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Saturday, February 6, 2021

Solon and democracy


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons


Solon (630-560 BC) was a Greek statesman best known for his contributions to Athenian democracy. Historian John Dalberg-Acton said,


"Government by consent superseded government by compulsion and the pyramid which had stood on a point was made to stand upon its base. By making every citizen the guardian of his own interest, Solon admitted the element of Democracy into the State." (The History of Freedom in Antiquity, 1877)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Solon.




"In the ideal state, laws are few and simple because they have been derived from certainties. In the corrupt state, laws are many and confused because they have been derived from uncertainties." (


"Men keep their agreements when it is an advantage to both parties not to break them and I shall so frame my laws that it will be evident to the Athenians that it will be for their interest to observe them." (


"Society is well governed when its people obey the magistrates and the magistrates obey the law." (




"Do not counsel what is most pleasant, but what is best." (Quoted in Apophthegms of the Seven Sages by Demetrius of Phalerum)


"For often evil men are rich and good men poor. But we will not exchange with them our virtue for their wealth since one abides always, while riches change their owners every day." (Quoted in Solon by Plutarch)