Debates About the Past: Greek Civilization, History, and Culture Week 5: Athens and Solon
Debates About the Past: Greek Civilization, History, and Culture Week 5: Athens and Solon CLA 2110
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Date Created: 02/07/16
Debates About the Past: Greek Civilization, History and Culture (Based on PowerPoints/Class Lectures/Assigned th, Readings) January 6 2016) Athens and Solon Athens • Largest city in Greece • 40% of all Greeks live in Athens at this time Sources • These sources contained stories about how Athens was at this time • Most primary source accounts • Aristotle’s Athenian Constitution • Xenophon’s Athenian Constitution • Plutarch’s Life of Solon and Life of Theseus • Herodotus’ Histories • Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War What you need to know about the Athenians Characteristics of Athenian society • Pro-democracy (rule of the people) • Anti-Persian • Atypical polis • Different than most polises • Didn’t colonize • Late emergence of tyranny • Emphasis on government, prevention of civil war • When tensions rise they are quick to diffuse it • Form of defense during Classical period: Navy • Oposite of Sparta which ruled the land with its army • Government as isonomia vs. Sparta’s eunomia • Isonomia means equal laws • Eunomia means good rule • (good = elite members) Mythology of Athens • “Autochthonous”- indigenous rather than descended from migrants or colonists. o Athens believed they have always been there and didn’t migrate there. o Spartans are the opposite. They believe they were the descendants of the Dorians. Mythological kings of Athens • Cecrops • Son of the earth • Had snake like features • This was to show he was “of earth” • Cecrops chose the name of Athens. He said that whoever offered the best gift, he would name the city after them. • Poseidon gave the city a salt water spring • Athena gave them an olive tree. (She won) • The previous explanation brings up the debate: What came first? Athena or Athens? • Theseus • Slayed the minotaur • He traveled to Athens and had battles with many people along his journey. • Once he arrived, they made him king. • Codros o Had a dream an enemy will attack Athens. o It was revealed that he could save Athens, but die o Or live and Athens will be destroyed o He died for Athens and everyone was so grateful they declared him as the last king of Athens. Dark Age Athens (1100-750 BC) • Stasis in Athens • Not much happening • Nice graves indicate that wealth was present • There was also nice pottery th • Ruled by kings until 7 C Early Archaic Period Athens (750-700 BC) • A slow start… • No colonies th • No tyrants until 6 C. • Poor trade, pottery market • Low population • Not a lot of graves or structures • There was not a decrease or an increase Middle Archaic Period Athens (700-600 BC) • Growth and unification of Attica • Opposite strategy as Sparta 2 • Attica grows 1000 m • One of the largest at its time • New political system (no kings) • 9 archons elected each year • Based on birth and wealth • Aristocratic • Aeropagus (served on the Hill of Ares) • Former archons • Elders • Ekklesia • Council of Athenian men • Makes legislation • Did not include the lower class of people As a result • Aristocracy vs. Demos • Aristocratic genos (a powerful Oikos) and everyone dependent on them (phratries) • Like workers, farmers, serfs, etc • As the genos gets stronger, the phraties gets stronger as well… this creates: • Political and economic tension • (Almost everyone was in a genos or phratries) • Debt bondage was also a result • If you were a farmer working for a genos, but your farm didn’t produce enough crops: you would ask your genos for a loan. • It would keep piling up and thus you are in debt • To get out of debt: • Work for them • Sell land • Sell kids into slavery • Sell self into slavery • Dracon and his reforms (between 632 and 594) • Laws on homicide (VERY STRICT) • Creation of Boule (400 citizens) • 400 citizens elected by the people • approved legislation • oversaw judicial systems • took some power away • Result: progress but still division and tension! 594 BC: Solon • Athenian • From an aristocratic family • Politician and poet • Rewrites Athenian constitution • Ancient sources: Herodotus and Plutarch • By 594 BC: • Elected chief archon • Made dramatic series of constitutional, economic, and and moral reforms • Something needed to happen to fix the extreme division between Athens Social reforms Division of Athenian citizens into 4 classes • Created census • Based on annual income and property • Clear statuses and upward mobility • You can bump yourself up • You can fall in status 1. Pentakosiomedimnoi (“500 medimnoi”) • Produced more than 500 medimnoi (bushels) per year • Could serve as generals • Major aristocrats • Can hold offices 2. Hippeis (“Knights” or “horsemen”) • 300 + medimnoi per year • Cavalry men (owned a horse, etc.) • Minor aristocrats • Can hold offices 3. Zeugitai (“The yoked ones”) • 200 + medimnoi per year • Hoplites • Can afford oxen • Can hold offices 4. Thetes (“Serfs”) • Less than 200 medimnoi per year • Too poor to have land • Auxiliary army • Can only sit on assembly • More about the Social Reforms: o Crops were most important (not lineage or wealth) o Men over 18 who lived in Attica were considered citizens o Everyone can sit on an assembly, however it is hard for all…. So more aristocratic men are on assemblies o Checks and Balances like system o Only Pentakosiomedimnoi can be archons o Everyone on assembly could be selected to serve on the jury Economic reforms • Abolished debt (everyone’s debt wiped clean) • (People were selling themselves into slavery- It had to stop) • Seisactheia =“shaking off” • No sale of citizens into slavery to cover a debt • Gave lower class more freedom • Emphasized export of olive oil • More money! • No export of grain • Designed to help the poor • Lowered the price so more people could buy it • Foreign tradesmen (metics and outsiders) granted citizenship • Now to be a citizen you needed to have some sort of value • This brought skilled men to Athens which led to an increase in exports and an increase in economic influence • Education of sons • Punishment of unemployed • Spartans were shocked by this Other Reforms • No more extravagant dowries • Any citizens could take legal action of behalf of another • “Personal modesty and frugality” • After laws in place: self-exile for 10 years o 594 BC is when the laws came into place
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