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CLA230H1 Lecture Notes - Great Rhetra, Fear Mongering, Croesus

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Dimitri Nakassis

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CLA230 - Lecture on October 17th, 2011
Solon and Lycurgus
Sources of/about Solon:
- poetry attributed to Solon -- (most trustworthy)
-Herodotus 1.29-33 (not in Thucydides)
-Aristotle - Constitution of the Athenians, Politics
-Athenian orators
-Plutarch’s Life of Solon (written in Roman Period)
-the later they were written, the less credible they are
-some are not accurate:
Herodotus says solon left athens for 10 years so athenians couldnt put pressure on him
to change laws he created. He supposedly visited Amasis in Egypt and Croesus in
-Solon was archon in Athens 594/3
-Croesus was king of Lydia, 560-547 BC
-Amsis was pharaoh in Egypt, 570-526
-therefore this is impossible because the dates dont line up.
-Also coins weren’t minted in his time, which conflicts with a story about him
manipulating coins and their worth instead of ridding of debts in Athens.
-Council of 400: only evidence of it from aristotle and plutarch. isnt even mentioned in
his own poetry, though most things that he did was mentioned in his own poetry. it is
debated that it even exists.
-Why would this be made up?
-Council of 500 did exist, and is most democratic institutions, made by Cleisthenes
-Council of 400 would seem like a proper predecessor
In 411BC, there was a council of 400 created as an oligarchic counter-revolution:
-cancellation of pay for political office
-list of 5000 wealthiest athenians
-council of 400, run athens (interim government)
-some political killings, fear and suspicion
-at the point of formation theyre losing the peloponnesian war
-Oligarchs in athens^ want to appeal to some sort of authority - wasn’t to appear to be
going back to tradition, not fear-mongering
-could be the incentive to make up the original council of 400?
The Rule of Thirty (404 BC)
-another oligarchic regime at the end of the peloponnesian war.
- at first they were moderate, and pretended their aim was the traditional constitution.
going with the areopagus.
-in 4th century BC solon is depicted as one founder of democracy, but actually
isn’t. Cleisthenes is more important in formation of democracy
-maybe it was a push away from this, to make solon seem more democratic
because he’s getting rid of this and replacing it with something more democratic
in comparison
-Xenophons, Constitution of the lacedaemonians
-Aristotle, Politics
-Plutarch’s Life of Lycurgus
Plenty of uncertainty about his life, when he was alive especially
-Xenophon said: contemporary of the sons of Herakles (11th c BC?)
-Herodotus said: guardian of King Labotas (1025/4-989/8BC)
-Aristotle said: co-founder of Olympics (776 BC)
-Legendary/mythologcal quality in lycurgus
-The Great Rhetra (“Law”) - by Plutarch:
-documents that spartans thought was original law
-i dont fucking know.
Ephors - later addition to the spartan constitution
-ephors check on kings
-- pr maybe they were always around but their importance increased in time
-xenophon says the kings and ephors have a reciprocal relationships
King Agis IV
-proposed a redistribution of 4500 plots for spartiates and 15000 for perioikoi
-sentenced to death by ephors
King Cleomenes III
-tried to continue his^^ reforms
-but power was in the hands of the ephors
-successful for 10 years though
-these reforms might have influenced tradition of lycurgus
-natural impulse for sparta to attribute good things to lycurgus. and then push him
farther back to prove weve always been this way.