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“Solon: —Son of Execestides, an Athenian; philosopher, lawgiver, and popular leader. He flourished in the 47th Olympiad (592-89 B.C.) or according to some authorities in the 56th (556-3 B.C.). He wrote laws for the Athenians, and these laws were alled ‘axles’ because they were inscribed at Athens on wooden tablets that revolved. His other works are an Elegiac poem called Salamis , Elegiac Exhortations , and others. He is one of the Seven Sages as they are called. Well-known sayings of his are Moderation in all things and Know thyself .1Suidas Lexicon
“In the ante-chamber of the temple at Delphi are inscribed maxims for the bettering of human life. Their authors are the men the Greeks say were wise, namely. ... These men came to Delphi and dedicated to Apollo the well-known sayings Know thyself and Moderation in all things .2Pausanias Description of Greece
“When he became chief of the people he made such laws and so regulated public affairs and the constitution of the state that we are content with the system he established to this day.” Isocrates On the Exchange [Solon]
“How monstrous, that while your ancestors chose to die to save the laws of their country, you should not see fit even to punish those who break them! How monstrous that while they set up in the marketplace a statue of Solon who wrote them,3 you should be seen to despise the very laws which have given such exceeding honour to his name!” Demosthenes Against Aristogeiton
“... the provision of Solon that the man who took neither side in civil discord should lose his citizenship.” Plutarch On the Slow Revenge of the Deity
“When Solon had become master, he set the people free once and for all by forbidding loans on the security of the person, and made laws and cancelled debts both public and private, which cancellation is called the Seisachtheia or Disburdening. ... He established a constitution and made other laws, and all the ordinances of Dracon except those that dealt with homicide became null and void. The laws were inscribed on the ‘pivot-boards’4 and set up in the Royal Colonade, and all the citizens took an oath to observe them, while the Nine Archons made a formal promise upon oath at the altar in the marketplace that if they transgressed any of the laws they would dedicate a golden statue; which is why they take the oath in this way at the present day. Solon made the laws unalterable for a hundred years, and arranged the constitution as follows: He divided the people by assessment into four classes, etc.” Aristotle Constitution of Athens
“The most democratic of Solon's enactments were these three: first and greatest, the forbidding of loans on the person, secondly, the granting of redress to any that chose to sue for it, and thirdly, what is said more than all else to have strengthened the arm of the common people, the right of appeal to the courts of law; for, made master of the vote, the people becomes master of the constitution. ... These then appear to be the democratic elements in the laws of Solon. His cancellation of debt seems to have been done before he made the laws. After this came his increasing of weights and measures and appreciation of the currency.” Aristotle Constitution of Athens
“When the system above described was established, his fellow-citizens began so to annoy him with their importunities, complaining of this and enquiring about that, that to avoid both the making of changes and the unpopularity which would come if he waited for it, he went away to Egypt on a visit that should combine business with the seeing of sights, declaring that he would not return for ten years; what was wanted was not that he should be there to expound the law, but that every Athenian should abide by it.” Aristotle Constitution of Athens
“Aelian: —One evening over the wine, Execestides the nephew of Solon the Athenian sang a song of the poetess Sappho's which his uncle liked so well that he bade the boy teach it him; and when one of the company asked in surprise ‘What for?’ he replied ‘I want to learn it and die.’” Stobaeus Anthology
“Solon, Thales, and Pittacus, who were of the so-called Seven Sages, lived each a hundred years (cf. fr. 27. 17).” Lucian Longevity

“ Besides, of course, the laws, he wrote Speeches to the People and Exhortations to Himself in elegiacs, and the poems on Salamis and The Athenian Constitution , in all 5000 lines, as well as Iambi and Epodes . His statue is thus inscribed: “Solon the lawgiver is this, Son of yon holy Salamis That made the pride of Media cease.

5 He flourished, according to Sosicrates, in the 46th Olympiad, in the 3rd year of which (594 B.C.) he was archon at Athens; it was then that he enacted his laws. He died in Cyprus at the age of eighty, leaving instructions to his kinsfolk that his bones should be carried to Salamis and there burnt to ashes and scattered over the soil. And this is why Cratinus in the Cheirons makes him say: “My home's an island, and my dust men tell Is scattered o'er the towns of Ajax' land.

Diogenes Laertius Life of Solon

“According to Heracleides of Pontus, Solon survived the beginning of the reign of Peisistratus by some considerable time, according to Phanias of Eresus, by less than two years. Peisistratus' reign began in the archonship of Comias (561 B.C.) and Phanias declares that Solon died in that of the next archon Hegestratus. The absurdity of the scattering of his ashes over the island of Salamis would seem to make it entirely improbable and mythical, and yet it is attested by reputable authorities including the philosopher Aristotle.” Plutarch Life of Solon
“If I am not mistaken, hardly anybody in this city could point to two Athenian houses which would have united to produce so true a nobleman as the two from which you spring. The fame of your father's family, the house of Critias son of Dropides, has come down to us crowned with the praises accorded it by Anacreon, Solon, and many other poets, for the beauty, the virtue, and the prosperity as it is called, of those who have belonged to it; the same is true of your mother's ....” Plato Charmides
“As he stood there upon the pyre, Croesus, it is said, remembered, for all he was in such evil case, how truly inspired was the saying of Solon that no man living is happy.6Herodotus Histories

“ But the Megarians nevertheless persevering (in the war for Salamis), the Athenians, who both suffered and inflicted much hardship in the war, appointed Sparta to arbitrate between them and their enemies. Most authorities declare Solon's case found support in the reputation of Homer, for that he foisted a line into the Catalogue of Ships and read it at the hearing, making it: “And Ajax twelve sail led from Salamis And leading set them next the Athenian hosts.

” But the Athenians themselves consider this an idle tale, and maintain that Solon proved to the court that Philaeus and Eurysaces, sons of Ajax, gave Athens the island on receiving Athenian citizenship, and settled the one at Melita (which is a part of Athens) and the other at Brauron in Attica; and they have a deme or parish Philaidae, named after Philaeus, to which Peisistratus belonged. And they add that in order to make his case still stronger Solon insisted that the Salaminians did not bury their dead after the Megarian manner, but after the Athenian, etc.

Plutarch Life of Solon

“After beginning on a large scale his history or fable of Atlantis, a fable which the learned men of Sais related to him as one that concerned the Athenians, he gave it up, not as Plato says for lack of time, but rather because he was grown old and feared the task would be too great.” Plutarch Life of Solon

See also Ael. V.H. 8. 16, Diod. Sic. 9. 1 ff, Plut. Sol.


Book i Elegies


7Having waged a long and grievous war against Megara for the possession of the isle of Salamis, the Athenians of the city at last made an end of it and passed a law that none should prefer Athens' claim to Salamis in either speech or writing on pain of death. Scarcely able to bear the shame of this decision, and observing that many of the younger generation were desirous of a pretext8 for renewing the war but durst not take the first step themselves because of the new law, Solon feigned that he had lost his wits, word was put about from his house that he was beside himself, and after he had secretly written some elegiac verses and conned them till he could say them without book, he went quickly and suddenly out into the marketplace with a little cap upon his head.9 A great crowd swarming about him, he now mounted the herald's stone and recited10 the Elegy which begins:

A herald am I from lovely Salamis, and have made me instead of a speech11 a song that is an ornament of words.

This poem is entitled Salamis and contains a hundred lines; it is a very fine piece of work. When it ended, Solon's friends began to praise him, and not least Peisistratus, who pressed his fellow-countrymen so urgently to take the speaker's advice, that they repealed the law and renewed the struggle, putting Solon in command.

Plutarch Life of Solon

“... Solon feigned madness and rushed garlanded into the marketplace, where he had a herald read the bracing elegiac verses on Salamis, and so roused them that they renewed the war against Megara, and thanks to Solon were victorious. The lines which particularly inflamed the Athenians were these:12

Then may I change my country and be a man of Pholegandros or Sicinus13 instead of an Athenian, for full soon would this be the report among men: This is an Athenian of the tribe of Salaminaphetae or Letters-go of Salamis.

And again:14

Let us to Salamis, to fight for a lovely isle and put away from us dishonour hard to bear.


Diogenes Laertius Life of Solon


15Now take and recite, pray, these elegiac lines of Solon, that the jury may know that Solon, like us, hated such men as the defendant. The point is, Aeschines, not that you should keep your hand in your cloak when you play the orator, but that you should do so when you play the ambassador; instead of which you held it out and opened it wide in Macedonia and brought your colleagues to disgrace; and now you hold forth here, and you just con and mouth some miserable rigmaroles, and then think, I suppose, that you will escape the penalty of a long list of heinous crimes if you merely don a little cap16 and walk abroad and abuse me. Now, Sir, recite.

But Athens, albeit she will never perish by the destiny of Zeus or the will of the happy Gods immortal —for of such power is the great-hearted Guardian, Daughter of a Mighty Sire, that holdeth Her hands over us —, Her own people, for lucre's sake, are fain to make ruin of this great city by their folly. Unrighteous is the mind of the leaders of the commons, and their pride goeth before a fall; for they know not how to hold them from excess nor to direct in peace the jollity of their present feasting ... but grow rich through the suasion of unrighteous deeds ...17 and steal right and left with no respect for possessions sacred or profane, nor have heed of the awful foundations of Justice, who is so well aware in her silence of what is and what hath been, and soon or late cometh alway to avenge. This is a wound that cometh inevitable and forthwith to every city, and she falleth quickly into an evil servitude, which arouseth discord and waketh slumbering War that destroyeth the lovely prime of so many men. For in gatherings18 dear to the unrighteous a delightful city is quickly brought low at the hands of them that are her enemies. Such are the evils which then are rife among the common folk, and many of the poor go slaves into a foreign land, bound with unseemly fetters, there to bear perforce the evil works of servitude.19 So cometh the common evil into every house, and the street-doors will no longer keep it out; it leapeth the high hedge and surely findeth a man, for all he may go hide himself in his chamber. This it is that my heart biddeth me tell the Athenians, and how that even as ill-government giveth a city much trouble, so good rule maketh all things orderly and perfect, and often putteth fetters upon the unrighteous; aye, she maketh the rough smooth, checketh excess, confuseth outrage; she withereth the springing weeds of ruin, she straighteneth crooked judgments, she mollifieth proud deeds; she stoppeth the works of faction, she stilleth the wrath of baneful strife; and of her all is made wise and perfect in the world of men.

Demosthenes On the Embassy

20To support what I say there is not only the unanimous testimony of all other authorities, but Solon's own mention of this in these lines:

For I gave the common folk such privilege as is sufficient for them, neither adding nor taking away; and such as had power and were admired for their riches, I provided that they too should not suffer undue wrong. Nay, I stood with a strong shield thrown before the both sorts, and would have neither to prevail unrighteously over the other.

And again he sets forth how the commons should be treated:21

So best will the people follow their leaders, neither too little restrained nor yet perforce; for excess breedeth outrage when much prosperity followeth those whose mind is not perfect.22


Aristotle Constitution of Athens

“Wishing to escape the ill-feeling and fault-finding of his fellow-citizens, for, as he says himself,

In great matters it is hard to please all,

he obtained ten years' leave-of-absence of his fellow-countrymen and went abroad.

Plutarch Life of Solon

“For the land knows how to bear all the offspring of the seasons for its inhabitants, being all of it sloping or low-lying and in Solon's phrase

a shining nurse of youth,

and the sea, etc.—

Choricius Declamations

23Solon is said to have warned his fellow-countrymen of the coming despotism in elegiac verse:

The strength of snow and of hail is from a cloud, and thunder cometh of the bright lightning; a city is destroyed of great men, and the common folk fall into bondage unto a despot because of ignorance. For him that putteth out too far from land 'tis not easy to make haven afterward; all such things as these should be thought of ere it be too late.

Later, when Peisistratus' despotism was established, he said:

If ye suffer bitterly through your own fault, blame ye not the Gods for it; for yourselves have ye exalted these men by giving them guards,24 and therefore it is that ye enjoy foul servitude. Each one of you walketh with the steps of a fox, the mind of all of you is vain; for ye look to a man's tongue and shifty speech, and never to the deed he doeth.


Diodorus of Sicily Historical Library

25Thereafter the people gave him their ears, and would gladly have suffered him even to rule them; but he would not have it, nay, according to Sosicrates, when he got wind of the designs of his kinsman Peisistratus he did all he could to hinder them. For he rushed one day into the assembly armed with spear and shield, warned them of Peisistratus' coming attempt, and even declared his willingness to aid them against him, saying: ‘Men of Athens, I am wiser than some of you, and braver than others; wiser than those who are fooled by Peisistratus, and braver than those who are not fooled yet hold their tongues because they are afraid.’ And the Council, who were Peisistratids, said he was mad; which made him say:

The truth will out, and a little time will show my fellow-citizens, sure enough, whether I be mad or no.

Diogenes Laertius Life of Solon
“In physical philosophy he is very naive and old-fashioned; compare ‘The strength of snow,’ etc. (fr. 9. ll. 1-2) <and this>:

The sea is stirred by the winds; it if be not stirred 'tis the quietest26 of all things.

Plutarch Life of Solon
27Solon: —

Splendid children of Memory and Olympian Zeus, give ear, Pierian Muses, unto my prayer. Grant me prosperity at the hands of the Blessed Gods, and good fame ever at the hands of men; make me, I pray You, sweet to my friends and sour unto my foes, to these a man reverend to behold, to those a man terrible. Wealth I desire to possess, but would not have it unrighteously;28 retribution cometh alway afterward; the riches that be given of the Gods come to a man for to last, from the bottom even to the top, whereas they which be sought by wanton violence come not orderly, but persuaded against their will by unrighteous works —and quickly is Ruin mingled with them; whose beginning is with a little thing as of fire, slight at the first, but in the end a mischief; for the works of man's wanton violence endure not for long, but Zeus surveyeth the end of every matter, and suddenly, even as the clouds in Spring are quickly scattered by a wind that stirreth the depths of the billowy unharvested sea, layeth waste the fair fields o'er the wheat-bearing land, and reaching even to the high heaven where the Gods sit, maketh the sky clear again to view, till the strength of the Sun shineth fair over the fat land, and no cloud is to be seen any more, —even such is the vengeance of Zeus; He is not quick to wrath, like us, over each and every thing, yet of him that hath a wicked heart is He aware alway unceasing, and such an one surely cometh out plain at the last. Aye, one payeth to-day, another to-morrow; and those who themselves flee and escape the pursuing destiny of Heaven, to them vengeance cometh alway again, for the price of their deeds is paid by their innocent children or else by their seed after them.

We mortal men, alike good and bad, are minded thus: —each of us keepeth the opinion he hath ever had29 till he suffer ill, and then forthwith he grieveth; albeit ere that, we rejoice open-mouthed in vain expectations, and whosoever be oppressed with sore disease bethinketh himself he will be whole; another that is a coward thinketh he be a brave man; or he that hath no comeliness seemeth to himself goodly to look upon; and if one be needy, and constrained by the works of Penury, he reckoneth alway to win much wealth. Each hath his own quest; one, for to bring home gain, rangeth the fishy deep a-shipboard, tossed by grievous winds, sparing his life no whit, another serveth them whose business lieth with the curvad ploughshare, ploughing the well-planted land for them throughout the year30; one getteth his living by the skill of his hands in the works of Athena and the master of many crafts, Hephaestus, another through his learning in the gifts of the Olympian Muses, cunning in the measure of lovely art; others again as physicians, having the task of the Master of Medicines, the Healer —for these men too there's no end of their labours, for often cometh great pain of little and a man cannot assuage it by soothing medicines, albeit at other times him that is confounded by evil and grievous maladies maketh he quickly whole by the laying on of hands; another again the Far-Shooting Lord Apollo maketh a seer, and the mischief that cometh on a man from afar is known to him that hath the Gods with him, for no augury nor offering will ever ward off what is destined to be.

Aye, surely Fate it is that bringeth mankind both good and ill, and the gifts immortal Gods offer must needs be accepted; surely too there's danger in every sort of business31; nor know we at the beginning of a matter how it is to end32; nay, sometimes he that striveth to do a good thing falleth unawares into ruin great and sore, whereas God giveth good hap in all things to one that doeth ill, to be his deliverance from folly. And as for wealth, there's no end set clearly down33; for such as have to-day the greatest riches among us, these have twice the eagerness that others have, and who can satisfy all?34 'Tis sure the Gods give us men possessions, yet a ruin is revealed thereout, which one man hath now and another then, whensoever Zeus sendeth it in retribution.

Stobaeus Anthology [on righteousness]
“Solon: —

Nor is any mortal happy, but all men are unfortunate that the Sun can see.35

Stobaeus Anthology [that life is short, of little account, and full of cares]
36That he reckoned himself among the poor rather than the rich, is shown by these lines:

Many bad men are rich, many good men poor; but we, we will not exchange virtue for these men's wealth; for the one endureth whereas the other belongeth now to this man and now to that.

Plutarch Life of Solon
37Now Solon has well said of God:

'Tis very hard to tell the unseen measure of sound judgment, which yet alone hath the ends of all things.38

Clement of Alexandria Miscellanies
39Well may Solon the Athenian say, after Hesiod, in his Elegies:

The mind of the Immortals is all unseen to man.

Clement of Alexandria Miscellanies
40Compare Solon: —

But as I grow old I learn many things.

[Plato] Lovers

To Philocyprus

41... the king of the Solians, Aristocyprus the son of Philocyprus. This is the Philocyprus whom Solon the Athenian on his visit to Cyprus praised in verse above all other despots.

But as it is, I pray that you and yours may long dwell in this city as lords of the Solians, that I may be sped unharmed a-shipboard from this famous isle by Cypris of the Violet Crown, and that the same may grant me favour and good fame after this sojourn, and safe return unto my native land.

Herodotus Histories “Then (after visiting Egypt) he went to Cyprus, where he made great friends with a king of those parts called Philocyprus... So Solon persuaded him, by changing its site to a fair plain that lay beneath it, to make the city greater and more pleasant to live in. And he stayed there and took charge of the gathering of the people into the city, and helped him to arrange it in the best way for the convenience and safety of its inhabitants, insomuch that settlers flocked to him, and the other kings came to envy him. For this he paid Solon the honour of changing the city's name from Aepeia to Soli, after him. Solon himself mentions the gathering together of the people, addressing Philocyprus in his Elegies thus:” Plutarch Life of Solon

To Mimnermus

42It is said that when Mimnermus wrote (Mimn. fr. 11) that he hoped he might die at the age of sixty, he found fault with him, saying:

But if thou with listen to me so late in the day, blot this out, Ligyastades, and bearing me no ill-will because I give thee better counsel, change thy song, and sing that thou art fain the fate of Death might overtake thee at fourscore.

Diogenes Laertius Life of Solon

“Furthermore, by the envoy of the answer he made Mimnermus about length of days,

Nor may death come to me without a tear; rather would I have my decease make sorrow and lamentation for my friends,

he argues Publicola a happy man. For his death filled, not only his friends and kinsfolk, but a whole city of tens of thousands, with tears and regret and downcast looks.

Plutarch Lives of Solon and Publicola

To Critias

43Critias: —Now he was connected with my family and a great friend of Dropides my great-grandfather, as he often says in his poetry.

Tell flaxen-haired Critias to listen to his father; for if so, he will have a guide of no erring judgment.

Plato Timaeus [on Solon] “The history of Solon's descendants and Plato's connexion with him is this: Solon and Dropides were the sons of Execestides, and Dropides was the father of Critias, who is mentioned by Solon in his poetry thus :” Proclus on the passage
44People then are not lovers of horses, it would seem, unless their horses love them in return, nor in like manner of quails nor yet of dogs, nor of wine, nor of gymnastics, nor of wisdom, unless wisdom loves them in return; or does each sort love each of these without the object of their friendship being their friend, thus proving the poet wrong who says:

Happy he who hath dear children,45 whole-hooved46 steeds, hunting hounds, and a friend in foreign parts.

Plato Lysis
47He had no admiration for wealth; indeed he declares :

Surely equal is the wealth of him that hath much silver and gold and fields of wheatland and horses and mules, to that of him that hath but this —comfort in belly and sides and feet.48 This is abundance unto men, seeing that no man taketh with him the many things he hath above this when he goeth below, nor shall he for a price escape death nor yet sore disease nor the evil approach of Age.

Plutarch Life of Solon

“Protegenes was willing and eager to say still more, but Daphnaeus stopped him, exclaiming ‘I am very glad you mentioned Solon; he shall be our criterion of the “erotic” man’49:

till in the flower of youth he love a lad with the desire of things and sweet lips;

And that surely is why Solon wrote what I have just quoted when he was full of youth and vigour, as Plato says, and when he was old the following lines:

Dear to me now are the works of the Cyprus-born and of Dionysus and of the Muses, works which make good cheer for man,

as though after the storm and stress of less worthy loves he had found haven for his life in a calm of marriage and philosophy.50

Plutarch Amatorius

51These Ages of Life are given by Solon the Athenian lawgiver in the following elegiac lines:

In seven years the half-grown boy casteth the first teeth he cut as a child; when God hath accomplished him seven years more he showeth signs that his youthful prime is nigh; in the third seven, when his limbs are still a-waxing, his chin groweth downy with the bloom of changing skin; in the fourth every man is at his best in the strength which men bear for a token of virtue and valour52; in the fifth 'tis time for a man to bethink him of marriage and to seek offspring to come after him; in the sixth a man's mind is trained in all things, and he wisheth not so much now for what may not be done; in seven sevens and in eight he is at his best in mind and tongue, to wit fourteen years of both; in the ninth age he is still an able man, but his tongue and his lore have less might unto great virtue53; and if a man come to the full measure of the tenth, he will not meet the fate of Death untimely.

Philo Creation of the World

“When such was the condition of the body politic and the many were slaves of the few, the commons rose against the men of note. The struggle was bitter and the mutual opposition long, but finally they agreed upon an arbitrator and ruler in the person of Solon, putting the reins of government into his hands on his composing the Elegy which begins:

I know, and pain lieth in my heart as I see it, that the oldest land of Ionia is being slain.54

In this poem he champions either party alternately and then exhorts both together to make up their quarrel. Now Solon belonged to the highest rank in character and reputation, and to the middle sort in estate and business, as is agreed on other grounds and as he himself attests in these lines, wherein he exhorts the rich not to be covetous:

But do ye who have had more than your fill of many good things, calm the strong heart that is in your breast, and be moderate in your aspirations55; and so neither shall we be needy56 nor ye possess what ye now have without decrease;

and speaking generally he ascribes the discord to the rich; and that is why at the beginning of the same Elegy he says that he fears

both pride and the love of pelf,

considering those to be the cause of the enmity.

Aristotle Constitution of Athens

“Well says the proverb:57

Poets tell many lies.

[Plato] On Justice “... used of those who say what is not true for profit or to entertain their hearers ... This saying occurs ... in Solon's Elegies .” Scholiast on the passage

“He first visited Egypt, and spent some time, as he says himself,

at Nile's outpourings nigh the Canopic strand,

and for a while shared the studies of the most erudite of the priests, Psenopis of Heliopolis and Sonchis of Sais, from whom it was, as Plato tells us, that he learnt the history of Atlantis, which he began to make known to the Greeks by means of a poem he did not finish.

Plutarch Life of Solon

Epic Poems

“Some writers declare that he also made a beginning of putting his laws into Epic verse and thus publishing them to the world, and they record the opening lines as follows:

First let us pray to King Zeus Son of Cronus, that he bestow good fortune and honour upon these ordinances.

Plutarch Life of Solon

Book 2 Tetrameters

To Phocus

“He is said to have observed to his friends that despotism is a fine position from which there's no way of retreat,58 and in his poems, he writes to Phocus:

If I have spared my country and not put my hand forth unto despotism and relentless violence, befouling and disgracing my good name, I am not ashamed of it; for thus methinks I shall the rather surpass the world.

From which it is quite clear that he stood in high repute even before his legislation. And with regard to the ridicule heaped upon him for shirking supreme power, he writes as follows:

Solon is no wiseacre nor sage, for he hath of his own free will refused good hap when Heaven offered it. Though he hath his quarry in the trammels he is too amazed to draw the great net to, as one that hath lost both will and wit. Now had I the power, I had been only too glad to be flayed for a wineskin and my posterity wiped out, if only I might first have wealth abundant and rule Athens for a single day.

Thus he makes the baser sort speak of him. All the same, though he refused the supreme power, he did not govern in the mildest possible way, nor show in his legislation any lack of courage or any bending to the powerful or pandering to his electors, but rather where it was tolerable to leave things alone he applied no remedy and made no change, lest he

throw the city into so utter confusion as to be too weak afterwards to re-establish her and make her at unity59

with what is best.

Plutarch Life of Solon

“And in another place, too, he says of the persons who wished to re-distribute the land:

But they that came for plunder had rich hopes, reckoning every man that he would find himself great prosperity, and that for all my smooth words I should show a hard heart. Vain were their imaginings then, and now they are angered with me and all eye me askance as if I were an enemy —wrongly, for with the Gods' help I have done what I said, and what I said not, that did I not do without due thought, nor did it please me to do aught by force of the supreme power,60 nor yet that the bad should have equal share of their fat fatherland with the good.61

Aristotle Constitution of Athens [on Solon]
“And it is proved that he lied ... and you who know Solon are not unaware whom you should blame instead of us.

You are not unaware of whom you should blame instead of us.

Libanius Letters

Book 3 Iambi

62And again Solon speaks of the cancelling of debt, and of the citizens that were set free from slavery by the ‘Disburdening’:

But as for me, why did I stay me ere I had won that for which I gathered the commons?63 Right good witness shall I have in the court of Time,64 to wit the Great Mother of the Olympian Gods, dark Earth,65 whose so many fixed landmarks66 I once removed, and have made her free that was once a slave. Aye, many brought I back to their God-built birthplace,67 many that had been sold, some justly, some unjustly, and others that had been exiled through urgent penury, men that no longer spake the Attic speech because they had wandered so far and wide; and those that suffered shameful servitude at home, trembling before the whims of their owners, these made I free men. By fitting close together right and might68 I made these things prevail, and accomplished them even as I said I would. And ordinances I wrote, that made straight justice for each man, good and bad69 alike. Had another than I taken the goad in hand, a foolish man and a covetous, he had not restrained the people; for had I been willing to do now what pleased this party and now what pleased the other, this city had been bereft of many men. Wherefore mingling myself strength from all quarters I turned at bay like a wolf among many hounds.

And again he upbraids both sides for the complaints they made afterwards:

As for the commons, if 'tis right to upbraid them openly, I say that what they have now they never would have dreamt of ... And the greater men and stronger might well praise me and be friends with me; for had another than I won such honour,70 he had not restrained nor checked the commons till his churning were done and the richness taken from the milk,71 whereas I, I stood as a mark in the midway betwixt the two hosts of them.72


Aristotle Constitution of Athens

“He made the upper council overseering-general and guardian of the law, believing, etc.

[And I believed] that anchored to two councils the city73 could the better ride out a storm and keep her people in the greater quiet.

Plutarch Life of Solon
“That γοῦρος was a kind of cake is shown by Solon, who says in his Iambi:

They drink, and some of them eat the while sesame-cakes and others bread, and yet others guri mingled with lentils. There, too, wants not any sort of pastry, and whatsoever the dark earth brings forth for man, they have it all in profusion.

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner
“Solon calls the mortar ἴγδις in his Iambi, where he says:

And some fetch a mortar and others silphium and others again vinegar.

Pollux Onomasticon
“And ordinary people are right in calling the pomegranate-seed κόκκων to this day; for Solon uses the word thus in his poems:

One brought pomegranate-seeds, and another sesame.

Phrynichus Introduction to Learning
“From the Elegiacs of Solon; hortatory:

Obey the lawful authorities, whether thou deem them right or no.

Diogenian Proverbs

Three Unclassifiable Fragments


the seasoning; Solon.

Photius Lexicon

“Solon believed that boxers and runners and other athletes contribute nothing worth speaking of to the preservation of a state, but only men conspicuous for wit and virtue can keep their country safe in time of danger.74Diodorus of Sicily Historical Library
“It were better therefore, since we know that the prime of youth is like the Spring flowers and its pleasures transitory, to approve the words of the Lesbian dame, ‘He that is fair, is fair to outward show; He that is good will soon be fair also’; and to agree with Solon when he gives the same counsel.75Galen Exhortation to Learning

1 cf. Ath. quoted on p. 226

2 lit. Do nothing too much

3 cf. Aeschin. i. 25 Sch.

4 >remains of these were to be seen c. 80 A.D. in the Prytaneum at Athens, Plut. Sol. 25

5 the mss make ‘holy’ an epithet of ‘lawgiver’

6 see the whole story, which is too long to quote here

7 cf. Justin. 2. 7, Philod. Mus. 20 K

8 or more accurately, as we say , an opening; cf. Theophr. Char. 7. 3

9 caps were worn by the sick

10 or sang? lit. went through in song ( or recitation); but note the absence of any mention of a fluteplayer; the so-called singing was prob. formal recitation like that of a rhapsode (cf. τῷ λέγοντι below)

11 >cf. Phot. Lex. Reitz. ἀγορά: σόλων δὲ τὸ πεξῷ λόγῳ ἀγορεύειν

12 cf. Plut. Praec. Reip. 17, Dem. F.L. 252

13 small islands

14 cf. Apost. 9. 6 b, Ars. 304, Sch. Dem. p. 94 b Sauppe, Ulp. in Dem. F.L. p. 152 Dobs., Ald. Voem.

15 cf. Ar. Eq. 1173 ff

16 as a (sham) invalid (and cf. Solon)

17 as line 11 appears sound, it is supposed that an hexameter is lost before and after it

18 perh. associations or clubs

19 this line is of doubtful ms-authority

20 cf. Plut. Sol. 18, Aristid. i. 829, ii. 360

21 Plut. Sol. et Popl. 2, Popl. 25

22 cf. Clem. Al. Str. 6. 740 (contrasts Theogn. 153), Diogen. 8. 22, Diog. L. i. 59

23 cf. Diog. L. i. 2. 3, 50, Apost. 6. 93, Plut. Sol. 3, Diod. Sic. 19.

24 or. reading ῥύσια ,pledges

25 cf. Plut. Sol. 30, Clem. Al. Str. i. 23. 1, Diod. Exc. Vat. iii p. 24, Cratin. 127 K

26 or, keeping the Greek, justest

27 cf. Clem. Al. Str. 6. 742 ὧδε ἄρχεται , Crates 1 (vol. ii)

28 Plut. Sol. 2, Sol. et Popl. 1, Popl. 24. 7

29 reading doubtful

30 or every year?

31 cf. Theogn. 585, Stob. Fl. 111. 16

32 or where we shall come to shore

33 cf. Theogn. 227, Arist. Pol. 1256 b. 83, Plut. Div. Cup. 4, Basil Leg. Gent. 8 p. 183

34 or, emending the Gk. satisfy the insatiable

35 or looks down upon

36 cf. Theogn. 315, Stob. Fl. i. 4, Plut. Tranq. An. 13, Prof. Virt. 6, Cap. ex Inim. 11, Basil Gent. 4. 177, Theodul. Reg. Off. 146, Arist. Eth. Nic. 1179 a. 9

37 cf. Theodoret i. 14

38 cf. Mimn. 2. 6 n

39 cf. Euseb. Praec. Ev. 13. 688 c

40 cf. Plat. Lach. 188b, 189a, Rep. 536b, Plut. Sol. 2 and 31, Sch. Soph. Ant. 711, Ioan. Sic. Rh. Gr. 6. 201 W, Zen. 3. 4, Diogen. 3. 80, Ars. 161, Apost. 5. 40; Paroem. Gotting. ii. 107, Suid. γηρᾶναι , Dio. Chrys. Or. 18 init., Tatian 35, Cic. Scn. 8, Val. Max. 8. 7. 14

41 cf. Vit. Arat. 53 W (gives name as κυπράνωρ ) and Lobel on O.P. 4. 680 Bodl. Quart. 4. 96

42 cf. Liban. i. 403 (20), Stob. 121. 3, Plut. Sol. et Popl. 1, Popl. 24. 5 (21)

43 cf. Arist. Rh. 1375 b. 32, Plat. Tim. 20 e, Charm , 157 e, Poll. 2 1, Procl. in Tim. i., 82. 2 D

44 cf. Hermias ad Pla. Phaedr. 231 e p. 78 A ( σόλων ), Luc, Am. 48, Theogn, 1253

45 Plato, for his own purposes, understands the Gk. as ‘he to whom children are dear ( or are friends)’

46 a ‘stock-’ epithet of horses, distinguising them from animals whose hoof is cloven

47 cf. Theogn. 719, Tob. F,l. 97. 7.

48 i.e. food, clothes, and shoes; the couplet which follows, ‘of lad or lass; and when the time for these things hath come and youth is accordant ( or of lad and lass, and when youth hath come thus far, and with the right age they are fitting pleasures),’ is a certain though early addition

49 cf. Plut. Sol. 31, Sept. Sap. 13

50 cf. Vol. Herc. coll. Alt. 11.62

51 cf. Clem. Al. Str. 6.814, 5.714, Ambros. Ep. 6.3, Cram, A.P. i.46, Apost. 14.94, Cens, Nat. 14, Macr. Somn, Scip, i. 6, Arist. Pol , 1335 b. 32, 1336 b. 40, H.A. 581 a. 13, Rh, 1390 b. 4, Diog. L. i. 54

52 one word in the Gk.; it is less moral than virtue, and includes both courage and such ideas as prowess, excellence, and manliness; it is the noun of ἀγαθός , which means ‘good at’ as well as ‘good’

53 See note 3, p. 141

54 or, emending burning (i.e. in a fever or mad); the land is Attica

55 lit. make your mind great within limits, cf. Hes. Op. 692, Pind, I. 6. 103, or emending the Greek cut yourselves a great mind to measure?

56 πείσομαι future of πένομαι (not found elsewhere, but necessary to the sense of citation and context; without an objt. πάσχω cannot = suffer ill, nor is there any question of obidience even if we could supply to the dative) E

57 Sch. Plat. p. 123 Bek., Arist. Met. 983 a. 3, Plut. Poet. 2, Paroem , Gr. i. p. 371, ii. p. 128 (Gott.), Apost. 14. 41

58 military metaphor

59 prob. ‘with what is best’ is Plutarch's addition

60 or do anything tyrannous perforce

61 (ll. 4-5) cf. Plut. Sol. 16. 3, (ll. 6-7) Aristid. Or. 28. 137( καὶ ταῦτα μέν ἐστιν εν τεπραμέτροις, εν δὲ τοῖς ιάμβοις

62 besides the London Papyrus we have Pap. Berl. 163 for ll.3-25

63 i.e. formed the democratic party

64 cf. (ll. 3-22) Aristid. l.c. 128( ἐν δὲ τοῖς ἴαμβοις

65 (ll. 6-14) cf. Plut. Sol. 15. 5

66 i.e. mortgage-posts

67 cf. Aristid. Or. 46.278

68 (l. 16) cf. Plut. Sol. 15. 1

69 includes ‘high and low’

70 cf. Plut. Sol. 16.4 (line 6)

71 a)natara/cas points rather to butter than cream, though to judge by the other mentions of it the Greeks seem to have used it only medicinally; it is imported nowadays

72 in no-man's land, as we say; cf. Aristid. 2. 360

73 or a city

74 cf. Xenoph. 2; the ref, may be only to an apophthegm

75 B suggests that Theogn. 933-4 belongs to Solon, and is here referred to; see p. 339

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