An introduction to the history of athenian democracy and the collapse of the athenian government fol

The victorious Roman general, Publius Cornelius Sullaleft the Athenians their lives and did not sell them into slavery; he also restored the previous government, in 86 BC.

Josiah Ober notes that "Thucydides cites examples of two errors regarding Sparta: This promoted a new enthusiasm for assembly meetings. Additional meetings might still be called, especially as up until BC there were still political trials that were conducted in the assembly rather than in court.

Voting was by simple majority. Originally, a male would be a citizen if his father was a citizen, Under Periclesin BC, restrictions were tightened so that a citizen had to be born to an Athenian father and an Athenian mother. Probably jurors would be more impressed if it seemed as though the litigant were speaking for themselves.

There were however officials such as the nine archons, who while seemingly a board carried out very different functions from each other. This may have had some role in building a consensus. Further they used the income from empire to fund payment for officeholding.

However, the governors, like Demetrius of Phalerumappointed by Cassanderkept some of the traditional institutions in formal existence, although the Athenian public would consider them to be nothing more than Macedonian puppet dictators. If the Assembly voted in favor of the proposed change, the proposal would be referred for further consideration by a group of citizens called nomothetai literally "establishers of the law".

His office holding was rather an expression and a result of the influence he wielded.

And despite its moments of imprudence, injustice, and indecision, it was an experiment remarkable enough to deserve our attention. As the system evolved, the last function was shifted to the law courts. At times the imperialist democracy acted with extreme brutality, as in the decision to execute the entire male population of Melos and sell off its women and children simply for refusing to become subjects of Athens.

This triggers the paradoxical question: Indeed, the extensive use of imported non-Greeks " barbarians " as chattel slaves seems to have been an Athenian development.

The citizen making the proposal had to publish it [in] advance: This was almost inevitable since, with the notable exception of the generals strategoieach office could be held by the same person only once. In the 5th century public slaves forming a cordon with a red-stained rope herded citizens from the agora into the assembly meeting place Pnyxwith a fine being imposed on those who got the red on their clothes.

Athenian democracy

In the following century the meetings were set to forty a year, with four in each state month. To the Athenians it seems what had to be guarded against was not incompetence but any tendency to use office as a way of accumulating ongoing power.

However, as Cornelius Castoriadis pointed out, other societies also kept slaves but did not develop democracy. However, when Rome fought Macedonia inthe Athenians abolished the first two new tribes and created a twelfth tribe in honour of the Pergamene king. Greek democracy created at Athens was directrather than representative: An unknown proportion of citizens were also subject to disenfranchisement atimiaexcluding some of them permanently and others temporarily depending on the type.

Unlike today where voting is privately done in ballots men simply raised their hands The most important task of the Athenian Boule was to draft the deliberations probouleumata for discussion and approval in the Ecclesia.

The boule coordinated the activities of the various boards and magistrates that carried out the administrative functions of Athens and provided from its own membership randomly selected boards of ten responsible for areas ranging from naval affairs to religious observances.

In this case, simply by demographic necessity, an individual could serve twice in a lifetime. Athenion allied with Mithridates of Pontusand went to war with Rome; he was killed during the war, and was replaced by Aristion.

For them, the common people were not necessarily the right people to rule and made huge mistakes. However, by now Athens had become "politically impotent". Those who are superior in virtue should receive greater shares in rule. 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.

This was generally done as a reward for some service to the state. In the mid-5th century the number of adult male citizens was perhaps as high as 60, but this number fell precipitously during the Peloponnesian War.

There were no lawyers as such; litigants acted solely in their capacity as citizens. Another tack of criticism is to notice the disquieting links between democracy and a number of less than appealing features of Athenian life. Because it is an integrated system, democracy seems incapable of internal amelioration, yet because of its inclusivist tendencies, especially in regard to citizenship, it coopts its natural enemies and so generates few active opponents.

For much of the 5th century at least democracy fed off an empire of subject states. Cleisthenes restricted its membership, "to those of zeugitai status and above, probably arguing that these classes had a financial interest in good government".

None of these political organisations, he believes, rules with a common interest for everyone. Cleisthenesthe founder of democracy, had a non-Athenian mother, and the mothers of Cimon and Themistocles were not Greek at all, but Thracian.Introduction to Athenian Democracy of the Fifth and Fourth Centuries BCE John A.

Rothchild∗ Abstract: This essay serves to introduce students to the institutions of the democratic constitution of ancient Athens, during its flowering in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. A history of the world’s first democracy from its beginnings in Athens circa fifth century B.C. to its downfall years later The first democracy, established in ancient Greece more than 2, years ago, has served as the foundation for every democratic system of government instituted down the centuries.5/5(1).

Athenian democracy developed around the fifth century BC in the Greek city-state (known as a polis) due to the introduction of a stricter definition of citizen described below. Ancient History Encyclopedia – Athenian Democracy; Ewbank, N.

The Nature of Athenian Democracy, Clio History Journal, is possible to determine more about Athenian government in the fourth century than in any previous period, H.'s studies have contributed to reassessments of fifth-century democracy and its sixth-centuryantecedents.

The Athenian democracy is worthy of study if for no other reason than that it was the inspiration for modern democratic systems. The ancient system takes on added interest from the standpoint of comparative constitutional law. Note 1 From time to time in this introduction, I cite ancient evidence for our knowledge of Athenian democracy and its history.

In doing so, I have tried to limit myself to sources I know to be available online, in the original language and in translation.

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An introduction to the history of athenian democracy and the collapse of the athenian government fol
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