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Solon   


register, Alcmaeon, not Solon, is named as commander of the Athenians.
Now the Cylonian pollution had a long while disturbed the commonwealth,
ever since the time when Megacles the archon persuaded the conspirators
with Cylon that took sanctuary in Minerva's temple to come down and
stand to a fair trial. And they, tying a thread to the image, and
holding one end of it, went down to the tribunal; but when they came
to the temple of the Furies, the thread broke of its own accord, upon
which, as if the goddess had refused them protection, they were seized
by Megacles and the other magistrates as many as were without the
temples were stoned, these that fled for sanctuary were butchered
at the altar, and only those escaped who made supplication to the
wives of the magistrates. But they from that time were considered
under pollution, and regarded with hatred. The remainder of the faction
of Cylon grew strong again, and had continual quarrels with the family
of Megacles; and now the quarrel being at its height, and the people
divided, Solon, being in reputation, interposed with the chiefest
of the Athenians, and by entreaty and admonition persuaded the polluted
to submit to a trial and the decision of three hundred noble citizens.
And Myron of Phlya being their accuser, they were found guilty, and
as many as were then alive were banished, and the bodies of the dead
were dug up, and scattered beyond the confines of the country. In
the midst of these distractions, the Megarians falling upon them,
they lost Nisaea and Salamis again; besides, the city was disturbed
with superstitious fears and strange appearances, and the priests
declared that the sacrifices intimated some villainies and pollutions
that were to be expiated. Upon this, they sent for Epimenides the
Phaestian from Crete, who is counted the seventh wise man by those
that will not admit Periander into the number. He seems to have been
thought a favourite of heaven, possessed of knowledge in all the supernatural
and ritual parts of religion; and, therefore, the men of his age called
him a new Curies, and son of a nymph named Balte. When he came to
Athens, and grew acquainted with Solon, he served him in many instances,
and prepared the way for his legislation. He made them moderate in
their forms of worship, and abated their mourning by ordering some
sacrifices presently after the funeral, and taking off those severe
and barbarous ceremonies which the women usually practised; but the
greatest benefit was his purifying and sanctifying the city, by certain
propitiatory and expiatory lustrations, and foundations of sacred
buildings, by that means making them more submissive to justice, and
more inclined to harmony. It is reported that, looking upon Munychia,
and considering a long while. he said to those that stood by, "How
blind is man in future things! for did the Athenians foresee what
mischief this would do their city, they would even eat it with their
own teeth to be rid of it." A similar anticipation is ascribed to
Thales; they say he commanded his friends to bury him in an obscure
and contemned quarter of the territory of Mileteus, saying that it
should some day be the market-place of the Milesians. Epimenides,
being much honoured, and receiving from the city rich offers of large
gifts and privileges, requested but one branch of the sacred olive,
and, on that being granted, returned.
The Athenians, now the Cylonian sedition was over and the polluted
gone into banishment fell into their old quarrels about the government,
there being as many different parties as there were diversities in
the country. The Hill quarter favoured democracy, the Plain, oligarchy,
and those that lived by the Seaside stood for a mixed sort of government,
and so hindered either of the other parties from prevailing. And the
disparity of fortune between the rich and the poor, at that time,
also reached its height; so that the city seemed to be in a truly
dangerous condition, and no other means for freeing it from disturbances
and settling it to be possible but a despotic power. All the people
were indebted to the rich; and either they tilled their land for their
creditors, paying them a sixth part of the increase, and were, therefore,
called Hectemorii and Thetes, or else they engaged their body for
the debt, and might be seized, and either sent into slavery at home,

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