201 - Lecture 4 - CLAS 201(Lecture 4 ATHENS We have already...

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CLAS 201 (Lecture 4) ATHENS We have already seen how the old oligarchy was arranged. The lecture notes, too, for Kylon and Draco appear on handout three. Handout 4 will start with Solon. The change to currency caused problems for many Greek city-states (you’ll recall) – indebtedness, expropriation of land, slavery. Kylon’s attempt to seize power failed; Draco’s law reforms were too primitive to help. Therefore something else was needed. This brings us to Solon. SOLON Solon was given autocratic power to reform the Athenian constitution, as well as to make changes to the economy and introduce new laws. He appears to have been an eponymous archon, but these extraordinary powers would have supplemented his authority as archon. Solon has left us a testimony of his achievements in a variety of poems he composed. Some of this verse has survived (see the supplement to this handout). These describe (more than anything else) his economic reforms. What did these reforms consist of? He prohibited the use of lan d or one’s own person as a collateral for a loan. This eliminated the possibility of someone losing his estate or being enslaved because a debt couldn’t be paid. He also gave back land that had been lost in this manner and restored to some enslaved Athenians their liberty. More comprehensive reforms were required, however, to deal with the new realities that currency had brought about. Solon therefore turned his attention to the constitution. NEW CATEGORIES First off there were new categories for citizens. Eupatrid, Georgoi etc no longer were applicable: such categories had little to do with wealth which was now a major mainstay of society. The new categories addressed this shortcoming. They were as follows: Pentakosiomedimnoi (literally the five hundred bushels). This referred to anyone whose estate produced the equivalent of five hundred bushels or measures of grain. (Such a number would have represented a great deal of wealth). Hippeis (or knights, horsemen). These were citizens whose estates produced between 400 and 500 hundred bushels of grain. Zeugitae (teamsters, as in driving a team of oxen). These were citizens whose estates produced between 300 and 400 bushels of grain.
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Thetes. Citizens whose estates produced less than 300 bushels of grain. These categories were now based exclusively on wealth (and were therefore fluid, both up and down). Theognis’ worst fears had been realized, in other words: the higher one’s category, the higher one’s political standing.
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