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At the time of Solon the Athenian State was almost falling to pieces in consequence of dissensions between the parties into which the population was divided. Of these the Diacrii, the inhabitants of the northern mountainous region of Attica, the poorest and most oppressed section of the population, demanded that the privileges of the nobility, which had till then obtained, should be utterly set aside. Another party, prepared to be contented by moderate concessions, was composed of the Parali, the inhabitants of the stretch of coast called Paralia. The third was formed by the nobles, called Pedieis or Pediaci, because their property lay for the most part in the pedion, the level and most fruitful part of the country. Solon, who enjoyed the confidence of all parties on account of his tried insight and sound judgment, was chosen archon by a compromise, with full power to put an end to the difficulties, and to restore peace by means of legislation. One of the primary measures of Solon was the Seisachtheia (disburdening ordinance). This gave an immediate relief by cancelling all debts, public and private. At the same time he made it illegal for the future to secure debts upon the person of the debtor (Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 6]. He also altered the standard of coinage [and of weights and measures, by introducing the Euboic standard in place of the Pheidonian or Aeginetan, ib. 10]. 100 new drachmae were thus made to contain the same amount of silver as 73 old drachmae. He further instituted a timocracy (q.v.), by which the exclusive rights which the nobles had till then possessed were set aside, and those who did not belong to the nobility received a share in the rights of citizens, according to a scale determined by their property and their corresponaing services to the State. For this purpose he divided the population into four classes, founded on the possession of land. (1) Pentacosiomedimni, who had at least 500 medimni (750 bushels) of corn or metretoe of wine or oil as yearly income. (2) Hippeis, or knights, with at least 300 medimni. (3) Zeugitoe (possessors of a yoke of oxen), with at least 150 medimni. (4) Thetes (workers for wages), with less than 150 medimni of yearly income. Solon's legislation only granted to the first three of these four classes a vote in the election of responsible officers, and only to the first class the power of election to the highest offices; as, for instance, that of archon. The fourth class was excluded from all official positions, but possessed the right of voting in the general public assemblies which chose officials and passed laws. They bad also the right of taking part in the trials by jury which Solon had instituted. The first three classes were bound to serve as hoplites; the cavalry was raised out of the first two, while the fourth class was only employed as light-armed troops or on the fleet, and apparently for pay. The others served without pay. The holders of office in the State were also unpaid. Solon established as the chief consultative body the Council of the Four Hundred (see BOULE), in which only the first three classes took part, and as chief administrative body the Areopagus (q.v.) which was to be filled up by those who had been archons. Besides this, he promulgated a code of laws embracing the whole of public and private life, the salutary effects of which lasted long after the end of his constitution. [According to Aristotle's Constitution of Athens, 4, a Council of 401 members was part of Dracon's constitution (about 621 B.C.). The members were selected by lot from the whole body of citizens. Solon (who was archon in 594) reduced the Council to 400, one hundred from each of the four tribes; and extended in some particulars the powers already possessed by the Areopagus, (ib. 8).]
The first of the four classes of citizens instituted at Athens by Solon. (See SOLONIAN CONSTITUTION and EISPHORA.)
PARALI 158.83%
Lit. "the people of the coastland." (See SOLONIAN CONSTITUTION.)
ZEUGITAE 151.35%
The third of the property classes into which the citizens of Athens were distributed by Solon. (See SOLONIAN CONSTITUTION and EISPHORA.)
THETES 143.82%
The lowest of the four property-classes instituted by Solon. (See SOLONIAN CONSTITUTION and EISPHORA.)
TIMEMA 126.33%
The value at which an Athenian citizen's property was rated for taxation. Cp. Lat. census. (See SOLONIAN CONSTITUTION and EISPHORA).
The term used for the removal of the burden of debt effected by Solon. All debts were cancelled, and the securing of debts upon the person of the debtor was made illegal. [Aristotle's Constitution of Athens, 6.] (See SOLONIAN CONSTITUTION.)
The name given among the Greeks to that form of government in which, while the citizens were equal in other respects, their share in the government was regulated by a certain gradation corresponding to the amount of their property. Thus those whose property entailed the greater expenditure in public services possessed proportionately greater privileges. The Solonian constitution (q.v.) was founded on this principle.
Officers amongst the Greeks who looked after the moral behaviour of the youth in the gymnasia (q.v.). [Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 42.]
SOLON 52.32%
Of Athens, son of Execestides, born about 640 B.C., died 559, the famous Athenian lawgiver. (See below on the SOLONIAN CONSTITUTION.) He is one of the "Seven Wise Men." He also holds a high position amongst the lyric, and especially amongst the elegiac, poets of Greece. The noble patriotism and kindly wisdom which marked the whole of his life found expression in his poems, which were in part connected with the political condition of his own city, and were also intended to teach universal principles of humanity in an appropriate poetical form. His elegies are said to have amounted to 5,000 lines in all. Among his political elegies may be mentioned that on Salamis, by which, in his earlier years, he roused his fellow citizens to reconquer that island when it had been taken from them by the Megarians; also his Exhortations to the Athenians. To his ethical elegies belong the Exhortations to Himself. Of the last two poems in particular we possess extensive fragments [in which the elegiac measure is raised to a new dignity by being made the vehicle of ethical teaching. One of the finest fragments owes its preservation to its being quoted by Demosthenes, De Falsa Legatione, § 265]. There are also some fragments of minor poems in iambics and trochaics as well as a skolion. (In Aristotle's Constitution of Athens, 5, 12, we have several quotations from Solon's poems, including about twenty lines which are otherwise unknown.]
POLETAE 40.74%
A financial board at Athens, composed of ten members chosen yearly from the tribes by lot. Their chief duties were the leasing of the public taxes and the selling of confiscated goods. [Aristotle, On the Constitution of Athens, 47.]
The common name in Greece for all associations having any particular object, but chiefly for political clubs, often of a secret character, for the advancement of certain interests in the state. In many cases their members only aimed at assisting one another as candidates for public office or in lawsuits; but occasionally they also worked for the victory of their party and for a change in the constitution.
The name among the Greeks for that form of democracy in which the citizens were admitted to the government of the State without any gradation of classes, or any legal provision for checking the caprice of the populace. Under such a constitution public matters fell into the hands of the lowest class of the people.
GERUSIA 35.66%
The supreme deliberative authority among the Spartans, according to the constitution of Lycurgus. It consisted of twenty-eight men of at least sixty years of age, called Gerontes, elected by the public assembly for life. The meetings of the Gerusia were presided over by the two kings, who had the right of voting. The number of the council therefore amounted to thirty. It was their duty to deliberate beforehand on all important affairs of state, and prepare preliminary resolutions upon them, to be voted upon by the public assembly. They had also jurisdiction in the case of all offences which were punishable by death or loss of civil rights. They satin judgment, if necessary, even on the kings, in later times associating the ephors with them in this function. Their authority, like that of the kings, suffered considerable restriction at the hands of the ephors. They had a similar position in the Cretan constitution, according to which only the members of the highest magistracy, called the Cosmoi, or regulators, could enter the council, and that after a blameless term of administration.
A board consisting of twenty members, at Sparta; probably a kind o higher police, whose duty it was to maintain a supervision over the districts inhabited by the perioeci. After the Peloponnesian War the name was given to the officials who were sent into the conquered cities to command the garrisons, and to see that the oligarchical constitution was maintained.
At Athens, a board, originally consisting of ten members, five in the city itself and five in the Peiraeus, which superintended the corn trade, and prevented prices becoming exorbitant. [In the time of Aristotle (Constitution of Athens, 51) there were twenty in the city, and fifteen in the Peiraeus.] (See COMMERCE.)
A Greek scholar of Alexandria, who lived probably in the 2nd century A.D.. He was the author of a lexicon to the ten great Attic orators, which has survived, though in a very fragmentary form. It contains, in alphabetical order, notes on the matters and persons mentioned by the orators, with explanations of the technical expressions; thus forming a rich store of valuable information on matters of history, literature, and the constitution and judicial system of Athens.
THOLUS 30.27%
A term applied by the Greeks to any round building with a conical roof or cupola. At Athens it indicated the Rotunda used for the official head-quarters of the Prytanes (see BOULE), who also dined here at the public expense. It was situated near the Senate-house (bouleuterion). [Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 43.]
The members of the ancient noble families of Attica. After the abolition of royal power they found themselves in exclusive possession of political rights, and distinguished from the Geomori or agriculturists, and the Demiurgi or mechanics. The constitution of Solon deprived them of this privilege. But their landed property, and the priestly dignities which they had possessed of old, assured them a certain influence for a considerable time.
The period of thirty-five or thirty-six days, i.e. about one-tenth of the year, during which each of the ten phyloe presided in turn over the Council and ecclesia. The order was determined by lot. The presiding tribe was represented by its epistates, who was appointed by lot to preside for the day, and could not hold this office more than once in each year (Aristotle, On Constitution of Athens, 44).]
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