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#52260 - 01/09/02 04:01 PM draconian  
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BBC news uses the word "draconian" to describe new law code proposed in an African country. We all have a general understanding of the term meaning a harsh penal code. But I have been unable to get a clear picture of why Draco's code was considered excessively harsh. I like the word "Eupatridae" '''.

The hereditary kingship of Athens was abolished in 683 BC by the nobles, or Eupatridae, who ruled Athens until the mid-6th century BC. The Eupatridae retained complete authority by their supreme power to dispense justice, often in an arbitrary fashion. In 621 BC the statesman Draco codified and published the Athenian law, thereby limiting the judiciary power of the nobles. A second major blow to the hereditary power of the Eupatridae was the code of the Athenian statesman and legislator Solon in 594 BC, which reformed the Draconian code and gave citizenship to the lower classes.

"Greece," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Who can tell us what specifically was excessively harsh in Draco's code?


#52261 - 01/09/02 04:17 PM Re: draconian  
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I went looking in Internet for information about Draco, and found this, which seems to indicate that he was not hated. I find it hard to believe that he could have been suffocated this way.

621 BC: Draco's Law

This Greek citizen was chosen to write a code of law for Athens (Greece). The penalty for many offences was death; so severe, that the word "draconian" comes from his name and has come to mean, in the English language, an unreasonably harsh law. His laws were the first written laws of Greece. These laws introduced the state's exclusive role in punishing persons accused of crime, instead of relying on private justice. The citizens adored Draco and upon entering an auditorium one day to attend a reception in his honour, the citizens of Athens showered him with their hats and cloaks as was their customary way to show appreciation. By the time they dug him out from under the clothing, he had been smothered to death.


#52262 - 01/09/02 04:21 PM Re: draconian  
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this too shall pass
The citizens adored Draco and upon entering an auditorium one day to attend
a reception in his honour, the citizens of Athens showered him with their hats and
cloaks as was their customary way to show appreciation. By the time they dug him
out from under the clothing, he had been smothered to death.


thus codifying the phrase hat trick.


#52263 - 01/09/02 04:52 PM Re: draconian  
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Dear tsuwm: I just thought of the explanation. All those hats and cloaks had just come back from the dry cleaners, and were so full of carbon tetrachloride fumes that poor Draco was gassed to death.

BBC didn't give specifics of new code proposed for Zimbabwe. But if you ever want to hear a draconian code, listen to Uniform Code of Military Justice read to Army recruits at frequent interval, or Navy's "Rocks and Shoals" and notice how often you hear the words: "Death, or such other penalty as a court-martial may direct".


#52264 - 01/09/02 09:59 PM Re: draconian  
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In Napoleonic times (and probably later), in the English navy during times of conflict the Articles of War were read to ships' crews every week after Sunday services. I may have this wrong, but if I remember correctly the penalty for every "crime" except one was "death".

Now that's draconian!



The idiot also known as Capfka ...
#52265 - 01/09/02 10:26 PM Re: draconian  
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Dear CK: I remember vaguely some British Naval commanders getting very harsh treatment for failure to perform adequately. I never heard of anything comparable in US services. I remember one particular injustice toward an enlisted man. I read in TIME in early days of WWII, a Colonel who hated black men was inadvertently sent a black sergeant with a vehicle to drive him. When the black Sergeant came to the door, the Colonel whipped out his .45 and shot him. Can't remember if black man died or not. But only punishment of the Colonel was a bit of reduction in rank and loss of pay for perhaps six months. Imagine what the verdict would have been if the Sergeant had shot the Colonel! I never heard that the injustice was ever corrected.


#52266 - 01/09/02 10:36 PM Re: draconian  
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Byng, John
Byng, John,
1704-57, British admiral; son of George Byng, Viscount
Torrington. Sent (1756) to prevent the French from taking
Minorca, he arrived when the island was already under siege
and, after an indecisive naval engagement, withdrew without
relieving the siege. His court-martial and execution for "failure
to do his utmost brought charges that he had been used as a
scapegoat for ministerial failure and prompted Voltaire's
suggestion (in Candide) that from time to time the British find it
desirable to shoot an admiral "pour encourager les autres [to
encourage the others].


#52267 - 01/10/02 12:42 AM Re: draconian  
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tsuwm,

I don't get your either your joke or your observation:

thus codifying the phrase hat trick.

I do get Bill's dry cleaning joke, but I don't understand this hat trick. I looked it up and it had to do with sports, but it didn't seem to have anything to do with suffocating.

Back into that ol' dark mud puddle,
DubDub



#52268 - 01/10/02 02:03 AM Re: draconian  
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> ... the penalty for every "crime" except one was "death"

Reminds me of Gary Larsen's cartoon about equine medicine - the cure for every horsy malady being "Shoot"

stales


#52269 - 01/10/02 02:20 AM Re: draconian  
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On behalf of tsuwm - who no doubt will supply the etymology of the phrase as I've forgotten it - a hat trick being an English-English term for three consecutive events of some significance. Examples are an individual player getting 3 goals in a single match, a cricketer (bowler) getting three people out off consecutive balls, a team winning three matches in a row etc. A player or team is said to be "on a hat trick" if they've completed two events and have the potential to complete the third.

I think tsuwm is using the term moreso for its "pun-itive" value.

stales


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