Solon the Lawgiver

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Solon, who was elected archon or chief magistrate of Athens in 594 BC: some see him as the father of Athenian democracy. In the first years of the 6th century BC, the city state of Athens was in crisis. The lower orders of society were ravaged by debt, to the point where some were being forced into slavery. An oppressive law code mandated the death penalty for everything from murder to petty theft. There was a real danger that the city could fall into either tyranny or civil war. Solon instituted a programme of reforms that transformed Athens’ political and legal systems, its society and economy, so that later generations referred to him as Solon the Lawgiver.

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  • Melissa Lane 10 episodes
    Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University
  • Hans van Wees No other episodes
    Grote Professor of Ancient History at University College London
  • William Allan No other episodes
    Professor of Greek and McConnell Laing Tutorial Fellow in Greek and Latin Languages and Literature at University College, University of Oxford

Reading list

  • Greek Elegy and Iambus: A Selection
    William Allan (Cambridge University Press, 2019) Google Books →
  • Solon of Athens: New Historical and Philological Approaches
    Josine Blok and Andre Lardinois (eds.) (Brill, 2006) Google Books →
  • Organised Crime in Antiquity
    Keith Hopwood (ed.) (Classical Press of Wales, 2009) Google Books →
  • Solon and Early Greek Poetry: The Politics of Exhortation
    Elizabeth Irwin (Cambridge University Press, 2005) Google Books →
  • The Laws of Solon: A New Edition with Introduction, Translation and Commentary
    Delfim Ferreira Leao and Peter J. Rhodes (eds) (I.B. Tauris, 2015)
  • Solon the Thinker: Political Thought in Archaic Athens
    John Lewis (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2008) Google Books →
  • Solon the Athenian, The Poetic Fragments
    Maria Noussia-Fantuzzi (Brill, 2010) Google Books →
  • Greek Lives
    Plutarch (trans. R. Waterfield) (Oxford University Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • A Companion to Greek Lyric
    Laura Swift (ed.) (J. Wiley & Sons, 2022) Google Books →

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Auto-category: 938 (Ancient Greece)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In the first years of the 6th century BC, the Greek city-state of Athens was in crisis.