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Solon: The Ancient Greek Lawmaker

The Ancient Greek

In the sixth century BC, a man named Solon was one of the first leaders to help modernize Athens and its society.

He created new laws that would change the way future generations lived their lives.

Unfortunately, little is known about this great lawgiver or his contributions to Athenian society.

But we know about Solon’s reforms through other historical texts such as HerodotusHistories.

His legacy has inspired others throughout history who are trying to bring justice and fairness in different societies.

Let’s take a look at the life of this amazing man and how he changed the world.

Who was Solon?

The details of Solon’s life are few and far between, but the few details we have are significant.

Solon was born in the early 6th century BC in Athens.

Although he was a member of the aristocratic class, he did not have a great deal of wealth.

However, Solon was not satisfied with the status quo in Athens.

Solon image

The aristocracy ruled the common people and the way the people were treated like slaves...!!

He was unhappy with the way.

In 594 BC, Solon was given the opportunity to change things.

Athens was wracked by political instability and social strife.

People image

Please help us...! !

The people turned to Solon for help.

Solon was granted dictatorial powers to institute his reforms.

Solon’s 6th century BC Athens

The 6th century BC was a dark time for Athens.

The aristocracy had a monopoly on most aspects of Athenian society.

The people were treated like slaves, and the aristocracy lived decadent and immoral lifestyles.

The majority of Athenians were poor farmers who had no say in the government.

The aristocracy controlled the assembly, which was the only place where political decisions were made.

In order to be granted the right to participate in the assembly, one had to be a member of the aristocracy.

The aristocracy guarded this privilege jealously and made it very difficult for non-aristocrats to become members of the assembly.

Solon’s Reforms for a Brighter Future

Solon realized that Athens had to change.

In order to bring about change, he had to become a dictator and rule Athens by himself.

But how could he do this when only the aristocracy were allowed to rule?

Solon was very careful in his reforms.

He changed the laws to allow the common people to participate in the government and made the aristocracy less powerful.

Solon divided the people of Athens into four economic classes.

He then added a new group called the zeugites that was in between the common people and the aristocracy.

The aristocracy were upset about losing their privileges, but the common people were happy about the changes.

The 6 Ancient Greek Laws of Solon

Around 594 B.C., he created The New Constitution of Athens, commonly referred to as The laws of Solon:

  1. Establishing new regulations regarding trade
  2. Marriage rights 
  3. Debt-servitude
  4. Inheritance laws
  5. Land ownership
  6. Citizenship eligibility

that have been considered some of the first examples of what we now call basic “human rights” today.

The laws of Solon were important because they attempted to level the playing field between social classes, prevent the over-reliance on debt-servitude, and protect the rights of women, children, and slaves.

These laws that Solon enacted in Athens have remained relevant and important even until today.