Importance Of Money In Athens

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Register to read the introduction… Not only did it have value itself but it produced grain, at the time there was no coin so grain was used for trade. (Trumbach) There were four basic classes of people at the time. The aristocrats who owned a lot of fertile land. Second is the “rich peasants” who owned smaller amounts of land but the land was also of poor yield, the mostly lived on the hill. Though they are richer than the other peasants they were still poor. Third are the peasants who worked the land owned by the aristocrats and paid them rent. “They either cultivated their lands for them and paid them a sixth of the produce..” (Pl. Sol. Pg 23) Fourth are the slaves owned by the aristocrats, many of which were farmers that took out a loan from the aristocrats. “... or else they pledged their own persons to raise money and could be seized by their creditors, some of them being enslaved...” (Pl. Sol. Pg 23)
This difference in wealth and quality of life created extreme tension between the rich and the poor. “The city stood on the brink of revolution...” (Pl. Sol. Pg 23) The poorer folk wanted to overthrow the rich and take their wealth. “... they proposed to set all enslaved debtors free, redistribute the land...” (Pl. Sol. Pg 23) The rich saw that this was going to be a problem and decided to seek a solution. “At this point the most level-headed of the Athenians began to look towards Solon. … they appealed to him to come forward and settle their difference.” (Pl.
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He could not re-distribute the land like the poor wanted but what he did do was set them free. They still had the issue of not having land but they were able to either still work for the landlord or they could take up a trade. Also be getting rid of their debt he let them start over. The rich still where rich and the poor were still poor however the poor no longer belonged to the rich and no longer could be made into slaves. This alone was a major improvement for the poor and it did not hurt the rich too much. Then by creating a surplus of grain within the county it encouraged the rich to be generous to the poor and in turn they were able to gain favor for votes. Allowing the poor freedom and lowering their chance of starving because of the rich giving away grain was an effective way of making the poor happy without removing the power from the rich. To further improve the relation between the rich and the poor now that the juries consisted mostly of the poor the rich had even more reason to be nice to them and try and win their favor that way if they were ever in court they would not have to worry about vengeful poor people. He also lessened the ties between families and increased the ties between citizens by removing the dowery and having injuries handled in court instead of by your family. This further encouraged treating people well rich or poor because anyone could help you in court.

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