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Fustel de Coulanges – Solon v. Scalia

June 2, 2014

“A saying is attributed to Solon which well characterizes this new régime . Some one asked him if he had given his country the best constitution. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘but the one which is the best suited to it.’ Now it was something quite new to expect in forms of government, and in laws, only a relative merit. The ancient constitutions, founded upon the rules of a worship, were proclaimed infallible and immutable. They possessed the rigor and inflexibility of the religion. Solon indicated by this answer that, in future, political constitutions should conform to the wants, the manners, and the interests of the men of each age. There was no longer a question of absolute truth; the rules of government were for the future to be flexible and variable. It is said that Solon wished at the most that his laws might be observed for a hundred years.”

 

(from The Ancient City)

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