BC The aristocrats rule Athens.
The economy depended on
surrounding farms, especially the large estates owned by rich noble families,
Nearly all government decisions and operations are in
the hands of a half-dozen leaders called archons and lesser officials called
The problem of debt magnified the hatred of the commoners
against the aristocrats.
A poor farmer had to borrow seeds from a rich
landowner to plant his crops.
The farmer was
supposed to pay back this debt with a percentage of his harvest - this is
Those without land had to work as
tenants by renting farm plots.
Draco carves his laws on an oak column.
According to Aristotle,
one of the few ancient sources we have for Draconian Law, these magik runes are
stained with human blood, not ink.
Draconian laws severely punished
594 BC Seeing
disaster looming, both the aristocracy and common people of Athens support the
election of Solon as primary
Athenians grant Solon, age 35, nearly unlimited powers to write
The Athenians chose Solon to mediate their crisis for several
The aristocrats like that he is of noble birth.
commoners trusted him as a merchant who trades for a living.
suggested that all the citizens of Athens were responsible for the common good
- not just the ruling archons and magistrates.
Solon attempted to make
the court system fair to the lower classes.
"To the people I have given
such honor as is sufficient, neither taking away nor granting them more.
For those who had power and were great in riches, I greatly cared that
they should suffer nothing wrong.
Thus I stood, holding my strong
shield over both, and I did not allow either side to prevail against justice."
He made it possible for any citizen to step forward and seek
Before only the actual victim of wrongdoing could make a
The powerful could easily threaten victims to discourage
Solons law code is based on two fundamental
The first is laws are fixed and not easily changed.
The second is laws must apply equally to everyone, aristocrats and
Solons code of law covered virtually every
aspect of lifetheft, treason, taxation, vagrancy, adoption, boundaries,
loans, and religion, among many others.
Solon rejected all but one
Draconian law the homicide law.
Solons laws differed
greatly from Dracos code.
He made it a crime to publicly speak
evil of either the living or the dead.
Solon allowed a husband to kill
an adulterer caught in the act.
A theft committed at night or in a
public place carried a weighter penalty.
Solons laws focused on
compensating victims and preventing future conflicts.
404 BC Spartan imposes an oligarchy that
rules Athens after the Peloponnesian War.
Thirty commissioners are
appointed to the oligarchy led by Critias.
The oppressive regime
fosters a bloody purge, in which perhaps 1,500 residents are killed.
Moderates flee the city; gather a force, they returned to defeat the
tyrants forces in a battle at Piraeus in 403.
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