Features Of Athenian Democracy

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In approximately 550 B.C., democracy came to Athens in Greece. The word Democracy was first known to be used by Herodotus in 440 B.C.

Athenian Democracy was a system of direct democracy, where participating citizens voted directly on legislation and executive bills. Although not everyone who lived in Athens could participate in the democracy. Only male citizens over 18 could take part, and a majority of the population at the time weren’t citizens. Participating in the democratic process came with full-time responsibility. According to Xenophon, most participants had slaves to work for them and some scholars point out that without slaves, democracy would not have been possible.

Athenian democracy was unique among political structures of the ancient world where the majority were monarchies where a king or another single ruler had absolute power over everybody else or shared it with a few selected aristocrats. One of the things that made Athenian democracy unique is that all free male citizens decided all important questions or actually ruled the country through voting on an assembly. Military generals were also selected and such. Athenian democracy influenced later modern democracy through ideas that were picked up by others in Europe mostly in 1700's such as Rousseau, Voltaire, Hobbes and others who advocated restriction of absolute monarchy and liberalism.

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