Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/497

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THE OLD GREEK VOLUNTEER

spect, either from motives of pure patriotism or as a concession to the popular will and as a profitable asset for use among those who followed and were to follow him. The people were so in sympathy with the old soldier that the mere mention of military service by a veteran of the wars was thought to have a magic influence with the jury in almost any kind of a case, whatever the issue might be, and this can hardly be cited as an instance of looseness of court-practise in old Greek law; for our American juryman has been known to award a verdict in a contract case to the plaintiff "who guarded our liberties," "risked his life," etc., as Wellman, in his recent "Day in Court,"[1] interestingly cites.

The liberal and complete assistance, above bestowed on the disabled warrior by the little Athenian republic, stands out a conspicuous example of popular gratitude and sacrifice, especially when we realize that Rome, mighty mistress of militarism, granted no pension and offered no financial aid to her veteran soldier or to his family till after her republic came to a close and loyalty to the public weal had yielded to allegiance to an emperor.

The help, originally given in the case of wounded soldiers, was extended to all those infirm in body who were rendered less able to make a living because of their disabilities and were, at the same time, rated on the census-rolls at less than three minæ—fifty-four dollars, but with great purchasing power:[2] If the modes of appointment to both the civic and military pensions were similar—as is now commonly implied and quite generally admitted—we possess interesting data of the way in which the people at Athens kept a patriotic yet prudent hand on the situation at all stages of the administration of state-aid, including the grant to the veteran citizen-soldier. The people themselves might examine every case both on the original allowance and at its renewal each year, so that there was but slight danger of abuse from imposition on the part of the unworthy.

Action could be brought by any citizen before the Boulé or unicameral Senate of the Five Hundred, against any suspect who was liable to an annual examination by the body or the public. Lysias, the celebrated Athenian speech-writer, wrote his famous defense of "The Cripple" (oration 24) for a poor but unabashed pensioner, the slinging and stinging nature of which fits so well the subject on trial that the speech is probably the best example of keen character-study ever produced by an expert, and has, despite its oftentimes ludicrous utterances, a bathos—and a pathos too—that justifies its being adjudged the most typical and may be the best of Lysian achievements. The virtually direct award and renewal of the grant by the people—possible in a limited community, if not practical in a larger nation—with one's

  1. Page 197, edition 1909.
  2. Aristotle, "Resp. Ath.," 49, 4.