Greek writers


Solon was a Greek writer, poet and legislator. He was born in 638 BC (Athens) and died in 559 BC (Athens). He is ranked among the seven greatest sages of Greece.

Solon was born into a poor aristocratic family as a descendant of King Medontius. He drew on his experiences during his travels to Cyprus and Egypt.

When the Megerans took over Salamis and began to threaten Athens, Solon got Athens to attack Megera. After the war was won, Solon was celebrated by both the aristocracy and the common people. He was subsequently elected archon and had the power to change the constitution and laws. He himself instituted the democratic reforms that brought Athens out of the crisis, and then resigned from office.

The reforms made by Solon:

  • He cancelled all debts without compensation and bought indebted citizens out of slavery.
  • He abolished the law whereby debts were guaranteed with one's own body.
  • He abolished the possibility that if a peasant could not surrender part of his annual grain yield, he became a slave.
  • He encouraged the development of trade and crop production by prohibiting the export of grain. This also provided food for his people.
  • He introduced a general amnesty.
  • He abolished family privileges and divided the population into four classes according to wealth. Each of these groups could reach different levels of political office. But this also caused class struggle.
  • He introduced the possibility that anyone could occasionally appeal against the decision of any authority to the courts.

In literature, 5,000 verses of varying content are attributed to Solon. So he was not such an important poet, but people valued him for his honesty and clear thinking. He wrote, for example, about the meaning of life and political poetry.

Solon died at an old age and a monument was erected in his honour, where he was called "the holy legislator".