Lecture 3 October 1 2012
- Democracy will exist in a small political community known as the polis
- Born at a precise time in history during greek civilization
- Inhabitants had immediate contact with both their citizens and their needs of their community
- The polis is not just a political system or organzinging the good within the community, the polis
is a way of life. Based on a way of life for a quest of excellence.
- Individual citizens who they are and express who they are through politics. They are shaping,
modling and creating the community.
- The greeks will discover the equlibriam/fine balance between the needs of the individual and
the requirements of the community. They will here teach us an important lesson about politics
and understanding of democracy.
- At its very essence democracy is a way of life
The transition that will bring Athens from an aristocratic community to a democratic community. Aristo
= best. Polis at its origins was an aristocratic political community. Best are always the few. The polis was
ruled by the few/the best. The few decides what constitutes the best. Pressure from two different types
of group on aristocracy – usually groups that are not included with politics – merchants and peasants.
The pressure that the merchants and peasants will put on aristiocrats will create conflict or strife within
Types of Politicians in Athens:
Legislator- a citizen in partial to the conflict at hand who is elevated above the conflict in order to create
a piece of legislation or reform capable of avoiding civil war.
- Both in the case of the tyrants and legislators were called upon to be statesmen or act like
statesmen. Statemens is a person called upon to act selflessly, and were expected to do much
good and very little harm.
- Once legislator did his job, he would resign his powers and asked to leave the polis.
- The real problem is that people who introduce important piece of legislation, don’t like it when
other people play with their legislation
In Athens,the first of the great legisators would appear in 621 BCE, named Drako. Codify the laws of
Athens. With this act the transition to democracy will begin.
The fact of removing the aristocrats role as the guardian of the tradition of the law, also removing the
favoritism in Athens. Once the law is written, it is written for all and open to interpretation for all.
Remove/diminish some of the aritocrats power by allowingall Athenians access to the law. Drakos
reforms in 621 will not totally abolish the power of the aristocrats. The merchants and peasents might
be satisfied for some time, but the quarrels surrounding the government of Athens will resurface.
Drakos code of law was excessively hard and severe – draconian.
Solon 594 BCE. Abloish slavery for debts. He will abolish outstanding debts. Encourage economic
specialization – ie. Wine making or olive oil. Divide Athens into four different classes or groups of
Each of the four classes of property owners will have different rights and responsibilieis within athens.
For the first time in history the aristocrats have to share power with merchants. Their power will be
dilluted. The aristocrats have to coexist to share their properties. This diminishes the power of the
Solon will even refuse the peoples offer for full political power. The athenians were so pleased that they
offered him full power. Relenquished the citizenship of athens. (Like a statesmen) POLS 1000
Lecture 3 October 1 2012
solons reforms like those of draco will not end the corals, it will satisfy the merchants (those who own
property) but not satisfy the peasents. And so, the demands for greater equality/inclusion will reappear
and presistent after the work of solon, and this is how we can explain the appearence of the tyrant. The
tyrant will appear in athenian life in 560 bce
Tyrant: a citizen raised above the conflict but not in order to create a piece of legislation, rather he will
be elevated by the people in order to govern according to their needs. In other words, the tyrant will
actually remove the power of the few, and in the name of the peoples needs he will govern athens.
Replace rules of aristocrats with his own rule. The rule of the tyrant was often violent and was strictly
speaking illegal. The rule is illegal becus it doesnt rest on the insitutions of athens
the term itself is not an acient greek term. "Tyrant" was not forged by athenians, it is lydian (was
situated in Turkey)
the term was a neutral/descriptive term. The athenians w