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On this page: Solon – Somis – Somnus – Sopater


Croesus joint king with his father), at the height of his power, when he had a son old enough to be married and command armies, and immediately preceding the turn of his fortunes, not more than seven or eight years before the capture of Sardis. " In my judgment," observes Mr. Grote, " this is an illustrative tale, in which certain real characters —Solon arid Croesus,—and certain real facts — the great power and succeeding ruin of the former by the victorious arm of Cyrus, together with certain facts altogether fictitious, such as the two sons of Croesus, the Phrygian Adrastus and his history, the hunting of the mischievous wild boar on Mount Olympus, the ultimate preservation of Croesus, &c. are put together so as to convey an impressive moral lesson."

During the absence of Solon the old oligarchical dissensions were renewed, the Pedieis being headed by Lycurgus, the Parali by Megacles, the Diacrii by Peisistratus. These dissensions were approach­ing a. crisis when Solon returned to Athens, and had proceeded to such a length that he found him­self unable to repress them. For an account of the successful machinations of Peisistratus, and the unsuccessful endeavours of Solon to counteract them, the reader is referred to the article pei­sistratus. The tyrant, after his usurpation, is said to have paid considerable court to Solon, and on various occasions to have solicited his advice, which Solon did not withhold. We do not know certainly how long Soion survived the overthrow of the constitution. According to Phanias of Les­bos (Plut. Sol. 32), he died in less than two years after. There seems nothing to hinder us from ac­cepting the statement that he had reached the age of eighty (Diog. Lae'rt. i. 62). There was a story current in antiquity that, by his own directions, his ashes were collected and scattered round the island of Salamis. Plutarch discards this story as absurd. He himself remarks, however, that Aris­totle, as well as other authors of credit, repeated it. Diogenes Laertius (i. 62) quotes some lines of Cratinus in which it is alluded to. The sin­gularity of it is rather an argument in its favour.

Of the poems of Solon several fragments remain. They do not indicate any great degree of imagina­tive power, but the style of them seems to have been vigorous and simple. Those that were called forth by special emergencies appear to have been marked by no small degree of energy. Solon is said to have attempted a metrical version of his laws, and a couple of lines are quoted as the com­mencement of this composition ; but nothing more of it remains. (Plut. Sol. 3). Here and there, even in the fragments that remain, sentiments are ex­pressed of a somewhat more jovial kind than the rest. These are probably relics of youthful effu­sions. Some traced them, as well as Solon's some-, what luxurious st}Tle of living, to the bad habits which he had contracted while following the pro­fession of a trader. (Plut. Sol. 3.) The fragments of Solon are usually incorporated in the collections of the Greek gnomic poets, as, for example, in those of Sylburg, Brunck, and Boissonade. They are also inserted in Bergk's Poetae Lyrici Graeci. There is also a separate edition by Bach (Lugd. Bat. J825). The select correspondence of Solon with Periander, Peisistratus, Epimenides, and Croesus, with which Diogenes Laertius has fa­voured us, is of course spurious.

Respecting the connection of Solon with the



arrangement of the Homeric poems, see the article homerus (p. 507).

The story told by Plutarch (Sol 29, comp. Diog. Lae'rt. i. 59) respecting Solon and Thespis cannot be true, since dramatic entertainments were not introduced into Athens till 20 years (b.c. 535) after Solon's death. It is related that Solon asked Thespis, after witnessing one of his pieces, if he was not ashamed of telling such untruths before so large an audience. Thespis replied, that as it was done for amusement only, there was no harm in saying and doing such things. Which answer incensed Solon so much that he struck the ground vehemently with his staff, and said that if such amusement as that were to be praised and honoured, men would soon begin to regard cove­nants as nothing more than a joke.

An inscription on a statue set up in honour of Solon spoke of him as born in Salamis (Diog. Lae'rt. i. 62, ib. Menage). This can hardly have been the case, as Salamis was not incorporated with Attica when he was born. The statue was set up a long time after Solon's death, and probably by the Salaminians themselves. (Pint. Solon. ; Diog. Lae'rt. i. 45, &c. ; K. F. Hermann, Lehrbucfi der yriech. Staatsalterth. §§ 106—109 ; Grote, Hist, of Greece, vol. iii. c. xi.; Thirl wall, Hist, of Greece, vol. ii. pp. 27—56.) [C. P. M.J

SOLON, a gem engraver, who probably lived under Augustus, at the same time as Diobcorides, with whom he may perhaps be considered to divide the honour of being the founder of the succession of gern engravers, who lived under the early Roman emperors, and whose numerous and beautiful works now fill the cabinets of Europe. There is no mention made of Solon in any ancient writer, but his name occurs on several gems. A complete account of his works, with references to the other writers by whom they have been described, is given in Nagler's Neues Allgemeines Kunstler-Lexicon, vol. xvii. s. v. (See, also, Thiersch, Epocken, p. 304 ; Miiller, Archaol. d. Kunst, § 200, n. 1.) [P. S.J

SOLON, JU'LIUS, a man of the lowest origin, purchased the rank of senator from Cleander, the favourite of Commodus, by the surrender of all his property. He was afterwards put to death by Septimius Severus at the commencement of his reign, although he had himself drawn up a decree of the senate at the request of the emperor, enacting that no senator should be put to death (Dion Cass. Ixxii. 12, Ixxiv. 2, and Excerp. Vatic, ed. Maii, p. 225).

SOMIS (Scw/xts), the artist who made the bronze statue of Procles the son of Lvcastidas, of An-

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dros, an Olympic victor in the boys' wrestling. (Pans. vi. 14. § 5. s. 13.) From the connection in which the passage stands in Pausanias, it may be inferred with probability, though not with certainty, that Somis was contemporary with Stomius about the beginning of the fifth century b. c. (Thiersch, Epochen, p. 202 ; comp. stomius.) [P. S.J

SOMNUS, the personification and god of sleep, the Greek Hypnos, is described by the ancients as a brother of Death (&ai/aros), and as a son of Night (Hes. Theog. 211, &c.; Virg. Aen. vi. 277). At Sicyon there was a statue of Sleep surnamed eTTiScoTTjy, the giver (Paus. ii. 10. § 2). In works of art Sleep and Death are represented alike as two youths sleeping or holding inverted torches in their hands. (Comp. thanatos.) [L. S.J

SOPATER (^Trarpoy), historical. 1. One of

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