Solon was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic, and moral decline in archaic Athens. His reforms failed in the short term, yet he is often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy.
Knowledge of Solon is limited by the lack of documentary and archeological evidence covering Athens in the early 6th century BC. He wrote poetry for pleasure, as patriotic propaganda, and in defence of his constitutional reforms. His works only survive in fragments. They appear to feature interpolations by later authors and it is possible that fragments have been wrongly attributed to him. Ancient authors such as Herodotus and Plutarch are the main source of information, yet they wrote about Solon long after his death, at a time when history was by no means an academic discipline. Fourth century orators, such as Aeschines, tended to attribute to Solon all the laws of their own, much later times. Archaeology reveals glimpses of Solon's period in the form of fragmentary inscriptions but little else. For some scholars, our "knowledge" of Solon and his times is largely a fictive construct based on insufficient evidence while others believe a substantial body of real knowledge is still attainable. Solon and his times can appear particularly interesting to students of history as a test of the limits and nature of historical argument.