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Lecture 9

CLA230 Lecture 9 Notes

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Dimitri Nakassis

CLA230 Lecture 9 Notes Solon and Lycurgus - think critically about narratives - believe we know about what they did - know about them because other Greeks, Athenians, Spartans spoke about them - if a person was Athenian and claimed something – smart to say that Solon is behind it – whether it is true or not – legitimizes a person’s rule or helps in bringing forth new laws - if the Spartans wanted to impose something, claiming that is goes back to Lycurgus, whether or not it is true, will help the rest of Sparta to accept it - these figures become legendary – positive people who are attributed to many things that may not all be necessarily true - must be careful not to take accounts at face value – the use of their names were used as propaganda in order to legitimize things Solon - poetry is attributed to him - comes up in Herodotus’ History - not mentioned in Thucydides - mentioned in the Constitution of the Athenians by Aristotle or one of his students – not always believed to be actually written by Aristotle himself - mentioned in Aristotle’s Politics - other Athenian orators mention Solon - much of Solon’s poetry survived through Plutarch – who is Roman - use of sources that did not survive – Plutarch’s Life of Solon – biography style - timeline: • Herodotus – 5 century B.C. th • Aristotle – 4 ndntrdy B.C. • Plutarch – 2 /3 century A.D. Doubtful Solon Traditions - Herodotus – source for Solon after drawing up the laws of Athens and his self- imposed exile for ten years - leaving for ten years and visiting Croesus and Amasis, in Sardis and Egypt, respectively - chronology is slightly off – tricky to know if it is actually true - it is possible – because it is not known when exactly Solon instituted his laws – perhaps around 572 B.C. – twenty years after he was archon perhaps - however it is more likely that Solon wrote the laws while he was archon - timeline: • Solon was archon in Athens – 594/593 B.C. • Croesus was king of Lydia – 560-547 B.C. • Amasis was pharaoh in Egypt – 570-526 B.C. - story between Solon and Croesus – the powerful can fall, and the low can become mighty – the unpredictability of human life - conversation about morality issues – east vs. west – Eastern tyrants vs. Greek wise men - allusion – Croesus, illegitimate king vs. Solon, who refused to have too much power and instilled democracy - quote by Plutarch on Solon and Croesus: “As for his interview with Croesus, some think to prove by chronology that it is fictitious. But when a story is so famous and so well-attested, and, what is more to the point, when it agrees so well with the character of Solon, and is so worthy of his magnanimity and wisdom, I do not propose to reject it out of deference to any chronological rules...” - he mentions that it may not be true but it is accepted as genuine because it is true to Solon’s character – tells us something about Plutarch himelf - story was doubted, even in antiquity - story many be fictitious but his leaving Athens for some time is likely true – done to prevent revisions to the laws - people later wanted to know what Solon did during those ten years he was gone – therefore it is likely that people began to fill in the blanks and the stories were created - these particular stories were true with the character of Solon – as a wise man, it was perfectly reasonable and quite likely that he travelled the Greek world in search of more wisdom and knowledge and it was quite reasonable that a man of his prestige would have met with kings of different lands – therefore it was quickly accepted as fact - quote by Plutarch about coinage: “For [Solon] made the mina to consist of a hundred drachmas, which before had contained only seventy-three, so that by paying the same amount of money, but money of lesser value, those who had debts to discharge were greatly benefited, and those who accepted such payments were no losers.” - tradition that Solon invented coinage – told by Plutarch - modified the standard values of coinage – however, there is no coinage in Athens in the early 6 century B.C. - first coinage was created by the Lydians, probably Croesus, likely to pay soldiers - perhaps the story is true if changing weights used as “money” – but not coinage - however – not entirely likely – never found anything of the sort – no proof of “money” in Greece until about 500 B.C. - some stories appear to be on the borderline of true and false - quote by Aristotle about the Council of 400: “He created a Council of 400, with 100 men drawn from each tribe, and assigned the council of the Areopagus to guard the laws, just as previously it had been guardian of the constitution. It used to watch over the majority and the greatest of the city’s affairs and chastise wrongdoers, having full power to impose fines on the acropolis, without recording the reason for the fine…” - the Council of 400 – a hundred men from each tribe form this council – council of Areopagus to guard the laws - older oligarchic ways – Areopagus – the Council of 400 replaces it - virtually nothing is known about the Council of 400 - quote by Plutarch: “After [Solon] had established the council of the Areopagus... [he] established another council besides, consisting of 400 men, 100 chosen from each of the four tribes. These were to deliberate on public matters before the people did, and were not to allow any matter to come before the popular assembly without such private deliberation. Then he made the Areopagus a general overseer in the state, and guardian of the laws, thinking that the city with its two councils, riding as it were at double anchor, would be less tossed by the surges, and would keep its populace in greater quiet.” - creation of Areopagus by Solon to set assembly and set the agenda - with Aristotle – the Areopagus already exists but Solon changes their function and adds the Council of 400 - with Plutarch – Solon creates both the Areopagus and the Council of 400 - the Council of 400 in 411 B.C. – oligarchic counter-revolution - council was part of a radical democracy created in Athens – pay for public office - if political office has not salary – only the wealthy can then hold office - no pay for political office is oligarchic – therefore during the counter- revolution there was a cancellation of pay for political office - list of 5000 wealthiest Athenians – the citizens with the most say - created a Council of 400 – interim government while the list of 5000 was drawn up - political killings – common in oligarchic revolutions – much fear and suspicion - using the Council of 400 – mat have claimed to be going back to Solon’s ways – therefore the entire idea of Solon creating this Council of 400 may have been oligarchic propaganda - oligarchic propaganda – therefore Solon perhaps did not create this at all – Plutarch and Aristotle may have picked up on it and taken it as truth - the Rule of the Thirty in 404 B.C. – another oligarchic regime - quote: “At first they were moderate towards the citizens, and pretended that their aim was the traditional constitution. They took down from the Areopagus hill the laws of Ephialtes...” - idea of “traditional constitution” – political slogan - law of Ephialtes – not much is known about him – associates with Pisistratus - attacked Areopagus and made the city more democratic in 462 B.C. – “[had taken] away from the council all the powers as guardian of the constitution” - the Rule of the Thirty reversed the laws of Ephialtes - always the claim that they are going bath to the original and traditional constitution – go back to Solon – 5
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