Role Of Justice And The State Of The Athenian Statesman Essay

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Although Solon is recognized as an eminent figure in developing the early stages of Athenian democracy, writings and other accounts of the life and beliefs of the Athenian statesman and writer are relatively sparse. As a poet, Solon merged political theory with forceful expression to craft poems centered on the role of justice and the state. Of the scarce secondary descriptions of Solon, Herodotus’s account in The Histories ranks most significant, in which Solon emerges as a sagely but transient advisor to the myopic monarch Croesus. While Solon’s appearance is short-lived, the pith of his words echoes throughout the parable of not only Croesus, but The Histories as a whole. In juxtaposing these connected works, a clearer image of Solon comes into focus. He is a man obsessively concerned with complex, interrelated social paradigms- authority, happiness, and prosperity, particularly as their manifestation in society conflicts with his own understanding of justice and morality. Solon’s diagnosis of Athenian society paints a bleak picture of a society founded upon . The citizens are “witless”, “bent on ruining their great city”, while the rulers are “unjust in mind”, arrogant, greedy, and unconcerned with the greater good (Solon Fr 4.5-7). Parallel to Athens and its woes is Sardis. Sardis is a warlike city ruled by Croesus, a zealous and power-thirsty monarch willing to attack neighboring cities under pretexts “substantive or trivial”, (Herodotus 1.26) in doing so

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