neighbors, friends or, may be, rivals, helping the worthy or hindering the worthless, has a democratic flavor that smacks of fair play as well as political thrift and popular control. So far as the ancient authorities at present reveal, the pension to the old Athenian volunteer himself was awarded solely on the basis of disability and financial need—a simple yet satisfactory rule for a small nation where gratitude to the patriot came to mean sacrifice on the part of the people.
The law of the land reflected the humanity and patriotism of the loyal Athenian still further by offering complete support and protection to the fathers and mothers and elder kindred of the dead soldier, as noted in the above quotations from the funeral speeches. This pension, which furnished a substantial consolation to the dying warrior and an incentive and exhortation to those left behind, was put under the immediate supervision of the Archons—the highest authority in the land—who were especially entrusted with the duty of watching over the parents and children of those who died in war that they, above all other citizens, might be free from harm and wrong.
The nation also assumed the guardianship of the sons of veterans together with the daughters of the dead soldiers of the republic of Athens. These orphans were cared for during their minority and were trained and educated at the public expense, and with a completeness of compliance with the best standards of the day that the most progressive military powers of our twentieth century can hardly claim to have surpassed in their patriotic treatment of the survivors of the defenders of their lands and laws.
Although we can not prove the date of this Athenian regulation, Aristotle's censure in his "Politics," of the scheme for support of veterans' children, proposed by the engineer and reformer, Hippodamos, shows that a law like this was already in force at Athens before Pericles's day, the fifth century before Christ. In the same passage the philosopher also claims the existence of similar legislation in other cities (city-states) of Greece. It is now thought quite possible that Hippodamos—who originated the rectangular system of streets in Europe; occupied himself minutely with the improvement of the judicial system at Athens; and possessed a legal mind of such originality as to present the pioneer idea in history of a supreme court of appeals—was not a dilatory mover of a law already in force, Aristotle to the contrary notwithstanding, but suggested new and improved proposals in pension legislation, which, in its old form, had already proved of great civic and patriotic value. The subject most certainly received widespread and intelligent consideration.
Though the offspring of citizens, who fell in the wars of freedom at
- Aristotle's "Politics," Bk. II., 8, V., 4, and notes, p. 272, of Susemihl and Hicks's edition.