What are the Unique Traits of Athenian Democracy? Essay

918 Words Nov 22nd, 2013 4 Pages
29 September 2013
What are the Unique Traits of Athenian Democracy?

There are several traits that make Athenian democracy unique not only in the ancient world but also in the modern world as well. For the first time in recorded history, citizens had a say in what laws were to govern them . Democracy was an unknown and alien concept in the ancient world, and Athenians knew that their political process was different in and they were intensely proud of it. “Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. We do not copy our neighbours, but are an example to them” (funeral speech.37). The concept of the citizen, the allotment (lottery)system of choosing members of government administration and courts,
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It was not enough to be just a citizen, you had the obligation to be deeply involved in in your community and by definition, the political process. A citizens very worth was dependant on this “we alone regard a man who takes no interest in public affairs, not as harmless but as useless character” (funeral speech.40). Wealth or prestige was not as important as Success in the political realm. Wealth was seen only as a means to an end “wealth we employ , not for talk or ostentation, but when there is a real use for it” (funeral speech. 40). The allotment system was another important trait of the Athenian democracy. Members of government administration and the courts were picked by lottery instead of by traditional election as elections were seen as more open to tampering and corruption (lecture). This was an entirely new way to do things and it was more equitable and did away with nepotism. Wealth or prestige was no longer a prerequisite for holding government office, as was previously the case. A man was equal to his fellow citizen regardless of wealth. “Neither is poverty a bar, but a man my benefit his country whatever the obscurity of his condition” (funeral speech.37). This concept was an important idea and opened up the political leadership and decision making to the common man.

The most important trait of Athenian democracy was that it was a direct (pure) democracy. The Athenians were the first in
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