Solon (b. c. 630 BC--d. c. 560)
Athenian statesman, known as one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece. He ended exclusive aristocratic control of the government, substituted a system of control by the wealthy, and introduced a new and more humane law code. He was also a noted poet, though only a few hundred lines of his poetry survive in quotation.
Solon was of noble descent but moderate means. As the tradition states and his travels and economic measures suggest, he may have been a merchant. He first became prominent about 600 BC, when the Athenians were disheartened by the outcome of a war with their neighbors of Megara for possession of the island of Salamis. By publicly reciting a poem that made the issue a matter of national honor and that called on the Athenians to "arise and come to Salamis, to win that fair island and undo our shame," Solon induced them to resume the war, which they eventually won. As the medium through which he warned, challenged, counseled the people, and urged them to action, his poetry was the instrument of his statesmanship.