How successful were Solon's measures in dealing with the problems facing Athens in 594 BC?

Essay by beckspenceHigh School, 11th gradeA-, January 2004

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In 594BC, Solon was appointed as archon (leader with supreme civil authority and power to act as a judge to cases involving Athenian citizens) to Athens, in an attempt to reform the state, which was facing a number of social and economic problems caused by political systems that they had in place at the time. His appointment was also intended to alleviate the problems that were threatening Athens with civil war, caused by other practices in Athens, which were extremely well established. He is best known as a political reformer, as through his measures and his attempts to democratise justice, he managed to, if not revolutionise, then reform much of the political practice of Athens. This paved the way for future leaders to build upon his work, as well as aiding the economic and social growth of Athens. Although many of his measures were not immediately particularly effective or successful, his influence changed the working of the city forever.

As Solon took over Athens, class distinction was at the root of a number of problems facing him, such as social inferiority. Although his first concerns were immediate relief and help to the people , the government reforms he achieved are markedly some of the most pointed changes he made. Any political influence in 594 BC was held by noble born men, and to ensue their security, they banded together against the peasants, regardless of any internal disagreements within the nobles themselves. Solon's intention was to abolish the oligarchy, where all citizens could vote but only nobles hold office, redefining citizenship to create the foundations of democracy, and making the courts more accessible to even very poor citizens. Unfortunately the oligarchic system had been in place for hundreds of years, and somehow bridging the gap between rich and poor would be...