Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice
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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
Solon

By Plutarch

(Greek historian, A.D. 46?–c.A.D. 120; author of numerous biographical sketches. It has been said: He stands before us as the legate, the ambassador, and the orator on behalf of those institutions whereby the old-time men were rendered wise and virtuous)
 
THE ATHENIANS fell into their old quarrels about the government, there being as many different parties as there were diversities in the country. The Hill quarter favoured democracy, the Plain, oligarchy, and those that lived by the Seaside stood for a mixed sort of government, and so hindered either of the other parties from prevailing. And the disparity of fortune between the rich and the poor at that time also reached its height; so that the city seemed to be in a truly dangerous condition, and there appeared no other means for freeing it from disturbances and settling it but a despotic power. All the people were indebted to the rich; and either they tilled their land for their creditors, paying them a sixth part of the increase, or else they engaged their body for the debt, and might be seized, and either sent into slavery at home, or sold to strangers; some (for no law forbade it) were forced to sell their children, or fly their country to avoid the cruelty of their creditors; but the most part and the bravest of them began to combine together and encourage one another to stand it, to choose a leader, to liberate the condemned debtors, divide the land, and change the government.  1
  Then the wisest of the Athenians, 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 succour the commonwealth and compose the differences.…  2
  The first thing which he settled was, that what debts remained should be forgiven, and no man, for the future, should engage the body of his debtor for security.  3
 
 
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