Solon’s Census Reform and the Crisis in Attica in the Late 7th and Early 6th Century BC

Gushchin Valeriy R.

This paper contains some comments on the problem discussed by H. Tumans and I.E. Surikov. It examines the reasons and some features of Solon’s census reform, which was closely connected with the social and economic situation in Attica. At that time, according to H.Tumans, there appeared in Athens and Attica many rich non-aristocrats (homines novi), who managed to enrich themselves by trade operations. The reformer, presumably, wanted to deprive them of the citizen rights, when he established not money, but natural census. This way Solon wanted to retain the political power in the hands of traditional land aristocracy. The author thinks that the crisis was not provoked by homines novi, who cannot have been numerous. The aristocrats took more active part in maritime trade. As a result they were converted (as D.W. Tandy wrote) from warriors into traders. It was supposedly they who were sharply criticized in Solon’s poem. If so, his census reform must provide a stimulus to ‘reconversions’ of the aristocracy into land owners and warriors.

Keywords: Solon, archaic Athens, sea trade, Hesiod, aristocracy, demos, kakoi, agathoi, census, agriculture