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. Several German philosophers and poets took delight in what they saw as the fullness of life in ancient Athens, and not long afterwards "English liberals put forward a new argument in favor of the Athenians". They were mostly chosen by lot, with a much smaller (and more prestigious) group of about 100 elected. The City Council votes on budgets, ordinances and contacts. 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". As usual in ancient democracies, one had to physically attend a gathering in order to vote. Most of the annual magistracies in Athens could only be held once in a lifetime. Additional meetings might still be called, especially as up until 355 BC there were still political trials that were conducted in the assembly, rather than in court. From a modern perspective these figures may seem small, but among Greek city-states Athens was huge: most of the thousand or so Greek cities could only muster 1000–1500 adult male citizens each; and Corinth, a major power, had at most 15,000. The word democracy derives from the Greek dēmos which referred to the entire citizen body and although it is Athens which has become associated with the birth of democracy (demokratia) from around 460 BCE, other Greek states did establish a similar political system, notably, Argos, (briefly) Syracuse, Rhodes, and Erythrai. That is to say, the mass meeting of all citizens lost some ground to gatherings of a thousand or so which were under oath, and with more time to focus on just one matter (though never more than a day). The longest-lasting democratic leader was Pericles. [15], Under Roman rule, the archons ranked as the highest officials. Athens was the first city-state to have a true and efficient form of democracy. Only the first 6,000 to arrive were admitted and paid, with the red rope now used to keep latecomers at bay. Starting in 355 BC, political trials were no longer held in the assembly, but only in a court. Government and Politics of Ancient Athens. that authority as implemented by the people in the Assembly has power. It was superseded in importance by the Areopagus, which, recruited from the elected archons, had an aristocratic character and was entrusted with wide powers. Their efforts, initially conducted through constitutional channels, culminated in the establishment of an oligarchy, the Council of 400, in the Athenian coup of 411 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. In Athens, the Areopagus was a similar such council, where elders were made members for life. The ancient city of Athens, Greece, had a democratic government. Democracy - A government ruled by the people, or assembly. Justice was rapid: a case could last no longer than one day and had to be completed by the time the sun set. [56] The Areopagus kept its power as 'Guardian of the Laws', which meant that it could veto actions it deemed unconstitutional, however, this worked in practice. The democratic government depends on the control of resources, which requires military power and material exploitation. 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. In this case, simply by demographic necessity, an individual could serve twice in a lifetime. If a mistake had been made, from the assembly's viewpoint it could only be because it had been misled.[27]. Officials and leaders were elected and all citizens had a say. Term: Athens' Government Definition: Only in Athens, and only for a short time, "rule by many" meant that all citizens had to be willing to take an active part in government. Solon (in 594 BC), Cleisthenes (in 508/7 BC), and Ephialtes (in 462 BC) contributed to the development of Athenian democracy. For example, a citizen could only be a member of the Boule in two non-consecutive years in their life. [34], The members from each of the ten tribes in the Boule took it in turns to act as a standing committee (the prytaneis) of the Boule for a period of thirty-six days. Oligarchy. Unlike officeholders, the citizen initiator was not voted on before taking up office or automatically reviewed after stepping down; these institutions had, after all, no set tenure and might be an action lasting only a moment. From the time of Hadrian, an imperial curator superintended the finances. All citizens were eligible for the position, and indeed there may well have been a certain expectation that the honourable citizen would play his active part in civic life. BC. Voting was usually by show of hands (χειροτονία, kheirotonia, 'arm stretching') with officials judging the outcome by sight. For much of the 5th century at least, democracy fed off an empire of subject states. To the Athenians, it seems what had to be guarded against was not incompetence but any tendency to use the office as a way of accumulating ongoing power. [39] For particularly important public suits the jury could be increased by adding in extra allotments of 500. [7] Another major contribution to democracy was Solon's setting up of an Ecclesia or Assembly, which was open to all the male citizens. Cleisthenes broke up the unlimited power of the nobility by organizing citizens into ten groups based on where they lived, rather than on their wealth. Unlike a parliament, the assembly's members were not elected, but attended by right when they chose. These were probably elected by the assembly of Sparta and they held office for only one year. Athens, Georgia is one of the thousands of cities across the United States that decided to make this "A Day On and Not a Day Off." [45], The institutions sketched above – assembly, officeholders, council, courts – are incomplete without the figure that drove the whole system, Ho boulomenos ('he who wishes', or 'anyone who wishes'). Usually, the types of government relevant to ancient Greece are listed as three: Monarchy, Oligarchy (generally synonymous with rule by the aristocracy), and Democracy. This was almost inevitable since, with the notable exception of the generals (strategoi), each office had restrictive term limits. Thus, the Founding Fathers of the United States who met in Philadelphia in 1787 did not set up a Council of the Areopagos, but a Senate, that, eventually, met on the Capitol. Democracy in Greece could be described as the rule of the people by the people. Citizens active as officeholders served in a quite different capacity from when they voted in the assembly or served as jurors. 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. Similar in function to the boulē was the council of elders (selected men over 60), the gerousia, of Sparta, which also had the two Spartan kings as members and had certain legal powers. The values of freedom of equality include non-citizens more than it should. 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. 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. The term Athens can refer either to the Municipality of Athens, to Greater Athens, or to the entire Athens Urban Area. "[76], Greek philosopher and activist Takis Fotopoulos has argued that “the final failure, of Athenian democracy was not due, as it is usually asserted by its critics, to the innate contradictions of democracy itself but, on the contrary, to the fact that the Athenian democracy never matured to become an inclusive democracy. [81], Size and make-up of the Athenian population, Shifting balance between assembly and courts. Government - Government - Greece: The Phoenician example was followed by the Greeks, originally Indo-European nomads who gradually made their way south to the Aegean and there took to the sea. 1. [51][52], 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. In addition, politics is often lampooned in the comedies of Aristophanes. 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. Greater Athens, a metropolitan area comprising the city of Athens, Piraeus, and several residential suburbs. 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. In particular, those chosen by lot were citizens acting without particular expertise. Many of Classical civilization’s intellectual and artistic ideas originated there, and the city is generally considered to be the birthplace of Western civilization. By blurring the distinction between the natural and political world, democracy leads the powerful to act immorally and outside their own best interest. By being inclusive, opponents to the system become naturally included within the democratic framework, meaning democracy itself will generate few opponents, despite its flaws. "Funeral Oration", Thucydides II.40, trans. The government in ancient Athens was an example of democracy. History students also learn Once Demetrius Poliorcetes ended Cassander's rule over Athens, Demetrius of Phalerum went into exile and the democracy was restored in 307 BC. Spartan kings could, however, be put on trial and even exiled. To its ancient detractors, rule by the demos was also reckless and arbitrary. Athens, Georgia is one of the thousands of cities across the United States that decided to make this "A Day On and Not a Day Off." 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. Sometimes, mixed constitutions evolved with democratic elements, but "it definitely did not mean self-rule by citizens".[78]. Retrieved from Raaflaub, Kurt A., Ober, Josiah and Wallace Robert W., Boule (ancient Greece) § The Athenian Boule. Term: Athens' Government Definition: Only in Athens, and only for a short time, "rule by many" meant that all citizens had to be willing to take an active part in government. Allotment, therefore, was seen as a means to prevent the corrupt purchase of votes and it gave citizens political equality, as all had an equal chance of obtaining government office. ), It is unknown whether the word "democracy" was in existence when systems that came to be called democratic were first instituted. Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. The oligarchy of the 400 take over the democracy in. Athenian democracy was characterised by being run by the "many" (the ordinary people) who were allotted to the committees which ran government. Definition steering, government, administration NASB Translation administrations (1). [63] 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). Other Greek cities set up democracies, most following the Athenian model, but none are as well documented as Athens' democracy. In Athens, the board of ten elected generals, known as the strategoi, could influence the agenda of the assembly and so prioritise their own causes. Furthermore, all citizens selected were reviewed before taking up office (dokimasia) at which time they might be disqualified. Increasingly, responsibility was shifted from the assembly to the courts, with laws being made by jurors and all assembly decisions becoming reviewable by courts. Athenion allied with Mithridates of Pontus and went to war with Rome; he was killed during the war and was replaced by Aristion. Four presided over the judicial administration. Greek democracy created at Athens was direct, rather than representative: any adult male citizen over the age of 20 could take part,[26] and it was a duty to do so. [59] In the case of scrutiny going to trial, there was the risk for the former officeholder of suffering severe penalties. Athens practiced a political system of legislation and executive bills. Payment for jurors was introduced around 462 BC and is ascribed to Pericles, a feature described by Aristotle as fundamental to radical democracy (Politics 1294a37). Later, and until the end of World War Il, democracy became dissociated from its ancient frame of reference. For them, the common people were not necessarily the right people to rule and were likely to make huge mistakes. In situations involving a public figure, the initiator was referred to as a kategoros ('accuser'), a term also used in cases involving homicide, rather than ho diokon ('the one who pursues').[46]. A member had to be approved by his deme, each of which would have an incentive to select those with experience in local politics and the greatest likelihood at effective participation in government. His relations with Athens were already strained when he returned to Babylon in 324 BC; after his death, Athens and Sparta led several states to war with Macedonia and lost.[13]. Government and Politics of Ancient Athens. Even most high government officials were decided by lottery. After that, it was not just one of the many possible ways in which political rule could be organised. Its democracy was "the rule of the mob," and historians consider the Athenians as the developers of democracy. Please support Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation. There was a certain expectation that the honourable citizen would play his active part in civic life. The jury could only cast a 'yes' or 'no' vote as to the guilt and sentence of the defendant. The regular turnover of archai, due to limited terms of office and the prohibition of re-election, meant abuse of power was kept in check and the rulers would, in turn, become the ruled. Socrates Bust, Palazzo Massimoby Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA). 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. This may have had some role in building a consensus. [18], Some Athenian citizens were far more active than others, but the vast numbers required for the system to work testify to a breadth of direct participation among those eligible that greatly surpassed any present-day democracy. Athens became the capital of modern Greece in 1834, two years after the country achieved its independence from Turkey. [53], Just before the reforms of Solon in the 7th century BC, Athens was governed by a few archons (three, then later nine) and the council of the Areopagus, which was composed of members powerful noble families. [18] Athenian citizens had to be descended from citizens; after the reforms of Pericles and Cimon in 450 BC, only those descended from two Athenian parents could claim citizenship. Choose from 500 different sets of ancient athens government flashcards on Quizlet. 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. As the system evolved, the last function was shifted to the law courts. 2. [18] This excluded a majority of the population: slaves, freed slaves, children, women and metics (foreign residents in Athens). The Greek philosopher Aristotle divided ancient Greek government into monarchies, oligarchies, tyrannies and democracies, and most historians still use these same categories.A monarchy is when a king or queen (or in Sparta two kings) rules the city-state.. An oligarchy is when a council of rich people inherits power from their parents. During an Athenian election, approximately one hundred officials out of a thousand were elected rather than chosen by lot. Ancient History Encyclopedia. The type of democracy practiced in Athens of the fifth and fourth centuries may not have been perfect. There are also two specifically political texts with the same title, The Constitution of the Athenians, one written by Aristotle or one of his pupils and the other attributed (by some) to Xenophon. And this democracy didn't exactly function like any nation you think of today. The first conceptual articulation of the term is generally accepted to be c. 470 BC with Aeschylus' The Suppliants (l. 604) with the line sung by the Chorus: dēmou kratousa cheir (δήμου κρατούσα χειρ). Another tack of criticism is to notice the disquieting links between democracy and a number of less than appealing features of Athenian life. Athens is known as the birthplace of democracy. The Athenian government was the first democratic form of government recorded. 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. During the 4th century BC, there might well have been some 250,000–300,000 people in Attica. [43], The system showed a marked anti-professionalism. [29], Attendance at the assembly was not always voluntary. Athens and Sparta were the two largest city-states and they had many wars and battles. However, any stepping forward into the democratic limelight was risky. But it was a long path to get there. Generals were elected not only because their role required expert knowledge, but also because they needed to be people with experience and contacts in the wider Greek world where wars were fought. Since the Areopagus was made up of ex-archons, this would eventually mean the weakening of the hold of the nobles there as well. Ancient Greek Government. 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. What we now think of as Athenian Democracy began in 508 BC and was instituted under the leadership of … 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. In 508 B.C., Athens became one of the first societies in ancient times to establish democracy. For private suits, the minimum jury size was 200 (increased to 401 if a sum of over 1000 drachmas was at issue), for public suits 501. Under these reforms, the boule (a council of 400 members, with 100 citizens from each of Athens's four tribes) ran daily affairs and set the political agenda. There were two main categories in this group: those required to handle large sums of money, and the 10 generals, the strategoi. The Boeotian federation has a minimum property requirement for participation in the democratic assembly. Athenian democracy is often described as the first known democracy in the world. [65], Thucydides, from his aristocratic and historical viewpoint, reasoned that a serious flaw in democratic government was that the common people were often much too credulous about even contemporary facts to rule justly, in contrast to his own critical-historical approach to history. Under Cleisthenes's reforms, juries were selected by lot from a panel of 600 jurors, there being 600 jurors from each of the ten tribes of Athens, making a jury pool of 6000 in total. 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” . Ancient Greek critics of Athenian democracy include Thucydides the general and historian, Aristophanes the playwright, Plato the pupil of Socrates, Aristotle the pupil of Plato, and a writer known as the Old Oligarch. [1] 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. [24], Citizenship applied to both individuals and their descendants. The only exception was the boule or council of 500. 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. The Dexileos Stele assesses the way that Athenian political thought... What did democracy really mean in Athens? Every citizen was a part of the government, no matter what their social standing. See more. The proposal would be considered by the Council, and would be placed on the agenda of the Assembly in the form of a motion. 1000 and 1500 are regularly encountered as jury sizes and on at least one occasion, the first time a new kind of case was brought to court (see graphē paranómōn), all 6,000 members of the jury pool may have attended to one case.[40]. Each of Cleisthenes's 10 tribes provided 50 councilors who were at least 30 years old. Government - Government - Greece: The Phoenician example was followed by the Greeks, originally Indo-European nomads who gradually made their way south to the Aegean and there took to the sea. 1. Ancient History Encyclopedia. The Athenians declared for Rome, and in 146 BC Athens became an autonomous civitas foederata, able to manage internal affairs. We know that in 411 BCE in Athens, ‘the oligarchy of the 400’ took power out of the hands of the Assembly and were themselves superseded by a more moderate oligarchy of 5000. Athenian democracy has had many critics, both ancient and modern. The presidency role in Athens was not as important or treasured as it is in the US. 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.[10]. The government of ancient Athens changed over time. Even during his period of office, any officeholder could be impeached and removed from office by the assembly. The capital and largest city of Greece, in the eastern part of the country near the Saronic Gulf. The central events of the Athenian democracy were the meetings of the assembly (ἐκκλησία, ekklesía). Though there might be blocs of opinion, sometimes enduring, on important matters, there were no political parties and likewise no government or opposition (as in the Westminster system). [47], The word idiot originally simply meant "private citizen"; in combination with its more recent meaning of "foolish person", this is sometimes used by modern commentators to demonstrate that the ancient Athenians considered those who did not participate in politics as foolish. An unknown proportion of citizens were also subject to disenfranchisement (atimia), excluding some of them permanently and others temporarily (depending on the type). Athens' constitution is called a democracy because it respects the interests not of a minority but of the whole people. Monarchy - A single ruler like a king. [8] 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. Athens not the only city-state to develop a democracy- but was the most successful Direct Democracy: (Athens). [15], In 88 BC, there was a revolution under the philosopher Athenion, who, as tyrant, forced the Assembly to agree to elect whomever he might ask to office. [31], In 594 BC, Solon is said to have created a boule of 400 to guide the work of the assembly. 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. A democratic Athens with an imperial policy will spread the desire for democracy outside of the polis.