Solon the Athenian and the Origins of Class Struggle

  • Thomas Thorp


We are at Athens, one hundred years before the Battle of Marathon, hundred years before the trial of Socrates, and the poet who will ose these lines:

For to the [common] people (dēmoi) I gave so much power as is sufficient Neither robbing them of dignity, nor giving them too much and those who had power (dunamin), and were marvelously rich Even for these I contrived that they suffered no harm. I stood with a mighty shield in front of both classes.1


Public Land Political Reform Historical Materialism Class Struggle Political Sphere 
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  1. 1.
    M. L. West’s Iambi et Elegi Graeci (Oxford: Oxford University Press, revised edition, 1992), and West’s numbers are now standard. This passage is Solon 5. 5–6.Google Scholar
  2. John Lewis, Solon the Thinker: Political Thought in Ancient Athens (London: Duckworth, 2006).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Aristotle, Constitution ofAthens and Related Texts, translated by Kurt von Fritz and Ernst Kapp (New York: Hafner Press, 1974): 69.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Solon’s poetry cited in Greek Elegiac Poetry, edited and translated by Douglas Gerber (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1961): 120; on demoi as citizens, see Gerber, Greek Elegiac Poetry, 112.Google Scholar
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    Elizabeth Irwin, Solon and Early Greek Poetry: The Politics of Exhortation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, the English edition of 1888, edited by Friedrich Engels, in Robert C. Tucker, ed.,Google Scholar
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    Dick Howard, The Politics of Critique (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988).Google Scholar
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    Martin Ostwald, From Popular Sovereignty to the Sovereignty ofLaw: Law, Society, and Politics in Fifth-Century Athens (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986): 12–13.Google Scholar
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    G. R. Stanton, Athenian Politics c.800-500BC:A Sourcebook (London: Routledge, 1990): 71, n. 8.Google Scholar

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© Ron Scapp and Brian Seitz 2013

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  • Thomas Thorp

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