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The Two Great Cities Of Greece: Sparta And Athens

1319 words - 6 pages

The two great cities of Greece - Sparta and Athens, have adapted similar, yet different laws that shaped them differently. Although Lycurgus was the first lawgiver of Sparta, little is known about his history today as he is overlooked because of the other great known heroes from Sparta. Lycurgus took the first step towards law making that dealt with inequality and injustice, and brought relief among the Leconian citizens. He was seen as a natural leader, and that was one of the major reasons for the citizens to follow his laws as they were applied. Solon, from Athens, was famous for writing the Athenian laws, which also assured justice and equality among the citizens of the Salamis While ...view middle of the document...

11). By doing so, he reduced the wealth of the rich, and improved the poverty level of the poor tremendously to minimize the distance between the two, thus entrench equality. He also brought significant changes to currency to better assist the poor citizens by prohibiting the use of gold and silver and decreeing that only iron should be used as currency (pg11). Given such low value of the material, the poor were extremely helped in stabilizing themselves, as stealing and criminalities reduced to a great extent. A third and finest of Lycurgus’s reforms was the establishment of common messes, to remove the desire of luxury and wealth. Lycurgus’ idea was to have people eat common meal and prevent them from relaxation and comfort (pg13). Elimination of luxury among the citizens, especially the wealthy, was a key aspect that he believed necessary to enjoy an equal standard living. Unlike the wealthy, the poor cannot afford to live on couches, and enjoy the company of servants to bring them delicious foods; thus, by having a common diet the availability of food and necessities is guaranteed to all the citizens.
The most significant law that Solon introduced was to cancel all debts to abolish enslavement debts (v.36). This was a huge initiative to bring a sigh of relief among many poor who were not able to pay the dues to the wealthy and have been slaves. By setting them free, they are given another opportunity to earn and live with their families. Solon did not plan to distribute land among citizens because he was not “willing to lessen the rich people's estate nor give them more..“(v.5). He balanced the level of equality by not taking anything away from the wealthy, but by assisting the poor to climb them up the ladder. Solon also forbade the trading outside the city, and promoted the trade within the city instead. He exerted that when a sailor went for trading that is outside the city, not only was the temperature uncertain, but also there was no assurance of life. And even if the sailor succeeded in overcoming the bad weather, there was still no guarantee for making any living as he might return empty handed. It was better to stay inland and work on farms, which would earn him a living (v.13).
Solon tried to stabilize the national trade system as he abandoned the international trade by stopping goods to go outside. He did not support the idea of his native resources to export to ensure that there was no scarcity among the citizens, specially the poor. However he continued the connection between the outer worlds by welcoming foreigners who helped in the enhancement of various community skills. According to Solon, "A happy man is who has his sons, his hounds, his horses, and a friend from foreign parts" (v. 23). He signified that a foreign friend, besides the...

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