Solon Ancient Greece was born into a noble family and at the age of about 55, he was elected archon of Athens, in order for him to help the city get through the social and economic crisis it was going through.
Solon Ancient Greece
Solon Ancient Greece is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against a political, economic and moral decline in Athens. His reforms failed in the short term yet he is often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy.
Who was Cleisthenes
Solon was a poet and a wise statesman but not – contrary to later myth – a democrat. He did not believe in people-power as such. But it was Solon’s constitutional reform package that laid the basis on which democracy could be pioneered almost 100 years later by a progressive aristocrat called Cleisthenes.
He did away with debts introducing ‘Sisahthia”, did away with slavery due to debts and forbids the procuring of loans using your body as collateral. He made it possible for the landless to be absorbed by other occupations. He encouraged commerce.
Solon is the first European politician who speaks to the 20th century in a personal voice (Tyrtaeus reflects an ethos and an age). Like the other archaic poets mentioned, it wrote for symposia, and his more frivolous poetry should not be lost sight of in preoccupation with what he wrote in self-justification. He was a man who enjoyed life and wanted to preserve rather than destroy.
Solon faced the daunting task of improving the condition of debt-ridden farmers, laborers forced into bondage over debt, and the middle classes who were excluded from government, while not alienating the increasingly wealthy landowners and aristocracy.
After dealing with the immediate crises, it redefined citizenship so as to create the foundations of democracy. A rather intriguing law passed by Solon was that which forced every man to side with a faction in the event of civil strife in the city.
A law believed to have been inspired by his desire to see citizens, during civil unrest, to take an active role in public affairs by choosing the side they believed to be virtuous and consonant with their own principles, and to risk themselves by giving their support rather than standing back apathetically (in safety), as if watching a competitive game.
As far as the government is concerned, he divided Athenian society into four classes based on wealth. The two wealthiest classes were allowed to serve on the Areopagus. The third class was allowed to serve on an elected council of four hundred people.
This council was organized according to the four tribes making up the Athenian people; each tribe was allowed to elect one hundred representatives from this third class.
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