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CLA160H1: Lecture notes #6.docx

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Victoria Wohl

CLA160: Lecture 6 Reading #6: The invention of democracy, Thucydides Peloponnesian War Classical Athens (480-323 BCE) Introduction: - Athens was the first western democracy (and considered its origin). - The rise of the Polis brings changes in these fields: Construction of great monuments (Parthenon for instance), innovations and creations in poetry and artistry precipitated by democracy. - Democracy permeated all aspects of Athenian life: social, individual, philosophical, political etc. The conception of the individual and related aspects changed greatly (lovers, slaves, sex life…). Athens as a political structure and a way of living… - It did not always used to be a democracy. - In the Archaic Period, Athens was governed by the Elite resulting in many conflicts between the elite and the demos. - The region of Atheca in which Athens was situated had very poor soil. - It was monopolized by the rich and the poor paid and worked (and a lot of the times fell into debt). - Around 590 BCE, the situation got so bad that they called upon a mediator (i.e. Leader): Solon. - He dissolved the debt of all citizens and freed them all. Eleutheria: freedom, free of a master. Eleutheria was the minimum requirement for citizenship. - He also established a rule that during a war, every citizen had to be engaged in one side otherwise you weren’t worthy. - Even after his changes, inequality of wealth and power persisted (he did not redistribute the land or material goods). - During the Classical period, the demos started taking more and more power despite the persisting inequalities. - Solon didn’t found democracy but he established the basic principles and is considered one of its fathers. The Persian war, a turning point…  The origin and principles th - During the 6 century BCE, the demos came into being. - Athens prestige came from its navy and the people who drove the ships were demos, poor people. - Demokratia kratos of the demos, power of the people. - Their democracy was very much like our own except that nowadays we have to go through our representative to express our individual opinions and beliefs. - Athens, by contrast, was a radical and direct democracy. They didn’t have mediators between the citizens and the government because the demos was the government. - It was a government for the people, by the people. - The principle was the following: a rotation of office was determined a sortation (a selection by lot) held once a year. - The public voted and renewed each officer at the end of the year (board of citizens). - Every officer had to report to the demos so an individual’s chance of serving was high. - The rotation prevented the Elite from taking over and abusing of their power. As a result, no one
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