622 BC Landed aristocracy rules Athens.

The economy depended on surrounding farms, especially the large estates owned by rich noble families, the aristocracy.

Nearly all government decisions and operations are in the hands of a half-dozen leaders called archons and lesser officials called magistrates.

Indebtedness magnified the hatred of the commoners towards the aristocrats.

A poor farmer had to borrow seed from a rich landowner to plant his crops.

In share cropping the farmer pay his debt with a share of the harvest.

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 lawbreakers.

594 BC Seeing disaster looming, both the aristocracy and common people of Athens support the election of Solon as primary archon.

Athenians grant Solon, age 35, nearly unlimited powers to write new laws.

The Athenians chose Solon to mediate their crisis for several reasons.

The aristocrats approve that he is of noble birth.

The commoners truste him as a merchant who trades for a living.

Solon 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." - Solon

He made it possible for any citizen to step forward and seek justice.

Before only the actual victim of wrongdoing could make a complaint.

The powerful could easily threaten victims to discourage complaints.

Solon's law code is based on two fundamental principles.

The first is laws are fixed and not easily changed.

The second is laws must apply equally to everyone, aristocrats and commoners alike.

Solon's code of law covered virtually every aspect of life—theft, treason, taxation, vagrancy, adoption, boundaries, loans, and religion, among many others.

Solon rejected all but one Draconian law — the homicide law.

Solon's laws differed greatly from Draco's 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.

Solon's 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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