The pathway to achieving a government of social equality in Greece was not without difficulties and deviations. Breaking aristocratic power and influence and giving power to the common people was a process full of many obstructions and difficulties. As J. M Roberts put it! yen democracy emerged out of Athens unexpectedly and at first almost unobserved! | (Roberts, J. M, 2002 p. 196).
The changes that took place in their politics were gradual and therefore it was influenced by many rulers, events and mistakes. Although steps were taken backward in the course of democracy, the people of Athens learnt from these mistakes and strive d for a better way of ruling their state. The road to democracy was a slow and plodding development. Early signs that a democracy could emerge in Athens came from them adopting egalitarian attitudes and ideas from the other city states, the colonies abroad and the hoplite phalanx. The Athenians embraced values from the city states around them.
In Sparta, a citizen was a member of society who was automatically entitled to certain (even if few) rights. This mindset of equality was later adopted by the Athenians. They also took on some Spartan! V type equality values concerning warfare. Colonisation also had important social and political repercussions on the Greek homeland.
Colonisation softened the Greeks and opened their mind to different cultures, ideas and forms of Government. Some men must have returned to Greece after living in colonies, bringing with them new ideas and impressions on how to run a political government (Roberts J. M, 2002).
Does a strong federal government really benefit us, the people, as much as people say it does? A strong federal government compared to a strong local or state government is one of the major topics out there. Are you for a strong central government? A government where one man has the authority to wage wars? In reality studies show that a strong local government benefits the people more than ...
The hoplite phalanx was also a great influence on the values and principles to which democracy came to be based on. Broader participation was introduced and! yen relying on each! |, ! yen working together! | and! yen fighting as one! | were all concepts that were imperative to the hoplite’s (Roberts J. M, 2002).
It was over about three centuries that these changes of growth and development were made. So although the Athenians were moving forward in establishing an innovative form of government called democracy, it was a slow and protracted process. The road to democracy was not easy and straightforward, for many of the citizens were not accepting of the changes being made. Many good leaders such as Solon had started to weaken aristocratic privilege and give rich traders and manufacturers as much power as the nobles. Solon was the bringer of social justice; he allowed all citizens to prosecute wrongdoers in public lawsuits (JH Routledge, 2000).
Solon! |s reforms set Athens on the road to prosperity and power.
However, people at the time failed to appreciate his achievements at allowing greater access to power, and most remained disgruntled. Subsequently, Solon exiled himself from Athens for ten years. The Athenians narrow and cautious mindset meant that although they were moving towards democracy, not everyone accepted and supported the reforms of the rulers. While there were plenty of steps made toward the conception democracy there was also a few steps backward along the way. It was the Athenians bad experience of Tyranny that drove them to want a better system of politics. It opened their eyes to a superior way of governing as the people were able to appreciate a more democratic style of leadership.
However, Pisitratus was an exception; in fact he threatened the growing hatred for tyranny. He was such a good tyrant that the people of Athens weren! |t entirely convinced that it couldn! |t work. Yet Pisitratus! | successor and son, Hippias was a bitter and aimless dictator who stripped away the Athenians freedoms. The people of Athens must have recognised the danger in giving one man complete power, so they had Hippias banished and at that point Cleisthenes seized power.
The 5 th century BCE was a period of great development in Ancient Greece, and specifically in Athens. The development of so many cultural achievements within Athens and the Athenian Empire has led scholars to deem this period a 'Golden Age.' It is true that his period had many achievements, but in the light of the Athenians treatment of women, metics (non-Athenians living in Athens), and slaves it ...
Cleisthenes took Athens to the next level; he organised ten new tribes, each consisting of fourteen dames, these measures gave more power and greater opportunities to the citizens, and broke the influence of the aristocrats. The country, the city and the coast line citizens were equally represented into a council of 500 members, thus giving an even distribution of power (The Greek World).
Every level of society could be heroes, they started to thrive, prosper and move forward. However, just as they were they were becoming great, the Athenians conspired against Cleisthenes and as a result he was exiled (The Greeks, BBC).
Steps were taken back again as Isagoras came to power and the old-Pisistatid form of government was restored (JH Routledge, 2002).
Fortunately, the people realised that they had made a mistake, so they rose up and started a revolution.
They recalled Cleisthenes and asked him to build a government. For the first time in their history, the Athenians came together to discuss the future of their state and take a civil vote. Cleisthenes instituted the rule of the people, they voted on taxes, the building of roads and warfare (The Greeks, BBC).
The Athenians wanted someone to change their system as they were unhappy with the tyrants that had ruled in the past generations.
Hippias and Isagoras were steps backward amongst the steps forward; however this resulted in the Athenians being able to value their new style of government, where the citizens had increased power. The road to democracy was not easy and without difficulties as there were rulers who tried to reinstate the old forms of autocratic tyranny. Democracy was put to the ultimate test and it proved to be superior. The Persians were a great threat to Athens new power status. Persia! |s defeat of Athens would have put an abrupt end to their progressing diminutive democracy. Persia had the potential to wipe out Athens and stop any development in the way of equality among citizens.
So the Athenians went head to head against the mighty Persians, a little democracy against a huge empire. When Athens declared victory over Persia, they came back full of pride and dignity. The Athenians were proud of their way of ruling and associated their victory to their unique style of government. Subsequently, they polished and refined their democracy and made it stronger than before.
Pericles, a Greek Statesman, was the leader of the Athenian government for 30 years (Age of Pericles). Pericles was born into a noble family in Athens. His mother was a niece of Cleisthenes, a statesman who had made many democratic reforms in the Athenian government. After Cleisthenes death Pericles was determined to continue the reforms of his great-uncle and entered politics with the democratic ...
The Athenians democracy could have been defeated and forgotten throughout history, however in the end their democracy was confirmed stronger and was universally recognised. The progression toward democracy was not a simple and straightforward development. The changes that led to a government of social equality and opportunity, was a gradual process, where there were steps made backward as well as forward. The Athenians came against lots of trials and hardship. Changes were being made at a very slow rate, people weren! |t open to change and the Persians wanted to wipe them out. However, the Athenians overcame all these obstacles and proved themselves and their government to be stronger and more powerful than the rest.
Therefore the road to democracy wasn! |t smooth and straight, in fact it proved to be unbearably slow, inconsistent and full of many digressions. References”X Roberts, J. M. (2002).
The New Penguin History of the World. 4 th Edition.
Great Britain, Penguin Press.” X Hazel, J. (2000).
Who! |s who In the Greek World. Routledge, London & New York.” X The Greeks, BBC.