This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. An important element in the debates was freedom of speech (parrhēsia) which became, perhaps, the citizen's most valued privilege. There was in Athens (and also Elis, Tegea, and Thasos) a smaller body, the boulē, which decided or prioritised the topics which were discussed in the assembly. The Challenge: Is Democracy an Efficient System of Government? 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. Aeschylus. Athens and Sparta had some similarities in their government. The ancient city of Athens, Greece, had a democratic government. Cite This Work (Thuc. 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. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Further, not only did citizens participate in a direct democracy whereby they themselves made the decisions by which they lived, but they also actively served in the institutions that governed them, and so they directly controlled all parts of the political process. The people were supposed to be working for the good of the state. 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. What mattered was whether or not the unusual system … Women in Ancient Athens. Of these three bodies, the assembly and the courts were the true sites of power – although courts, unlike the assembly, were never simply called the demos ('the people'), as they were manned by just those citizens over thirty. In this case there was a secret ballot where voters wrote a name on a piece of broken pottery (ostrakon). We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. It was in the courts that laws made by the assembly could be challenged & decisions were made regarding. 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. "Athenian Democracy." The word democracy (dēmokratia) derives from dēmos, which refers to the entire citizen body, and kratos, meaning rule. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. - 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, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Government and Politics of Ancient Athens Athens is known as the birthplace of democracy. In addition, in times of crisis and war, this body could also take decisions without the assembly meeting. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. The government in Greece especially Athens was made based on the democracy. This new form of government would provide the stability necessary to make Athens the cultural and intellectual center of the ancient world; a reputation which lasts even into the modern age. Sparta's were from the richer groups of people and were influenced by kings. In the 4th and 5th centuries BCE the male citizen population of Athens ranged from 30,000 to 60,000 depending on the period. 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. In ancient Athens, the birthplace of democracy, not only were children denied the vote (an exception we still consider acceptable), but so were women, foreigners, and enslaved people. 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. the legislative branch in Athens has two bodies, a Council of 500 and an Assembly of 6000. the Council was randomly chosen by the male population . Later these archons were chosen by lottery and later still, replaced by … Athens in the 5th to 4th century BCE had an extraordinary system of government: democracy. A look at the differences and similarities of the laws and rulers in Ancient Athens and Sparta. The word democracy (dēmokratia) derives from dēmos, which refers to the entire citizen body, and kratos, meaning rule. These groups had to meet secretly because although there was freedom of speech, persistent criticism of individuals and institutions could lead to accusations of conspiring tyranny and so lead to ostracism. But it was a long path to get there. Greek Bronze Ballot Disksby Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA). Other city states in Greece also applied democracy, but the records for the application were abundant in Athens. The assembly could also vote to ostracise from Athens any citizen who had become too powerful and dangerous for the polis. Written by Mark Cartwright, published on 03 April 2018 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. 2.37). The ancient city of Athens, Greece, had a democratic government. Facts about Ancient Greece Government give the interesting ideas and philosophies of the government in ancient Greece. Sometimes more so. a unique and truly revolutionary system that realized its basic principle to an unprecedented and quite extreme extent: no polis had ever dared to give all its citizens equal political rights, regardless of their descent, wealth, social standing, education, personal qualities, and any other factors that usually determined status in a community. 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. Other city-states had, at one time or another, systems of democracy, notably Argos, Syracuse, Rhodes, and Erythrai. Athens originally had a monarchy system, but these kings were replaced by archons. Please support Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation. In the 4th and 5th centuries BCE the male citizen population of Athens ranged from 30,000 to 60,000 depending on the period. The unit covers one week of instructional activities and remote learning for students. Ancient History Encyclopedia. The Dexileos Stele assesses the way that Athenian political thought... What did democracy really mean in Athens? Thank you! Hoplites: The Foot Soldiers of Ancient Athens. Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. 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). Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Athenian_Democracy/. 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. https://www.ancient.eu/Athenian_Democracy/. Cartwright, Mark. Ancient History Encyclopedia. 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. Therefore, women, slaves, and resident foreigners (metoikoi) were excluded from the political process. The political system known as "Athenian Democracy" was the single greatest influence on the later development of democracy in Rome, and arguably the most important historical influence upon our modern Democratic states. Athens's oligarchy was composed of nine rulers, also called "archons," elected by the Areopagus. Ostrakon for Periclesby Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA). 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. Related Content The archons made decisions regarding Athens, and then submitted these decisions to the Areopagus for approval or denial. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 03 Apr 2018. Just ask the other Greek states under the thumb of the Athenian Empire. There were three political bodies where citizens gathered in numbers running into the hundreds or thousands. Sparta Had a Mixed Form of Government.

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