[LMB] OT: Being called "the Just"

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Fri Sep 21 05:05:37 BST 2012

Jeff Shultz scripsit:

> On Thu, Sep 20, 2012 at 6:29 PM, <beatrice_otter at haugensgalleri.com> wrote:
> > Er.  That rather depends on who started calling him "the Just" and what
> > their ideas of "Just" were like.
> It could be that he didn't play favorites - his justice was applied fairly
> and equally to all.

Or unfairly and equally, or fairly and unequally ("One Law for the Lion
and the Ox is Oppression" --William Blake).

In fifth-century-B.C.E. Athens, the citizens had a form of anti-election
called _ostracism_ (because votes were cast on pottery shards, _ostraka_
in Greek).  In years when the democracy chose to hold an ostracism,
they wrote the name of the person they chose, and whoever received the
most votes (provided there were enough) was sent into exile for ten years.

The ostracized person was not punished otherwise, kept his property,
and was free to return at the end of the time with no further penalties.
It was not a criminal process, but more usually a political one: people
were ostracized because they were thought to be dangerous to the state.

The conservative general and politician Aristedes son of Lysimachos
was generally known as Aristides the Just, because even his opponents
regarded him as honest and honorable.  One day in March 482 B.C.E., it's
said he was approached by another Athenian carrying a shard.  "Excuse me,
I don't know how to write.  Can you write down the name I want?"

"Certainly, citizen.  What name did you wish me to record?"

"Put down Aristides son of Lysimachos."

"Very well."  Aristides wrote his own name on the shard.  "But tell me,
has this Aristides done you any wrong, that you wish to see him banished
from the city for ten years?"

"Not a bit -- I don't even know him.  It's just that I'm sick and tired
of hearing him called 'Aristides the Just' all the time."

Aristides was in fact ostracized that year, but was recalled in 480 to
help fight the Persian War.

Barry thirteen gules and argent on a canton azure           John Cowan
fifty mullets of five points of the second,             cowan at ccil.org
six, five, six, five, six, five, six, five, and six.
        --blazoning the U.S. flag           http://www.ccil.org/~cowan

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