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Ancient History Encyclopedia. A monarchy was essentially a system of government based on power gained through hereditary means. It was here in the courts that laws made by the assembly could be challenged and decisions were made regarding ostracism, naturalization, and remission of debt. Indeed, there was a specially designed machine of coloured tokens (kleroterion) to ensure those selected were chosen randomly, a process magistrates had to go through twice. *Check prices on all books about Athenian Democracy. Pericles was a powerful democratic leader. The citizens elected the leaders and officials. There were three political bodies in Greece which constitute the ancientGreek politicalsystem. from 48… The Greek philosopher Aristotle divided ancient Greek government into monarchies, oligarchies, tyrannies and democracies, and most historians still use these same categories. They raised armies and collected taxes. Athenian Democracy. 2 Introduction In Ancient Greece, there were numerous forms of government. Ostrakon for Periclesby Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA). Athens government. On this worksheet and quiz, you will answer questions on how the people of ancient Athens set their government up, who could vote and how they went about it. In the Direct Democracy the people can vote for the leader, but the can vote on bills in their own rights. 2.37). Ancient History Encyclopedia. In 608 BC Clesthenes, an aristocrat, won power by popular vote and introduced democracy into the government of Athens. Most built a marketplace (an agora) and a community meeting place. Democracy, which had prevailed during Athens’ Golden Age, was replaced by a system of oligarchy in 411 BCE. Government Democracy - A government ruled by the people, or assembly. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. In this case there was a secret ballot where voters wrote a name on a piece of broken pottery (ostrakon). The assembly met at least once a month, more likely two or three times, on the Pnyx hill in a dedicated space which could accommodate around 6000 citizens. In 508 B.C., Athens became one of the first societies in ancient times to establish democracy. In addition, sometimes even oligarchic systems could involve a high degree of political equality, but the Athenian version, starting from c. 460 BCE and ending c. 320 BCE and involving all male citizens, was certainly the most developed. The Dexileos Stele assesses the way that Athenian political thought... What did democracy really mean in Athens? Cartwright, M. (2018, April 03). With people chosen at random to hold important positions and with terms of office strictly limited, it was difficult for any individual or small group to dominate or unduly influence the decision-making process either directly themselves or, because one never knew exactly who would be selected, indirectly by bribing those in power at any one time. The constitutional change, according to Thucydides, seemed the only way to win much-needed support from Persia against the old enemy Sparta and, further, it was thought that the change would not be a permanent one. Citizen families could have amounted to 100,000 people and out of these some 30,000 would have been the adult male citizens entitled to vote in the assembly. An oligarchy is a system of political power controlled by a select group of individuals, … In Athens Greece, Aristotle was a Greek philosopher who wrote a book called Politics, what laws and government the people of Athens lived under in 350 B.C. "Athenian Democracy." Greek Bronze Ballot Disksby Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA). Prior to independence, the east coast of what is today the United States was divided into 13 separate colonies. Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. As we have seen, only male citizens who were 18 years or over could speak (at least in theory) and vote in the assembly, whilst the positions such as magistrates and jurors were limited to those over 30 years of age. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. Any citizen could speak to the assembly and vote on decisions by simply holding up their hands. Athens went through many rulers and strong men, or tyrants, before reforms were put in place that would eventually grow into what we recognize as the very first democracy. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. By contrast, thetes occupied the lowest social class of citizens in Athens. Athens aristocrats king slowly seized power. Under this system, all male citizens had equal political rights, freedom of speech, and the opportunity to participate directly in the political arena. Oligarchy - When the government is ruled by a small group. When we think of tyrants, we think of oppressive, autocratic rulers. Please support Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation. This executive of the executive had a chairman (epistates) who was chosen by lot each day. Specifically, if a Greek city-state, known as a polis, did not adhere to either democracy or oligarchy, it usually fell within the structure of a monarchy, tyranny, or aristocracy. They developed governments and organized their citizens according to some sort of constitution or set of laws. The assembly also ensured decisions were enforced and officials were carrying out their duties correctly. Early in Greek history (18th century–8th century BC), free-born citizens would gather in the agora for military duty or to hear statements of the ruling king or council. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 03 Apr 2018. How Athenian Democracy Functioned While the mists of time hide the exact origins of democracy (speculation ranges from Mesopotamia to Sparta), the earliest democracies documented in any detail by recorded history are the city-states of ancient Greece. an ancient Greek city famous for military prowess, Greek city-state that was ruled by an oligarchy, focused on military, used slaves for agriculture, discouraged the arts Athens A democratic Greek polis who accomplished many cultural achievements, and who were constantly at war with Sparta. Government and Politics of Ancient Athens. His special interests include pottery, architecture, world mythology and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share in common. Although many other city-states imitated Greece, none was as powerful and as efficient as the Athenian system. Critics of democracy, such as Thucydides and Aristophanes, pointed out that not only were proceedings dominated by an elite, but that the dēmos could be too often swayed by a good orator or popular leaders (the demagogues), get carried away with their emotions, or lack the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions. had a monarchy. Cite This Work The Athenian elite lived modestly and without great luxuries compared to the elites of other ancient societies. Athens before the 8th century. This slump was permanent, due to the introduction of a stri… Athens in the 5th to 4th century BCE had an extraordinary system of government: democracy. The boulē represented the 139 districts of Attica and acted as a kind of executive committee of the assembly. And every one of t… The assembly could also vote to ostracise from Athens any citizen who had become too powerful and dangerous for the polis. Related Content Books He holds an MA in Political Philosophy and is the Publishing Director at AHE. Her shrine, the Parthenon, sits on top of a hill in the center of the city. A monarchy is when a king or queen (or in Sparta two kings) rules the city-state. Later these archons were chosen by lottery and later still, replaced by the Democracy … Therefore, women, slaves, and resident foreigners (metoikoi) were excluded from the political process. The Ancient Agora of Athens was the best-known example. The democracy is the most favorite one because the people or assembly ruled the government. Archons were rulers, at first serving alone but later in groups, who were elected to rule Athens for one year. In Athens this ruler was called a Tyrant. Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Our mission is to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. Last modified April 03, 2018. Cartwright, Mark. https://www.ancient.eu/Athenian_Democracy/. The Council of 500, or _____, met to determine all processes of the ecclesia in their entirety. BC. When it is a question of settling private disputes, everyone is equal before the law; when it is a question of putting one person before another in positions of public responsibility, what counts is not membership of a particular class, but the actual ability which the man possesses. The ancient Greeks have provided us with fine art, breath-taking temples, timeless theatre, and some of the greatest philosophers, but it is democracy which is, perhaps, their greatest and most enduring legacy. Every city had its agora where merchants could sell their products. Officials and leaders were elected and all citizens had a say. Estimates of the population of ancient Athens vary. And this democracy didn't exactly function like any nation you think of today. As they grew larger, these villages began to evolve. Some built walls. The word democracy (dēmokratia) derives from dēmos, which refers to the entire citizen body: the People. In this, the seeds of Athenian democracy can be seen. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. In the mid-5th century the number of adult male citizens was perhaps as high as 60,000, but this number fell precipitously during the Peloponnesian War. Most people today think of democracy as an inherently good thing. There were three types of ancient Greece government. Any male citizen could, then, participate in the main democratic body of Athens, the assembly (ekklēsia). The ancient Greeks were the first to create a democracy. According to tradition the last Attic king was Codrus, who was killed in the war and which could not be found a worthy successor. The contemporary sources which describe the workings of democracy typically relate to Athens and include such texts as the Constitution of the Athenians from the School of Aristotle; the works of the Greek historians Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon; texts of over 150 speeches by such figures as Demosthenes; inscriptions in stone of decrees, laws, contracts, public honours and more; and Greek Comedy plays such as those by Aristophanes. In fact, 71-73% of the citizen population owned 60-65% of the land. Oftentimes, the poleis were a mixture of these forms of governments, especially as the power shifted throughout regimes or revolutions. The 50-man prytany met in the building known as the Bouleuterion in the Athenian agora and safe-guarded the sacred treasuries. Athens originally had a monarchy system, but these kings were replaced by archons. The ancient city of Athens, Greece, had a democratic government. These two ancient civilizations were 1430 years apart from each other. Citizens probably accounted for 10-20% of the polis population, and of these it has been estimated that only 3,000 or so people actively participated in politics. In the 4th and 5th centuries BCE the male citizen population of Athens ranged from 30,000 to 60,000 depending on the period. This occurred in response to political, social, and economic conditions. Direct involvement in the politics of the polis also meant that the Athenians developed a unique collective identity and probably too, a certain pride in their system, as shown in Pericles'  famous Funeral Oration for the Athenian dead in 431 BCE, the first year of the Peloponnesian War: Athens' constitution is called a democracy because it respects the interests not of a minority but of the whole people. And this democracy didn't exactly function like any nation you think of today. This complex system was, no doubt, to ensure a suitable degree of checks and balances to any potential abuse of power, and to ensure each traditional region was equally represented and given equal powers. Although there never was a system of institutions recognized and observed by the nation as a whole as its legal order, there were a number of basic approaches to legal problems, certain methods used in producing legal effects, and a legal terminology, all shared to varying degrees by the numerous independent … Oligarchy. Ecclesia, the principal assembly existed in the golden age of Greece, i.e. The word democracy (dēmokratia) derives from dēmos, which refers to the entire citizen body, and kratos, meaning rule. During the 4th century BC, there might well have been some 250,000–300,000 people in Attica. The Athenian Government and the Roman Republic both had the citizens of each side choose the officials, but they both had a difference in limitations on how they chose the officials. Ideals such as these would form the cornerstones of all democracies in the modern world. A democracy can be just as tyrannical as a ... well ... tyranny. This money was only to cover expenses though, as any attempt to profit from public positions was severely punished. Cartwright, Mark. Most people today think of democracy as an inherently good thing. After his death, the families of the strongest took over and destroyed the monarchy. The mass involvement of all male citizens and the expectation that they should participate actively in the running of the polis is clear in this quote from Thucydides: We alone consider a citizen who does not partake in politics not only one who minds his own business but useless. In addition, in times of crisis and war, this body could also take decisions without the assembly meeting. In those 1430 years it is thought that politics and laws would have advanced since the time of Babylon. Mark is a history writer based in Italy. Its democracy was "the rule of the mob," and historians consider the Athenians as the developers of democracy. - Melissa Schwartzberg, Period of full and direct citizen democracy in, The oligarchy of the 400 take over the democracy in, The Athenian demos decides to execute six generals even after they have won the. Nevertheless, democracy in a slightly altered form did eventually return to Athens and, in any case, the Athenians had already done enough in creating their political system to eventually influence subsequent civilizations two millennia later. Unfortunately, sources on the other democratic governments in ancient Greece are few and far between. Ancient Athens is the first known Democracy in the world. But it was a long path to get there. 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