The Athenian Life Experience


For boys, Athens has one teacher for teaching boys how to write, read and do math while another teacher teaches boys how to play sports and a third teacher teaches boys how to sing and play the lyre (a string instrument).

For girls, girls stay home while their mothers teach them to spin, weave, and around-the-house chores. It is only wealthy families that get to teach girls how to read, write and play the lyre.


Athens was a democracy. This means that Athens was a government in which all the people of Athens had a part in but it only had a few powers/rights. Having a democracy was important to Athens because it meant that everyone could have a say in what the government would do for/to Athens.

Debt for Farmers

In 600 B.C. the Athenians started a rebel against the nobles because the majority of farmers owed debt to the nobles and so many farmers sold themselves to become slaves to help pay the money back. Repeatedly the farmers demanded that their debts would end and they pleaded for land for the poor but the nobles would not give it to them until Solon came along.

In 597 B.C. the nobles looked to a noble that both the nobles and Athens trusted: Solon. Solon agreed to cancel all the farmers debts, and freed all the captive slaves. He also gave males some new rights too. Males could now participate in the assembly and law courts. Solon did all of this to gain popularity.

After Solon

30 years after Solon, (560 B.C.) a new tyrant named Peisistratus gained power over Athens. He gained support from the poor by dividing large houses among people without houses/homes, loaned money to the moneyless and gave them occupations of building temples and other public housings/arts.

After Peisistratus finished reigning, Cleithenes took charge of Athens in 508 B.C. He reorganized the assembly to be in charge of the main part of governing. Now members of the assembly had new powers. They could debate openly and go to court cases.

The most important thing that Cleithenes did was that he made a ALL NEW council now obtaining 500 citizens to help the assembly carry out businesses. The people of Athens chose the members of the council using a lottery system because they believed this way of choosing the council was far more fair than an election where people might just vote on the rich because they are rich rather than choose their own personal choices. One thing that was still an issue was the citizen problem. Women, foreign-born men, and slaves were still not able to become citizens. None of the less, Cleithenes is known for making Athens a democracy.