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Solon The Athenian Law Giver

Solon the Lawgiver was an ancient ruler who controlled Athens around 594 B.C., which is where he appears on the Bible Timeline Chart. Solon wasn’t a king he was considered a chief archon that was considered the highest ranking council member within the ancient Athenian city-state. He was born in 638 B.C., and he was the son of Execestides, who was a descendant of a legendary Athenian king named Cordus.

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This particular King is known for sacrificing his life for his people. Historians claim that Solon’s mother was related to a tyrant. A lot of other factual information is missing from Solon’s early life. Solon must have been a wise young man or gained wisdom during his youth. The people of Athens went to Solon for him to resolve their problems.

Apparently, Solon was blessed with good judgment and a keen intellect. These particular characteristics are what motivated the people of Athens to elect him as the chief archon of Athens. When Solon was elected chief archon of Athens it happened during a time of great civil unrest within the city state. Rich land-owning citizens were at odds with the poorer members of society. A lot of the citizens had sold themselves into slavery to pay off their debts. And the other poorer members of society had to give a certain percentage of their crops to the rich to pay off their debts. Many people were unhappy because they found it to be very difficult to live in these types of circumstances.

Tyrants were a common theme in ancient Greece and the conditions in Athens were perfect for a tyrant to rule. To avoid this situation the Athens council had to move very quickly to put Solon in power. Once Solon was in power, he quickly started to make important reforms that would go on to change Athenian society. He began changing the laws within society by repealing some of the established codes that were put in place by a former archon named Draco.

This particular archon was well known for his extremely harsh and cruel laws where death was the ultimate penalty even for minor offenses. Solon eliminated most of these laws and penalties except for the ones that were related to homicide. Solon then went to work to free the poor and indebted from their obligations to the rich. He then empowered the poorer members of society by allowing them to participate in the civil government. The poorer members of society couldn’t hold office, but they certainly could vote in assembly and become jurors in the courts of law. Even though his reforms helped to ease poor people’s burden of debt he did not allow them to become ruling members of society. He also did away with slavery as a means to pay off debts. In other words, Solon thought it to be wise to allow the rich landowning members of society to remain in charge. He created the concept of citizen rights based off of land ownership. He then divided the citizenry into four primary classes. The more crops that a person’s lands produced would mean that they would have greater power within society. These were some of the primary changes that Solon created for Athenian society. His efforts helped to lay the groundwork for democracy and the democratic process which would eventually become a feature of modern society. Solon died in 558 B.C. and was also known as a poet, a military leader and for his visit to the Delphic Oracle.

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