Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Draco, Solon, Anarchy, Anomie

In the “Da Vinci Code", Greek lawgiver Draco scores a mention in one of Dan Brown’s gibberish codes.

Draco was the first recorded lawgiver of Ancient Athens. His laws handed down in 621BC prescribed harsh punishments including death for the most trivial of crimes. Hence draconian laws and measures.

As the “archon eponymous" or chief magistrate of Athens, Draco had the power to enforce these laws. The years of ancient Greece were named after the archon and the years listed in the rolls as "anarchy" meant there was no archon that year.

In 594BC Solon, the archon of Athens introduced a Bill of Rights for Greek citizens. He repealed most of Draco’s laws and brought in trial by jury, thus saving Greece from "anomie".

Anomie is nowadays interpreted as the absence of any kind of law, principle or order. Initially it was a Greek definition of anyone against the rules or a condition where laws were not applied (eg illegitimacy).

The difference between anomie and anarchy is back at the Greek root of the words – (nomos) – law and (arche) – starting rule, axiom or principle.

Anomie is thus a sense of purposelessness or alienation.

I will be shaken off my family tree
I will send the grand-surgeon’s feat-free fee
On the eighth day I’ll never more raven no more
King of the floor, metal man of Tramore
Ostriched head obstacle, burnt reaching the sun
Wings don’t work so well as sometime ago
Chirruping wigs flamboyantly flavoured
Paid through the nose, tongue gratifyingly savoured
Crime and art that had it down pat
Show me the monet in ten seconds flat
The brandishing swordsman is only for fun
Kids don’t do this here or tell your Mum
Feel free in the shadows
In the labyrinth of my words
Languish in laughable language
Let your luggage be rightly disturbed
My muse is into museums
I’ve never met her wait-and-see-ems
Camelot to Calvary stampede
Wisdom in dully self-reflected glows
Until I seek recourse in quiet madness
And fleeting panics of great sadness
The accumulation of which that ceases to be
Because I’ve been done sawing the family tree

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