By: Jermaine Sumner
Describe the structure of the government developed by this civilization.
- There were three main pillars of democracy: The Assembly of the Demos, The council of 500, and the people's court
- In 507 BC, the citizens of Athens began to develop a system of popular rule that would last 2 centuries
- The Assembly met 40 times a year (all decisions were taken by vote)
- The agenda of the Assembly was set by the Council of 500
- The council of 500 was composed of representatives from each of the 139 small entities, known as demes
- The ordinary citizens of Athens were expected to participate in the political life of the city
- The people's court had unlimited power to control the assembly, the council, the magistrates, and political leaders
How did this system of government impact the development of the U.S. government?
- Athenian democracy foreshadowed some later democratic practices
- The council's use of representatives foreshadowed the election of representatives in later democratic systems
- U.S. congress takes the role of the assembly and the council of 500
- The basic idea of a fair & speedy trail by jury (in the 6th amendment in the Bill of Rights)
- Athenian democracy set the basic aspects of democracy for future governments
Christopher W. Blackwell, “Athenian Democracy: a brief overview,” in Adriaan Lanni, ed., “Athenian Law in its Democratic Context” (Center for Hellenic Studies On-line Discussion Series). Republished in C.W. Blackwell, ed., Dēmos: Classical Athenian Democracy (A. Mahoney and R. Scaife, edd., The Stoa: a consortium for electronic publication in the humanities [www.stoa.org]) edition of February 28, 2003.