Solon and His Inferior Lycurgus.
Of many ancient rulers, two are made very memorable. Lycurgus, ruler of Sparta, and Solon, ruler of Athens, made significant impacts on their polis that would continue throughout ancient Greek history. The reforms that were created by these rulers can be disputed in regards to their benefit on their city-state. The reforms Solon implemented were more efficacious in producing democratic change in Athens then those reforms that were executed in Sparta by Lycurgus. Due to the fact Solon is a man of middle ground, two reforms that are seen as superior to those of Lycurgus’ are the changes in trade as well as government.
The reforms implemented by Lycurgus are different than those of Solon’s. Lycurgus, who is not a man of middle ground, also created reforms for trade and government, but aimed for a different result. Lycurgus reigned for a long time in Sparta, as he claimed to be a descendent of Heracles. He held all power to develop and implement laws. “But Lycurgus was an eleventh-generation descendent of Heracles and had reigned for many years in Sparta,” (Plutarch, 22.16). With the power he held, Lycurgus created laws that benefited his
state, not individuals. These laws were mainly developed around military benefit, such as the law practice of removing young children from their families to train for the army. Lycurgus also made changes dealing with trade in Sparta. Lycurgus abolished all trades that he deemed unnecessary. “After this he ordered a general expulsion of the workers in unnecessary trades. Indeed most of them would have left the country anyways when the old currency came to an end, since they could not sell their wares,” (Plutarch, 25.9). Again, he focused on trades that would give benefit to the state as a whole. He gave no thought to individuals, or how other trades could benefit the Spartan economy. When it comes to government roles, Lycurgus’ decisions can compare to those of Solon. Lycurgus did...
Bibliography: Plutarch, Life of Solon (from N.M Bailkey Readings in Ancient History (D.C. Heatlth and Co, 1996) pp. 159-165)
Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus (from N.M Bailkey Readings in Ancient History (D.C. Heatlth and Co, 1996) pp. 177-185)
Powell, A. 2001. Athens and Sparta: constructing Greek political and social history from 478 BC (NewYork: Routledge).
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