عنوان مقاله [English]
The council of Areopagus as a judicial establishment monitored the proper implementation of rule of law in the polis (city-state) of Athens. While, the main responsibility and duty of Areopagus was to adjudicate the cases of the most serious crimes, it intervened in the political affairs as well. Eventually, after long-lasting political conflicts between Athenian oligarchy and democracy, this establishment lost its political power due to democrats’ struggles led by Ephialtes in 460 BC. The reason was that Areopagus had lost its supervisory and democratic functions during these years, and had turned into a political leverage in the hands of oligarchs against the crowd. Therefore, after dominating oligarchy, Athenian democracy did not hesitate to limit the power of Areopagus. Two years later, in the 458 BC, Aeschylus, who was a trenchant advocate of democracy, celebrated the reopening of Areopagus in the Oresteia trilogy. Although Aeschylus’ political idea is apparently in conflict with the demands of Athenian democracy, he is not considered to be a conservative oligarch. In the play, Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom in Greek mythology, is the founder of this judicial establishment, and counters the demands of Eumenides (Greek deities of vengeance), who represent tradition. On the other hand, Eumenides’ demands accord with tradition and administration of justice according to “blood for blood”; however, to Athena, such justice will result in chaos and disturbance. Athena demands that the administration of justice be allotted to a legal and democratic institution through establishing the council of Areopagus; whereas, the realization of justice according to tradition and the demands of Eumenides, in fact, indicate the deviation of justice to violence. That being so, Aeschylus’ political thought is the practice of rational contrivance and political temperance resisting two kinds of extremes. The first insists on implementing tradition and revenge, which is symbolized by Eumenides, and the second is the revolutionary confrontation with a legal establishment whose nature is based on the rule of law and rationality in the political arena. In fact, instead of revolutionary overthrow of Areopagus, Aeschylus more wishes to reform its hegemonic and non-democratic functions. The Rule of Law based on temperance and rational contrivance as against violence is Aeschylus’ firsthand political thought, which is represented by the establishment of Areopagus. Therefore, Aeschylus is a reformist politician not a revolutionary one. In this respect, Aeschylus as a reformist thinker of drama is a follower of Solon (Regulator and politician), who is considered among the most famous political philosophers of ancient Greece. Solon was the founder of Athenian democracy and the developer of the idea of moderation in politics. In other words, it was he who initiated the modern idea of Tolerance. Solon insisted on the will of man and morality for security, peace and elimination of violence to be gained. Undoubtedly, this idea is contradictory to the divine providence. Aeschylus also agrees with Solon in that both emphasize free will, morality, and rejection of determinism. All these innovative concepts are a rational contrivance to realize rationality in politics.