Timocracy and property
Solon introduced the ideas of timokratia as a graded oligarchy in his Solonian Constitution for Athens in the early 6th century BC. His was the first known deliberately implemented form of timocracy, allocating political rights and economic responsibility depending on membership of one of four tiers of the population. Solon defined these tiers by measuring how many bushels of produce each man could produce in a year, namely:
- Pentacosiomedimni – "Men of the 500 bushel", those who produced 500 bushels of produce per year, could serve as generals in the army
- Hippeis – Knights, those who could equip themselves and one cavalry horse for war, valued at 300 bushels per year
- Zeugitae – Tillers, owners of at least one pair of beasts of burden, valued at 200 bushels per year, could serve as Hoplites
- Thetes – Manual laborers
N. G. L. Hammond supposes Solon instituted a graduated tax upon the upper classes, levied in a ratio of 6:3:1, with the lowest class of thetes paying nothing in taxes but remaining ineligible for elected office.
Aristotle later wrote in his
Book 8, Chapter 10) about three "true political forms" for a state, each of which could appear in corrupt form, becoming one of three negative forms. Aristotle describes timocracy in the sense of rule by property-owners: it comprised one of his true political forms. Aristotelian timocracy approximated to the constitution of Athens, although Athens exemplified the corrupted version of this form, described as democracy.