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Solon of Athens, Sage of Greece

Solon of Athens (638 BC - 558 BC) was a statesman, lawmaker, poet and one of the Seven Sages of Greece. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic, and moral decline in archaic Athens. He ended exclusive aristocratic control of the government, substituted a system of control by the wealthy, and introduced a new and more humane law code. His reforms failed in the short term, yet he is often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. He was the first of the Athenian poets whose work has survived to the present day. His verses have come down to us in fragmentary quotations by ancient authors such as Plutarch and Demosthenes who used them to illustrate their own arguments. It is possible that some fragments have been wrongly attributed to him. He wrote poetry for pleasure, as patriotic propaganda, and in defense of his constitutional reforms. They are mainly significant for historical rather than aesthetic reasons, as a personal record of his reforms and attitudes. Knowledge of Solon is limited by the lack of documentary and archeological evidence covering Athens in the early 6th century BC. Engraving from "The History of Philosophy" by Thomas Stanley published in three successive volumes between 1655 and 1661.

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