Beliefs The first Piraeus Artemisprobably the cult image from a temple, 4th century BC While there were few concepts universal to all the Greek peoples, there were common beliefs shared by many. Theology Ancient Greek theology was polytheisticbased on the assumption that there were many gods and goddesses, as well as a range of lesser supernatural beings of various types. There was a hierarchy of deities, with Zeusthe king of the gods, having a level of control over all the others, although he was not almighty.
Solon, son of Execestides, was a Eupatrid of middling fortune, but of the purest heroic blood, belonging to the gens or family of the Codrids and Neleids, and tracing his origin to the god Poseidon. His father is said to have diminished his substance by prodigality, which compelled Solon in his earlier years to have recourse to trade, and in this pursuit he visited many parts of Greece and Asia.
He was thus enabled to enlarge the sphere of his observation, and to provide material for thought as well as for composition. His poetical talents displayed themselves at a very early age, first on light, afterward on serious subjects.
It will be recollected that there was at that time no Greek prose writing, and that the acquisitions as well as the effusions of an intellectual man, even in their simplest form, adjusted themselves not to the limitations of the period and the semicolon, but to those of the hexameter and pentameter.
Nor, in point of fact, do the verses of Solon aspire to any higher effect than we are accustomed to associate with an earnest, touching, and admonitory prose composition.
The advice and appeals which he frequently addressed to his countrymen were delivered in this easy metre, doubtless far less difficult than the elaborate prose of subsequent writers or speakers, such as Thucydides, Isocrates, or Demosthenes.
His poetry and his reputation became known throughout many parts of Greece, so that he was classed along with Thales of Miletus, Bias of Priene, Pittacus of Mitylene, Periander of Corinth, Cleobulus of Lindus, Cheilon of Lacedaemon - altogether forming the constellation afterward renowned as the seven wise men.
The first particular event in respect to which Solon appears as an active politician, is the possession of the island of Salamis, then disputed between Megara and Athens. Megara was at that time able to contest with Athens, and for some time to contest with success, the occupation of this important island - a remarkable fact, which perhaps may be explained by supposing that the inhabitants of Athens and its neighborhood carried on the struggle with only partial aid from the rest of Attica.
However this may be, it appears that the Megarians had actually established themselves in Salamis, at the time when Solon began his political career, and that the Athenians had experienced so much loss in the struggle as to have formally prohibited any citizen from ever submitting a proposition for its reconquest.
Stung with this dishonorable abnegation, Solon counterfeited a state of ecstatic excitement, rushed into the agora, and there on the stone usually occupied by the official herald, pronounced to the surrounding crowd a short elegiac poem which he had previously composed on the subject of Salamis.
Enforcing upon them the disgrace of abandoning the island, he wrought so powerfully upon their feelings that they rescinded the prohibitory law.
The stories in Plutarch, as to the way in which Salamis was recovered, are contradictory as well as apocryphal, ascribing to Solon various stratagems to deceive the Megarian occupiers.
Unfortunately no authority is given for any of them. According to that which seems the most plausible, he was directed by the Delphian god first to propitiate the local heroes of the island; and he accordingly crossed over to it by night, for the purpose of sacrificing to the heroes Periphemus and Cychreus on the Salaminian shore.
Five hundred Athenian volunteers were then levied for the attack of the island, under the stipulation that if they were victorious they should hold it in property and citizenship.
They were safely landed on an outlying promontory, while Solon, having been fortunate enough to seize a ship which the Megarians had sent to watch the proceedings, manned it with Athenians and sailed straight toward the city of Salamis, to which the Athenians who had landed also directed their march.
The Megarians marched out from the city to repel the latter, and during the heat of the engagement Solon, with his Megarian ship and Athenian crew, sailed directly to the city. The Megarians, interpreting this as the return of their own crew, permitted the ship to approach without resistance, and the city was thus taken by surprise.
Permission having been given to the Megarians to quit the island, Solon took possession of it for the Athenians, erecting a temple to Enyalius, the god of war, on Cape Sciradium, near the city of Salamis.
The citizens of Megara, however, made various efforts for the recovery of so valuable a possession, so that a war ensued long as well as disastrous to both parties. At last it was agreed between them to refer the dispute to the arbitration of Sparta, and five Spartans were appointed to decide it - Critolaidas, Amompharetus, Hypsechidas, Anaxilas, and Cleomenes.
The verdict in favor of Athens was founded on evidence which it is somewhat curious to trace. Both parties attempted to show that the dead bodies buried in the island conformed to their own peculiar mode of interment, and both parties are said to have cited verses from the catalogue of the Iliad - each accusing the other of error or interpolation.
But the Athenians had the advantage on two points: Such a title was held sufficient, and Salamis was adjudged by the five Spartans to Attica, with which it ever afterward remained incorporated until the days of Macedonian supremacy. Two centuries and a half later, when the orator Aeschines argued the Athenian right to Amphipolis against Philip of Macedon, the legendary elements of the title were indeed put forward, but more in the way of preface or introduction to the substantial political grounds.
But in the year B. In addition to the conquest of Salamis, Solon increased his reputation by espousing the cause of the Delphian temple against the extortionate proceedings of the inhabitants of Cirrha, and the favor of the oracle was probably not without its effect in procuring for him that encouraging prophecy with which his legislative career opened.
It is on the occasion of Solon's legislation that we obtain our first glimpse - unfortunately but a glimpse - of the actual state of Attica and its inhabitants. It is a sad and repulsive picture, presenting to us political discord and private suffering combined.
Violent dissensions prevailed among the inhabitants of Attica, who were separated into three factions - the Pedieis, or men of the plain, comprising Athens, Eleusis, and the neighboring territory, among whom the greatest number of rich families were included; the mountaineers in the east and north of Attica, called Diacrii, who were, on the whole, the poorest party; and the Paralii in the southern portion of Attica from sea to sea, whose means and social position were intermediate between the two.Western architecture - Ancient Greek: The increased wealth of Greece in the 7th century bc was enhanced by overseas trade and by colonizing activity in Italy and Sicily that had opened new markets and resources.
Athens did not send out colonists and did not engage in vigorous trade, and it declined as a cultural and artistic centre. Corinth, Sparta, the islands, the cities of eastern Greece.
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