenses, it is a rule to ask him from where he
makes his living (πόθεν ζῇ καὶ τί ποιῶν). If he proves to have sufficient
means to allow himself such a lifestyle (κἂν μὲν οὐσίαν ἔχῃ), he has to be
left to enjoy life (ἐᾶν ἀπολαύειν τοῦτον ἤδη τὸν βίον). If, on the contrary,
he lives above his means (ἐὰν δ’ ὑπὲρ τὴν οὐσίαν δαπανῶν τύχῃ), it is
necessary to forbid him to continue that way. If he does not obey, a fine
shall be inflicted on him (πίθητ’ ἐπέβαλον ζημίαν). In the event that the
person in question does not possess anything but still lives above his means,
he shall be handed in to the magistrate in charge (τῷ δημίῳ παρέδωκαν
αὐτόν). The reason that the speaker provides this procedure is that this type
of individual (who lives above his means) is likely to be a criminal: he is
either a thief of clothes (λωποδυτεῖν), or one who breaks in others’ houses
(τοιχωρυχεῖν), or he is a person who has contacts with this type of criminals
(ἢ τῶν ποιούντων ταῦτα κοινωνεῖν τισιν); he could also be a sycophant
(συκοφαντεῖν κατ’ ἀγοράν) and a false witness (μαρτυρεῖν ψευδῆ). It is
clear that the procedure described in Diphilus’ fragment is certainly not a
procedure for enquiring into the property of the wealthy, in contrast with
the procedure of verification of wealth that preceded cases of antidosis. We
have here a procedure for verifying whether or not those ordinary citizens,
who were suspected of living above their means, were earning honestly the
money they spent.
Indeed, the first objection that can be made against interpreting this pas-
sage as evidence for an Athenian legal procedure is that the city on stage is
not Athens, but rather is Corinth90. However, even provided that a nomos

88
The additional evidence that Schmitz 2004, 199-200 provides for the Areopagus’ com-
petence in conducting investigations and imposing fines relates to a later period (the latter half
of the fourth century and the early third century). Against the possibility that the Areopagus tried
cases of argia, see Wallace 1989, 120-121.
89
Diphilus fr. 31 PCG.
90
So Salmon 1984, 200. Nic. Dam. Müller 90 fr. 58 speaks of a nomos argias in Corinth
at the time of Periander (see n. 3 above), explaining that the purpose of the law was fighting off
possible oppositions to the tyranny. Furthermore, Heracleides Lembus (fr. 20 Dilts = Arist. fr. 611
Rose = Gigon Tit. 143, 1.5) informs that the tyrant had appointed a special council to make sure
that no one in Corinth would spend more than he could afford based on his own earnings. Salmon
1984, 199-201 has convincingly argued that this is likely to be a later explanation, and that the
law was originally a measure against aristocracy. See also Schmitz 2004, 195.
THE ATHENIAN NOMOS ARGIAS 137

argias and a related legal suit did exist in Corinth since the archaic period,
the juridical practice described in Diphilus’ fragment must have been shaped
on an existing Athenian legal practice with which the Athenian audience was
familiar91. We can presume that the procedure of verification of sources of
income in Athens in the context of the graphe argias resembled the proce-
dure described in the fragment at least as far as the initial question (πόθεν
ζῇ καὶ τί ποιῶν) is concerned: the question recalls closely that attested by
Herodotus II 177: ὅθεν βιοῦται.
We do not know if this procedure was often used in the fourth century,
but the Athenians were at least aware both of the existence of the nomos
(as suggested in Demosthenes’ Against Eubulides) and of the graphe, as
suggested by Lysias’ Against Nicides. This awareness played a role in
strengthening the public perception of argia as a crime.

Conclusions
Based on the information provided by ancient sources on the existence of
regulations against argia, on the occurrences and meaning of argia in archaic
sources, and on what we know about the agrarian crisis settled by Solon,
it seems likely that the nomos argias was originally part of an agrarian
legislation and was first introduced in the context of the crisis of the early
sixth century. From the meaning of argia in the archaic sources and from its
mention together with regulations concerning inheritance, we can presume
that the law aimed at preserving, as well as public land, also the property of
the oikos, protecting the rights of the heirs. As such, it must have punished
those accused of neglecting agricultural work.
Over the course of the classical period, however, the nomos widened
up its field of application. This is suggested by the fact that in the sources
of the fifth and – even more clearly – fourth century, argia occurs with a
broader meaning, with reference to unemployment as opposed to occupation
in crafts. In the classical period, thus, the nomos and the legal procedures
related to it may have been used to fight off unemployment and criminality.
Herodotus II 177 and the procedure described in Diphilus fr. 31 PCG might
be relevant to this use of the law, suggesting that forms of public control
of the sources of livelihood of the citizens existed in the classical period.
An overall assessment of the problem leads us to point to one question
that remains unanswered: whether or not the graphe argias was frequently

91
I agree with Schmitz 2004, 195: «unabhängig davon, ob das in Diphilos F 31 genannte
Verfahren auf Athen oder Korinth bezogen werden muss, ist es in jedem Fall geeignet, einen
entscheidenden Beitrag für die Rekonstruktion des Umgangs mit dem ,Delikt’ argia zu leisten».
138 LUCIA CECCHET

conducted in classical Athens. Albeit the caveat of drawing argumenta e


silentio, the paucity of references to it in sources and the absence of such
cases in our record seems to suggest a negative answer. Rather than being
frequently deployed, it is likely that this legal suit functioned as a means of
public warning and deterrent. The existence of a nomos and a public action
against argia could be advocated in law courts – as we see in Demosthenes’
Against Eubulides – reminding the Athenians that the public authorities could
make controls and punish those who lived lived of begging in the Agora or
‘above their means’ without honest sources of livelihood.

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