The Classical Athenian Democracy

The Classical Athenian Democracy

The Classical Athenian Democracy

The Classical Athenian Democracy

Excerpt

The Greeks had a word for it, and the word was de+êImokratia, a compound of de+e+êImos ('the people') and kratos ('power', or 'rule'). But it is significant that the first occurrence of the word in surviving Greek literature is in Herodotus' History (6. 43, 131), which he was writing during the third quarter of the fifth century. It was perhaps coined in the period following the reforms of the last decade of the sixth, which later won fame for Cleisthenes as 'the man who gave the Athenians their democracy' (Herodotus 6. 131; Ath. Pol. 29. 3) -- although in his own day the slogans most favoured may well have been isonomia ('equality for all under the law') and ise+e+êIgoria ('the right of everyone to have his say'). In 431 Pericles could claim (Thucydides 2. 37) that the Athenian system of government was unique, and an example to every other society in Greece: 'It is called a "democracy", because it subserves the interests not of a privileged few but of the bulk of its citizens.'

The democracy which existed in Athens for the two hundred years which followed the reforms of Cleisthenes differed in important respects from the democracies under which we live today. It is the object of this book to explain to the modern reader what its institutions were, how they worked, and what assumptions underlay them. The book is principally concerned with the fully developed democracy of the post-Ephialtic period; but a chapter is devoted to tracing the broad development of the Athenian constitution from the reforms of Solon in the early sixth century down to those of Ephialtes in the late 460s, so that the developed democracy can be seen in its proper historical context. A great deal of . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.