Solon Of Athens Essay

2006 words - 8 pages

Solon of Athens

Sometime during the period of 594/3 to 570 B.C., the citizens of Athens gave one of their foremost statesmen, Solon, the task of creating new laws for them because of troubles that had been plaguing them. There are several theories as to when Solon's work was completed. The date of Solon's legislation has always been in question and a date that everyone agrees with has never been proposed. There is evidence for several different dates. The first is 594/3, the year in which Solon was the Eponymous archon in Athens. This argument has several claims to its defense but also many arguments against it. Another major date proposed is not so much a specific date as it is a span of time in which he may have started and/or completed his nomothesia. The span of time proposed is between ca. 580 - 570 B.C. The date of 580 - 570 B.C. is by far the more likely date for him to have completed his legislation. The arguments for this case are far more convincing than those arguing that he completed his legislation in his archonship during 594/3. The first is that it would be very difficult to complete a project so large as to write an entire law code in one year. The next is that it was recorded by Aristotle that Solon travelled for a ten year peiod and on his journeys, viewed the laws of other lands. It makes sense that he would then have written his laws after that. Another major argument in favour of the later date is that there was much trouble in Athens in the 590's and 80's. This was probably the trouble which spurred the people of Athens to have Solon create new laws, on the other hand if the situation in Athens was as bad as Aristotle would have us believe then why would Solon wait to lay down the law, it would have made more sense to do it quickly. The final argument for the 594/3 theory is that according to Aristotle, Solon was given special powers in the government which may have meant the power to pass laws on hos own authority. While it is conceivable that Solon may have done his work during his archonship in 594/3, most of this evidence would seem to point to that fact that Solon probably wrote, or finished his nomethesia after his archonship, possible as much as thirty years later.
The first point that would support Solon having written his nomothesia in the years following his archonship is that it would be very difficult to write something so large as a low code and have it accepted and passed by the governing body all in the span of about one year. To write the laws for an entire state would take quite some time to accomplish and that doesn't even include the process of having the laws instituted. "Bit it is difficult to believe that the task of writing down the law comprehensively could be complete within one year … It is far more likely that Solon was given a special commission, which lasted more than one year." The duties of archonship would also most likely have prevented Solon from completeing his legislation...

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