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Democracy and the Athenians: Solon

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Professor Hans van Wees (University College, London) explores the reforms of Solon in the early sixth century BC. We begin by thinking about the social and political problems faced by Athens in the period, before moving on to consider in more detail the working conditions of the peasantry – particularly the class of workers known as the hektēmoroi, 'the sixth-parters'. In the third module, we think about the growing debt crisis in Athens and Solon's famous Seisachtheia ('Shaking off of burdens'), before turning in the fourth module to his reforms to the legal system, including the creation of a people court and his institution of third-party prosecution. In the fifth module, we think about the reorganisation of the citizenry into four property classes and the extent to which these widened participation in politics, before moving on in the sixth and final module to consider the success of Solon's reforms and the extent to which they might be said to have contributed to the development of the democracy in Athens for which the city later became so famous.

About the Lecturer

Professor Hans van Wees has been Grote Professor of Ancient History since 2011, having previously held posts as Lecturer, Reader and Professor since joining UCL History in 1995. His research centres on the archaic period of Greek history (c. 750-450 BC), but also includes the classical period, and is focused above all on developments in society, economy, and warfare.