Athens on Trial: The Antidemocratic Tradition in Western by Jennifer Tolbert Roberts

By Jennifer Tolbert Roberts

The classical Athenians have been the 1st to articulate and enforce the proposal that standard electorate of no specific affluence or schooling can make dependable political judgements. hence, reactions to Athenian democracy have lengthy supplied a chief trying out flooring for political concept. even if praising Athens's govt because the valid ancestor of contemporary democracies or condemning it as mob rule, commentators all through background have published a lot approximately their very own notions of politics and society. This research charts responses to Athenian democracy from the traditional international to the 20 th century, exploring a debate that touches upon historiography, ethics, political technological know-how, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, gender reviews and academic conception. Rooted within the bias of Greek intellectuals, the textual content argues, hostility to Athenian democracy won energy from the propensity of Western thinkers to learn background backward and infer the impotence of Athens's kind of executive from the Athenians' final defeat through Macedon in 338 BC. In time, dislike of Athenian govt constructed right into a robust highbrow build that stood principally unchallenged until eventually the early nineteenth century. within the epilogue, the writer examines the controversies that proceed to enclose Athens immediately.

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5 Ten strategoi, or generals, were to be elected, one from each tribe. Both the position of councilor and that of general carried one-year terms, but though a man might serve on the council only twice in his life, the terms of the strategoi were renewable as long as popularity permitted. The generalship came to be so important in Athens that after the first Persian invasion in 490 the Athenians decided to use a random lot to select not only their councilors but also their archons, a clear statement that the generalship had overtaken the archontate in prestige.

The problems in Athens were intensified by the existence of a new aristocracy of wealth that had sprung up as a result of the expansion of trade, and this class challenged the traditional aristocracy for a share in the political pie. 3 Solon’s solution to the class struggle was to establish in Athens a timocratic system dividing all Athenians into four groups depending on their income. Each group was allotted a different gradation of political privilege. By this system the archontate was available to the highest class, lower offices to the middle two classes, and membership in the assembly to all classes including the very poor fourth class, the thetes.

Each group was allotted a different gradation of political privilege. By this system the archontate was available to the highest class, lower offices to the middle two classes, and membership in the assembly to all classes including the very poor fourth class, the thetes. Fine distinctions made between the middle two classes remain obscure. In addition, all four classes were eligible to serve on the new popular juries Solon created, to which citizens might appeal the verdicts of the magistrates.

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