Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Plutarch
Pages of Solon



Previous | Next
                  

Solon   


made a matter of competition, Solon, being by nature fond of hearing
and learning something new, and now, in his old age, living idly,
and enjoying himself, indeed, with music and with wine, went to see
Thespis himself, as the ancient custom was, act: and after the play
was done, he addressed him, and asked him if he was not ashamed to
tell so many lies before such a number of people; and Thespis replying
that it was no harm to say or do so in play, Solon vehemently struck
his staff against the ground: "Ah," said he, "if we honour and commend
such play as this, we shall find it some day in our business."
Now when Pisistratus, having wounded himself, was brought into the
market-place in a chariot, and stirred up the people, as if he had
been thus treated by his opponents because of his political conduct,
and a great many were enraged and cried out, Solon, coming close to
him, said, "This, O son of Hippocrates, is a bad copy of Homer's Ulysses;
you do, to trick your countrymen, what he did to deceive his enemies."
After this, the people were eager to protect Pisistratus, and met
in an assembly, where one Ariston making a motion that they should
allow Pisistratus fifty clubmen for a guard to his person, Solon opposed
it, and said much to the same purport as what he has left us in his
poems-
"You dote upon his words and taking phrase;" and again-
"True, you are singly each a crafty soul,
But all together make one empty fool." But observing the poor men
bent to gratify Pisistratus, and tumultuous, and the rich fearful
and getting out of harm's way, he departed, saying he was wiser than
some and stouter than others; wiser than those that did not understand
the design, stouter than those that, though they understood it, were
afraid to oppose the tyranny. Now, the people, having passed the law,
were not nice with Pisistratus about the number of his clubmen, but
took no notice of it, though he enlisted and kept as many as he would,
until he seized the Acropolis. When that was done, and the city in
an uproar, Megacles, with all his family, at once fled; but Solon,
though he was now very old, and had none to back him, yet came into
the marketplace and made a speech to the citizens, partly blaming
their inadvertency and meanness of spirit, and in part urging and
exhorting them not thus tamely to lose their liberty; and likewise
then spoke that memorable saying, that, before, it was an easier task
to stop the rising tyranny, but now the great and more glorious action
to destroy it, when it was begun already, and had gathered strength.
But all being afraid to side with him, he returned home, and, taking
his arms, he brought them out and laid them in the porch before his
door, with these words: "I have done my part to maintain my country
and my laws," and then he busied himself no more. His friends advising
him to fly, he refused, but wrote poems, and thus reproached the Athenians
in them:-
"If now you suffer, do not blame the Powers,
For they are good, and all the fault was ours,
All the strongholds you put into his hands,
And now his slaves must do what he commands." And many telling him
that the tyrant would take his life for this, and asking what he trusted
to, that he ventured to speak so boldly, he replied, "To my old age."
But Pisistratus, having got the command, so extremely courted Solon,
so honoured him, obliged him, and sent to see him, that Solon gave
him his advice, and approved many of his actions; for he retained
most of Solon's laws, observed them himself, and compelled his friends
to obey. And he himself, though already absolute ruler, being accused
of murder before the Areopagus, came quietly to clear himself; but
his accuser did not appear. And he added other laws, one of which
is that the maimed in the wars should be maintained at the public
charge; this Heraclides Ponticus records, and that Pisistratus followed
Solon's example in this, who had decreed it in the case of one Thersippus,
that was maimed; and Theophrastus asserts that it was Pisistratus,
not Solon, that made that law against laziness, which was the reason
that the country was more productive, and the city tranquiller.

Previous | Next
Site Search