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Paige W

BBC - History - Ancient History in depth: The Democratic Experiment - 1 views

  • Take politics for example: apart from the word itself (from polis, meaning city-state or community) many of the other basic political terms in our everyday vocabulary are borrowed from the ancient Greeks: monarchy, aristocracy, tyranny, oligarchy and - of course - democracy.
  • demokratia
  • It meant literally 'people-power'
  • ...69 more annotations...
  • The Greek word demos could mean either
  • Was it all the people
  • Or only some of the people
  • There's a theory that the word demokratia was coined by democracy's enemies, members of the rich and aristocratic elite who did not like being outvoted by the common herd, their social and economic inferiors.
  • By the time of Aristotle (fourth century BC) there were hundreds of Greek democracies. Greece in those times was not a single political entity but rather a collection of some 1,500 separate poleis or 'cities' scattered round the Mediterranean and Black Sea shores 'like frogs around a pond', as Plato once charmingly put it.
  • cities that were not democracies
  • power was in the hands of the few richest citizens
  • monarchies, called 'tyrannies' in cases where the sole ruler had usurped power by force rather than inheritanc
  • most stable,
  • most long-lived,
  • most radical, was Athens.
  • origin of the Athenian democracy of the fifth and fourth centuries can be traced back to Solon,
  • flourished
  • 600 BC.
  • was a poet and a wise statesman
  • but not - contrary to later myth - a democrat.
  • Solon's constitutional reform package that laid the basis on which democracy could be pioneered
  • Cleisthenes was the son of an Athenian, but the grandson and namesake of a foreign Greek tyrant
  • also the brother-in-law of the Athenian tyrant, Peisistratus,
  • eized power three times
  • before finally establishing a stable and apparently benevolent dictatorship.
    • Paige W
       
      Interesting insight on the beginning of democracy.
  • nder this political system that Athens successfully resisted the Persian onslaughts of 490 and 480/79
  • victory in turn encouraged the poorest Athenians to demand a greater say in the running of their city
  • Ephialtes and Pericles presided over a radicalisation of power that shifted the balance decisively to the poorest sections of society
  • he democratic Athens that won and lost an empire,
  • built the Parthenon,
  • eschylus, Sophocles,
  • Euripides and Aristophanes
  • laid the foundations of western rational and critical thought
  • was not, of course, without internal critics
  • when Athens had been weakened by the catastrophic Peloponnesian War (431-404) these critics got their chance
  • n 411 and again in 404 Athenian oligarchs led counter-revolutions that replaced democracy with extreme oligarchy
  • oligarchs were supported by Athens's old enemy, Sparta
  • mpossible to maintain themselves in power
  • democracy was restored
  • 'blips' such as the trial of Socrates - the restored Athenian democracy flourished stably and effectively for another 80 years
  • There were no proper population censuses in ancient Athens,
  • total population of fifth-century Athens, including its home territory of Attica, at around 250,000 - men, women and children, free and unfree, enfranchised and disenfranchised. Of those
  • 250,000 some 30,000 on average were fully paid-up citizens -
  • adult males of Athenian birth and full status
  • second key difference is the level of participation.
  • representative
  • we choose politicians to rule for us
  • Athenian
  • democracy
  • was direct
  • and in-your-face.
  • most officials and all jurymen were selected by lot.
  • This was thought to be the democratic way, since election favoured the rich, famous and powerful over the ordinary citizen.
  • mid fifth century, office holders, jurymen, members of the city's main administrative Council of 500, and even Assembly attenders were paid a small sum from public funds to compensate them for time spent on political service away from field or workshop.
  • eligibility
  • adult male citizens need apply for the privileges and duties of democratic government, and a birth criterion of double descent - from an Athenian mother as well as father -
  • Athenian democracy did not happen only in the Assembly and Council. The courts were also essentially political spaces, located symbolically right at the centre of the city.
  • defined the democratic citizen as the man 'who has a share in (legal) judgment and office'.
  • Athenian drama,
  • was a fundamentally political activity as well,
  • One distinctively Athenian democratic practice that aroused the special ire of the system's critics was the practice of ostracism -
  • potsherd
  • rom the Greek word for
  • decide which leading politician should be exiled for ten years
  • on a piece of broken pottery.
  • voters scratched or painted the name of their preferred candidate
  • 6,000 citizens had to 'vote' for an ostracism to be valid,
  • biggest
  • political
  • risked being fried
  • For almost 100 years ostracism fulfilled its function of aborting serious civil unrest or even civil war
  • Power to the people, all the people, especially the poor majority, remained the guiding principle of Athenian democracy.
  •  
    About of Greek Democracy
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