Athenian Democracy Research Paper

641 Words3 Pages
Throughout history, distinct government systems differ by their essences, and each nation or empire has its own features in aspect of democracy. However, the underlying "principle" or general idea can be understood as equity with respect to citizenships. The idea of democracy was firstly initiated in Athens, the capital of Ancient Greece. The radical attempt of democracy was acknowledged to be one of the legacies that the Athenians left in history. Early Athens had been ruled by a monarchy, by the seventh century B.C.E. it had fallen under the control of its aristocrats. During this period of time, aristocrats possessed the supreme power over political and military rights by means of a council of nobles called the Areopagus, assisted by a…show more content…
Solon's reforms emphasized the civil rights of each individual citizen, and the realigning of the government structure as well. Specifically through the cancellation of debts and elimination of slavery, Solon invoked the seisachtheia, meaning "shaking off of burdens." He freed debt slaves and forbade the enslavement of people for debts. He also rewrote many laws to supersede the Draconian laws and to extend into areas where no previous laws had existed. "He gave every Athenian the right to appeal to a jury, and he specified that any citizen could serve on a jury; this was in contrast to the older legal system in which all legal questions were decided by the aristocratic archons." (Martin, Thomas R., 318) By dividing the people into four economic or social classes and facilitating the establishment of a Council of approximately four hundred people. The consequences and effects of Solon's reforms were evident, that "power was no longer concentrated solely in the hands of the oligarchy." (Martin, Thomas R.,…show more content…
In circa 508 B.C.E., Cleisthenes drove out the Peisistratids with the help of a Spartan army. Cleisthenes then proposed a series of dramatic democratic reforms that made him popular among the lower classes but that alarmed the aristocrats. In 508, Cleisthenes was driven out of Athens, but the Athenian people rallied behind Cleisthenes and drove out the Spartans. Cleisthenes returned to Athens in triumph, and he spent the next several years implementing his reforms. The significant aspect of Cleisthenes' reform was the organization of the demes, those political divisions, which shaped the structure of government around geographic rather than hereditary units. Moreover, to prevent any one powerful individual from taking control of the state as Peisistratos had, he created the system of ostracism, through which the Assembly could expel its citizens for as long as ten

More about Athenian Democracy Research Paper

Open Document