Athenian Democracy Essay Outlines

Essay on Development of Democracy in Athens

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Development of Democracy in Athens Democracy comes from two Greek words: a noun demos which means, "people" and a verb, kratein, which means "to rule" (Ober 120). Democracy first appeared in Athens towards the beginning of the fifth century B.C. The biggest difference between Athenian democracy and almost all other democracies is that the Athenian version was a direct democracy rather than being representative. Democracy came about in Athens as a result of the growing navel power and the reforms made by leaders such as Cleisthenes and Pericles. The city-state of Athens, 5th century Athens to be precise, is the inventor and first practitioner of democracy. So for 4,000 years men and women lived under forms of government other than…show more content…

The laws for Athens began with Solon, but perhaps the most influential leader for democracy in Athens was Cleisthenes. In 510 Cleisthenes had managed to get the sons of Peisistratus kicked out of Athens with Spartan help (Demand 157). But now the old internal divisions, which had plagued Athens since Solon's time, reasserted themselves. Herodotus says in his history of Greece that Cleisthenes decided to turn to the people (Herodotus 302). Perhaps he did so solely out of practical political reasons: he needed a powerful force on his side now that the Spartans had turned against him. Although, his major motivation may have been to produce a government that would unify Athenians by all, rich and poor alike. Unity, perhaps, rather democracy, was his immediate goal. But it was democracy that he would prove to be the means to the unification of the people of Athens. Cleisthenes began his reforms with the reorganization of the tribes. Athens, like most Greek cities, had been divided into tribes based on descent. This gave aristocratic families a natural way of securing influence, because relatives tended to stick together. The people of Attica had also often clumped in regional groupings, as in the day of Peisistratus, and this had lead to dangerous internal disorder. Cleisthenes completely

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to democracy.

Democracy – form of government which allows people to participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws.[1]

Nature of democracy[edit]

Main article: Democracy

Democracy can be described as a(n):

  • Institution – structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community. Institutions are identified with a social purpose and permanence, transcending individual human lives and intentions, and with the making and enforcing of rules governing cooperative human behavior.[2]

Types of democracy[edit]

Types of democracy Main types

  1. Direct democracy – the people decide (e.g. vote on, form consensus on) policy initiatives directly.
  2. Representative democracy – elected officials represent a group of people. All modern Western-style democracies are types of representative democracies; for example, Germany is a parliamentary republic.

History of democracy[edit]

History of democracy – democracy can be traced back from the present day to classical Athens in the 6th century B.C.E.

  • Athenian democracy – democracy in the Greek city-state of Athens developed around the fifth century BC, making Athens one of the first known democracies in the world, comprising the city of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica. It was a system of direct democracy, in which eligible citizens voted directly on legislation and executive bills.
    • Solon (c. 638 – c. 558 BC)– Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet. Legislated against political, economic, and moral decline in archaic Athens. His reforms failed in the short term, yet he is often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy.[5][6][7][8]
    • Cleisthenes (born around 570 BC). – father of Athenian democracy. He reformed the constitution of ancient Athens and set it on a democratic footing in 508/7 BC.
    • Ephialtes (died 461 BC) – led the democratic revolution against the Athenian aristocracy, which exerted control through the Areopagus, the most powerful body in the state.[9] Ephialtes proposed a reduction of the Areopagus' powers, and the Ecclesia (the Athenian Assembly) adopted Ephialtes' proposal without opposition. This reform signaled the beginning of a new era of "radical democracy" for which Athens would become famous.
    • Pericles – arguably the most prominent and influential Greek statesman. When Ephialtes was assassinated for overthrowing the elitist Council of the Aeropagus, his deputy Pericles stepped in. He was elected strategos (one of ten such posts) in 445 BCE, which he held continuously until his death in 429 BCE, always by election of the Athenian Assembly. The period during which he led Athens, roughly from 461 to 429 BC, is known as the "Age of Pericles".
    • Ostracism – procedure under the Athenian democracy in which any citizen could be expelled from the city-state of Athens for ten years.
    • Areopagus – council of elders of Athens, similar to the Roman Senate. Like the Senate, its membership was restricted to those who had held high public office, in this case that of Archon.[10] In 594 BC, the Areopagus agreed to hand over its functions to Solon for reform. Later, Ephialtes radically reduced its powers.
    • Ecclesia – principal assembly of the democracy of ancient Athens during its "Golden Age" (480–404 BCE). It was the popular assembly, open to all male citizens with 2 years of military service. In 594 BC, Solon allowed all Athenian citizens to participate, regardless of class, even the thetes (manual laborers).
  • Federalist Papers –
  • Potsdam Declaration –
  • Third Wave Democracy –

Democratic process[edit]


  • Election rules
  • Electoral fraud – illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates, or both. Also called voter fraud, the mechanisms involved include illegal voter registration, intimidation at polls and improper vote counting. What electoral fraud is under law varies from country to country.
    • Show election – election that is held purely for show, that is, without any significant political purpose. Show elections are a common event in dictatorial regimes that still feel the need to establish some element of public legitimacy. Also known as a "sham election" or "rubber stamp election".
  • Redistricting –
    • Gerrymandering – manipulating geographic boundaries of electoral districts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group in the form of partisan or incumbent-protected districts.
  • Sortition – selection of decision makers by lottery. The decision-makers are chosen as a random sample from a larger pool of candidates. Also known as allotment or the drawing of lots.
  • Types of elections
  • Elections by country –
  • Elections by date –


Democratic concepts[edit]

Criticism of democracy[edit]

Criticism of democracy includes charges that democracy is either economically inefficient, politically idealistic, or morally corrupt.

Media about democracy[edit]

Books about democracy[edit]

Influential scholars[edit]

This section is empty.You can help by adding to it.(September 2011)

See also[edit]


  1. ^Larry Jay Diamond, Marc F. Plattner (2006). Electoral systems and democracy p.168. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.
  2. ^Stanford Encyclopaedia: Social Institutions
  3. ^"government". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. November 2010. 
  4. ^Bealey, Frank, ed. (1999). "government". The Blackwell dictionary of political science: a user's guide to its terms. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 147. ISBN 9780631206958. 
  5. ^Stanton, G.R. Athenian Politics c800–500BC: A Sourcebook, Routledge, London (1990), p. 76.
  6. ^Andrews, A. Greek Society (Penguin 1967) 197
  7. ^E. Harris, A New Solution to the Riddle of the Seisachtheia, in 'The Development of the Polis in Archaic Greece', eds. L. Mitchell and P. Rhodes (Routledge 1997) 103
  8. ^Aristotle Politics 1273b 35–1274a 21.
  9. ^Fornara-Samons, Athens from Cleisthenes to Pericles, 24–25
  10. ^Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians §3

External links[edit]

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