People - Ancient Greece: Charondas
Ancient Greek legislator from Sicily who flourished
during 650 BC.
Charondas in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
（Χαρώνδας). A celebrated legislator, born at Catana in Sicily, where he flourished about B.C. 650. We have very few details of his life. Aristotle merely informs us that he was of the bourgeois class of citizens, and that he framed laws for the people of Catana, as well as for other communities which, like them, were descended from Chalcis in Euboea. Aelian adds (V. H. iii. 17) that he was subsequently driven into exile from Catana, and took refuge in Rhegium, where he succeeded in introducing his laws. Some authors inform us that he compiled his laws for the Thurians; but he lived, in fact, a long time before the foundation of Thurium, since his laws were abrogated in part by Anaxilaüs, tyrant of Rhegium, who died B.C. 476. The laws of Charondas were, like those of many of the ancient legislators, in verse, and formed part of the instruction of the young. Their fame reached even to Athens, where they were sung or chanted at repasts. The preamble of these laws, as preserved to us by Stobaeus, is thought, so far, at least, as regards the form of expression, not to be genuine; and Heyne supposes it to have been taken from some Pythagorean treatise on the laws of Charondas.
The manner of this legislator's death is deserving of mention. He had made a law that no man should be allowed to come armed into the assembly of the people. The penalty for infringement was death. He became the victim of his own law; for, having returned from pursuing some robbers, he entered the city, and presented himself before the assembly of the people without reflecting that he carried a sword by his side. Some one thereupon remarked to him, “You are violating your own law.” His reply was, “On the contrary, by Zeus, I will establish it”; and he slew himself on the spot.
Charondas in Wikipedia
Charondas (Greek Χαρώνδας), a celebrated lawgiver of Catania in Sicily. His date is uncertain. Some make him a pupil of Pythagoras (c. 580 - 504 BC); but all that can be said is that he was earlier than Anaxilas of Rhegium (494 - 476 BC), since his laws were in use amongst the Rhegians until they were abolished by that tyrant. His laws, originally written in verse, were adopted by the other Chalcidic colonies in Sicily and Italy. According to Aristotle there was nothing special about these laws, except that Charondas introduced actions for perjury; but he speaks highly of the precision with which they were drawn up (Politics, ii. I 2). The story that Charondas killed himself because he entered the public assembly wearing a sword, which was a violation of his own law, is also told of Diodes of Syracuse and Zaleucus (Diod. Sic. 12.19.1-2). The fragments of laws attributed to him by Stobaeus and Diodorus are of late (neo-Pythagorean) origin. Charondas is said to have commanded that if the nearest relative of an epikleros (something close to an heiress) did not wish to marry her, he was required to provide a dowry.
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