Athens Under Solon

Topics: Plato, Law, Athenian democracy Pages: 6 (2325 words) Published: November 15, 2012
When the city of Athens stood on the brink of revolution, the citizens of Athens looked upon Solon and gave him the task of creating new laws for them because of troubles that had been plaguing them for a long time. “ They saw that he more than anyone else in city, stood apart from the injustices of the time and was involved neither in the extortions of the rich nor the privations of the poor” (Plutarch 55, Par 1). In this paper I will be writing of changes that took effect under Solon and whether those changes resolved the conflicts that brought Athens on the brink of revolution. First, I will be writing about the conflict over land ownership and slavery between aristocrats and common people, who appointed Solon as reconciler and archon and whether his new laws resolved those conflicts. Secondly, I will be writing of conflict over power between aristocrats and aristocrats, feuds that used to run between families and would not get resolved until there was no one left to take revenge on and how Solon’s new laws changed that. And another laws of Solon’s that he was highly appraised for to make an Athens better place under him such as laws on Dowry, Inheritance, and Wills. Thirdly, I will be writing of political laws that took places under Solon’s era and how he secured those laws against alteration for a hundred years that gave powers to common people in Athens. The Two sources I will be using to write this paper are The Athenian Constitution (The document given in class by Prof. Trumbach) and Plutarch: The Rise and fall of Athens (Textbook assigned for class). Aristocrats vs. Peasants

Before I write about the conflict between the aristocrats and the common people, you must know the geographical system of Athens and the people who worked on those lands and how that contributed to the conflict. “The city of Athens was divided into as many parties as there were geographical features in its territory. First there were aristocrats, people who lived in plain, who supported an oligarchy government and had the best and most fertile land (The Athenian Constitution 2). The party of the hill (Peasants with land on the hill) supported an extreme democracy so the new government can redistribute the land and they can have some of the fertile land which was all owned by aristocrats. Their land was so unfertile that sometimes they had to eat their own seed to survive due to bad harvest and borrow seeds from aristocrats and pledge their own freedom. When they were unable to pay back their debt, they were seized by their creditors and being enslaved at home or were sold to foreigners aboard. Many parents were even forced to sell their own children because there was no law to prevent that from happening (The Athenian Constitution 2). Then there were sharecroppers (Thetes) who supported a mixed form of government. These were the peasants who had no lands of their own and rented a land from aristocrats. As a rent they would pay one sixth of their crop which left them with just enough crop to survive. Sharecroppers lived on very tight budget. They were always left over with just enough to survive year to year and had no social mobility whatsoever. They were born poor and died poor. The City stood at the brink of revolution and the poor people could not take any more harshness from their creditors” (Plutarch 54, Par 2). “At this point poor rose against notables, the strife was fierce but they held out against each other for very long time. Eventually tired from fighting both sides agreed to appoint Solon as reconciler and archon and entrusted the Athens to him” (The Athenian Constitution 2). “After gaining control, first measure Solon put into force, he discharged all the debts of common people whether it was public or private that they owed to aristocrats which the Athenians called the “Shaking-off of Burden”. He freed all enslaved and put in a law that in future nobody could accept the person of a debtor as a security” (The Athenian...
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