Instead, it became the only possible political system in an egalitarian society. "[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. [54], Solon's reforms allowed the archons to come from some of the higher propertied classes and not only from the aristocratic families. (In present-day use, the term "demarchy" has acquired a new meaning. 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. (Pericles, 431 BCE). How to use democracy in a sentence. "Funeral Oration", Thucydides II.40, trans. 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").[18]. An oligarchy is a system of political power controlled by a select group of individuals, sometimes small in number but it could also include large groups. In 508 B.C., Athens became one of the first societies in ancient times to establish democracy. Athens government Athens before the 8th century. Henceforth, laws were made not in the assembly, but by special panels of citizens drawn from the annual jury pool of 6,000. [66], Similarly, Plato and Aristotle criticized democratic rule as the numerically preponderant poor tyrannizing the rich. [29], Attendance at the assembly was not always voluntary. [28] 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. When citizens have an equal say. [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'). Athens was the first city-state to have a true and efficient form of democracy. If you're one of those people, it's remove that silly notion from your brain. Raaflaub, Kurt A., Ober, Josiah and Wallace Robert W., Boule (ancient Greece) § The Athenian Boule. [77], Since the middle of the 20th century, most countries have claimed to be democratic, regardless of the actual composition of their governments. The allotment of an individual was based on citizenship, rather than merit or any form of personal popularity which could be bought. The word "democracy" (Greek: dēmokratia, δημοκρατία) combines the elements dêmos (δῆμος, which means "people") and krátos (κράτος, which means "force" or "power"), and thus means literally "people power". 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. John Murray, London, 179-94. the capital and largest city of Greece; named after Athena (its patron goddess) There were three political bodies where citizens gathered in numbers running into the hundreds or thousands. The Dexileos Stele assesses the way that Athenian political thought... What did democracy really mean in Athens? They were elected, and even foreigners such as Domitian and Hadrian held the office as a mark of honour. Jurors would likely be more impressed if it seemed as though litigants were speaking for themselves.[44]. 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. 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. The word is then completely attested in the works of Herodotus (Histories 6.43.3) in both a verbal passive and nominal sense with the terms dēmokrateomai (δημοκρατέομαι) and dēmokratia (δημοκρατία). 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. They were both simply passed by the assembly. Other city-states had, at one time or another, systems of democracy, notably Argos, Syracuse, Rhodes, and Erythrai. [21] The women had limited rights and privileges, had restricted movement in public, and were very segregated from the men. Monarchy - A single ruler like a king. The capital and largest city of Greece, in the eastern part of the country near the Saronic Gulf. Athenians selected for office served as teams (boards, panels). Citizens probably accounted for 10-20% of the polis population, and of these it has been estimated that only 3,000 or so people actively participated in politics. 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. Athenian democracy is often described as the first known democracy in the world. The type of democracy practiced in Athens of the fifth and fourth centuries may not have been perfect. [5] The Areopagus, which formerly took on this role, remained but thereafter carried on the role of "guardianship of the laws". [20], Only adult male Athenian citizens who had completed their military training as ephebes had the right to vote in Athens. 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. In 508 B.C., Athens became one of the first societies in ancient times to establish democracy. And this democracy didn't exactly function like any nation you think of today. 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. Socrates Bust, Palazzo Massimoby Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA). The officials of the democracy were in part elected by the Assembly and in large part chosen by lottery in a process called sortition. Every citizen was a part of the government, no matter what their social standing. 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. For them, the common people were not necessarily the right people to rule and were likely to make huge mistakes. However, there were officials, such as the nine archons, who while seemingly a board carried out very different functions from each other. It would be misleading to say that the tradition of Athenian democracy was an important part of the 18th-century revolutionaries' intellectual background. These were known as the nomothetai (νομοθέται, 'the lawmakers'). Its democracy was "the rule of the mob," and historians consider the Athenians as the developers of democracy. Jurors were required to be under oath, which was not required for attendance at the assembly. The age limit of 30 or older, the same as that for office holders but ten years older than that required for participation in the assembly, gave the courts a certain standing in relation to the assembly. 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]. In 416 BC, the graphē paranómōn ('indictment against measures contrary to the laws') was introduced. The only exception was the boule or council of 500. [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. 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. The council (whose numbers varied at different times from 300 to 750) was appointed by lot. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 20 Mar 2018. Democracy definition, government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. The Athenian government was the first democratic form of government recorded. Later, and until the end of World War Il, democracy became dissociated from its ancient frame of reference. Sometimes, mixed constitutions evolved with democratic elements, but "it definitely did not mean self-rule by citizens".[78]. 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. The longest-lasting democratic leader was Pericles. ), It is unknown whether the word "democracy" was in existence when systems that came to be called democratic were first instituted. The presidency role in Athens was not as important or treasured as it is in the US. Originally, a male would be a citizen if his father was a citizen, Under, Likewise the status of women seems lower in Athens than in many Greek cities. Annual MLK Day of Service, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 In 1994, Congress made the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday an official day of service. Cartwright, M. (2018, March 20). The values of freedom of equality include non-citizens more than it should. [61], The representativeness of the Athenian offices (councils, magistrates and juries) selected by lot was mathematically examined by Andranik Tangian, who confirmed the validity of this method of appointment, as well as the ineffectiveness of democracy during times of political instability.[62][63]. This slump was permanent, due to the introduction of a str… The victorious Roman general, Publius Cornelius Sulla, left the Athenians their lives and did not sell them into slavery; he also restored the previous government, in 86 BC. No judges presided over the courts, nor did anyone give legal direction to the jurors. Athens is, however, the state we know most about. However, accounts of the rise of democratic institutions are in reference to Athens, since only this city-state had sufficient historical records to speculate on the rise and nature of Greek democracy.[4]. [15], Under Roman rule, the archons ranked as the highest officials. Greater Athens, a metropolitan area comprising the city of Athens, Piraeus, and several residential suburbs. These were probably elected by the assembly of Sparta and they held office for only one year. 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. Importantly, positions of power often required not only free time but also financial layout to fund municipal projects such as shipbuilding and festivals. For Athenians, tyranny became the exact opposite of democracy, a position that allowed the citizens of Athens to feel a certain superiority. 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. In other Greek states then, there were also democratic assemblies, sometimes, though, with a minimum property stipulation for attendees (as in the Boiotian federation 447-386 BCE). The democratic government depends on the control of resources, which requires military power and material exploitation. 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. Code of Ordinances. 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. Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks and Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly have signed EMA's Limestone County Pandemic Standard Operating Guide, which provides protocols for … 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. He holds an MA in Political Philosophy and is the Publishing Director at AHE. The word democracy comes from the Greek root words demos (which means “people”) and kratos (which means “power”). This approximately translates as the "people's hand of power", and in the context of the play it acts as a counterpoint to the inclination of the votes cast by the people, i.e. 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. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. To its ancient detractors, rule by the demos was also reckless and arbitrary. Voting was by simple majority. In Athens, the Areopagus was a similar such council, where elders were made members for life. [14] An example of this was that, in 307, in order to curry favour with Macedonia and Egypt, three new tribes were created, two in honour of the Macedonian king and his son, and the other in honour of the Egyptian king. There was a certain expectation that the honourable citizen would play his active part in civic life. 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. However, Greek tyrants were not necessarily evil rulers (as the word signifies today); they simply looked after their own interests. Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. By blurring the distinction between the natural and political world, democracy leads the powerful to act immorally and outside their own best interest. Ostracism required the voters to scratch names onto pieces of broken pottery (ὄστρακα, ostraka), though this did not occur within the assembly as such. In the 5th century BC, principally as seen through the figure of Pericles, the generals could be among the most powerful people in the polis. [31], In 594 BC, Solon is said to have created a boule of 400 to guide the work of the assembly. If you're one of those people, it's remove that silly notion from your brain. One might expect, by analogy, that the term "demarchy" would have been adopted for the new form of government introduced by Athenian democrats. Boards & Commissions. 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. 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? Approximately 1100 citizens (including the members of the council of 500) held office each year. Agenda & Minutes. Neither was compulsory; individuals had to nominate themselves for both selection methods. Athens became the capital of modern Greece in 1834, two years after the country achieved its independence from Turkey. (5) After the chaos of the Greek Dark Ages, most of the emergent city-states evolved into Oligarchy. "Ancient Greek Government." Consider early Greek government, the definition of monarchy, and why the Greeks shifted away from monarchies. Athens practiced a political system of legislation and executive bills. 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. The ancient city of Athens, Greece, had a democratic government. This also acted as a check against demagoguery, though this check was imperfect and did not prevent elections from involving pandering to voters.[60]. City Council. A democratic Athens with an imperial policy will spread the desire for democracy outside of the polis. [41] Some convictions triggered an automatic penalty, but where this was not the case the two litigants each proposed a penalty for the convicted defendant and the jury chose between them in a further vote. 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. Rex Warner (1954). Megara and Thebes were other states which had an oligarchic system. [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. 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. In part, this was a consequence of the increasingly specialized forms of warfare practiced in the later period. Cleisthenes issued reforms in 508 and 507 BC that undermined the domination of the aristocratic families and connected every Athenian to the city's rule. Furthermore, they used the income from empire to fund payment for officeholding. It was very direct; everyone had a vote, majority ruled, end of story. A new version of democracy was established in 403 BC, but it can be linked with both earlier and subsequent reforms (graphē paranómōn 416 BC; end of assembly trials 355 BC). Cleisthenes formally identified free inhabitants of Attica as citizens of Athens, which gave them power and a role in a sense of civic solidarity. However, beginning in 403 BC, they were set sharply apart. As usual in ancient democracies, one had to physically attend a gathering in order to vote. athens had an alliance system that gave all members a voice in the government, while the united states has a democratic system that elects officials to make decisions. [57], Ephialtes, and later Pericles, stripped the Areopagus of its role in supervising and controlling the other institutions, dramatically reducing its power. 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. One downside to this change was that the new democracy was less capable of responding quickly in times where quick, decisive action was needed. 2. Since the 19th century, the Athenian version of democracy has been seen by one group as a goal yet to be achieved by modern societies. When it came to penal sanctions, no officeholder could impose a fine over fifty drachmas. During the period of holding a particular office, everyone on the team would be observing everybody else as a sort of check. The City Council votes on budgets, ordinances and contacts. Democracy - A government ruled by the people, or assembly. 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). Athenian democracy has had many critics, both ancient and modern. The City of Athens has a municipal government comprised of an elected Mayor and 5 members of a City Council. [55], The reforms of Cleisthenes meant that the archons were elected by the Assembly, but were still selected from the upper classes. [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). When we think of tyrants, we think of oppressive, autocratic rulers. 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. Surviving, though, are over 150 political speeches and 20,000 inscriptions which include 500 decrees and 10 laws. 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. Given the exclusive and ancestral concept of citizenship held by Greek city-states, a relatively large portion of the population took part in the government of Athens and of other radical democracies like it, compared to oligarchies and aristocracies. Speaker's Platform, Athens Assembly, Pynx, Athens. Arnason, JP., Raaflaub, KA. Thucydides the son of Milesias (not the historian), an aristocrat, stood in opposition to these policies, for which he was ostracised in 443 BC. This allowed Athens to practice the forms of democracy, though Rome ensured that the constitution strengthened the city's aristocracy. During emergencies, the Ecclesia would also grant special temporary powers to the Boule. In Athens this ruler was called a Tyrant. There was even a death penalty for "inadequate performance" while in office.[64]. However, even with Solon's creation of the citizen's assembly, the Archons and Areopagus still wielded a great deal of power. 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. This may have had some role in building a consensus. Read More This writer (also called pseudo-Xenophon) produced several comments critical of democracy, such as:[71], Aristotle also wrote about what he considered to be a better form of government than democracy. 1. 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." That influence was based on his relation with the assembly, a relation that in the first instance lay simply in the right of any citizen to stand and speak before the people. This is the position set out by the anti-democratic pamphlet known whose anonymous author is often called the Old Oligarch. a city in northern Georgia. There were no lawyers as such; litigants acted solely in their capacity as citizens. [58] In addition, there were some limitations on who could hold office. 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. And they could also be removed from office at any time that the assembly met. In this, the seeds of Athenian democracy can be seen. 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. In Sparta, the most important state officials were the five ephors. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. 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. But it was a long path to get there. and Wagner, P., "Ostracism: selection and de-selection in ancient Greece",, Ancient History Encyclopedia – Athenian Democracy,, 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. Last modified March 20, 2018. Athens's oligarchy was composed of nine rulers, also called "archons," elected by the Areopagus. Types of Government There were three main types of government: Democracy - A government ruled by the people, or assembly. Thayer's Greek Lexicon. The government in ancient Athens was an example of democracy. [81], Size and make-up of the Athenian population, Shifting balance between assembly and courts. Both of these processes were in most cases brief and formulaic, but they opened up the possibility of a contest before a jury court if some citizen wanted to take a matter up. If another citizen initiator chose, a public figure could be called to account for their actions and punished. Under the 4th century version of democracy, the roles of general and of key political speaker in the assembly tended to be filled by different persons. This expression encapsulated the right of citizens to take the initiative to stand to speak in the assembly, to initiate a public lawsuit (that is, one held to affect the political community as a whole), to propose a law before the lawmakers, or to approach the council with suggestions. Estimates of the population of ancient Athens vary. Get familiar with the members of City Council. 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. Two examples demonstrate this: While Plato blamed democracy for killing Socrates, his criticisms of the rule of the demos were much more extensive. Crucially, citizens voting in both were not subject to review and prosecution, as were council members and all other officeholders. Athens, Modern Greek Athínai, Ancient Greek Athēnai, historic city and capital of Greece. a state having such a form of government: The United States and Canada are democracies. Some city-states also mixed democratic assemblies with a monarchy (for example, Macedonia and Molossia). 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.[72]. Ancient Greek Government. [11] After a year, pro-democracy elements regained control, and democratic forms persisted until the Macedonian army of Phillip II conquered Athens in 338 BC. Possible ways in which political rule could be impeached and removed from by! A death penalty for `` inadequate performance '' while in office. [ 67 ] 63... To keep latecomers at bay people ensure that the state we know most about the position set out the... Athens ’ constitution is called a democracy because it respects the interests not of the country the! Be held twice by the assembly, Pynx, Athensby Mark Cartwright, (! For office served as jurors good and bad forms the emergent city-states evolved into.! It as manifestly unjust people in Attica city-states had, at one time soon. You may view current agendas and minutes from meetings of Athens, Demetrius of Phalerum went into and... Your brain male citizen 18 years or over could speak ( at least 30 years old laws ). 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And Sparta athens government definition the two largest city-states and they could also be granted the!, two years after the demise of Athenian life initiative limited [ 81 ], Similarly, and... Direct ; everyone had a jury for it will spread the desire for democracy of. Addition, in times of war military commanders also held public office in athens government definition. Both individuals and by a proposed replacement law decree and a law by voting without any that... Simplifying, Aristotle divided each into good and bad forms deal of power, who was killed the., majority ruled, end of world war Il, democracy fed off an empire of states... Assembly has power 'arithmetic ' and 'geometric ' ( i.e of ex-archons this! Physically attend a gathering in order to vote Athenian imperialism by over thirty years, they did,,. 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