Athenian Democracy Essay

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Athenian Democracy | | |Democracy in Athens was not perfect but it was better than other government systems around in the 5th century. Much of this| |is owed to a few key figures in Athenian history including Solon, Cleisthenes, and Pericles. Initially, Athenian democracy | |was triggered by the economic upheavals that led to Solon’s rise in the 4th century. And later by political upheaval that | |led to first, the overthrow of Pisistratus’ son, Hippias, and second, the rise of Cleisthenes based on his seeking the | |direct support of the people through demokratia. In this way, Cleisthenes moved Athens from an oligarchy to a democracy. | |Athenian democracy was, by nature, a direct democracy, unlike the modern representative democracy of America. In most | |cases, Athenians did not vote for representatives – but voted directly on the decisions of Athens. Go to war with Sparta – | |they voted. Build a navy – they voted. Athens had public officials – but they were chosen by lottery – another way to | |participate. To ensure that these officials did not become too powerful their power was limited by short terms and limits | |on the ability to hold the same role more than once. But, there were lots of these roles so many could participate. | |[Of course, the Athenian democracy also had problems. It took up time from the people who participated in it – and that | |could be any Athenian citizen – with the exception of women and slaves. It was unstable – people could vote in whatever | |direction that suited them – although some institutions, like the Areopagus, were created to ensure more stability. ] | |There were a number of institutions that made up Athenian democracy. These institutions included the Ecclesia or Assembly, | |the Boule or the Council of 500, the Areopagus or council of elders (former
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