Critics Of Athenian Democracy

1796 Words 8 Pages
Athens was the birth place of democracy, it was around 507BC when the Athenian leader Cleisthenes introduced a series of political reforms known as the demokratia, which means ‘rule by the people’ (Cartledge, 2011) The following essay will assess the demokratia, arguing that ancient Athens was a real democracy. The first consideration is the great quality of democracy displayed in the Athenian political system. Then, the institutions that Athens had in place were democratic and produced stability. To finish, the critics of Athenian democracy utilise the issues of the freedom of speech and the exclusion of women, slaves and foreigners from participating in the democracy to deny that Athens was democratic, these criticisms will be broken down …show more content…
One way to address whether Athens was a real democracy is to examine if it was a ‘good’ democracy; what were the citizens’ powers in terms of being able to check and evaluate the government (Badie, Berg-Schlosser and Morlino, 2011). Ober (1993) shares that democracy was of utmost importance to the Athenians, the political power citizens’ could access was exercised both collectively and actively, unlike the political participation of today. Together the demos exercised their collective power as a means of preventing the domination of politics by the elite. The Athenians emphasised equality for all citizens in the formulation and decision-making of public policy. The democrats of Athens viewed the nature of people quite optimistically, allowing citizens to pursue the lives they wanted, within the broad limits of the law. In this view, all citizens could be trusted as suitable candidates to govern the city. They still acknowledged though the freedom of human nature to those governing could not be fully trusted and the possibility of temptations of power existed. This was one of the reasons that the terms in offices were short, in order to deter this human nature. Also, there was a regular review of magistrates and how they conducted themselves during their spell in office (Jones, 1957). Overall, Finlay (1973) addresses the idea that democracy of Athens was of greater quality, compared to modern democracy. In today’s society people engage with the political process on various occasions, with a deep feeling of political disengagement with the impersonal act of ticking a box on the ballot paper. The Athenian assembly, also known as the ekklēsiā, would have been an arena of active and emotional politics, Furthermore, the Athenians had a number of devices, which were part of the citizens’ power to keep the government stable. One of these was ostracism, if a man’s

Related Documents