Athens Democracy in Athens

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Democracy in Athens
Basic overview
-The Assembly was made up of all citizens

-The Assembly met four times a month, discussed and voted on various things, such as foreign policy and legislative issues

-The Boule was a council of 500 men, each member was voted in by their demes (municipality)

-The Boule set the agenda for the Assembly

-Once you had served on the Boule, you couldn't serve again for ten years

-The magistrate of the city was called the Archon Eponymous

-He investigated legal cases, especially those which involved the state

-He was responsible for taking care of orphans, heiresses with no family and appointing the Choregos who was in charge of organizing religious festivals

-The Achron Basileus was in charge of religious matters and murders (murder was a crime against the gods)

-The Polemarch was the head of military matters (commander in chief) and oversaw foreign workers

-There were also ten Strategoi (generals) in charge of the military

-Many of the other government positions were chosen by lot

-The ostracism vote helped ensure that nobody got total control (you could banish them if they were gaining too much power)
Benefits of Athenian Democracy
-Regular citizens are free to voice their opinions

-Encourages formation of new ideas through debate and discussion

-People like to be in control of their own destinies and be more loyal to a state in which the have a say over the laws (people are more willing to die for a war that they helped declare)

-Introduces concept of equal rights for all citizens

- Vanessa Snyder-Penner

Personal freedom and diversity

Cosmopolitan Society

-Open to influence and new ideas from different societies

-A good Athenian navy and many resources such as marble, olives, wine, silver and red clay increases trade. Trade increase the exchanges of different goods, cultures and ideas between other city states and countries

-Athens learned new art, (different techniques with carving ivory and gems and working with metal) writing, and other things

Personal Freedom

-Any citizen is welcome to speak and voice an opinion, their issue will be addressed

-Debate, and listening to others

-Lead to philosophy and critical thinking

-New and possibly controversial ideas were able to be heard

-Ex) Ideas from Sparta could be heard in Athens, but not the other way around

-Slaves in Athens

-Said to be better off than those in Sparta

-Said that you couldn’t tell the slave from the master if you walk in a store

-Democracy in Athens

-You represented yourself

-Citizens had a direct say in what happens

-This freedom allowed Athens to thrive, and better itself, and advanced
- Sean and Ami

Culture in Athens

Athens is all about culture. They highly value individualism,, rationalism, justice, beauty and the pursuit of excellence. Athens also encourages expression in all it’s forms, via; Art, music theatre, writing/literature, religion and education

-buildings called a theatron
most were cleverly constructed to have fantastic, unbeatable acoustics.
large open air structures, built into the hillside
had 2 main types of plays; tragedies and comedies
4 main playwrights were extremely talented, just as outstanding as Shakespeare


many controversial, ground breaking theories, notions and ideas were formed and developed in AthensHere they were written down and correlated into various different pieces of literature.
These pieces varied and were numerous in their amount
Famous philosophers like Plato and Aristotle wrote piles of books and literary pieces filled with their notions and thoughts on life
It was mainly through literature that Athenians were educated in the ways of the great philosophers as well as math, history, science and everything else that formed the foundations of their society

numerous disciplines of art; painting, pottery, sculpture, etc

told and passed on stories this way by illustrating them in their art

- Ancient Greeks were deeply religious people who worshipped many gods.

- While many temples honoured more than one god/goddess, they were usually more closely linked with or honoured one deity (or a pair of deities)
- These deities were depicted in scenes on pottery or stone
- Greek gods were more down to earth and were endowed with human qualities and represented aspects of the physical world (i.e- sun, moon, sea)
- therefore Greeks could find spiritual satisfaction in the ordinary would, when they identified with these things


- The goal of education in the Greek city-states was to prepare the child for adult activities as a citizen. In Athens the purpose of education was to produce citizens trained in the arts, to prepare citizens for both peace and war.
-Weren’t educated at school, but many learned to read and write at home
- Most women didn’t do housework themselves, they had slaves
- Females (slaves) cooked, cleaned and worked in the fields, and Males watched the door and acted as tutors to young boys

- Other than 2 years of mandatory military training, beginning at age 18, the state left parents to educate their sons as they saw fit.

- The schools were private, with low tuition
- Until age 6/7 boys were taught at home by their mother or a male slave

- Khoral and Nicole

Military, Army Organization

3 Classes:

-full citizens, Sparrtiates, recieved a grant of land for their service
-Perioeci, free non-citizens, generally merchants, craftsmen, sailors, who were used as light infantry and on auxiliary roles on campaign
-most numerous, Helots, state-owned serfd used to farm the spartiate kleros

-Spartiates participated in the assembly, focused on military training

-full army was led by 2 kings, kings were accompanied by a select group of 300 men as a royal guard "hippeis"

-during Persian war, contributed a small navy - 20 triremes
-the creation of the navy enabled Sparta to overcome Athens
-in 407 BCE, the Spartans were able to successfully challenge and defeat Athens -----predominance in the Aegean Sea

Army tactics
-constant drill and superb discipline made phalanx much more cohesive and effective
-employed phalanx in classical style in a single line - deep files of 8 to 12 men

- Rachel and Sara

Spartan Government

-originally aristocratic

-kept it's lineage of kings for it's entire existence

-kings came from 2 houses

-kings held little power

-assembly of 28 nobles and the kings made decisions together

-the assembly of 28 nobles consisted of all citizens over age 60-done their military service

-below council was Spartiate-all Spartan males

-Spartiate could veto anything proposed by the kings and nobles

-Spartiate ruled over the military

-Oligarchy means “to rule, to govern, to command” and “a few”
- Laura


As with inheritance, the practice of marriage is not well enough documented or universal enough to declare a specific practice amongst all Spartans. However, It was a general practice that men did not marry until the age of thirty when they were done with their mandatory military service. Still, some men married in their twenties and simply snuck away from the barracks at night to meet their wives. Women married later than most other Greek societies, usually in their late teens and early twenties. Often marriages were bride-captures prearranged with the father’s consent. In bride-captures, the bride was clothed in men’s sandals and cloak and her hair was cut. The groom would then carry the woman away to bed and return to his barracks before the morning.

Another practice that was mentioned by many visitors to Sparta was the practice of “wife-sharing”. In accordance with the Spartan belief that breeding should be between the most physically fit parents, many older men allowed younger more fit men to impregnate their wives. Other unmarried or childless men might even request another manin ’s wife to bear his children if she had previously been a strong child bearer.
For this reason many considered Spartan women polygamous or polyandrous. practice was encouraged in order that women bear as many strong-bodied children as they could. The Spartan population was hard to maintain due to the constant absence and loss of the men in battle and the intense physical inspection of newborns.


Mothers were essentially the head of the households in Spartan society. Sons were taken from the house at age seven and put through agoge and the girls too underwent public education. Although girls stayed in their mother’s houses until they were married, around the age of eighteen and would have developed an overwhelming bond with their mothers. Women were not expected to learn to domestic duties like weaving and cleaning, as the estate’s helots would perform these tasks. Therefore, women were more preoccupied with maintaining their physical stature, bearing children, and supervising the helots who worked the land.

At any given moment the Spartan polis would have consisted of predominately women, given that half of the men were at war. When the men weren’t stationed they were preoccupied with training and remained separated from their homes leaving the women to completely dominate the household. This is why socially and politically women had a freedom within the community.

Spartan women were allowed to divorce their husbands without fear of losing their personal wealth. As equal citizens of the community, women could divorce and were not required to or discouraged from remarrying. The unique family unit of Sparta also did not force the woman to relinquish her children, as biological paternity was not important in raising the children. Boys were already taken into agoge and girls would have felt a strong connection to the mother.[24]

Formal Education

Female education is vague and rarely mentioned as in a formal class setting, presumably taking place in the home. It is at least documented that wealthier women wrote letters to their sons and therefore assumed they could read and write. It is more clearly understood that women studied mousike, which consisted of the arts, music, dancing, and poetry. Given the Spartan focus on community as a family, it is considered possible that girls were also taught in a community run institution that was given equally to all Spartiate families.

- Kim and Amanda

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