Democracy in Athens

Democracy in Athens


The rise of the Athenian city-state took place c. 1000 BC.
Athens is located on the mainland in an area known as Attica, across the straits of
Messina from Sparta and Corinth.

Dorian invaders overran the Ionian natives c. 1000 BC.
Unlike the Spartans, the Dorians assimilated the Ionian culture and became peaceful.
Athenians turned toward the sea for a living, establishing a strong commercial trade.
Athens founded many colonies in the Aegean Sea.
Many Athenians became wealthy thus creating a wide social gap between its people.
Social classes developed in Athens creating friction among its people.
All males whose mother and father were citizens could vote and take part in the
government (Citizens).

The rising merchant and artisan class (Metics) could not own land or take part in the government.
About 1/2 of population were slaves – considered personal property but did have some safeguards against abuse.
The early Athenian government was an aristocracy which controlled all facets of

The Assembly (Ecclesia); comprised of all male citizens but had very little power initially.
King; elected by the aristocrats and owed power to them.
9 aristocrats chosen from the Assembly
made all laws and executed them
controlled all political facets of Athenian life
Judges; aristocrats

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