Solon

Life

  • Athenian statesman, law-giver and poet
  • ~630–560 BC

Reforms

  • Seisachteia
    • = “shaking of burdens”
    • One time cancellation of debts
    • Before the reforms, it was established that if an Athenian couldn’t pay his debts, he would either be sold into slavery or he could flee
      • So lots of Athenians started coming back to Athens after this reform
  • No Athenian could hold other Athenian as a slave
  • Replacing the criterion of birth with the criterion of wealth
    • Establishing 4 property classes
      • Pentacosiomeimnoi
        • “500 measure men”
        • The traditionally wealthy landowners
      • Hippeis
        • “Horsemen” or “knights”
        • Citizens wealthy enoigh to afford cavalry outfit
      • Zeutigae
        • “Yokemen”
        • Wealthy enough farmers to afford a hoplite armor
      • Thetes
        • All other citizens
    • Most political offices were limited only to some classes, but all citizens could participate in the assembly
      • Ecclesia
        • Assembly of all citizens
    • Right of legal intervention
      • Any citizen could intervene on behalf of other citizens legally
      • Right to transfer a legal case, before delivery of a verdict, from a magistrate to a jury court