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Athenian Democracy

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Today, much of the world’s governments have converted to democracies. In the Ancient World, there was only one truly notable example of a democratic society: The City-State of Athens. This is actually the birthplace of democracy, where instead of the rich or powerful ruling, it was the citizens of the city-state that held the power. This advanced way of government was so effective and well structured, it even laid the foundations for the development of our own democracy, right here in the United States, over 2,000 years in the future. Prior to Athens’s collapse during the Peloponnesian War, it truly had an efficient and very organized system of government.

Democracy in Athens can be traced back to 594 B.C.E, when Solon was given the power to introduce reforms in Athens. Over the next 190 years Athens was taken through its “Golden Age”. Then after being defeated and captured by the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War in 404 B.C.E, the way of government in Athens crumbled for a short time. However, it was never the same again.

The path to democracy began with laws put forth by the noble Draco. “In an attempt to conciliate the command, the nobles appointed one of their own men, Draco, to draft a written law code. His laws were seen as much too harsh, however, and soon the city tottered on the brink of bloody revolution” (Nardo 12). After these laws were put in place, the ruling council of Athens allowed Solon, an archon, the power to put forth reforms. Some of these reforms included cancelling all agricultural debts, restoring freedom to Athenians who sold themselves into slavery, and giving all citizens the right to vote in the Assembly.

Cleisthenes had an immense effect on democracy on Athens. The Peisistratid family ruled...

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...nment. It was so well developed, we even referred to it when planning our own government after the Revolutionary War. In the Ancient World, it was one of few examples of democracy. Today, many governments have become democracies or a form of it. It could be said that Athens has transformed the world in a way. This is how well the people of Athens formed their government.

Works Cited

Ancient Civilizations. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Educational, 2000. Print.

Baxevanis, John. "Athens." World Book. Chicago: World Book Inc., 2010. Print.

Nardo, Don. A Travel Guide to Ancient Athens. New York: Lucent Books, 2003. Print.

Sacks, David. "democracy in ancient Greece." Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World. Rev. ed. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2005. Web. . Accessed 10 Jan. 2011.
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