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He pleased neither party, however; the rich were vexed because he took away their securities for debt, and the poor still more, because he did not redistribute the land, as they had expected, nor make all men equal and alike in their way of living, as Lycurgus did. But Lycurgus was eleventh in descent from Heracles, and had been king in Lacedaemon for many years. He therefore had great authority, many friends, and power to support his reforms in the commonwealth. He also employed force rather than persuasion, insomuch that he actually lost his eye thereby,1 and most effectually guaranteed the safety and unanimity of the city by making all its citizens neither poor nor rich. [2] Solon, on the contrary, could not secure this feature in his commonwealth, since he was a man of the people and of modest station; yet he in no wise acted short of his real power, relying as he did only on the wishes of the citizens and their confidence in him. Nevertheless he gave offence to the greater part of them, who expected different results, as he himself says of them in the lines—

Then they had extravagant thoughts of me, but now, incensed,
All look askance at me, as if I were their foe
2 And yet had any other man, he says, acquired the same power,
He had not held the people down, nor made an end
Until he had confounded all, and skimmed the cream.

Soon, however, they perceived the advantages of his measure, ceased from their private fault-finding, and offered a public sacrifice, which they called Seisactheia, or Disburdenment. They also appointed Solon to reform the constitution and make new laws, laying no restrictions whatever upon him, but putting everything into his hands, magistracies, assemblies, courts-of-law, and councils. He was to fix the property qualification for each of these, their numbers, and their times of meeting, abrogating and maintaining existing institutions at his pleasure

1 Cf. Plut. Lyc. 11.

2 Fragment 34 (Bergk); now verses 4 f. of a fragment of nine verses cited by Aristotle ( Const. of Athens., xii. 3. ).

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians, 12.3
    • Plutarch, Lycurgus, 11
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
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