Athens' constitution is called a democracy because it respects the interests not of a minority but of the whole people. Yet in the case of Pericles, it is wrong to see his power as coming from his long series of annual generalships (each year along with nine others). However, by now Athens had become "politically impotent". This slump was permanent, due to the introduction of a str… Both of these processes were in most cases brief and formulaic, but they opened up the possibility of a contest before a jury court if some citizen wanted to take a matter up. Most of the annual magistracies in Athens could only be held once in a lifetime. If you're one of those people, it's remove that silly notion from your brain. By blurring the distinction between the natural and political world, democracy leads the powerful to act immorally and outside their own best interest. In part, this was a consequence of the increasingly specialized forms of warfare practiced in the later period. His relations with Athens were already strained when he returned to Babylon in 324 BC; after his death, Athens and Sparta led several states to war with Macedonia and lost.[13]. The oligarchy endured for only four months before it was replaced by a more democratic government. These are the assembly (in some cases with a quorum of 6000), the council of 500 (boule), and the courts (a minimum of 200 people, on some occasions up to 6,000). Not settling on a definitive answer to these questions, government in the ancient Greek world, therefore, took extraordinarily diverse forms and, across different city-states and over many centuries, political power could rest in the hands of a single individual, an elite or in every male citizen: democracy - widely regarded as the Greeks' greatest contribution to civilization. One reason that financial officials were elected was that any money embezzled could be recovered from their estates; election in general strongly favoured the rich, but in this case, wealth was virtually a prerequisite. A monarchy is a government that is ruled by a king or a queen and the Greek citizens did not want to be ruled by a king. All citizens were eligible for the position, and indeed there may well have been a certain expectation that the honourable citizen would play his active part in civic life. Athens meaning: 1. the capital city of Greece, situated in the southern part of the country 2. the capital city of…. These were probably elected by the assembly of Sparta and they held office for only one year. Whilst for Athens, it is possible to piece together a more complete history, we have only an incomplete picture of the systems in most city-states and many details of how the political apparatus actually functioned are missing. By and large, the power exercised by these officials was routine administration and quite limited. Arnason, JP., Raaflaub, KA. [24], Citizenship applied to both individuals and their descendants. Others include Peisistratos in Athens (from c. 560 BCE) - a typical benevolent tyrant who actually paved the way for democracy, Pheidon in Argos (c. 660 BCE), Lycophron in Thessaly, the Kypselidai, which included Periander, in Corinth (c. 657-585 BCE), and Polycrates in Samos (530-522 BCE). Approximately 1100 citizens (including the members of the council of 500) held office each year. ), It is unknown whether the word "democracy" was in existence when systems that came to be called democratic were first instituted. In 621 BC, Draco replaced the prevailing system of oral law by a written code to be enforced only by a court of law. Payment for jurors was introduced around 462 BC and is ascribed to Pericles, a feature described by Aristotle as fundamental to radical democracy (Politics 1294a37). We know that in 411 BCE in Athens, ‘the oligarchy of the 400’ took power out of the hands of the Assembly and were themselves superseded by a more moderate oligarchy of 5000. When we think of tyrants, we think of oppressive, autocratic rulers. [23] Although the legislation was not retrospective, five years later, when a free gift of grain had arrived from the Egyptian king to be distributed among all citizens, many "illegitimate" citizens were removed from the registers. Every male citizen over 18 had to be registered in his deme. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. The values of freedom of equality include non-citizens more than it should. The democracy of ancient Athens differed from its modern form, reflecting the history of Athens, and the warring Greek states of that era. Any male citizen 18 years or over could speak (at least in theory) and vote in the assembly, usually with a simple show of hands. And this democracy didn't exactly function like any nation you think of today. An oligarchy is a system of political power controlled by a select group of individuals, … Citizens active as officeholders served in a quite different capacity from when they voted in the assembly or served as jurors. His special interests include pottery, architecture, world mythology and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share in common. This writer (also called pseudo-Xenophon) produced several comments critical of democracy, such as:[71], Aristotle also wrote about what he considered to be a better form of government than democracy. The word democracy derives from the Greek dēmos which referred to the entire citizen body and although it is Athens which has become associated with the birth of democracy (demokratia) from around 460 BCE, other Greek states did establish a similar political system, notably, Argos, (briefly) Syracuse, Rhodes, and Erythrai. By granting the formerly aristocratic role to every free citizen of Athens who owned property, Solon reshaped the social framework of the city-state. The shadow of the old constitution lingered on and Archons and Areopagus survived the fall of the Roman Empire. Written by Mark Cartwright, published on 20 March 2018 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. [45], The institutions sketched above – assembly, officeholders, council, courts – are incomplete without the figure that drove the whole system, Ho boulomenos ('he who wishes', or 'anyone who wishes'). "Well into the 18th century democracy was consistently condemned." [18] Athenian citizens had to be descended from citizens; after the reforms of Pericles and Cimon in 450 BC, only those descended from two Athenian parents could claim citizenship. [18] This excluded a majority of the population: slaves, freed slaves, children, women and metics (foreign residents in Athens). This may have had some role in building a consensus. Even most high government officials were decided by lottery. Athens’ constitution is called a democracy because it respects the interests not of the minority but of the whole people. and Wagner, P., "Ostracism: selection and de-selection in ancient Greece",, Ancient History Encyclopedia – Athenian Democracy,, 1st-century BC disestablishments in Greece, Articles containing Ancient Greek (to 1453)-language text, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, In 406 BC, after years of defeats in the wake of the annihilation of their vast invasion force in Sicily, the Athenians at last won a naval victory at. In the words "monarchy" and "oligarchy", the second element comes from archē (ἀρχή), meaning "beginning (that which comes first)", and hence also "first place or power", "sovereignty". Athens is known as the birthplace of democracy. [18], Some Athenian citizens were far more active than others, but the vast numbers required for the system to work testify to a breadth of direct participation among those eligible that greatly surpassed any present-day democracy. While Ephialtes's opponents were away attempting to assist the Spartans, he persuaded the Assembly to reduce the powers of the Areopagus to a criminal court for cases of homicide and sacrilege. Not absolute monarchs, they did, however, hold great power when they led the Spartan army in times of war. Issues discussed in the assembly ranged from deciding magistracies to organising and maintaining food supplies to debating military matters. 1. A corollary of this was that, at least acclaimed by defendants, if a court had made an unjust decision, it must have been because it had been misled by a litigant. Athens, Georgia is one of the thousands of cities across the United States that decided to make this "A Day On and Not a Day Off." Sometimes, mixed constitutions evolved with democratic elements, but "it definitely did not mean self-rule by citizens".[78]. Tyrants Could Be Benevolent. [38], Essentially there were two grades of a suit, a smaller kind known as dike (δίκη) or private suit, and a larger kind known as graphe or public suit. That is to say, the mass meeting of all citizens lost some ground to gatherings of a thousand or so which were under oath, and with more time to focus on just one matter (though never more than a day). During the 4th century BC, there might well have been some 250,000–300,000 people in Attica. Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks and Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly have signed EMA's Limestone County Pandemic Standard Operating Guide, which provides protocols for … Any male citizen 18 years or over could speak (at least in theory) & vote in the assembly of Athens. The powers of officials were precisely defined and their capacity for initiative limited. Originally, a male would be a citizen if his father was a citizen, Under, Likewise the status of women seems lower in Athens than in many Greek cities. Ancient Greek critics of Athenian democracy include Thucydides the general and historian, Aristophanes the playwright, Plato the pupil of Socrates, Aristotle the pupil of Plato, and a writer known as the Old Oligarch. The Athenian government was the first democratic form of government recorded. That influence was based on his relation with the assembly, a relation that in the first instance lay simply in the right of any citizen to stand and speak before the people. Megara and Thebes were other states which had an oligarchic system. [21] The women had limited rights and privileges, had restricted movement in public, and were very segregated from the men. Cleisthenes issued reforms in 508 and 507 BC that undermined the domination of the aristocratic families and connected every Athenian to the city's rule. Read More Similar in function to the boulē was the council of elders (selected men over 60), the gerousia, of Sparta, which also had the two Spartan kings as members and had certain legal powers. Some city-states also mixed democratic assemblies with a monarchy (for example, Macedonia and Molossia). The percentage of the population that actually participated in the government was 10% to 20% of the total number of inhabitants, but this varied from the fifth to the fourth century BC. If you're one of those people, it's remove that silly notion from your brain. During the early years of ancient Greece, it was ruled by a tyrant who held total power. This was generally done as a reward for some service to the state. Thucydides the son of Milesias (not the historian), an aristocrat, stood in opposition to these policies, for which he was ostracised in 443 BC. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Unfortunately, information concerning oligarchies in the Greek world is sparse. After that, it was not just one of the many possible ways in which political rule could be organised. [42] No appeal was possible. [55], The reforms of Cleisthenes meant that the archons were elected by the Assembly, but were still selected from the upper classes. Oligarchies were perhaps the most common form of city-state government and they often occurred when democracy went wrong. Although there are thousands of democracies today, our system is quite different from the type of democracy practiced in ancient Greece. In the Greek world monarchies were rare and were often only distinguishable from a tyranny when the hereditary ruler was more benevolent and ruled in the genuine interest of his people. Government - Government - Greece: The Phoenician example was followed by the Greeks, originally Indo-European nomads who gradually made their way south to the Aegean and there took to the sea. [14] An example of this was that, in 307, in order to curry favour with Macedonia and Egypt, three new tribes were created, two in honour of the Macedonian king and his son, and the other in honour of the Egyptian king. In Sparta, women competed in public exercise – so in, Meier C. 1998, Athens: a portrait of the city in its Golden Age (translated by R. and R. Kimber). Much of the credit goes to Cleisthenes whose reforms turned Athens from an oligarchy (government by the few) to a democracy (government of the people). Since the 19th century, the Athenian version of democracy has been seen by one group as a goal yet to be achieved by modern societies. The kings of Sparta were kept in check by ephors (ephoroi) who were themselves elected by the assembly. [34], The members from each of the ten tribes in the Boule took it in turns to act as a standing committee (the prytaneis) of the Boule for a period of thirty-six days. The Boeotian federation has a minimum property requirement for participation in the democratic assembly. Magistrates had only an administrative function and were laymen. Last modified March 20, 2018. Officials and leaders were elected and all citizens had a say. Jurors were required to be under oath, which was not required for attendance at the assembly. Cartwright, Mark. As was true elsewhere in the Greek world, the individual city-state (polis) of Athens had once been ruled by kings, but that had given way to an oligarchic government by archons elected from the aristocratic (Eupatrid) families. Henceforth, laws were made not in the assembly, but by special panels of citizens drawn from the annual jury pool of 6,000. The type of democracy practiced in Athens of the fifth and fourth centuries may not have been perfect. Related Content In the 5th century BC, there were 10 fixed assembly meetings per year, one in each of the ten state months, with other meetings called as needed. Every citizen was a part of the government, no matter what their social standing. In particular, those chosen by lot were citizens acting without particular expertise. Under Cleisthenes's reforms, juries were selected by lot from a panel of 600 jurors, there being 600 jurors from each of the ten tribes of Athens, making a jury pool of 6000 in total. Athenian democracy was characterised by being run by the "many" (the ordinary people) who were allotted to the committees which ran government. Types of Government There were three main types of government: Democracy - A government ruled by the people, or assembly. Given the exclusive and ancestral concept of citizenship held by Greek city-states, a relatively large portion of the population took part in the government of Athens and of other radical democracies like it, compared to oligarchies and aristocracies. During this time, oligarchy, or governing powers shared by a small group of society's members, was the norm. However, when Rome fought Macedonia in 200, the Athenians abolished the first two new tribes and created a twelfth tribe in honour of the Pergamene king. The word is then completely attested in the works of Herodotus (Histories 6.43.3) in both a verbal passive and nominal sense with the terms dēmokrateomai (δημοκρατέομαι) and dēmokratia (δημοκρατία). [16], After Rome became an Empire under Augustus, the nominal independence of Athens dissolved and its government converged to the normal type for a Roman municipality, with a Senate of decuriones. One of these was now called the main meeting, kyria ekklesia. Later, and until the end of World War Il, democracy became dissociated from its ancient frame of reference.