(c640 - c558 bc ) A Greek statesman and poet. Solon was elected archon (594 - 593 or 592 - 591 bc ) on order to mediate between the oppressed poor and the rich few. He carried out extensive reforms to this end, but his true title to fame rests on his constitutional reforms. Although he retained a class system, he added the lowest class, the Thetes, and gave them a part in the Assembly and in the choice of magistrate. His radical measure was establishing courts of justice, Heliaea, administered by all the citizens. Even the magistrates, after they resigned their office, could be accused before the people.
Solon's reforms won him the title of founder of Athenian democracy. A man of moderation, a poet, legislator, traveler, and merchant, he embodied the best characteristics of the Greeks. He survived to see his reforms partially thrust aside under the tyranny of Pisistratus.