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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.

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

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