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Engle, B. French, T.M. (1951). Some Psychodynamic Reflections Upon the Life and Writings of Solon. Psychoanal Q., 20:253-274.

(1951). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 20:253-274

Some Psychodynamic Reflections Upon the Life and Writings of Solon

Bernice Engle and Thomas M. French, M.D.

For an intelligent citizen in a democratic community, few problems are of more fundamental importance than the need to get some understanding of the interplay of forces upon which the successful operation of a democracy depends, of the conditions under which the experiment of self-government by a whole people is most likely to succeed. These are problems that belong pre-eminently to the field of the sociologist, and to the political scientist with a background in history; but such problems in social dynamics also basically involve the behavior and motives of human beings. Any thorough inquiry as to how a democracy can function most successfully leads inevitably to a few elementary problems concerning human motivations. What motives impel men to desire or to dream of democracy? What psychological problems must men face if they attempt to realize their democratic dreams? What attitudes and habits of mind are most conducive to the success of a democracy?

For such an inquiry the lives of leaders in the development of democratic institutions offer a most valuable source of material.

The first people in the world to try out the democratic dream were the ancient Athenians. In Greek history the name of Solon shines as the father of their democratic constitution. In addition to records extant, some three hundred of his own lines remain to report this first democratic experiment.

Solon was between forty-five and fifty years old when, at the beginning of the sixth century B.C.,

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