the rise of athens: solon and his reform ( 638–558 b.c.) lecturer: wu shiyu

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  • The Rise of Athens: Solon and His Reform(638558 B.C.)Lecturer: Wu Shiyu

  • Sparta and AthensTwo great states of classical Greek history. Standing side by side, drove back the Persian threat of conquest. Engage in a Great War, the Peloponnesian War from 431 to 404, fighting against one another and ultimately bringing the golden age of Greece to its end.

  • Contrasts: Sparta and AthensSparta, the land of freedom but the freedom under the law, Athens also the land of freedom, but one that focused upon individual freedom; Sparta, forbidding commerce, Athens, a great commercial democracy;

  • Contrasts: Sparta and AthensSparta, a land that trained its soldiers to citizenship and to civic virtue, Athens also a land of mighty warriors who took great pride in their patriotism, but were also creative, setting standard in art and architecture, and literature that would forever define the very concept of what is classic.And these foundations for Athens as the great commercial democracy, the land of creativity, were laid by Solon, one of the seven wise men of Greece, in later tradition, like Lycurgus.

  • The National Academy in Athens, with Apollo and Athena on their columns, and Socrates and Plato seated in front.

  • Athens Church

  • Social BackgroundAthens, like many other Greek city-states enmeshed ) into political chaos, economic turmoil (549 B.C.):Commercial expansion;Coinage invented, people go into debts, lost their land;Great gulfs between the rich and poor, sold their children and themselves into slavery.

  • Early Athenian Coin

  • Social BackgroundEconomic dissension() brought forth political dissension, and Athens was divided into three parties:The Party of the Plain: wealthy landowners who came from the aristocratic families, dominating the full share of the politics. The Party of the Coast :the trading commercial class but did not have a full share in politics. The Party of the Hill: crushed between the two like the millstone, as Solon would describe it.

  • Solon and His ReformFearing the outbreak of the civil war, Solon was asked to give new laws, to be like Lycurgus.Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet.Poets were believed to be inspired by the gods, and poetry was used to convey political wisdom. (p149, 148)

  • From Aristocratic family, his father squandered their wealth, and solon had to go out and earned a living, he turned to trade; Believed that trading and commerce were a very respectable way of earning an income; Money was a good thing and he made quite a bit of it as a merchant;Going as far as Egypt and going to Ionia, but not simply in search of wealth, also in search of wisdom, one of his favorite sayings was grow older every day, and learn something new every day,

  • Grow older every day, learn something new every day

  • So while he was in Asia Minor, in cities like Miletus, he studied and learned, he took part in the scientific developments of the time, Came back to Athens, a well-rounded individual: wealthy, aware of the outside world, and imbued with the idea, The worse thing you could do is be excessive.Nothing in Excess and Know Thyself

  • Athnes ( statues of the Erechtheion on its Acropolis)

  • Solons Reform His intention: no one should suffer from the constitution that he would put in place (the rich and the poor:I wanted to guide the ship of state through the narrow channels safely in the middle.His goal: establish a balanced constitution for Athens: to establish social equality, essential to democracy, and to establish the economic opportunity, critical to both social equality and democracy.

  • First step: the casting off of burdens, throwing off the burden of slavery, and, once and for all,Abolished all debts, all debts were gone, and those who had been sold into slavery were brought back home, from far away back to the land of Athens.Solons Reform

  • Solons ReformThe next thing: make sure that this never happen again, and so it was forbidden to sell yourself into slavery, or to sell your children into slavery. Make sure that the economy of Athens prospered, and So he fostered commerce and trade, He made a law that every parent had to teach his son a trade, and if your father had not taught you trade, you did not have to take care of him in his old age .

  • Wanted the Athenians to be merchants, to produce goods: Who will come to the city, he said, where there is nothing to buy? The produce of Athens became famous, above all its magnificent pottery, which began to flourish at the time of Solon, spotted all over in Greek world, even to regions beyond it.

  • The ruins of the Roman Agora, the second commercial centre of ancient Athens.

  • Solons ReformBelieved that agriculture was essential, Most agricultural goods can not be exported, be kept there in Athens, to prevent the market from rising too high so that people could buy stables like bread, Fostering trade and commerce.

  • Encouraged foreigners to come to Athens,Anybody who had a trade, who would move to Athens with their families, and who would swear allegiance () to Athens, and break their allegiance to their former country, could become Athenian citizen.Let them come and let them find opportunity here, and all will prosper.

    Solons Reform: economy

  • Solons ReformSolon also wanted Athens to move towards a balanced democracy.

    Abolished the Draconian Law: The laws of Draco were written and published and set up in the stone, the trouble is they were awfully harsh, if you stole a cabbage you were put to death.

  • Solon established a timocracy (timor=wealth or honor; cracy=to rule): one based upon wealth.

    Recognized the importance of wealth and divided the Athenians into four categories based on their wealth

    Solons Reform: Timocracy

  • At the very top: whose estate was worth 500 bushels of grain( oil, produce, cash, all of these thats reckoned up);Those between 300 and 500 bushels;Next lowest were 200 to 300 bushels;Below 200 bushelsReserved office holding for the wealthy: only those who had 500 bushels or more, should hold the highest office of the state, and these alone could be archon(), holding the highest magistracy (,).

  • Gave every citizen the right to vote. Even the poorest could vote, and so be responsible for the civic obligation, and also be able to reward those who served well.Every citizen could serve on jury: To put ordinary citizens in the role of jurors. Juries at Athens were large, 501 would sit on a particular case, that was the key to make him a democracy.

  • Citizens should sue one another, and he encouraged them to sue, to bring charges and accusations both civil and criminal, On the idea that this is how you learn to use power, how you made magistrates (, ) afraid of ordinary citizen, by bringing them upon charges, So Solon laid the bases which some later thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle would criticize Athens, he made them the most litigious (; ) people in the world, he did so knowingly.

  • Set up a system of check the power of the Assembly of all Athenians:Set up a supreme court, to check the law passed by the assembly of all the Athenians;It could declare a law passed by the people as unconstitutional; Set up a Council of Four Hundreds, chosen by lot, to prepare legislation for presentation to the Assembly.

  • 6.3 Solons Reform: Timocracy

    So at both stages, before they passed the law, after a law had been passed, there was a check, And this was what made solon the eyes of the founder of countries like American, such a good statesman, such an admirable figure, for he had seen the importance of democracy, but also saw the need of checks, and balances.

  • Solons ReformSolon introduced sumptuary legislation that limited conspicuous consumption by the wealthy:Dowries were limited.Women could not wear more than three cloaks at a time or ride in a particular kind of chariot.It was forbidden to hold excessive funerals.These reforms encouraged the rise of whistle blowers.

  • Athenian aristocrats decided important matters of state during Solon's time.( The Areopagus )

  • Significance of Solons Reform So Solon had established the commercial foundation, for broadening the economy, and economic viability for democracy, he gave the instruments of balanced democracy to the Athenians

  • After the Reform And then having carried out his reforms, he stepped back. He set sail, traveled. People thought that I was a fool, he wrote it in his poems, I had absolute power and could have done anything I wanted, and yet I chose not to, I chose not to abuse my power, I set the ship of state in place, and let it sail. And so he went, he traveled to Egypt and there spent a considerable time, we are told studying with priests of Egypt and learning from them about a faraway island, called Atlantis.

  • 6.3 After the Reform When he came back to Athens that was going to be his lifes work, to write a long epic poem, about the fate of Atlantis, he traveled to Asia Minor, he met the king of Lydia, King Croesus. and then right been years came back to Athens, once more time, and then lived the long and fruitful life, and continually to learn something new every day.

  • In Plato's account, Atlantis was a naval power lying "in front of the Pillars of Hercules" that conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa 9,000 years before the time of Solon, or approximately 9600 BC. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean "in a single day and night of misfortune".

  • Intellectual Climate of Solons Age The age when Solon lived in