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June 19, 2024 38 mins

Solon is one of the seven sages of Athens, and he's credited with laying the groundwork for Athenian democracy. But most of what we know about him comes biographies written centuries after he lived. 

Research:

  • Aristotle, tr. Sir Frederic G. Kenyon. “The Athenian Constitution.” https://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/athenian_const.1.1.html
  • Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Draco". Encyclopedia Britannica, 28 Feb. 2024, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Draco-Greek-lawgiver
  • Cadoux, T. J. “The Athenian Archons from Kreon to Hypsichides.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 68, 1948, pp. 70–123. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/626301
  • Cartwright, Mark. “Solon.” World History Encyclopedia. March 10, 2016. https://www.worldhistory.org/solon/
  • Forrest, W. G., and D. L. Stockton. “The Athenian Archons: A Note.” Historia: Zeitschrift Für Alte Geschichte, vol. 36, no. 2, 1987, pp. 235–40. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4436007
  • French, A. “Solon and the Megarian Question.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 77, 1957, pp. 238–46. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/629363
  • Gill, N.S. "Solon's Reforms and the Rise of Democracy in Athens." ThoughtCo, Aug. 30, 2020, thoughtco.com/solons-reforms-democracy-121062.
  • Hölkeskamp, Karl-Joachim. “What’s in a Code? Solon’s Laws between Complexity, Compilation and Contingency.” Hermes, vol. 133, no. 3, 2005, pp. 280–93. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4477659
  • Leão, Delfim F. and P.J. Rhodes. “The Laws of Solon.” I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd. London. 2015.
  • Linforth, Ivan Mortimer. “Solon the Athenian.” University of California Press. 1919. Accessed online: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=_NENAAAAIAAJ&rdid=book-_NENAAAAIAAJ&rdot=1
  • Plutarch, and Aubrey Stewart, MA. “Plutarch’s Lives.” George Bell & Sons. London. 1894. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14033/14033-h/14033-h.htm#LIFE_OF_SOLON
  • Plutarch, and John Dryden. “Plutarch’s Lives.” Little, Brown & Co. Boston. 1895. Accessed online: https://archive.org/details/plutarchslivest02clougoog/page/n7/mode/1up
  • Starr, Chester G.. "Peisistratus". Encyclopedia Britannica, 1 Apr. 2024, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Peisistratus

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff You Missed in History Class, a production
of iHeartRadio. Hello, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Holly
Frye and I'm Tracy V. Wilson. So back in twenty twenty,
we had an episode about Crisus of Lydia, and Sollen

(00:21):
came up in it, and I mentioned that Solin was
on my list, and then he came up again recently,
and when we did our most recent Eclipse episode, another
of the seven Stages of Greece, sta Ley's of my
leaders came up, and I was like, whoops, I forgot
about Solin. And then I just randomly saw someone using
Solin as part of their username on social media. That

(00:43):
person was kind of being a jerk to people, frankly,
but I thought, okay, Universe, I get it. Go back
to Solin. So we're going to do that today. But
talking about Solin comes with a pretty significant caveat because
the main biographies about him that we have were written
by Aristotle and hundreds of years after his death. There's

(01:03):
a lot of very valid examination and criticism regarding how
much of any of the their four main biographies that
we have, how much of any of those feature accurate content.
We don't have anything really in the way of primary
sources in terms of Salin's writing. It's like a few

(01:24):
lines here and there that have survived. As historian Ivan
Mortimer lynfthrote in nineteen nineteen, quote, are we to suppose
that Aristotle owed nothing to earlier writers? Meaning that there's
almost certainly been a bending of truths or a shifting
of truths as one person's perspective is used as a
source and then viewed through the lens of another writer

(01:46):
who has their own perspective. And even those accounts that
we do have have all been translated by different people
with some differences that affect the way that we might
perceive Salin's life. And we're going to talk about one
such difference right out of the gate. So keep all
of that in mind as we discuss this this merchant

(02:08):
slash civic leader slash military leader. Today, as we said,
Salin is considered to be one of the seven Sages
or wise men of Greece, and his actions are credited
with sowing the seeds of what would become Athenian democracy.
He's kind of considered a founding father of Athens. In
what is sometimes perceived as its idealized state, but as

(02:31):
will become a parent, there's really no such thing, and
a lot of people get mad anytime people try to
make changes. So here we go. Sollin was born around
six forty to six thirty BCE. A lot of sources
cite the year six thirty eight BCE as the specific year.

(02:53):
That's tough to really substantiate, though, given how far back
that is. His father was excess steed and their family
was considered high ranking in the social hierarchy of the time,
they didn't seem to have the wealth that often came
with that standing. Though his father was believed to be
descended from Kodras, one of the so called semi mythical

(03:16):
kings of Athens, who is said to have reigned after
ten sixty eight BCE. On Solom's mother's side, he is
said to have had an intense friendship with the son
of his mother's cousin, that's a man named Paisistratus. In
Plutarch's biography of Solin, he writes that Soalen was said
to be passionately in love with Paisistratus. That is according

(03:39):
to one translation, but another translation, which was translated in
eighteen ninety five by John Dryden, is less direct about
the possibility of a romantic attachment between the men, stating quote,
and they say Solin loved him, And that is the
reason I suppose that when afterward they differed about the government,
their enmity never pretty any hot and violent passion. They

(04:02):
remembered their old kindnesses and retained still in its embers,
living the strong fire of their love and dear affection.
So I point that out just to note that like obviously,
different authors would not have been as comfortable suggesting whenever
they did their translation that these two men were romantically
affinitied towards one another, but others are very comfortable with it.

(04:24):
That is just one example of the ways that different
perspectives have shifted Salin's life story through the years. We
mentioned the already that Salin's family was not wealthy, and
part of this was because his father quote had impaired
his estate in sundry benevolent charities. So Salin's father had
donated family money to various causes. In any case, Salin

(04:49):
had to work in his earliest career, and he had
a few was working as a merchant or a trader.
According to the Plutarch biography, he had plenty of friends
who would have helped him out find Angeley, but quote,
since he was descended from a family who were accustomed
to do kindnesses rather than receive them, therefore applied himself

(05:09):
to merchandise in his youth. Though others assure us that
he traveled rather to get learning and experience than to
make money. Yeah, so he did travel a lot, and
we'll talk about it. Working as a merchant was not
stigmatized or considered shameful in Salin's time. Plutarch noted many

(05:30):
great men who have worked in the same field. The
reason Plutarch points it out is because when he was
writing many years later, that would have had a little
more stigma. Solin is credited with writing that he was
fine with having wealth, but not if it was gained
in some wrong way. So there's a moral element to
his relationship with money. There is also a bit of

(05:51):
what seems a contradiction, at least to Plutarch, in the
way that Salin moved in the world, because Solin considered
himself to be a relatively poor man, but he also
had plenty of experiences and a lot of things that
we would associate with wealth, which Plutarch reconciles as being
quote due to his mercantile life, which along with travel,

(06:13):
came with a certain number of luxuries, and also the
necessity of like courting people when it came to interactions
of a business nature. But merchant work was not what
Salon became famous for. An ongoing conflict over occupation of
the island of Salamis was what eventually put Salon in
a position of notoriety. Athens and its neighboring city, Magara

(06:37):
had been at war over Salamis for a long time.
This island sat and sits between them. Both of them
were depleted by this ongoing conflict. At this point, Magara
held the islands, but even in Athens, most people wanted
a little bit of time to just rest and recuperate.
According to that Dryden translation, there were even laws on

(07:00):
the books in Athens that quote, no one in the future,
on pain of death, should move in writing or orally
that the city take up its contention for Salamis. Uh
Salon apparently did not agree with the idea of just
taking a breather from this war, and he found it
to be so disgraceful that the leadership of Athens was like,
let's just drop this. Uh. He found it so disgraceful that,

(07:23):
according to Plutarch, he created a ruse to enable himself
to speak out on the matter, even though that was illegal. Yeah,
So that ruse was that Salen pretended to be mad, or,
as Dryden translates it, out of his head, and his
family is said to have actually shared the information that
Salon was not in his right mind with authorities, kind

(07:45):
of laying this groundwork that he clearly, you know, should
not be held accountable for things that he said, so
that if and when he said something that was perceived
as illegal or inappropriate, everyone would know he's not really responsible,
and thus he would have the death penalty. This was
all part of a bigger plan because it set the
stage for an oration that Salen had been preparing. He

(08:08):
had written it out and memorized it, and when he
felt ready, he walked out into the marketplace and it
was already crowded, but a crowd continued to gather and
he addressed those present, and this was a poem that
he called Salamis, and it opened with the lines quote,
behold in me a herald come from lovely Salamis with
a song and ordered verse instead of a harangue. This poem,

(08:31):
which was one hundred verses long, was apparently quite moving
and inspired not only praise but also a renewed desire
to once again take Salamis back from Magara and to
change that law. And when the decision was made to
return to warring over the island, Athenians put Solin in
charge of the military effort. So this does kind of

(08:54):
open the question of why a merchant would be put
in such a position and also why he was willing
to risk the death penalty to speak out about the
issue in the first place. While Plutarch characterizes this as
a matter of Athenian pride, there are other factors that
should be considered. For one, Salin's family was from Salamis,

(09:15):
Salin was born there, so he did feel an attachment
to that island and he wanted it to be part
of Athenian territory. But there was also a matter of money.
In an article titled Solon and the Meagarian Question, which
was published in the Journal of Hellenistic Studies in nineteen
fifty seven, writer A French notes quote the war for

(09:35):
Salamis was most probably fought to make possible the free
use to Athenian ships of the ports of southern Attica,
as well as to open the route to the Isthmus
of Corinth. Perhaps even with Salamis in enemy hands, Athenian
ships or ships trading with Athenians had managed to run
into the ports of southern Attica, and no doubt the
attempted molesting of such ships had helped to keep the

(09:58):
struggle alive. But it is hard to believe that any
great volume of trade would have regularly passed this dangerous way,
and that there was a volume of trade is fairly
substantiated not only by the Athenian success against Magara, implying
the existence of substantial naval strength, but also by the
career of Solon himself, by Solomon's measures affecting international trade,

(10:21):
and by the distribution of early Attic pottery. So to
sum that up a bit, Solin's oration was likely informed
and motivated by his work. If Solomis was not controlled
by Athens, Athenian merchants like himself were likely losing some
of their potential business. Even in the Plutarch account, two

(10:43):
different versions of how the Athenian effort to retake Salamis
played out, and one the Athenians led a trap. That's
another ruse that was attributed to Solon, and this trap,
they sent a fake informant to the Megarians to tell
them where the quote chief Athenian women were making their

(11:03):
usual sacrifices to series. This was suggesting that the Megarians
could easily capture the women there. But when the troops
of Magara acted on this information and arrived at the
Cape of Colias, the Athenians were waiting there. They were
not women, they were clean shaven men who had disguised
themselves as women. According to Plutarch's version, none of the

(11:25):
Megarians got away. The Athenians were able to sail to
Salamis very easily and seize it. As an aside, the
Cape of Colias was an area to the west of
that region of Attica, that's the historical region of Attica
that contained the city of Athens. So in the second
possible way that things went down, Salin got a message
from the oracle at Delphi that he had to make

(11:48):
offerings to the heroes of Salamis, which he did, and
then he gathered five hundred men of Athens and mounted
a small fleet and anchored off the coast of Salamis,
and when a Megarian show went out to scout the area,
Saloon's men took it, and then they sailed that ship
back to Salamis for a sneak attack. At the same time,
Salon mounted a ground assault, and while he and the

(12:11):
men with him engaged the army of Megara, the men
who were on that ship were able to attack from
the other side. But this actually doesn't sound like a win.
Both sides continued to fight, and eventually Spartans were called
in to arbitrate the situation. The Spartans who examined the
information and made their determinations over who the victor was were,

(12:33):
according to Plutarch, Critulaitis, Amampharidas, Hipsychitis, Annexilis, and Cleomenes. And
they heard both sides of things, which included some wheeling
and dealing about various people being given citizenship in Athens
as a potential way to work things out, and also
how the dead were to be buried, And then they

(12:53):
ultimately determined that Salin's Athenian forces had won the battle
and the island up. We'll talk about the responsibility Solon
was given after his military triumph first, though we will
pause for a sponsor break. As a result of his

(13:18):
massive success at Salamis, Solen was made the arkhon of Athens,
So that word arkhan lends itself to a little bit
of fuzziness, depending on what definition you're looking at. Beginning
in six point eighty two BCE, Athens had moved to
a governance structure in which arkhan served for one year
terms of leadership. This was a change from the previous

(13:39):
setup where arkans had lifetime appointments, and of course that's
a change from a whole previous thing. But for the
context of arkon, to become an arkon, you had to
be elected, but you were elected by previous arkhans. Commoners,
so to speak, did not have a voice. This evolved
over the course of a couple of decades to be
almost a committee or council style of power structure called

(14:01):
the areopagus, where nine arkons led Athens. Plutarch's description of
Solon in this role, which he likely stepped into in
the five nineties BCE, mentions it as singular, though sometimes
he's called the chief Arkon, so he is either the
only one or the one that is leading this group,
depending on which translation you look at. Plutarch quotes the

(14:22):
oracle of Delphi calling Solon the pilot of Athens, and
that's because he was considered chief Arkon. The rest that
would have been there acted as a council kind of
under him, and that too, was a setup that had evolved.
There were different names for different positions within that group
of the rest of the Arkans, but having a chief
Arkon had led to infighting among the aristocratic families, who

(14:46):
all wanted their guide to be the chief Arkhan. Of course,
some Arkons in various points had refused to give up
their power when their year was up, and that led
to additional infighting. H this was a time when Athens
really needed a good life. There was a very unbalanced
situation playing out economically. Most of the wealth was in

(15:07):
the hands of just a handful of Athenians. In terms
of landholdings, almost all the agricultural land that supported people
with food was owned by that small ruling group, and
they had acquired it on the cheap when struggling farmers
had needed to sell it. The rest of the people
were in situations similar to indentured servitude or sharecropping, and

(15:31):
that progressed into enslavement. The common people who worked the
land had to pay one sixth of the value of
their crops to the owners of that land, and if
their payments fell short for any reason, their debts were
paid with their own bodies or those of their families.
They basically became enslaved to the landowners. In some cases,

(15:52):
people became enslaved when they took loans from the wealthy
they offered their families as collateral. They're really just wasn't
any way to gain enough income working the lands to
pay off a debt, So this was a losing arrangement
for anybody except people who were already wealthy. And then

(16:12):
once a person became enslaved, they could be forced to
continue working as farmers or they could be sold off. Yeah,
in some cases they were sold off to people in
other countries or other city states. So it was just
a completely unstable structure. This entire economic problem was further
complicated by the politics at the time. The leadership positions

(16:34):
of Athens could only be held by members of the aristocracy,
and they were certainly not going to amend any laws
to lose their power over everyone else, since most people
were in some degree of predicament or danger in terms
of owing landowners' money or being enslaved to them, or
being on the precipice of that situation. The vast majority

(16:56):
of Athens was calling for reform, and Sullen, who was
outside of this particular structure as a merchant, but who
was also from a noble family and who was perceived
as the hero who had retaken Salamis, was looked to
as the person who could figure this whole problem out.
According to Plutarch, quote, then the wisest of the Athenians,

(17:18):
perceiving Solon was, of all men, the only one not
implicated in the troubles, that he had not joined in
the exactions of the rich and was not involved in
the necessities of the poor, pressed him to succor the
commonwealth and compose the differences. He was specifically asked to
mediate the resolution and to find a way that Athenians
and Athens could move forward before the city state tore

(17:41):
itself apart from the inside. Plutarch and Aristotle described Soloon
as being really reluctant to take this role because he
knew no matter what he did, he was likely going
to anger people. He had apparently become known for saying,
according to Plutarch quote, when things are even, there can
never be war. But it seems that everyone, regardless of

(18:02):
their wealth, perceived this to mean that they would get
the best end of the deal in terms of what
evenness meant. So the wealthy thought that this meant everyone
would get their fair amount based on their value and
standing in society, which would mean they still got a
whole bunch of money or a whole bunch of land,
while the poor interpreted it as being a promise to
divide wealth and prosperity of Athens evenly among all of

(18:26):
its citizens. When he started this new role in five
ninety four BCE, Salin made some bold moves. His first
move is frequently described as a racing all debt, but
that might be an overstatement. It appears that the real
way he altered the debt system was to create laws
that forbade anyone from using themselves or their family as

(18:49):
financial collateral, and he enabled people to claim the land
that they worked as farmers, so that gave them the
financial footing to pay off their debts. He also emancipated
people who had been enslaved because of debt. Incidentally, he
was embroiled, according to Plutarch, in a mild scandal over

(19:09):
the idea of forgiving debts. Apparently, as he was working
through his ideas and what he was going to do,
he spoke with some of his friends about his plan
to enact debt forgiveness. And then those friends with the
inside tip went and borrowed a bunch of money and
purchased land with it in anticipation of the debt soon
being erased. But again, debts weren't canceled outright. A lot

(19:31):
of them were restructured and their interest agreements amended to
more reasonable terms. And Solin himself had people who owed
him money and he fully forgave those debts, and that
kind of helped silence his critics on the matter. But
his friends who did not reverse their dealings they had
made were pretty much perceived as weasels after that. Naturally,

(19:52):
this whole debt forgiveness thing was not popular with the
aristocracy because they felt like their wealth had been diminished.
The whoorr also were not really happy because they thought
the wealth of Athens could be redistributed in a way
that would give them more of it. Solin noted in
his writing that any other man would have made himself
rich with the power of the Arkon. Eventually, the initial

(20:15):
fury over the changes died down those changes were accepted.
His debt relief efforts later came to be known as seisachthea,
which translates to shaking off of burdens. But Solin went
further than that in changing Athens completely in his time
as Arkan. He also laid out a completely new class system,

(20:37):
and this was designed to appease the wealthy by still
giving them positions of leadership within the government, and to
appease those of the lower classes by still giving them
a voice in how Athens was run. He wrote a
verse about his new system that went like this quote,
such power I gave the people as might do, abridged
not what they had now lavish knew those that were

(20:59):
great and wealth, health and high in place. My council
likewise kept from all disgrace before them. Both I held
my shield of might, and let not either touch the others. Right,
The new system was based on what any given person had,
and used that as a way to sort them into
four categories. These accountings of holdings. They're translating slightly differently

(21:22):
depending on what translation you're reading. For example, in that
John Dryden translation, the first group, called the pentacosoid medem noi,
had to have an estate that was worth quote, five
hundred measures of fruit, dry and liquid. Other translations assign
a value to that measure that's more recognizable to modern readers,

(21:43):
so the requirement is described as being that their land
needed to yield at least five hundred bushels of produce.
The second group was the hypaeus. These were people whose
production level was three hundred to five hundred bushels per
year or quote, that could keep a horse. Next was
the zugatai, with two hundred to three hundred bushels, and

(22:04):
the last group was the thetes, whose produce was estimated
at less than two hundred bushels. People who worked the
land as laborers but did not own it were automatically
put into that last group as well. It kind of
became a catch all. And the reason for all this
accounting and sorting was that in Solon's new system, different
levels of the social strata would have different degrees of

(22:26):
agency in government. So members of the first two classes
could hold public office. Members of the third class could
hold lesser roles in government. Members of the fourth thetes
group could not hold public office, but they could quote
come to assembly and act as jurors. Clutarch describes this
as an enormous privilege, noting that this meant they had

(22:50):
a say in all the many disputes that were argued legally.
But to some historians it seems more likely that overall
the lives of people in the Thetes class didn't change
all that much, although they did have legal equality in
a way they hadn't had before. Some of this, according
to Plutarch, was because he was cagey about the way
he wrote his laws. Quote. Besides, it is said that

(23:13):
he was obscure and ambiguous in the wording of his
laws on purpose to increase the honor of his courts.
For since their differences could not be adjusted by the letter,
they would have to bring all their causes to the judges,
who thus were, in a manner masters of the laws,
so knowing that any dispute would have a lot of

(23:34):
gray area no matter the social class levels of each
of the parties involved, they would have to go before
a court to make their cases, so everyone's positions would
be heard. So that sounds like maybe a pretty clever
trick on Solin's part, But it has gotten a lot
of criticism over the centuries, and we're going to talk
about some of that criticism after we hear from the

(23:56):
sponsors who keep the show going. The vague nature of
Solin's law writing has been criticized by many overtime, most
notably by Aristotle. Aristotle did not believe the story that

(24:17):
Salen had carefully crafted nebulous laws to ensure a sort
of equality. Writing quote. This, however, is not probable, and
the reason, no doubt, was that it is impossible to
attain ideal perfection when framing a law in general terms,
for we must judge of his intentions not from the
actual results in the present day, but from the general

(24:37):
tenor of the rest of his legislation. Aristotle did, though,
acknowledge that this nebulous law writing resulted in greater representation
in the courts for the lower classes. Another change that
Salin made was to wipe the Draconian laws almost entirely
off the books. Draco had been a leader of Athens

(24:59):
a couple of decades before Solon and had laid down
a lot of very strict laws, where the word draconian
comes from. Most crimes, even minor ones like stealing a
piece of fruit, were punishable by death. Plutarch relays the
story of Draco being asked why his laws insisted that
even the mildest crimes carried death sentences, and his reply was, quote,

(25:22):
small ones deserve that, and I have no higher for
the greater crimes. This ideology was very unpopular, so Solin
repealed all except for the laws that related to homicide. Yeah,
especially when you consider that in the greater context of
the economic problems we're talking about, where people didn't have
enough to eat, they didn't have any money because they

(25:45):
had to give it all towards these mounting debts, there
were probably a lot of people stealing food, and like
the idea that they were going to die so that
their family could have bread was just seen as really,
really over the top. The new laws under Solin were
much more reasonable. There are some varying interpretations of how
they came to be. Salon is sometimes credited with creating

(26:08):
a council of four hundred, that's one hundred men from
each of the four tribes of Athens, which, according to
Aristotle he quote, assigned to the Council of the Areopagus
the duty of superintending the laws, acting as before as
the guardian of the constitution. In general, it kept watch
over the affairs of state in most of the more
important matters, and corrected offenders with full powers to inflict

(26:31):
either fines or personal punishment. But it should be noted
that Salon did not invent the idea of the Council
of four hundred. Draco had done the same thing, although
his obviously worked in a different way. Aristotle also describes
the way that Salon set his new laws in clear
public view once they were made quote. The laws were

(26:51):
inscribed on the wooden stands and set up in the
king's porch, and all swore to obey them, and the
nine archons made oath upon the stone, declaring they would
dedicate a golden statue if they should transgress any of them.
This is the origin of the oath to that effect,
which they take to the present day. Salon ratified his

(27:13):
laws for one hundred years. One hundred years sounds like
a long time, And once he thought he had settled
all of the major problems, and set up a system
that he believed would work for all of the people
of Athens. Salon stepped down from the position of Arkhan,
and he left. He had created legislation for inheritance, for crimes,

(27:33):
for how export and import would work, for how political
mechanisms worked, laws about marriage and dowries, and even a
law that made it illegal to speak ill of the dead.
It was truly a comprehensive package of guidelines. And he
did not want to be tempted to change those rules.
And he did not want to hang around and let
people complain to him about those laws and try to

(27:56):
get him to repeal them. And so, according to his legend,
and he started traveling, leaving Athens for ten years. Some
accounts indicate that the people of Athens promised to abide
by the laws that Salin had set forth, and that
that ten year period was also so that they could
become completely established without people trying to change them. Not

(28:17):
all versions of Salin's life story include this. Plutarch's, for example,
leaves it out, but it does also suggest that Salin
made this decision after he had been harangued by people
for a little bit where he was just like, I'm leaving.
Salin's first stop was Egypt, where he's said to have
studied with the most learned priests and learned about the

(28:38):
lost City of Atlantis, a tale he put into verse
to bring home and share with his fellow Greeks. He
then went to Cyprus and helped with the building of
a city by Demophon, who was the son of Theseus.
So we mentioned at the top of the show that
Solon appears in the story of Criesus of Lydia, and
we mentioned that in our crisis episode, but we'll go

(28:58):
over it again in a brief version. The way that
one goes is that Salen decided to visit the king
he may have been summoned to the king, and that
Cresus spent their entire visit showing off all that he
had acquired, and even had the staff of his household
point out all of the lux items that the king
had to show this visiting Athenian that he was rich, rich, rich,

(29:18):
And then Crisus asked Salen who the most fortunate man
he had ever seen was, expecting, of course, the answer
to be Crisus, but Salin said it was an Athenian
named Tellus, who had lived a good life and had
good children who all survived to adulthood and had children
of their own, and that he had died an honorable death.
And then Crisus kept asking who the next most fortunate

(29:40):
man was that Salen had met, hoping that the answer
would eventually be him, but it was always other people,
often with much more mundane lives. And finally Crisus kind
of pressed Solin about why he wasn't on his list,
and the Athenian stated that he couldn't count any man
happy until his death, when he could see his life.
In totality, it's a pretty good story, but it's really

(30:03):
a parable about what's actually valuable in life, And even
though Plutarch includes it in his account of Solin's life,
he himself kind of suggests that it's probably fiction and
notes that it doesn't fit the actual timeline of history,
writing quote that Solon should discourse with Creases. Some think
not agreeable with chronology, but I cannot reject so famous

(30:25):
and well attested a narrative, and what is more so,
agreeable to Solon's temper and so worthy his wisdom and
greatness of mind. The reason there were arguments about whether
it could be real is because Creases's rain would have
only begun kind of right as Solin's ten years away
from Athens would have ended. And that's even if all
of the dates that we think we know are correct,

(30:47):
which of course is its own problem. A lot of
them are estimates. Back home in Athens, things were not
going great. Initially, all of Salin's new laws and reforms
seems to work out okay, but after a few years
there was in fighting in discord. People started to jockey
for power, so when he got back it was kind

(31:08):
of a mess. People were glad to see him, but
he was too old to really take on the job
of totally reorganizing everything again. He did meet with leaders
of the various factions in this conflict to try to
help find a resolution, but a man named Pessistratus ultimately
seized power. Solin was deeply opposed to his rule and

(31:30):
protested it, even though he was quite old at this point,
and his friends encouraged him to leave the city. He
made speeches to try to stop the rising tyranny of Pisistratus.
When Salin was asked why he felt so emboldened to
challenge Pisistratus, he answered that it was his old age. Yeah,

(31:51):
he was kind of like, I'm running on empty, I
might as well gun it, like I'm I'm gonna fight
the power. But there is an interesting turn about that
happened where Pisistratus did not kill Solin, although a lot
of people expected him to instead. According to Plutarch, he
quotes so extremely courted Solon, so honored him, obliged him,

(32:11):
and sent to see him that Salin gave him his
advice and approved many of his actions. For he retained
most of Soalin's laws, observed them himself, and compelled his
friends to obey. So there's an interesting thing here right
where Pisistratus is considered a tyrant most of the time
if you look him up today, because he gained his

(32:32):
power by force, But he is also credited with making
Athens very prosperous and kind of bringing about an age
of not just prosperity but stability. The length of time
that Salen lived after the rule of Pisistratus is really
different among the varying accounts. Some say just a couple
of years, others a very long time. He worked on

(32:54):
his verse story about Atlantis toward the end of his life,
but was not able to finish it. It said that
when he died, his ashes were scattered around Salamis, in
accordance with his wishes. But Plutarch writes quote, the story
that his ashes were scattered about the island Salamis is
too strange to be easily believed or be thought anything
but a mere fable, And yet it is given, amongst

(33:17):
other good authors, by Aristotle the philosopher. This cracks me
up because he's like, well, so many people said he
met Criesus. That must have happened, But this whole scattering
of ashes seems bananas. That couldn't have. Of the two,
one is very easy to be believed. In my opinion,
it just makes me giggle. So we have noted in

(33:38):
this episode that Solin wrote a lot of verse, so
I thought it seemed fitting to end with one brief
line that he wrote late in his life, which is
a pretty good piece of advice, and I feel like
is very much in the spirit of stuff you missed
in history class, and that is each day grow older
and learn something new. Sounds great to me sure, So

(33:59):
finally I have knocked Solin off of my list. All
Ray and the universe can stop sending me pro solid propaganda.
Hopefully no more people called Solin being jerks on the
internet especially. I mean, listen, people will always invoke any
philosopher and then kind of put together a profile of
like just being cruel and mean because people just want

(34:20):
to be mean on social media. That's fine. It wasn't
mean to me. I just noticed he was being a
jerk anyway. Don't be a jerk to people online or
in your life. I have a fun piece of email
about both popcorn and the way someone's family connects to
history we've talked about. This is from our listener Ray,

(34:42):
who writes, Dear Holly and Tracy. In the behind the
Scenes about your History of Popcorn episode, you talked about
different cooking methods and I needed to add to the list.
I'm pretty sure this was also something I got from
Alton Brown, so of course it works brilliantly. Just tossed
about a quarter cup of popcorn kernels in a brown
paper lunch bag, add oil and seasonings if you like,

(35:02):
and then add afterward like air popped, fold the end,
and staple it closed. I'm going to have an aside here.
I do remember there being a very early version of
this where I think too it was Alton Brown that said,
like you can use a staple, it will not cause
problems in your microwave. However, if you look up his

(35:25):
recipe today on Food Network or any of the other
websites that carry it, the staple is no longer recommended.
It's a double fold that's like hard creased so that
you don't run a foul of anything in your microwave.
But then, I'm so my aside is ended. Don't put
metal in your microwave, and microwave three continues the same

(35:47):
way you would store bought microwave popcorn. Now that I've
gotten the important popcorn info in the real reason I
wanted to write to you for years is just a
fun fact that probably has little interest to anyone outside
my family and friends. An interview about the Lower east
Side Tenement Museum sometime before I started listening. I was
excited to see it when I looked at the back catalog,

(36:07):
because my family's apartment is preserved as an exhibit in
that museum. They weren't mentioned in the episodes, but I
remember going to the opening when I was a little kid,
and it was so fascinating They do an incredible job
with engaging young people and making connections to history, even
for those who aren't literally looking at their great great
aunts and uncles. I'm also including pictures of my senior

(36:28):
pitbull Karma, not so much as pet tax as an
excuse to shove pictures of my dog in someone else's face.
This week. Baby turned fifteen in January, and she's definitely
the best dog ever. No bias, Okay, one yes, popcorn
at home, easy PC. You don't have to buy microwave.
I buy microwaves sometimes because I'm lazy and it's pre
portioned and I don't have to think, and sometimes that's

(36:50):
how I want to snack. But I have often used
the paperbag trick and it works just fine. I love
the idea of knowing that your family's apartment is part
of the ten museum. That is cool, and that is
a very cool museum. Karma is so cute. I want
to kiss her face. Her eyes just stare right into

(37:11):
my heart and they're so She's so cute. I love
a pity. You know, they get a lot of bed press,
But I have known some of the sweetest dogs I
have ever known in my life are pip bulls who
are just big hunks of muscly adoration. They just want
to be a lappuppy and hugging kiss all the time.

(37:31):
I love them. Yeah, I think there are probably people
currently typing angry emails about metal in the microwave. I'm
just gonna say there's some nuance to that. It's not
a podcast to give advice on it. Yeah, listen, I
just am My thing is I was like, always steer
clear of any risk when it comes to your snacks.

(37:57):
There's just no reason to take a risk for a snack.
So in the behind the scenes I will talk about
a very silly experiment my husband and I did many
mini Oh yeah, I know exactly the experiment you're talking about. Yes,
it was so fun. I highly recommend it in a
controlled situation. Ray. Anyway, Ray, thank you so much for
sharing pictures of karma, once again invoking my favorite snack,

(38:20):
and sharing your family's connection to the Tenement Museum. If
you would like to write us, you can do so
at History Podcast at iHeartRadio dot com. You can also
find us on social media as missed in History, and
if you would like to subscribe to the show and
you haven't yet. That is easy to do on the
iHeartRadio app or wherever it is you listen to your
favorite shows. Stuff you Missed in History Class is a

(38:45):
production of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit the
iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your
favorite shows.

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