Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where does the word "draconian" come from?

You might already have heard the expression "draconian punishment". This usually refers to excessively harsh consequences for someone's actions. Often, the misdoing in question is relatively minor compared to the punishment applied for it.

The word "draconian" originally comes from the name of Draco, a lawgiver from Ancient Greece, who lived in the 7th century BC. He codified many of the laws which were only transmitted orally before his time.

However, it has since been argued that the association of his name with terrible penalties is somewhat unjust. Many of the laws were only written down, not made by him. Also, he is noted to have introduced the distinction between deliberate and accidental wrongdoing, such as between murder and involuntary homicide. He even abolished some bloodier punishments known from earlier times.


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