In the late sixth century B.C., the Greek city-state that Athens started to place the structures for a new kind of political system. This demokratia, as it became known, was a direct democracy that offered political power to cost-free male Athenian citizens fairly than a judgment aristocratic course or dictator, which had actually largely been the share in Athens for several hundred years before.

Athens’ demokratia, which lasted until 322 B.C., is one of the faster known instances of democracy; and also although current scholarship has facility the Eurocentric watch that it was the an initial democracy, this old political system was exceptionally influential in the Mediterranean region. That inspired similar political systems in various other Greek city-states and also influenced the old Roman Republic.

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Athenian Men join the Assembly

The last tyrannos, or tyrant, to ascendancy Athens was Hippias, who fled the city once Sparta invaded in 510 B.C. Two or three years later, an Athenian aristocrat named Cleisthenes aided introduce democratic reforms. Over the next several decades, succeeding reforms expanded this political mechanism while likewise narrowing the definition of who counted as an Athenian citizen.


What was Cleisthenes’ an inspiration for initiating this changes? Unfortunately, “we don’t have actually any good contemporary historic Athenian sources that tell united state what’s walking on,” states Paul Cartledge, a classics professor in ~ the college of Cambridge. After ~ the 514 B.C. Assassination that Hippias’ brother, Cleisthenes may have actually sensed over there was cultivation public assistance for a device in which the city-state was no governed by one elite judgment class.

“Cleisthenes, ns think more than likely partly for his own an individual self-promotion, placed himself forward as champion of the majority view, which was that we must have actually some form of popular, ‘people’ regime,” Cartledge says.


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To get involved in the demokratia, a person had actually to be free, male and also Athenian. In the start of the autonomous period, Athenian men had actually to have an Athenian father and also a cost-free mother. Through the mid-5th century B.C., Athens readjusted the law so the only men with Athenian fathers and mothers could claim citizenship. Due to the fact that there to be no birth certificates (or DNA tests) come prove parentage, a young Athenian man’s politics life started when his father introduced him in ~ their regional demos, or politics unit, through swearing the he was his father and bringing witnesses to attest to this, Cartledge says.

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A close-up of a marble relief reflecting the world of Athens gift crowned by Democracy, inscribed through a law versus tyranny passed by the people of Athens in 336 B.C.