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self, and an Archon, appears to have attempted to relieve the aristocracy of the evils it had brought upon itself by its government or its dissensions. He attempted no sufficient reforms; but simply introduced some apparent checks upon the judicial powers of the Archons,” at the same time that he increased the severity of punishments, as if to resist any encroaching spirit on the part of the people.” But the troubles he vainly endeavoured to overcome continued in the midst of sedition and discord. Another noble, Cylon, seized the Acropolis and attempted to make himself tyrant; but, defeated by the resolution of the people, he was, with his followers, put to death. Soon followed a famine, which no resolution could avert, but which Epimenides, a poet and a seer of Crete, was summoned to drive away, by saving the city from its disorders, and purifying it from its real or imaginary crimes. Epimenides was rewarded, as if he had been successful; but the divisions between the higher and the lower classes remained unhealed at his departure; and it was evident that ceremonies or sacrifices were no longer able to confirm the power of the nobles or to content the determined ambition of their inferiors. The time had come when the base of the statue was to be chiselled into forms of living energy.
* See Hermann, Pol. Antiq., says expressly, IIoM reig & inapSect. 103, and note 10. Xotorm roës wéuous #6mkev, “He
* So his reported laws concern- adapted his laws to the actual coning obedience to parents and wor- stitution of the state.” Pol., II. ship of the gods; but Aristotle still 9. 9.
Every native and freeborn inhabitant of Attica” was admitted, as he grew up, to the privileges of the Genos, or Name, in which he had been born, and afterwards to one of the twelve Fraternities, of which the Names were the component members,” and which themselves made up four Tribes. Besides these general distinctions, there were those, already noticed, of nobles, husbandmen, and artisans, with others, according to the mountains, plains, or coasts on which the three different classes” were supposed to have their separate abodes. The great division, however, of the Athenian people was that, increased in Solon's time to an alarming point, between the rich and the poor. Throughout the states of antiquity, especially those nearest to our own era, the power, which the high-born, next after the strong, possessed, passed, at a certain period, into the hands of the wealthy, as if according to common principles of succession. But as the first stages in any revolution are the most difficult, so at the moment when the rich were gaining upon the noble, it would happen that the poor, behindhand, were bound to the heaviest afflictions. It was thus in Athens, where the nobles, at the period referred to, were absorbed in their own defence, and the rich, that is, those not nobles likewise, were struggling for their own elevation. It may be gravely doubted if far the larger majority of the nobles were not rich, and far the larger majority of the rich were not noble; but the extent of the suffering in which they who were neither rich nor noble had become involved appears to be unquestionable.” The first result of increased wealth, in Attica, was increased oppression; and the poor, separated from those of their own order who had acquired wealth and were striving to acquire power, were not only more exposed to injury, but were more excited to take justice into their own hands, and “turn up the whole state,” so that they might be relieved. In this breach, between revenge on the one side, and oppression on the other, Solon placed himself, as none but the earnest and the courageous would have dared. Like many another of the truer, heroes of antiquity, this one has been too often robbed of the humane and eager nature that was warm within him; and in the zeal to make him a universal lawgiver, he has been denied the feelings of an active and an ar
116 Only of the highest class, that is, the Eupatridae, according to Niebuhr, Hist. Rome, Vol. II. p. 142, Amer. edit.
117 The Greek name of the Tribe is ovXà, that of the Fraternity, pparpta, and that of the Name or Gens (sometimes called family, sometimes clan), Tévos. “As to the real political import,” remarks Hermann concerning these divisions, “ their
object was the preservation of legitimacy and purity of descent among the citizens,” etc. Pol. Antiq., Sect. 100.
118. These were the Atáxptot, the farmers or shepherds of the mountains; the IIeStaiot, the nobles of the lowlands; and the IIápa)\ot, the traders and artisans of the coast. Plut., Sol., 13.
119 “The city was in great dan- be sold in foreign lands. Many
ger,” says Plutarch; “for all the
were even forced to sell their own
dent man. Only a generous soul could have communicated something of its own liberality to a whole people, and to such a degree, that the nobles and the rich were transformed from the rulers into the fellowcitizens of the poor and the lowly-born. Solon feigned himself insane when it was death to any one to speak of the Athenian claim upon Salamis, and mounted the stone on which the heralds stood, to recite, as if in frenzy, the lines he had composed to stir the Athenians to the recovery of the island.” So, when the holy oracle at Delphi had been outraged by invasions from Cirrha, it was Solon who insisted that the Amphictyonic league should do its duty and arm itself against the guilty people.” Descended from the old royal stock of Attica,” but early resolved upon a life of labor and usefulness, Solon became a merchant, a traveller, and a scholar, widening his sympathies with industry and enterprise, and at the same time tempering his physical energies with the influences of poetry” and philosophy, to which he gave himself with real enthusiasm from his youth. The ideal and the real, with him, were capable of being one. Thus possessed of a natural and an acquired title to the confidence of his countrymen, at a time when none were too blind to perceive that either anarchy or tyranny must triumph over them, unless they who were at variance should be reconciled and they who were oppressed should be liberated, Solon, then at the age of forty-four, was elected to the Archonship, with the more especial charges of mediation and legislation. This was a quarter of a century after the attempt of Draco.” From the fullest account we have of the astonishing undertaking in which Solon not only engaged, but succeeded, it would appear that he was acceptable to the rich as well as to the poor, who alike expected him to prove their peculiar champion.” There can be little doubt that his own sympathies inclined to the poorer, if not to the poorest, classes, whose necessities he was determined to relieve, if it were only to calm their dangerous resentments. The first and the strongest impulse to reform, or to simpler efforts, must have come from the eagerness of the lower orders to be redressed against the injuries to which they were become more sensitive than their humbler ancestors. Without any willingness to be a demagogue, or any desire to introduce a democracy, Solon put himself at the head of the movement thus originated, in order to carry out the changes he saw were then inevitable. His first object, therefore, was to relieve the miseries he beheld around him; in which intent, he procured a law called then or afterwards the Discharge,” to release the debtor from his bondage, and to abolish slavery as a punishment of debt, for ever.” This he followed up by other measures,” 125 Draco, A. C. 621; Cylon, 128 Plut., Sol., 15, 23. 620; Epimenides, 596; Solon, 594. 129 Especially by clearing all 126 Plut., Sol., 14. mortgages upon land, and by depre
121 Plut., Sol., 8. 194 He was said to have gathered 122 Ibid., 11. together the fragments of Homer. 123 Ibid., 1. Diog. Laert., I. 57.
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