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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
I. THE LANDS OF THE WEST AND THE RISE OF GREECE TO ABOUT 500 B.C.
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DRACO'S CODE, 621 B.C.
After much agitation an Athenian named Draco was employed to write out a code for the state. The laws, as published, were very severe. The penalty for most offenses, even the smallest theft, was death. The Athenians used to declare that the Draconian code had been written, "not in ink, but in blood." Its publication, however, was a popular triumph and the first step toward the establishment of Athenian democracy.
LEGISLATION OF SOLON, 594-593 B.C.
The second step was the legislation of Solon. This celebrated Athenian was accounted among the wisest men of his age. The people held him in high honor and gave him power to make much-needed reforms. At this time the condition of the Attic peasants was deplorable. Many of them had failed to pay their rent to the wealthy landowners, and according to the old custom were being sold into slavery. Solon abolished the custom and restored to freedom all those who had been enslaved for debt. He also limited the amount of land which a noble might hold. By still another law he admitted even the poorest citizens to the popular assembly, where they could vote for magistrates and judge of their conduct after their year of office was over. By giving the common people a greater share in the government, Solon helped forward the democratic movement at Athens.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy