The peninsula of Attica is about 2500 sq km in size. Since the 7th millennium BC BC, various peoples immigrated to the peninsula. Since the 4th millennium the area is inhabited. Around 1400 BC The Acropolis was surrounded by a wall similar to that of Mycenae. The rule of this Athenian dynasty ended around 1200. Over the next few centuries, the population dropped significantly. Archaeological evidence from this era are rare. Legends and myths give isolated hints to the happenings of this time. Athens nevertheless seemed to have been the largest city of these centuries. Historians call this period the "Dark Centuries". From the 10th century, the population grew again, the trade made for prosperity. As a result, the Athenians colonized the peninsula of Attica.
The up-and-coming trade created a layer of wealthy residents who wanted to influence government affairs. There was a consultative assembly that turned into a legislative council that could enforce laws by force.
The most important minister at that time was the Archon, who was elected for a year. He was the "head of government" presiding over the people's assembly and directing courts. At his side stood the Polemarchos, the military commander. The Basileus was responsible for cult festivals and sacred matters. These powerful ministers were appointed by the Areopagus. To what extent the popular assembly participated directly in political decisions at this time is uncertain.
First, binding for all, passed laws around 620 Drakon. Athens was shaken by bloody riots at that time. Drakon abolished the then practiced blood revenge in part, in which he had convicted convicted killers of the country. But when the exile returned, relatives of the victim had the right to kill the murderer.
By 600, there were more bloody riots. The peasants were heavily in debt and were often forced into debt bondage. The conflict between peasants and the nobility threatened to escalate into a civil war. Solon was one of the politicians who recognized the threat. He spoke of a "maladministration" (= dysnomia). Solon initially found many supporters for his views. Solon blamed the wealthy and wealthy and their greed for development. He thereby saw the cohesion of the community, the Polis, endangered.
Solon was 594 BC. Chr. Elected Archon. In order to introduce his new order, he received sufficient funds and armed units. For the first time in known history, a person was chosen by the citizenry to reform a community. And Solon had the ability to convince citizens of his ideas. Citizens should now take responsibility for their coexistence in the Poleis. A monarchy was not required for this form of rule.
The citizen should also identify with his city and feel pride in his homeland. In foreign policy, the self-confidence of the Athenian citizenship became clear, in which Athens later showed that it was defensive. Solon was of the opinion that the disturbances within the coexistence of humans would only have to be eliminated in order to find their way back to the "right order".
First of all, Solon issued a debt relief for the farmers. The creditors lost a lot of money, but Athens made it possible for many farmers to serve as a hoplite because they could now earn the necessary income. Other debtors benefited from an amnesty and were able to return to Athens from abroad, where they had fled from the creditors. The Athenians, who had been sold into debt slavery, were released.
Despite these reforms, Solon did not want to abolish the differences in standing. Land ownership was not condemned by him. The nobility remained at the head of society, and the popular assembly was to retain its previous rights. For the first time, the laws were written down. The community was freed from arbitrariness and subjected to laws. He also introduced the Popularklage that allowed every citizen of Athens to act against legal ills in the city. A People's Court was used. Solon's laws should later become the basis for the jurisdiction of Athens.
Solon's laws were recorded on wooden stelae. Two hundred years after his death, his laws were still respected. The Roman historian Livy pointed out that the Roman Twelve Tables had taken over elements of Solonian laws.
Solon subdivided the company Athens into tax classes. After income, the ranking was in the assembly. The knights were divided into two classes according to their income. At the top were the Pentakosiomedimnen (= five hundredscheffler). The hippeis followed. The witnesses had a middle income, while the thetas stood as workers at the lower end of the tax bracket.
The division of the tax classes also determined the functions of the citizens in the army. The knights financed their equipment as riders. The Witnesses could use their fortune to finance the weapons and armor they needed as a hoplite. The members of the three highest tax classes were allowed to hold public office. The so-called Five Hundred Shepherd could be elected Archon. The low-income thetes were allowed to have a say in the popular assembly.
He restricted the purchase of land and promoted craftsmen for Athens to boost the economy. The introduction of new uniform measures and a new currency supported his efforts. The criticism and the demands on Solon grew, the more changes he enforced or brought on the way. The farmers wanted the land to be split more equitably. The wealthy Athenians took Solon's measures too far.
Some supporters demanded that Solon assume the office of tyrant so that his ideas could be implemented more quickly. But Solon refused.He was therefore elected to the diallaktes. "In a sense, Solon was the first citizen known to us: he wanted to do more, but nothing else, nothing better than the others" (Meier: Athens, p.84).
Marxist historians saw socialist ideas in Solon's reforms, but Solon did not want to fundamentally change society, he wanted to balance interests. The political decision-making power remained with the wealthy citizens.
The reforms did not calm the community at first. The various noble families continued to wage bloody feuds against each other.