STATESMEN AND REFORMERS IN ANCIENT ATHENS

A, conditions did not improve, the Athenians empowered Solon, an enlightened noble, to make all political and social changes he thought fit (594 B.C.). He cancelled all loans made on the security of personal freedom and all mortgages of land. But it was his political reforms which earned him the title of founder of European democracy. The citizens were divided into four classes, graded according to their income. Only the first class was eligible for the chief magistracies, but and this was the great innovation election was by the votes of all classes. Secondly, courts of justice were established in which the juries were taken by lot from all citizens. Thus the citizen was assured of justice against the noble, and could control the magistrates, who were made accountable before these courts for their actions while holding office. The economic problem remained unsolved because the nobles held most of the land of the country. The tyranny of Pisistratus who seized the government in 560 B.C., and, with brief intervals, ruled Athens until 528 B.C., brought great prosperity. The people received small holdings from the lands of ejected nobles. Manufacture and commerce, art and architecture were encouraged. Even the Solonian constitution was left unchanged, except that Pisistratus took care to have magistrates devoted to his own interests. On the fall of the tyranny, shortly before 500 B.C., a great democratic reformer, by the name of Cleisthenes, appeared. Attica was still divided up into local parties based on family connections. Cleisthenes created new tribes or wards which were based on territorial divisions but so arranged that no tribe contained sections from adjoining districts. He thus cut across the old local parties, so that henceforth political debate was concerned only with general measures and not with local patriotism. Cleisthenes also established a law by which the people could meet and banish any citizen who might be thought dangerous to the state. At least 6000 votes had to be cast altogether, so that there was no danger of injustice. A vote was given by scratching the name of the citizen to be banished on a broken piece of pottery called an ostracon, whence the term ostracism is derived.