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ZALEUCUS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 951 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ZALEUCUS  , of

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Locri Epizephyrii in Magna Graecia, Greek lawgiver, is supposed to have flourished about 66o B.C . The statement that he was a pupil of Pythagoras is an anachronism . Little is known of him, and Timaeus even doubted his existence, but it is now generally agreed that this is an error . He is said to have been the author of the first written code of
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laws amongst the Greeks . According to the
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common story, the Locrians consulted the Delphic oracle as to a remedy for the disorder and lawlessness that were rife amongst them . Having been ordered to make laws for themselves, they commissioned one Zaleucus, a shepherd and slave (in later tradition, a man of distinguished
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family) to draw up a code . The laws of Zaleucus, which he declared had been communicated to him in a dream by Athena, the
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patron goddess of the city, were few and
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simple, but so severe that, like those of Draco, they became proverbial . They remained essentially unchanged for centuries, and the Locrians subsequently enjoyed a high reputation as upholders of the law . One of the most important provisions was that the punishment for different offences was definitely fixed, instead of being
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left to the discretion of the judge before whom a case was tried . The penalty for adultery was the loss of the eyes, and in general the application of the lex talionis was enjoined as the punishment for
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personal injuries .
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Special enactments concerning the rights of
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property, the alienation of
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land, settlement in
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foreign countries, and various sumptuary laws (e.g. the drinking of pure wine, except when ordered medicinally, was forbidden) are attributed to him . After the code was firmly established, the Locrians introduced a regulation that, if a citizen interpreted a law differently from the cosmopolis (the chief magistrate), each had to appear before the council of One Thousand with a rope round his neck, and the one against whom the council decided was immediately strangled .

Any one who proposed a new law or the alteration of one already existing was subjected to the same test, which continued in force till the 4th

century and even later . Zaleucus is often confused with
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Charondas, and the same story is told of their
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death . It is said that one of Zaleucus's laws forbade a citizen, under penalty of death, to enter the senate-house bearing aweapon . During the stress of war, Zaleucus violated this law; and, on its being pointed out to him, he committed suicide by throwing himself upon the point of his sword, declaring that the law must be vindicated . See Bentley, Dissertation on the Epistles of
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Phalaris; F . D . Gerlach, Zaleukos, Charondas, Pythagoras (1858) ; G . Busolt, Griechische Geschichte, i.; Schol. on Pindar, 01. x . 17; Strabo vi. p . 259; Diod . Sic. xii . 20, 21;
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Demosthenes, In Timocratenz, p .

744;

Stobaeus, Florilegium, xliv . 20, 21, where the supposed preface of Zaleucus and the collection of laws as a whole is
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spurious; Suidas, s.v., who makes him a native of Thurii;
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Cicero, De Legibus, ii . 6 . See also article GREEK LAW .

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