The emergence of democracy at Athens owed much to Solon (638–559 B.C.). He is characteristic of the Greek ideal of the true wise man who places his intellectual skills at the service of his country. Soldier, poet, statesman, Solon’s impact on the political history of Athens was like that of Franklin Roosevelt in our own country. Solon carried out controversial economic, social, and political reforms to save his country from social revolution. He laid the foundation for the economic prosperity of Athens and its political leadership of the Greek world. Many of the figures of archaic Greek history are hardly more than names to us. This is not true of Solon. His poetry offers us unique insight into the values and motives of this statesman, so admired by our own Founding Fathers
Questions to Consider:
1. Do you see parallels in Solon’s social and economic reforms with those of Franklin Roosevelt?
2. Do you believe that sumptuary laws, curbing spending on luxury items, are consistent with the spirit of democracy?