Estimates of the population of ancient Athens vary. Democracy in Ancient Greece is most frequently associated with Athens where a complex system allowed for broad political participation by the free male citizens of the city-state. Learn ancient athens government with free interactive flashcards. Many of Classical civilization’s intellectual and artistic ideas originated there, and the city is generally considered to be the birthplace of Western civilization. had a monarchy. athens had an oligarchy in which several wealthy people ruled the government, while the united states is a republic in which all its citizens take part in government. Cartwright, Mark. This was almost inevitable since, with the notable exception of the generals (strategoi), each office had restrictive term limits. The powers of officials were precisely defined and their capacity for initiative limited. For example, he points to errors regarding Sparta; Athenians erroneously believed that Sparta's kings each had two votes in their ruling council and that there existed a Spartan battalion called Pitanate lochos. Clearly, a degree of political consensus was necessary for this overlapping apparatus to function. a city in southern Ohio. In 508 B.C., Athens became one of the first societies in ancient times to establish democracy. Many civic positions were short-term and chosen by lot to ensure bribery was kept to a minimum. Even most high government officials were decided by lottery. Athens meaning: 1. the capital city of Greece, situated in the southern part of the country 2. the capital city of…. The ancient city of Athens, Greece, had a democratic government. When citizens have an equal say. Athens' first attempt at democracy began under Solon in 594 BC, but his effort at instituting a Constitutional democracy soon fell to the tyrant Peistratus, who replaced it with a repressive oligarchy. Not absolute monarchs, they did, however, hold great power when they led the Spartan army in times of war. Democracy, however, was found in other areas as well and after the conquests of Alexander the Great and the process of Hellenization, it became the norm for both the liberated cities in Asia Minor as well … In the play The Eumenides, performed in 458, Aeschylus, himself a noble, portrays the Areopagus as a court established by Athena herself, an apparent attempt to preserve the dignity of the Areopagus in the face of its disempowerment.. By so strongly validating one role, that of the male citizen, it has been argued that democracy compromised the status of those who did not share it. During emergencies, the Ecclesia would also grant special temporary powers to the Boule. By and large, the power exercised by these officials was routine administration and quite limited. Athenian democracy has had many critics, both ancient and modern. At the same time or soon afterward, the membership of the Areopagus was extended to the lower level of the propertied citizenship. , In the wake of Athens's disastrous defeat in the Sicilian campaign in 413 BC, a group of citizens took steps to limit the radical democracy they thought was leading the city to ruin. Cartwright, M. (2018, March 20). It was superseded in importance by the Areopagus, which, recruited from the elected archons, had an aristocratic character and was entrusted with wide powers. proportional) equality.. , Solon's reforms allowed the archons to come from some of the higher propertied classes and not only from the aristocratic families. 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. Socrates Bust, Palazzo Massimoby Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA). If another citizen initiator chose, a public figure could be called to account for their actions and punished. Unlike Athens, the US has representatives from the House of Representatives for each state, to speak for them, whereas Athens government and legislative bodies form together and the people speak to them, and they then resolve the issues at hand. (5) After the chaos of the Greek Dark Ages, most of the emergent city-states evolved into Oligarchy. In the following century, the meetings were set to forty a year, with four in each state month. The City of Athens has a municipal government comprised of an elected Mayor and 5 members of a City Council. The citizen making the proposal had to publish it [in] advance: publication consisted of writing the proposal on a whitened board located next to the statues of the Eponymous Heroes in the agora.  In addition, there were some limitations on who could hold office. , Estimates of the population of ancient Athens vary. The word democracy comes from the Greek root words demos (which means “people”) and kratos (which means “power”). (Oligarchy means “the rule of the few.” 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. 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. Cleisthenes formally identified free inhabitants of Attica as citizens of Athens, which gave them power and a role in a sense of civic solidarity. It was very direct; everyone had a vote, majority ruled, end of story. 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. , Athens was never the only polis in Ancient Greece that instituted a democratic regime. Even during his period of office, any officeholder could be impeached and removed from office by the assembly. Ancient History Encyclopedia. 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. Unlike office holders (magistrates), who could be impeached and prosecuted for misconduct, the jurors could not be censured, for they, in effect, were the people and no authority could be higher than that. 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. The assembly had four main functions: it made executive pronouncements (decrees, such as deciding to go to war or granting citizenship to a foreigner), elected some officials, legislated, and tried political crimes. Most of the annual magistracies in Athens could only be held once in a lifetime. Spartan kings could, however, be put on trial and even exiled. At the end of the session, each voter tossed one of these into a large clay jar which was afterwards cracked open for the counting of the ballots. The assembly of Athens met at least once a month, perhaps two or three times, on the Pnyx hill in a dedicated space which could accommodate 6000 citizens. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2021) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. Rather than any citizen partaking with an equal share in the rule, he thought that those who were more virtuous should have greater power in governance.. Magistrates had only an administrative function and were laymen. Later, and until the end of World War Il, democracy became dissociated from its ancient frame of reference. Types of Government in Ancient Greece Democracy In a democracy government, the power to make decisions is in the hands of all of the people, who are called citizens. BC. 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.  For a small category of votes, a quorum of 6,000 was required, principally grants of citizenship, and here small coloured stones were used, white for yes and black for no. The shadow of the old constitution lingered on and Archons and Areopagus survived the fall of the Roman Empire. Pay was raised from two to three obols by Cleon early in the Peloponnesian war and there it stayed; the original amount is not known. Attendance was even paid for in certain periods which was a measure to encourage citizens who lived far away and couldn’t afford the time-off to attend. Jurors did talk informally amongst themselves during the voting procedure and juries could be rowdy, shouting out their disapproval or disbelief of things said by the litigants. Issues discussed in the assembly ranged from deciding magistracies to organising and maintaining food supplies to debating military matters. In the 5th century, public slaves forming a cordon with a red-stained rope herded citizens from the agora into the assembly meeting place (Pnyx), with a fine being imposed on those who got the red on their clothes. In a public suit the litigants each had three hours to speak, much less in private suits (though here it was in proportion to the amount of money at stake). Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Government/. In the 5th century, there were no procedural differences between an executive decree and a law. If a mistake had been made, from the assembly's viewpoint it could only be because it had been misled.. any citizen with full citizen rights) could bring a case since the issues in these major suits were regarded as affecting the community as a whole. However, any member could demand that officials issue a recount. Government and Politics of Ancient Athens. Yet after the demise of Athenian democracy few looked upon it as a good form of government. Agenda & Minutes. In Athens the law was devised and enforced by magistrates (archai). Starting in 355 BC, political trials were no longer held in the assembly, but only in a court. The boulē or council of 500 citizens was chosen by lot and had a limited term of office, which acted as a kind of executive committee of the assembly. With this overview, learn more about the gradual development of Athenian democracy. The four most common systems of Greek government were: Our knowledge of the political systems in the ancient Greek world comes from a wide range of sources. The Athenian institutions were later revived, but how close they were to a real democracy is debatable. In 508 B.C., Athens became one of the first societies in ancient times to establish democracy. The municipality (City) of Athens is also the capital of the Attica region. For Athenians, tyranny became the exact opposite of democracy, a position that allowed the citizens of Athens to feel a certain superiority. In particular, those chosen by lot were citizens acting without particular expertise. By the mid-4th century, however, the assembly's judicial functions were largely curtailed, though it always kept a role in the initiation of various kinds of political trial.  Altogether, the boule was responsible for a great portion of the administration of the state, but was granted relatively little latitude for initiative; the boule's control over policy was executed in its probouleutic, rather than its executive function; in the former, it prepared measures for deliberation by the assembly, in the latter, it merely executed the wishes of the assembly. a city in northern Georgia. Jurors were required to be under oath, which was not required for attendance at the assembly. 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. Running the courts was one of the major expenses of the Athenian state and there were moments of financial crisis in the 4th century when the courts, at least for private suits, had to be suspended. Although democracy predated Athenian imperialism by over thirty years, they are sometimes associated with each other. His officeholding was rather an expression and a result of the influence he wielded. In a group, one person is more likely to know the right way to do things and those that do not may learn from those that do. Much of his writings were about his alternatives to democracy. Unlike a parliament, the assembly's members were not elected, but attended by right when they chose.  He did this by making the traditional tribes politically irrelevant and instituting ten new tribes, each made up of about three trittyes, each consisting of several demes. In each of the ten "main meetings" (kuriai ekklesiai) a year, the question was explicitly raised in the assembly agenda: were the office holders carrying out their duties correctly? Justice was rapid: a case could last no longer than one day and had to be completed by the time the sun set. A democratic Athens with an imperial policy will spread the desire for democracy outside of the polis. There was also a tendency for the four meetings to be aggregated toward the end of each state month. For example, a citizen could only be a member of the Boule in two non-consecutive years in their life. In opposition, thinkers such as Samuel Johnson were worried about the ignorance of democratic decision-making bodies, but "Macaulay and John Stuart Mill and George Grote saw the great strength of the Athenian democracy in the high level of cultivation that citizens enjoyed, and called for improvements in the educational system of Britain that would make possible a shared civic consciousness parallel to that achieved by the ancient Athenians".. George Grote claimed in his History of Greece (1846–1856) that "Athenian democracy was neither the tyranny of the poor, nor the rule of the mob". Definition steering, government, administration NASB Translation administrations (1). Citizens active as officeholders served in a quite different capacity from when they voted in the assembly or served as jurors. Megara and Thebes were other states which had an oligarchic system. The term Athens can refer either to the Municipality of Athens, to Greater Athens, or to the entire Athens Urban Area. The decrees of the Assembly could also be challenged by the law courts. Participation was far from open to all residents, but was instead limited to adult, male citizens (i.e., not a foreign resident, regardless of how many generations of the family had lived in the city, nor a slave, nor a woman), who "were probably no more than 30 percent of the total adult population".. Simplifying, Aristotle divided each into good and bad forms. Another tack of criticism is to notice the disquieting links between democracy and a number of less than appealing features of Athenian life. "[C]omparisons with Athens will continue to be made as long as societies keep striving to realize democracy under modern conditions and their successes and failures are discussed. Democracy was suppressed by the Macedonians in 322 BC. Athens's oligarchy was composed of nine rulers, also called "archons," elected by the Areopagus. In addition, in times of crisis and war, this body could also take decisions without the assembly meeting. For the Greeks (or more particularly the Athenians) any system which excluded power from the whole citizen-body and was not a tyranny or monarchy was described as an oligarchy. He argued that only by giving every citizen the vote would people ensure that the state would be run in the general interest. ), It is unknown whether the word "democracy" was in existence when systems that came to be called democratic were first instituted. Athens practiced a political system of legislation and executive bills. and Wagner, P., "Ostracism: selection and de-selection in ancient Greece", https://books.google.com/books?id=z9garz74CJ0C&dq=athens+kagan&q=%22Plato+and+Aristotle+must%22#v=snippet&q=%22Plato%20and%20Aristotle%20must%22&f=false, Ancient History Encyclopedia – Athenian Democracy, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Athenian_democracy&oldid=1000179026, 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. To its ancient detractors, rule by the demos was also reckless and arbitrary. This promoted a new enthusiasm for assembly meetings. Tyrants Could Be Benevolent. Thank you! Cartledge, P, Garnsey, P. and Gruen, ES., agathe.gr: The Unenfranchised II – Slaves and Resident Aliens. In Athens this ruler was called a Tyrant. Increasingly, responsibility was shifted from the assembly to the courts, with laws being made by jurors and all assembly decisions becoming reviewable by courts. Democracy in Greece could be described as the rule of the people by the people. , Although, voters under Athenian democracy were allowed the same opportunity to voice their opinion and to sway the discussion, they were not always successful, and, often, the minority was forced to vote in favor of a motion that they did not agree with. 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. Get familiar with the members of City Council.  Another major contribution to democracy was Solon's setting up of an Ecclesia or Assembly, which was open to all the male citizens. https://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Government/. In … 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. Notably, this was introduced more than fifty years before payment for attendance at assembly meetings. In the 5th century at least, there were scarcely any limits on the power exercised by the assembly. However, by now Athens had become "politically impotent". 1. They were subject to votes of confidence by the Assembly but this didn’t stop Pericles, for example, holding office as strategos for 15 consecutive years. the capital and largest city of Greece; named after Athena (its patron goddess) The central events of the Athenian democracy were the meetings of the assembly (ἐκκλησία, ekklesía). For the Greeks, the state was not seen as an interfering entity which sought to limit one’s freedom but as an apparatus through which the individual could fully express his membership of the community. But it was a long path to get there. For private suits only the victims or their families could prosecute, while for public suits anyone (ho boulomenos, 'whoever wants to' i.e. How to use democracy in a sentence. All fifty members of the prytaneis on duty were housed and fed in the tholos of the Prytaneion, a building adjacent to the bouleuterion, where the boule met. Today’s version of democracy is voting for representatives who rule us, but the Greeks had far more hands on participation in their version of democracy. This cannot be adequately explained by simply referring to the immature ‘objective’ conditions, the low development of productive forces and so on—important as may be—because the same objective conditions prevailed at that time in many other places all over the Mediterranean, let alone the rest of Greece, but democracy flourished only in Athens” . In the 5th century BC, there is often a record of the assembly sitting as a court of judgment itself for trials of political importance and it is not a coincidence that 6,000 is the number both for the full quorum for the assembly and for the annual pool from which jurors were picked for particular trials. See more. His The Republic, The Statesman, and Laws contained many arguments against democratic rule and in favour of a much narrower form of government: "The organization of the city must be confided to those who possess knowledge, who alone can enable their fellow-citizens to attain virtue, and therefore excellence, by means of education.". For example, two men have clashed in the assembly about a proposal put by one of them; it passes, and now the two of them go to court with the loser in the assembly prosecuting both the law and its proposer. - Melissa Schwartzberg, Power & The Polis - Ancient Greek Society 02, The Tyrant Kadmos permits the establishment of democratic government on, Period of full and direct citizen democracy in. 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). This writer (also called pseudo-Xenophon) produced several comments critical of democracy, such as:, Aristotle also wrote about what he considered to be a better form of government than democracy. "Well into the 18th century democracy was consistently condemned."  No appeal was possible. Critics of democracy, such as Thucydides and Aristophanes, also pointed out that the dēmos could be too easily swayed by a good orator or popular leaders (the demagogues) and get carried away with their emotions. While citizens voting in the assembly were free of review or punishment, those same citizens when holding an office served the people and could be punished very severely. Which other types of government did Greek society eventually have? Before the first attempt at democratic government, Athens was ruled by a series of archons or chief magistrates, and the Areopagus, made up of ex-archons. The standard format was that of speakers making speeches for and against a position, followed by a general vote (usually by show of hands) of yes or no. Age restrictions were in place with thirty years as a minimum, rendering about a third of the adult citizen body ineligible at any one time.  According to Samons: The modern desire to look to Athens for lessons or encouragement for modern thought, government, or society must confront this strange paradox: the people that gave rise to and practiced ancient democracy left us almost nothing but criticism of this form of regime (on a philosophical or theoretical level). In 416 BC, the graphē paranómōn ('indictment against measures contrary to the laws') was introduced. 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. 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