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Biographies (3)



CATANI (Ancient city) SICILY
Charondas, 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 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 Anaxilaus, 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.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Charondas, a lawgiver of Catana, who legislated for his own and the other cities of Chalcidian origin in Sicily and Italy (Aristot. Polit. ii. 10). Now, these were Zancle, Naxos, Leontini, Euboea, Mylae, Himera, Callipolis, and Rhegium. He must have lived before the time of Anaxilaus, tyrant of Rhegium, i. e. before B. C. 494, for the Rhegians used the laws of Charondas till they were abolished by Anaxilaus, who, after a reign of eighteen years, died B. C. 476. These facts sufficiently refute the common account of Charondas, as given by Diodorus (xii. 12): viz. that after Thurii was founded by the people of the ruined city of Sybaris, the colonists chose Charondas, "the best of their fellow-citizens", to draw up a code of laws for their use. For Thurii, as we have seen, is not included among the Chalcidian cities, and the date of its foundation is B. C. 443. It is also demonstrated by Bentley (Phalaris), that the laws which Diodorus gives as those drawn up by Charondas for the Thurians were in reality not his. For Aristotle (Polit. iv. 12) tells us, that his laws were adapted to an aristocracy, whereas in Diodorus we constantly find him ordering appeals to the demos, and the constitution of Thurii is expressly called politeuma demokratikon. Again, we learn from a happy correction made by Bentley in a corrupt passage of the Politics (ii. 12), that the only peculiarity in the laws of Charondas was that he first introduced the power of prosecuting false witnesses (episkepsis). But it is quite certain that this was in force at Athens long before the existence of Thurii, and therefore that Charondas, as its author, also lived before the foundation of that city. Lastly, we are told by Diogenes Laertius, that Protagoras was the lawgiver of Thurii. Diodorus ends the account of his pseudo-Charondas by the story, that he one day forgot to lay aside his sword before he appeared in the assembly, thereby violating one of his own laws. On being reminded of this by a citizen, he exclaimed, ma Di alla kurion poieso, and immediately stabbed himself. This anecdote is also told of Diocles of Syracuse, and of Zaleucus, though Valerius Maximus (vi.5) agrees with Diodorus in attributing it to Charondas. The story that Charondas was a Pythagorean, is probably an instance of the practice which arose in later times of calling every distinguished lawgiver a disciple of Pythagoras, which title was even conferred on Numa Pompilius (Comp. Iamblich. Vit. Pythag. c. 7). Among several pretended laws of Charondas preserved by Stobaeus, there is one probably authentic, since it is found in a fragment of Theophrastus (Stob. Serm. 48). This enacts, that all buying and selling is to be transacted with ready money, and that the government is to provide no remedy for those who lose their money by giving credit. The same ordinance will be found in Plato's Laws. The laws of Charondas were probably in verse (Athen. xiv.).

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks



Mamercus (Mamerkos), tyrant of Catana, at the time when Timoleon landed in Sicily, B. C. 344. He is termed by Plutarch a man both warlike and wealthy. After the defeat of Hicetas at Adranum by Timoleon, Mamercus joined the latter and concluded a treaty of alliance with him. But when Timoleon had not only made himself master of Syracuse, but defeated the Carthaginians in the great battle of the Crimissus (B. C. 339), Mamercus became apprehensive that his object was nothing less than the complete expulsion of all the tyrants from Sicily, and in consequence concluded a league with Hicetas and the Carthaginians to oppose his progress. They at first obtained a partial success, and cut to pieces a body of mercenaries in the Syracusan service; but Hicetas was defeated by Timoleon, and soon after fell into his hands; after which the Corinthian leader marched against Catana. Mamercus met him in the field, but was defeated with heavy loss, and the Carthaginians now concluded a peace with Timoleon. Thus abandoned by his allies Mamercus despaired of success, and fled to Messana, where he took refuge with Hippon, tyrant of that city. Tinoleon, however, quickly followed, and laid siege to Messana both by sea and land, whereupon Hippon took to flight, and Mamercus surrendered to the Corinthian general, stipulating only for a regular trial before the Syracusans. But as soon as he was brought into the assembly of the people there, he was condemned by acclamation, and executed like a common malefactor. (Plut. Timol. 13, 30, 31, 34; Diod. xvi. 69, 82 ; Corn. Nep. Timol. 2.) We may, perhaps, infer from an expression of Cornelius Nepos, that Mantercus was not a Sicilian by birth, but had first come to the island as a leader of Italian mercenaries. Plutarch informs us (Timol. 31) that he prided himself much upon his skill in poetry, apparently with but little reason, if we may judge from the two verses preserved to us by that author.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2006 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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