Solon's Ideological Background Revisited

Tumans Harris

Recently the theme of Solon has become topical in Western and Russian historiography. Many investigations have been made to find out more details of the essence of his reform. Ideological position and the aim of Solon's reform have become the most significant issues of recent research. According to the traditional point of view, Solon was a merchant who carried out his timocratic reform in order to give the power to rich but not noble people. This article is an attempt to show that Solon was an aristocrat not only by his origin, but also according to his convictions and ideology. The aim of his reform was not to weaken aristocracy, but to defend and strengthen its position in the state. The article shows that monetary system was well developped in Attica during Solon's time, no matter whether Athens had its own coins or not. This means that the contradictions between the traditional aristocracy and nouveaux riches really existed. Therefore, property qualification, introduced by Solon, was applied to agricultural products in order to restrict the access to the power for the «people of money» and newcomers. The author also analyses the traditional view of Solon as merchant and argues that this tradition is late and not authentic. The analysis of Solon's own works shows that they have elements of aristocratic, not mercantile ideology, and are close to the ideas uttered by Theognis.