Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Philocleon (fih-loh-klee-on), an elderly Athenian citizen and a dicast, one of the six thousand jurors of the Athenian courts. He is completely obsessed with judging and litigation, and to sit in court day after day is the greatest joy he can imagine. He prides himself on his hardness of heart; no appeal from a prisoner can move him, and he always votes for conviction. When his son imprisons him within his own house to prevent his going to court, he attempts to escape by almost every ruse imaginable. He finally allows himself to be persuaded to give up his madness because Bdelycleon convinces him that he is not a pillar of the state, as he had imagined, but a dupe of the Athenian political bosses. He no longer attends court; instead, he sits at home in judgment on his dog, Labes, who has been accused of stealing a Sicilian cheese. At the end of the case, Bdelycleon tricks him into voting for acquittal, for the first time in his life. Later, Philocleon reluctantly allows himself to be dressed in a style becoming to a man of his years and to be taken out into society, where Bdelycleon evidently hopes that he will find interests to replace his extreme fondness for law courts. The old fellow is incorrigible. He staggers home drunk from a banquet after having exhibited there the grossest of manners, carried off the flute girl who entertained the guests, and misused several citizens along the streets. His misbehavior will involve him in...

(The entire section is 593 words.)