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C O U R S E 
The Ancient Greeks
Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Wesleyan University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Solon Against Political, Economic, and Moral Decline
Notes taken on March 21, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
circumstances that make a state ripe for a tyranny
entrenched, old elite who control:
1. most of the good land
2. political and legal processes
this was the situation in Corinth with Cypselus [KIP-sel-us] and his son Periander
a paradigm of how tyranny
background to Solon
in Athens
domination of clans who called themselves the Eupatrids
established tight control over resources of the state
beginning of 6th century BC, economic crisis
sources of this are from later
large class of farmers who were impoverished and in a debt-bondage
tremendous social tension
paradigm of law-giver
member of the seven sages
one of the founders of the Athenian civic identity
a middle citizen
594 BCE Solon's reforms
account in Herodotus
constitution of Athens
Plutarch's Life of Solon
600 years after his death
Solon's wrote his own poetry
middle citizen
may have been a merchant who traveled widely
this was unlikely, as he was clearly a member of he elite and they wouldn't have chosen a merchant
but a merchant would have been able to travel from place to place and observe other peoples' customs
economic reforms
hectemor, "sixth partner" debtor
annually, the debtor owed one sixth of his land and crops to the creditor
boundary stone's that marked off property
"shaking off of burdens"
cancellation of debt
creditors wanted this because it staved off revolution
there was the idea that land could not change hands since it belonged to your ancestors and your offspring, and you were just holding it temporarily
no internal slavery
no Athenian could hold another Athenian as a slave
from then on, slaves were only from somewhere else
political reforms
four property classes
1. Pentacosiomedimnoi
property produced 500 measures of grapes and other crops
traditionally, wealthy landowners
2. Hippeis
300 measures
"horsemen" or "knights"
was more expensive to outfit yourself as a knight than a hoplite
3. Zeugitae
200 measures
relatively well-to-do farmers who could afford Hoplite armor
4. Thetes
"none of the above"
subsistence farmers
replacing the criteria of birth with wealth
linked this to access to political office
e.g. only Pentacosiomedimnoi could have top positions
but all citizens had the right to participate in the assembly
"the council of 400"
mentioned but unsure it existed
allowed for social mobility
Aristotle in the Constitution of Athens saw a dedicatory statue, said, "I dedicate this on having risen from the Thetic class to the class of knights"
the possibility to make money an rise through the ranks
new economic reality
right of legal intervention
any citizen could hold another
right to transfer a legal case from a magistrate to jury court
how Solon promoted his reforms
he was a poet
in a symposium
formalized drinking party for the elite
recitation of poetry
I gave everybody what they are entitled to, not too much, not too little
repeatedly refers to himself as a boundary stone
or a wolf surrounded by hunters, fending them off
had himself the opportunity to make himself tyranny, but passed it up
the first three-dimension, fully vivid character that we have seen so far
becomes a figure of enormous importance of Athenian ideology
later thinkers return to his ideas