History of Greece A Brief Outline of Athenian Democracy The type of democracy practiced in Athens of the fifth and fourth centuries may not have been perfect. But it was the best government up to that time and superior to what most of the ancient world was living under. The key to Athenian democracy was Cleithenes redrawing of the social-political landscape of Athens and Attica. Each of these thirds were located in one of the three areas of Attica which had been the way the city had been split up in the past.
The city-states were small, independent communities which were male-dominated and bound together by race. What this means is that membership in the polis was hereditary and could not be passed on to someone outside the citizen family. Originally the polis referred to a defensible area to which farmers of a particular area could retreat in the event of an attack.
The Acropolis in Athens is one such example. Over time, towns grew around these defensible areas. The growth of these towns was unplanned and unlike the city-states we encounter at Sumer, they were not placed for commercial convenience near rivers or seas. In fact, the poleis were situated well inland to avoid raids by sea.
With time, the agora or marketplace began to appear within the polis.
The agora was not only a marketplace but the heart of Greek intellectual life and discourse. The scale of the polis was indeed small. When the philosopher Aristotle B. The issue at stake here is between public and private worlds.
The ancient Greeks did not really see two distinct worlds in the lives of the citizenry. Instead, the public world was to be joined with the private world. The citizens in any given polis were related to one another by blood and so family ties were very strong.
As boys, they grew up together in schools, and as men, they served side by side during times of war. To shirk one's responsibilities was not only rare but reprehensible in the eyes of the Greek citizen. Greek citizens did not have rights, but duties.
A citizen who did not fulfill his duties was socially disruptive. At the polis of Sparta, such a citizen was called "an Inferior. Every polis was different from another. For example, some poleis had different names for the months of the year.
Although there were similarities and differences between the city-states, they all made the effort to preserve their own unique identity. What we call the ancient Greek world was really hundreds of independent city-states or poleis.
No one polis was a replica of another. Those who lived within the confines of a city state considered everyone else to be inferior. Furthermore, those people who did not speak Greek were referred to as barbar, the root of our word barbarian.
Sparta There were two city-states that were indicative of Greek city-states as a whole: At Spartalocated on the Peloponnesus, five Dorian villages combined to form the Spartan state.
In the 8th century, this state conquered all the other peoples of Laconia, one of the most fertile plains in Greece. Although the Spartans extended their territory, they did not extend their citizenship.
The new subjects perioikoi were residents of Lacedaemonia, but citizens remained limited to those native born at Sparta.
From Lycurgus no one knows who this man was or why his name carried so much significance for the Spartanswe learn that boys left home at the age of seven. They were organized into troops and played competitive games until their 18th year, when they underwent four years of military training. From the ages of 18 to 28 they lived together in barracks.
At the age of 30, they became citizens in their own right. There was state education for girls who lived at home but who were also organized into troops. Boys and girls met together to learn basic studies as well as to dance, sing and play musical instruments.
Relations between the sexes was much more free than anywhere else in the Greek world. However, after marriage usually at 30 for men, 16 for womenthe husband ate at the men's club until the age of 60 while his wife remained at home.
The Spartan state arranged for a basic equality in land holding and provided the citizens with laborers, called helots conquered people such as the Messenians who became Spartan serfs. In other words, the economy was based on the idea that slaves would labor to supply the Spartan armies with food, drink and clothing.
As a result, the slave population of Sparta was enormous, thus necessitating the sort of militaristic state that Sparta indeed became. The Spartan constitution allowed for two kings and was therefore a dual monarchy. As the highest magistrates in the city-state, these kings decided issues of war and peace.Feb 17, · Greek democracy and modern democracy.
The architects of the first democracies of the modern era, post-revolutionary France and the United States, claimed a . Athens in the 5th to 4th century BCE had an extraordinary system of government: democracy. Under this system, all male citizens had equal political rights, freedom of speech, and the opportunity to participate directly in the political arena.
Democracy, which had prevailed during Athens’ Golden Age, was replaced by a system of oligarchy after the disastrous Athenian defeat in Sicily in BCE. The constitutional change, according to Thucydides, seemed the only way to win much-needed support from Persia against the old enemy Sparta and, further, it was thought that the change would not be a permanent one.
From The Delian League To The Athenian Empire Thomas Ash Introduction. When Athens began to emerge as a Greek city state in the ninth century, it was a poor city, built on and surrounded by undesirable land, which could support only a few poor crops and olive trees. The Athenian Navy. With thousands of kilometers of coastline and hundreds of islands, the Greek world was likely to be dominated only by a naval power.
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 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's.