Athenian democracy developed in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the central city-state of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, around 550 BC. Athens is one of the first known democracies. Other Greek cities set up democracies, and even though most followed an Athenian model, none were as powerful, stable, nor as well-documented as that of Athens.
It remains a unique and intriguing experiment in direct democracy, a political system in which the people do not elect representatives to vote on their behalf but vote on legislation and executive bills in their own right. Participation was by no means open, but the in-group of participants was constituted with no reference to economic class and they participated on a large scale. The public opinion of voters was remarkably influenced by the political satire performed by the comic poets at the theatres.
Solon (594 BC), Cleisthenes (508/7 BC), and Ephialtes (462 BC) all contributed to the development of Athenian democracy. Historians differ on which of them was responsible for which institution, and which of them most represented a truly democratic movement. It is most usual to date Athenian democracy from Cleisthenes, since Solon's constitution fell and was replaced by the tyranny of Peisistratus, whereas Ephialtes revised Cleisthenes' constitution relatively peacefully. Hipparchus, brother of the tyrant Hippias, was killed by Harmodius and Aristogeiton, who were subsequently honored by the Athenians for their alleged restoration of Athenian freedom.
The greatest and longest lasting democratic leader was Pericles; after his death, Athenian democracy was twice briefly interrupted by oligarchic revolution towards the end of the Peloponnesian War. It was modified somewhat after it was restored under Eucleides; the most detailed accounts are of this fourth-century modification rather than the Periclean system. It was suppressed by the Macedonians in 322 BC. The Athenian institutions were later revived, but the extent to which they were a real democracy is debatable.
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... Athenian democracy developed in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the central city-state of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, around 500 BCE ... Greek cities set up democracies, and even though most followed an Athenian model, none were as powerful, stable, or as well-documented as that of Athens ... In the direct democracy of Athens, the electorate did not nominate representatives to vote on legislation and executive bills on their behalf (as in the United States Congress), but instead voted on ...
... Fifth century BC Athenian democracy developed out of a notion of isonomia (equality of political rights), and random selection was a principal way of ... Greek "democracy" (literally meaning "rule by the people") was actually run by the people administration was in the hands of committees allotted from the people and regularly ... may seem strange to those used to modern liberal democracy, the Athenian Greeks considered elections to be essentially undemocratic ...
... After his fall, the Athenians continued to run their internal affairs according to democratic forms for centuries ...
Famous quotes containing the words democracy and/or athenian:
“It is time to provide a smashing answer for those cynical men who say that a democracy cannot be honest, cannot be efficient.... We have in the darkest moments of our national trials retained our faith in our own ability to master our own destiny.”
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“Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”
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