There is another influential lawgiver that I would like to bring to your attention to, and that is less known than those mentioned above. He was one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, and his name is Epimenides (Greek: Ἐπιμενίδης). In many ancient written accounts, he is said to be one of the most famous legislators of his era, and let me point out that he had lived at the same time as that of Solon.
My research has proven that they may in fact be both one in the same person. One being the real name of Epimenides, and the other, Solon the mythological. This was a method of allegorical writing that the Greeks had used to honor, conceal, and immortalize certain key people of their country who had a tremendous influence on their people, laws and history.
During the life of Epimenides, he had completed a work on the laws of Crete. He also had written a treatise on the great lawgiver Minos and Rhadymanthus. Epimenides was simply one of the most well-known lawgivers to his hometown of Knossus (Gnosis) in Crete, and to his Brothers in Athens, Greece to whom he helped purify their city from lawlessness and disease.
Epimenides is the famous Cretan prophet and sage had assisted his brothers with the proper methods for the regulation of the Athenian Commonwealth to restore law and order. For his great work, they offered him a talent of gold, but he refused and accepted instead a small branch of the sacred olive tree, and a promise of perpetual friendship between Athens and Knossus (Plutarch, Life of Solon, 12; Aristotle, Ath. Pol. 1).
In the legend of Minos, it is said he was a lawgiver king; and after his death, he became a judge of the dead in the underworld. The 1st century Jewish-Roman historian, Josephus Flavius had said Minos is the only one among the Ancients who deserved to be compared to Moses. Some of these same things were said about Epimenides. Clement of Alexandria had said Epimenides had communicated in the manner which Jehovah conversed with Moses, “ as one speaking with his friend.” He also says the Cretan King Rhadamanthus had become one of the judges of Hades.
Plutarch mentions both Epimenides and Solon were at Athens at the same time, and on friendly terms. He also mentions a work on the laws of Solon, and there was evidently a good understanding. He tells us that Epimenides was almost like a messiah to the Greeks at the time because he had purified Athens and that the only reward he would accept was a branch of the sacred olive, and a promise of perpetual friendship between Athens and Knossos.
Plutarch had written; “Epimenides purified Athens after the pollution brought by the Alcmeonidae, and that the seer’s expertise in sacrifices and reform of funeral practices were of great help to Solon in his reform of the Athenian state. The only reward he would accept was a branch of the sacred olive, and a promise of perpetual friendship between Athens and Knossus (Plutarch, Life of Solon, 12; Aristotle, Ath. Pol. 1).”
In addition to all of these similarities with Solon, Epimenides had lived at the same time as the mythical Solon. The purification of Athens by Epimenides is generally assigned to B.c. 596 — 5, shortly before the archonship of Solon in 594.
Here is a quote from Solon to end this article: “In the day of vengeance, dark Earth, mightiest mother of the gods of Olympus, will be my surest witness of this, Solon’s account from whom I removed pillars planted in many places, and whom I freed from her bonds. Many citizens, who had been sold into slavery under the law or against it, I brought back to Athens their home; some of them spoke Attic no longer, their speech being changed in their many wanderings. Others who had learnt the habits of slaves at home, and trembled before a master, I made to be free men.
All this I accomplished by authority, uniting force with justice, and I fulfilled my promise.”
Moe is the founder of GnosticWarrior.com. A website dedicated to both the ancient and modern teachings of Gnosticism.