c.640 - c.559 BC
Solon, known as one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, was an Athenian statesman, lawgiver, and poet. His reforms prepared the way for the introduction of democracy in Athens.
Greek maritime trade brought about the growth of the middle class in Attica, which led to unrest and political demands on the ruling aristocracy. In 594 BC the alarmed aristocrats appointed Solon as sole archon ( ruler ) with the power to reform the state.
Solon ended slavery for debt, replaced the harsh draconian law code with a more human one, and ended exclusive aristocratic control of the government. Wealth rather than birth was made the criterion for participation in political life, and citizenship granted to foreign craftsmen settling in Athens.
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