The Ancient Library

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tain his father in his old age. The council of Areiopagus had a general power to punish idleness. £olon forbade the exportation of all produce of the Attic soil except olive oil. The impulse which he gave to the various branches of industry carried on in towns had eventually an important bearing upon the development of the democratic spirit in Athens. (Plut. Sol. 22, 24.) Solon was the first who gave to those who died childless the power of disposing of their property by will. He enacted several laws relating to marriage, especially with regard to heiresses (Plut. Sol. 20). Other regulations were intended to place restraints upon the female sex with regard to their appearance in public, and especially to repress frantic and excessive mani­festations of grief at funerals (/. c. 21). An adul­terer taken in the act might be killed on the spot, but the violation of a free woman was only punish­able by a fine of one hundred drachmae, the seduc­tion of a free woman by a fine of twenty drachmae (I.e. 23). Other laws will be found in Plutarch respecting the speaking evil either of the dead or of the living, respecting the use of wells, the plant­ing of trees in conterminous properties, the des­truction of noxious animals, &c. (/. c. 21, 23, 24. Comp. Diog. Lae'rt i. 55, &c.). The rewards which he appointed to be given to victors at the Olympic and Isthmian games are for that age unusually large (500 drachmae to the former and 100 to the latter). The law relating to theft, that the thief should restore twice the value of the thing stolen, seems to have been due to Solon. (Diet, of Ant. art. K\oirf)S Suoj). He also either established or regulated the public dinners at the Prytaneium. (Plut. Sol. 24.) One of the most curious of his regulations was that which denounced atimia ngainst any citizen, who, on the outbreak of a sedition, remained neutral, On the design of this enactment to shorten as much as possible any sus­pension of legal authority, and its connection with the ostracism, the reader will find some ingenious and able remarks in Grote (I. c. iii. p. 190, &c.). The laws of Solon were inscribed on wooden rollers (amoves) and triangular tablets (icvpSets^ in the /3overrpo<|>rj5ov fashion, and were set tip at first in the Acropolis, afterwards in the Prytaneium. (Plut. Sol. 25 ; Harpocr. $. vv. Kvp§€is— 6 Karudev vo/ulos ; Pollux, viii. § 128 ; Suidas, s. vv.}

The Athenians were also indebted to Solon for some rectification of the calendar. Diogenes Lae'r-tius (i. 59) says that "• he made the Athenians regulate their days according to the moon," that is to say, he introduced some division of time agreeing more accurately with the course of the moon. Plutarch (Sol. 25) gives the following very confused account of the matter : " Since Solon observed the irregularity of the moon, and saw that its motion does not coincide completely either with the setting or with the rising of the sun. but that it often on the same day both overtakes and passes the sun, he ordained that this day should be called eVrj /cat yea, considering that the portion of it which pre­ceded the conjunction belonged to the month that was ending, the rest to that which was beginning. The succeeding day he called vov^via.^ Accord­ing to the scholiast on Aristophanes (Nub. 1129) Solon introduced the practice of reckoning the days from the twentieth onwards in the reverse order. Ideler (Handbuch der Chronoloc/ie,vol. i.p. 266, &c.) gathers from the notices that we have on the sub­ject, that Solon was the first who introduced among


the Greeks months of 29 and 30 days alternately. He also thinks that this was accompanied by the introduction of the Trieteris or two-year cycle.

We have more than one statement to the effect that Solon exacted from the government and people of Athens a solemn oath, that they would observe his laws without alteration for a certain space — 10 years according to Herodotus (i. 29),—100 years according to other accounts (Plut. Sol. 25). According to a story told by Plutarch (Sol. 15), Solon was himself aware that he had been com­pelled to leave many imperfections in his system and code. He is said to have spoken of his laws as being not the best, but the best which the Athenians would have received. After he had completed his task, being, we are told, greatly an­noyed and troubled by those who came to him with all kinds of complaints, suggestions or criti­cisms about his laws, in order that he might not himself have to propose any change, he absented himself from Athens for ten years, after he had obtained the oath above referred to. He first visited Egypt, and conversed with two learned Egyptian priests — Psenophis of Heliopolis, and Sonchis of Sais. The stories which they told him about the submerged island of Atlantis, and the war carried on against it by Athens 9000 years before his time, induced him to make it the sub­ject of an epic poem, which, however, he did not complete, and of which nothing now remains. From Egypt he proceeded to Cyprus, and was received with great distinction by Philocyprus, king of the little town of Aepeia. Solon persuaded the king to remove from the old site, which was on an inconvenient and precipitous elevation, and build a new town on the plain. He himself as­sisted in laying out the plan. The new settle­ment was called Soli, in honour of the illustrious visitor. A fragment of an elegiac poem addressed by Solon to Philocyprus is preserved by Plutarch (Sol. 26; Bergk, I.e. p. 325). We learn from Herodotus (v. 113) that in this poem Solon be­stowed the greatest praise upon Philocyprus. The statement of the blundering Diogenes Laertius (i. 51, 62) that Solon founded Soli in Cilicia, and died in Cyprus, may be rejected without hesi­tation.

It is impossible not to regret that the stern laws of chronology compel us to set down as a fiction the beautiful story so beautifully told by Hero­dotus (i. 29—45/86 ; comp. Plut. Sol. 27, 28) of the interview between Solon and Croesus, and the illustration furnished in the history of the latter of the truth of the maxim of the Athenian sage, that worldly prosperity is precarious, and that no man's life can be pronounced happy till he has reached its close without a reverse of fortune [croesus], For though it may be made out that it is just within the limits of possibility that Solon and Croesus may have met a few years before B. c. 560, that could not have been an interview consistent with any of the circumstances mentioned by Hero­dotus, and without which the story of the inter­view would be entirely devoid of any interest that could make it worth while attempting to establish its possibility. The whole pith and force of the story would vanish if any interview of an earlier date be substituted for that which the episode in Herodotus requires, namely one taking place when Croesus was king (Mr. Grote, I.e. p. 199 shows that it is a mere gratuitous hypothesis to make

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