Athenian Demokratia Essay

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In 508 B.C, a civil war in Athens ceased; giving rise to a new democratic constitution under the leadership of Cleisthenes. The changes made under his leadership and other subsequent reforms resulted in a relatively radical form of government for the time known as democracy (Hyland Lecture, 26/09/2013). Democracy is a system of collective decision-making in which the participants have equality at least at one essential point of the decision making process (Christiano, “Democracy”). Furthermore, the term ‘democracy’, which comes from the Greeks, literally means rule by the people. The system of government, created by the Greeks, known as Democracy possessed many unique characteristics such as judicial review that have come to influence…show more content…
The goal of the body was unanimity but a majority was accepted to pass proposals. All of the institutions of the government required short-term limits (often less than a year) so as to include all citizens and represent all interests (Pickles 31). The Council of 500 created the agenda for the Assembly and the magistrates ran the programs created by the Assembly, while the generals followed out military decisions by the Assembly. The judicial system consisted of courts in which jurors (chosen by lot) decided legal disputes and had the power of judicial review (Jones 14). A.H. M Jones describes the importance of the judicial system in his work, “The Economic Basis for Athenian Democracy”: ““Political trials were frequent in Athens, and in the fourth-century in particular the indictment for an illegal motion was constantly employed for political purposes, often on very technical grounds. The result was that the popular juries-in such cases sometimes thousands strong -tended to become a Supreme Court” (Jones 14). The court essentially acted as a check on the powerful Assembly thus further displaying the strong desire to prevent any one group from becoming too powerful. The governmental system was designed so as to allow all citizens to have a voice in government and prevent any one individual or interest from becoming too powerful. The use of short-term limits and
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