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Lecture 3

POLS 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Heliaia, Metic, Term Limit

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 1000
Martin Breaugh

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Institutions of Athens
October 11
Isonomy - equality before the law ( might be on exam to define the transition to
democracy in athens)
Institutions of ancient democracy
It is at the assembly that all citizen decide measures to be taken in the polis
Council (Boule) 2 tasks:
- prepare the sessions of the assembly
- implement or execute the decisions made by the citizens in the assembly
500 members of council ( drawn by lot ) - would sit on council for 1 year
- Selected from the tribes made by kleisthenes ( each tribe would get 50 members)
Membership to council could not be renewed and couldn't be a member more than twice
Each tribal group of 50 would exercise power for 36 days (known as a prytanie)
For each sitting of the council a president would be selected by lot and he would preside
the council for 1 day only
Lottery system : the choice of the system wasn't a choice of convenience. Believed that
the Gods would choose who would be chosen, has the additional benefit of designating
anybody to become part of council not because of education, money, or power, but
rather choosing them just as they are. Allows for the rotation of public office holders
Believed the lottery system was immune to the effects of demagoguery
aristotle “the excellence of a citizen is to command well and obey well “
Elections have a tendency elected the same kinds of people
Public offices:
The bearers of public office could be considered top of the hierarchy
In athens there were 700 different public offices , of the 700 , 600 were chosen by lot
Term limit of one year , couldn't renew their mandates, in addition you couldn't hold a
public office for more than one mandate
The bearers were chosen from a list of volunteers ( had to be 30 years of age)
When chosen they had to undergo a civic examination, and then pledge allegiance to
If you engaged in corruption and only engaged in private interests , the council could
bring you to court - could be exiled or put to death
The final 100 offices of 700 were chosen by elections
Positions that dealt with military strategy or public finances ,they needed to find
particularly able people - therefore elections were the best method in this particular case
Elections have an aristocratic effect
Last 100 positions, these mandates were renewable
Judicial power in Athens
Was exercised by 6000 citizens ( called heliaia)
Drawn by lot from a list of volunteers
find more resources at
find more resources at
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