Even if J.K. Rowling hadn't invented the villainous Malfoy clan in her Harry Potter series, the name Draco would have carried negative connotations. The original Draco was an Athenian lawgiver who was as brutal as they came...and met an ignominious end.
According to Aristotle's The Athenian Constitution, Draco passed some iffy laws for the men of Athens. Although it seemingly divided power relatively evenly (amongst the elite citizen males, of course), Draco's constitution was actually quite brutal. Draco passed a whole bunch of ordinances about the death penalty; he tended to punish even minor criminals with murder.
Draco and his fellow Seven Sages of Greece, legendary legal lads. Image viaImage via Ciencia Y Sus Hombres/Look and Learn.
Notes Plutarch in his Life of Solon, another legal eagle, Solon, repealed these laws because "they were too severe and their penalties too heavy"...except for the homicide legislation So !Draco really loved killing people for the smallest things. Plutarch says:
For one penalty was assigned to almost all transgressions, namely death, so that even those convicted of idleness were put to death, and those who stole salad or fruit received the same punishment as those who committed sacrilege or murder.
A later statesman named Demades even "said that Draco's laws were written not with ink, but blood." Draco himself supposedly said that he favored the death penalty quipped that it was the best option: "the lesser ones deserved it, and for the greater ones no heavier penalty could be found." In one of his orations, Demosthenes cites laws about murder; like "all the other excerpts from the law of homicide which I have cited for comparison, is a statute of Draco," he said.
Ironically, Draco's own death wasn't so great. According to one legend, he ventured to the island of Aegina, where he attended a celebratory play in his honor. But the Aeginetans loved him so much they "threw so many hats and shirts and cloaks on his head that he suffocated, and was buried in that selfsame theatre." So people's means of approval, throwing their hats in the air, actually killed this draconian (yes, that's where the word comes from!) legal mind.
Feature image via RadioTimes.