But in general Solon's laws concerning women seem very absurd. For instance, he permitted an adulterer caught in the act to be killed; but if a man committed rape upon a free woman, he was merely to be fined a hundred drachmas; and if he gained his end by persuasion, twenty drachmas, unless it were with one of those who sell themselves openly, meaning of course the courtesans. For these go openly to those who offer them their price.
Still further, no man is allowed to sell a daughter or a sister, unless he find that she is no longer a virgin. But to punish the same offence now severely and inexorably, and now mildly and pleasantly, making the penalty a slight fine, is unreasonable; unless money was scarce in the city at that time, and the difficulty of procuring it made these monetary punishments heavy.
In the valuations of sacrificial offerings, at any rate, a sheep and a bushel of grain are reckoned at a drachma; the victor in the Isthmian games was to be paid a hundred drachmas, and the Olympic victor five hundred; the man who brought in a wolf, was given five drachmas, and for a wolf's whelp, one; the former sum, according to Demetrius the Phalerian, was the price of an ox, the latter that of a sheep. For although the prices which Solon fixes in his sixteenth table are for choice victims, and naturally many times as great as those for ordinary ones, still, even these are low in comparison with present prices.
Now the Athenians were from of old great enemies of wolves, since their country was better for pasturage than for tillage. And there are those who say that their four tribes were originally named, not from the sons of Ion, but from the classes into which occupations were divided; thus the warriors were called Hoplitai, the craftsmen Ergadeis; and of the remaining two, the farmers were called Geleontes, the shepherds and herdsmen Aigikoreis.1
Since the country was not supplied with water by ever-flowing rivers, or lakes, or copious springs, but most of the inhabitants used wells which had been dug, he made a law that where there was a public well within a
‘hippikon,’ a distance of four furlongs, that should be used, but where the distance was greater than this, people must try to get water of their own; if, however, after digging to a depth of ten fathoms on their own land, they could not get water, then they might take it from a neighbor's well, filling a five gallon jar twice a day; for he thought it his duty to aid the needy, not to provision the idle.
He also showed great experience in the limits which he set to the planting of trees; no one could set out a tree in a field within five feet of his neighbor's field, or, in case it was a fig-tree or an olive-tree, within nine. For these reach out farther with their roots, and injure some trees by their proximity, taking away their nourishment, and emitting an exhalation which is sometimes noxious. He that would dig a pit or a trench, must dig it at the distance of its own depth from his neighbor's; and he that would set out hives of bees, must put them three hundred feet away from those which another had already installed.