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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Solon and his reforms are excellent examples of how Athens developed the road to democracy, and how the benefits of these reforms make Solon superior to Lycurgus as a ruler. Solon, a man of middle ground, was urged forward by the people to rule over them and to settle differences between the rich and the poor. “Solon, on the other hand, could not go to such extremes in his constitution, since he was a man of modest fortune and had been chosen by the people. Yet he made full use of his power, relying on the good will of the
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote “One man’s justice is another’s injustice.” This statement quite adequately describes the relation between definitions of justice presented by Polemarchus and Thrasymachus in Book I of the Republic. Polemarchus initially asserts that justice is “to give to each what is owed” (Republic 331d), a definition he picked up from Simonides. Then, through the unrelenting questioning of Socrates, Polemarchus’ definition evolves into “doing good to friends and harm to enemies” (Republic 332d), but this definition proves insufficient to Socrates also. Eventually, the two agree “that it is never just to harm anyone” (Republic 335d). This definition is fundamental to the idea of a
“The Restoration of the Athenian Empire” Our walls are crumbling and our fleet is minute. We here in Athens are unable to collect tribute from other city-states and are often in threat of being attacked. Our fleet is defenseless and weak. The Democratic fraction, propose that we spend our time and hard earned money on the rebuilding of our walls and fleet. That way Athens can dangerously collect tributes from other Greek city-states. The Democrats also would like to commence in hazardous military voyages with our insubstantial navy. Hoping the result brings forth great rewards.
A reading of Thucydides’, Pericles’ Funeral Oration and The Melian Dialogue uncovers both contrasting and comparable viewpoints on Athenian politics, power, aims of war, and empire. Thucydides presents two differing characteristics of Athens, one as the civilizer in Pericles’ funeral oration and the other as an tyrant in the Melian dialogue. In the funeral oration delivered by Pericles during the first year of the war, the Athenian leader emphasizes the idealized personal image of the Athenians in regard to their constitution and good character. Pericles goes on to praise the Athenian democratic institution of Athens that contributes to their cities greatness; in Pericles’s own words, “The Athenian administration favors the many instead of few… they afford equal justice to all of their differences” (112, 2.37). This quote emphasizes the good character of the Athens’ to coax and encourage the Athenians to preserve and better their great empire into the future. On the other hand, in the Melian dialogue, this notion of justice and equality is irrelevant; one, because Athens compared to Melos, is the stronger of the two and thus, is more powerful. Further, Athens, will continue to acquire absolute power and build its empire by conquering Melos and whomever else stands in its way. Through Pericles’ funeral oration and the Melian dialogue, the following conclusions/themes will demonstrate both the changing and somewhat stable nature of Athenian policy with regards to empire,
As a defender of civic virtue, the significance of obligation and authority of one’s representative government epitomizes the magnitude of respect that Socrates had for Athenian Jurisprudence, irrespective of the fact that he was prosecuted against. In the accounts of the Apology and Crito, there exists a plethora of evidence that demonstrate Socrates’s adherence of institutionalized authority. His loyalty of the Athenian State derives from his notion that the obligation to surrender to the law manifests a just society. One may ask, “how is it possible for a persecuted man to continue to profess allegiance to a polity that sought his trial and execution”? Though many would not have the capacity to sustain such integrity, Socrates had his reasons in
“Herodotus of Halicarnassus here gives the results of his researches, so that the events of human history may not fade with time and the notable achievements both of Greeks and of foreigners may not lack their due fame; and, among other things, to show why these peoples came to make war on one another.” Herodotus is considered one of the founders of historiography. It had long been argued that Herodotus was important for his military histories of Ancient Greece, but although his works focused on military and war he put specific emphasis on detailed factors that related more to the cultural aspects of Greek history.
What is democracy? Historians have, for a long time, kept this question in mind as they studied the methods and laws of the Ancient Athenians. After studying the given evidence it can be determined that Ancient Athens was not truly democratic.
In Chapter 1, the author assesses the unique and eternal achievements of 5th century BCE Athenian culture. She introduces several basic dichotomies that define her understanding of the writers and events of the period in the later chapters.
This ancient Athenian murder trial centralizes around the expectations of marriage, the role of women in ancient Greece, and the dangers a husband faces after failing to properly supervise his wife. Euphiletus stands accused of the murder of Eratosthenes, his wife’s lover. According to Athenian law, if a husband finds his wife in bed with another man, it is the husband’s right to determine what penalty the male adulterer will face. The Husband could demand he pay a fine, or even justifiably kill him. The time period of Euphiletus’ trial had come to acknowledge financial compensation as the common settlement for such offenses. Eratosthenes’ family is having Euphiletus prosecuted for premeditated murder; leaving Euphiletus to convince a jury
The shaky past of Athens, after the loss of the war against the Spartans and the overthrow of the democracy they loved and fought for caused suspicion in Socrates who had association to Critas, a bloodthirsty tyrant in an oligarchy called the “Thirty Tyrants” From a harmless town character Socrates influence on the youth of Athens was being questioned.
Plato creates a seemingly invincible philosopher in The Republic. Socrates is able to refute all arguments presented before him with ease. The discussion on justice in Book I of The Republic is one such example. Socrates successfully refutes each different view of justice presented by Cephalus, Polemarchus, and Thrasymachus. Socrates has not given us a definitive definition of justice, nor has he refuted all views of justice, but as far as we are concerned in Book I, he is able to break down the arguments of his companions.
In Plato’s works Apology and Crito there is an attempt by Socrates to defend himself in court and defend his choice to receive the death penalty when found guilty. Although he makes very valid and strong arguments throughout one can only wonder why such a wise person would choose death over life. The following essay will analyze three quotes from Apology and Crito, find the correlation between them, and reveal any flaws that may exsist inside these arguments made by Socrates.
Aristotle’s teachings in The Politics and the Constitution of Athens leads us down the path of his thought journey as he lectures on the ideal State and populace. Aristotle focuses in on the distinctions between different constitutions, or governments, in a major way in this grouping. These distinction are very important to his final ideal State. Going through the teachings one begins to wonder how one’s own constitution would be categorised by Aristotle. Aristotle would classify America as a constitutional democracy, or Polity, based on the original framing of the constitution as well as how our government stands today.
Described by Thucydides as “the foremost Athenian and most able in speech or action [at the time of the Peloponnesian War,]” Pericles ushered in what was widely known as the “Golden Age of Athens” (31). He often exercised great prudence in his decision making and was widely admired by the Greek people. The man stressed justice, the worth of the Empire, and cleaving one’s personal interests to those of the city. Through his eloquent speeches and definitive actions he captured both the hearts of the Athenians and territory as a premier military commander. The people readily accepted his authority, and became accustomed to it. This would only lead to problems down the road, however, as other rulers took up the mantle of Athens. They would only be but a gilded echo of Pericles, unable and unwilling to follow his path. Therefore, though Pericles did not intentionally set Athens up to fail, because of the oratorical skill, leadership style, and character he possessed, success could only be truly achieved by and through him.