21 Facts About Athenian democracy


Athenian democracy developed around the 6th century BC in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the city of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica.

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The Athenian institutions were later revived, but how close they were to a real democracy is debatable.

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In 561 BC, the nascent Athenian democracy was overthrown by the tyrant Peisistratos but was reinstated after the expulsion of his son, Hippias, in 510.

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Athenian democracy 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 (further subdivisions).

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The title of "Athenian democracy" was given to free residents deeming them citizens and granted them special privileges and protections over other residents in the city who were considered "non-citizens".

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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.

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Athenian democracy citizens had to be descended from citizens; after the reforms of Pericles and Cimon in 450 BC, only those descended from two Athenian democracy parents could claim citizenship.

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In terms of intelligence, Athenian democracy men believed that women were less intelligent than men and therefore, similarly to barbarians and slaves of the time, were considered to be incapable of effectively participating and contributing to public discourse on political issues and affairs.

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Greek Athenian democracy created at Athens was direct, rather than representative: any adult male citizen over the age of 20 could take part, and it was a duty to do so.

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The officials of the Athenian democracy were in part elected by the Assembly and in large part chosen by lottery in a process called sortition.

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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.

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Part of the ethos of Athenian democracy, rather, was the building of general competence by ongoing involvement.

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Representativeness of the Athenian offices 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.

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Athenian democracy's officeholding was rather an expression and a result of the influence he wielded.

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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.

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One downside to this change was that the new Athenian democracy was less capable of responding quickly in times where quick, decisive action was needed.

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At times the imperialist Athenian 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.

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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.

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George Grote claimed in his History of Greece that "Athenian democracy was neither the tyranny of the poor, nor the rule of the mob".

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Athenian democracy argued that only by giving every citizen the vote would people ensure that the state would be run in the general interest.

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Later, and until the end of World War Il, Athenian democracy became dissociated from its ancient frame of reference.

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