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Greek Lawgivers' View on Justice and Equality: Lycurgus and Solon (Essay Sample)


We have read about two Greek lawgivers in this course, Lycurgus and Solon. Based on Plutarch’s Life of Lycurgus and Solon’s poetry, compare and contrast the notion of justice and equality within each lawgiver’s reforms. How do Solon and Lycurgus deal with social inequalities in their city? What are the strengths and weaknesses of their reforms? Your paper should engage in a close reading of the examples you choose, and your argument should be based on specific words and/or short phrases from the text. Analyze; do not summarize or generalize. Link to life of lycurgus http://penelope(dot)uchicago(dot)edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Lycurgus*.html I will attach the solon reading as pdf


Greek Lawgivers’ View on Justice and Equality: Lycurgus and Solon

Greek Lawgivers’ View on Justice and Equality: Lycurgus and Solon
Plutarch’s “The Life if Lycurgus” portrays Lycurgus as a man who loved justice, equality, fairness, modesty, and a close communal living. In his role as a lawgiver in the Spartan society, Lycurgus directed social reforms towards the virtues of equality among all citizens, austerity, and military fitness.
Lycurgus’ sense of justice is first portrayed after the untimely death of his elder brother, who left behind a pregnant wife. Believing in the newborn’s entitlement to the throne, Lycurgus surrendered the kingship to the young Charilaus and acted as his custodian. In this regard, Lycurgus had a strong sense of fairness. This virtue will play a big role in his social reforms in the Spartan society.
The first social reform that portrays Lycurgus’ sense of equality is the creation of a council of elders of twenty eight men, with similar powers to those of Sparta’s two royal houses. He also instituted a law that allowed people to vote on important issues. The introduction of the council of elders and the people’s right to vote helped in creating an accountable form of governance and a society where all citizens had a say in issues that affected them. Plutarch says that “by being blended with the "feverish" government of the kings, and by having an equal vote with them in matters of the highest importance, the Council of Elders brought safety and due moderation into counsels of state” (Plutacrh, 1914, p. 221). This system of government is similar to modern democracies whereby a senate or parliament checks the power of presidents to avoid abuse of their office. In the Spartan society, this approach was useful in ending tyranny and dictatorship among kings. Lycurgus’ idea of justice in this light is the idea that people sho...
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