Athenian democracy

__Athenian democracy__ developed around the fifth century BC in the Greek (Ancient Greece) city-state (known as a polis) of Athens (Classical Athens), comprising the city of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, and is often described as the first known democracy in the world. Other Greek cities set up democracies, most following the Athenian model, but none are as well documented as Athens'.

Athenian democracy developed around the fifth century BC in the Greek city-state (known as a polis) of Athens, comprising the city of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, and is the first known democracy in the world. Other Greek cities set up democracies, most following the Athenian model, but none are as well documented as Athens' - wikipedia

Athenian democracy. democracy - wikimedia.org

It was a system of direct democracy, in which participating citizens voted directly on legislation and executive bills. Participation was not open to all residents: to vote one had to be an adult, male citizen i.e. neither a foreign resident nor a slave, and the number of these "varied between 30,000 and 50,000 out of a total population of around 250,000 to 300,000" or "no more than 30 percent of the total adult population."

The longest-lasting democratic leader was Pericles. After his death, Athenian democracy was twice briefly interrupted by oligarchic revolutions towards the end of the Peloponnesian War. It was modified somewhat after it was restored under Eucleides; the most detailed accounts of the system are of this fourth-century modification rather than the Periclean system. Democracy was suppressed by the Macedonians in 322 BC. The Athenian institutions were later revived, but how close they were to a real democracy is debatable. Solon (594 BC), Cleisthenes (508/7 BC), and Ephialtes (462 BC) contributed to the development of Athenian democracy. Cleisthenes broke up the power of the nobility by organizing citizens into ten groups based on where they lived rather than on their wealth.

The longest-lasting democratic leader was Pericles. After his death, Athenian democracy was twice briefly interrupted by oligarchic revolutions towards the end of the Peloponnesian War. It was modified somewhat after it was restored under Eucleides; the most detailed accounts of the system are of this fourth-century modification rather than the Periclean system. Democracy was suppressed by the Macedonians in 322 BC. The Athenian institutions were later revived, but how close they were to a real democracy is debatable. Solon (594 BC), Cleisthenes (508/7 BC), and Ephialtes (462 BC) contributed to the development of Athenian democracy. Cleisthenes broke up the power of the nobility by organizing citizens into ten groups based on where they lived rather than on their wealth.

Structure

The main bodies in the Athenian democracy were the assembly, composed of male citizens; the boulê, composed of 500 citizens; and the law courts, composed of a massive number of jurors chosen by lot, with no judges. There were only about 30,000 male citizens, but several thousand of them were politically active in each year, and many of them quite regularly for years on end.

English: Diagram representing the constitution of the Athenians in the IVth century BC. - wikimedia

Assembly

The central events of the Athenian democracy were the meetings of the assembly or Ekklesia. Unlike a parliament, the assembly's members were not elected, but attended by right when they chose.

# See also