Solon the Lawgiver

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Solon, who was elected archon or chief magistrate of Athens in 594 BC: some see him as the father of Athenian democracy.

In the first years of the 6th century BC, the city state of Athens was in crisis. The lower orders of society were ravaged by debt, to the point where some were being forced into slavery. An oppressive law code mandated the death penalty for everything from murder to petty theft. There was a real danger that the city could fall into either tyranny or civil war.

Solon instituted a programme of reforms that transformed Athens’ political and legal systems, its society and economy, so that later generations referred to him as Solon the Lawgiver.

With

Melissa Lane
Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University

Hans van Wees
Grote Professor of Ancient History at University College London

and

William Allan
Professor of Greek and McConnell Laing Tutorial Fellow in Greek and Latin Languages and Literature at University College, University of Oxford

Producer Luke Mulhall
20 Apr 2023 English United Kingdom Religion & Spirituality

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