Ancient Greece Democracy

The dawn of democracy marked the end of tyranny. Greece has remarkably made democracy popular among many states. Read on to learn more about ancient democracy in Greece.
| Saturday, September 18, 2010
Greek history is one of the most antique among some of the known histories of various civilizations. The most unique point to mention about ancient Greece is its well documented literature unlike other races and cultures. The dawn of Greece emerged somewhere around the sixth century BC.

The Greek way of 'Democracy'

In the Greek language, the word 'Democracy' itself means rule of the people. It is free from individual leadership or any sort of tyranny. Ancient Greek Democracy is also known as Athenian democracy originating in the city of Athens. Moving centuries back, the democracy of Athens is known to be the first to come into being. The concept rested on a simple principle; the powers of the ruling government are in the control of the people through officials elected by them. The democratic rule became popular among other states after its successful functioning in Athens. The differences were in the rules of citizenship and voting. Though the ancient Greek democracy model was imitated by many, the authenticity and stability was incomparable with that of Athens. These states authorized the richer class of people to vote, which were fewer in number because of this rule, the major portion of people could not vote. Selection of the right candidates was a difficult task with most of the states who adopted democracy. Athens made use of the lottery system in which the owner of the winning ticket got elected into the council. The democracy functioned as follows in Athens:

  • The democratic constitution was complex and had the forum, the council of officials and the court.
  • The common people could elect their representatives through voting to run the government.
  • The citizenship and the right to vote was conferred only upon Athenian males whose parents were Athenans. This rule kept away the women, the slaves and the foreigners deprived of voting rights.

Manner of Voting

It is quite interesting to know the methods that were used for voting in these times of democracy.

  • Motion of hand: The members used to be elected simply by raising a hand. The individual who would have the support of majority used to be elected.
  • Use of stones for voting: In the later times, counting became a difficult ask as the population increased. The solution that was sought out was using stones for voting. White signified 'Yes' and Black signified 'No'. The voters would drop the stones according to their opinion in a large jar. The ballots were then counted and the results were announced.

Contribution of Famous Leaders in Greek Democracy

  • Pericles was one of the renowned leaders who maintained a long-lasting democracy.
  • Solon, Cleisthenes and Ephialtes are other known legends who actively participated to develop the Greek democracy.
  • The democracy in between ages also fell under the tyranny of Hipparchus and his brother Hippias. The heroic deeds of Harmodius and Aristogeiton brought back the democratic stability for which they were highly regarded by the people.
  • The well known Philosophers of the Greek origin, Plato and Aristotle, was somehow not in favor of a democratic government. His belief was that the common people are not fully capable of ruling themselves.

Though the foundation of democracy was laid down by the Greeks, it was not completely flawless. There were drawbacks and short falls that led to internal clashes and differences in opinions. Despite this, the Greeks have been the highly regarded and remembered for introducing this system of governance.

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