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Ancient Athens Essay

1840 words - 7 pages

Ancient Athens
The last Olympic swimmer just touched the wall and the race has ended. Cameras are replaying every single movement from the race and a winner has been clearly decided. Just as these Olympic swimmers will gain a medal for placing, ancient Athens had numerous accomplishments of its own. Athens “prosperity … was due in large part to its stable and effective government” (SOURCE 1). When analyzing the history of ancient Athens, is easy to see how the accomplishments of a democracy, Greek philosophy, and Greek literature all shape Athens.
Athens is the home of democracy. It is the first known example of where people began to govern themselves. The democracy of Athens slowly developed around 500 BC, during the Classical Age. In early times, kings ruled Athens. In later years, aristocrats replaced the kings. The aristocrats dominated Athens and the poverty-stricken people of this time. These poverty-stricken people had little say in what occurred in their lives. There were however, three main bodies of the Athenian democracy. The first one was an assembly, which consisted of, “all people eligible to take part in the government” (SOURCE 1). According to SOURCE 1, “only free male Athenians over the age of 20 who had completed military training were allowed to vote.” This in turn, shows that all women, children, or any others not classified under this rule had no say. Since the ruling of aristocrats left no utterance for the poor, a man by the name of Draco stepped in, to reform the laws. His idea of punishment was harshness. It is evident through the following quote, “… the harshness of Draco’s laws did not resolve the dispute between classes; they only made it worse,” that a new look at the laws would have to be taken (FIND CITE). Not only did the assembly make “all of the laws and important decisions for Athens,” but they also “met on a particular hill within the city, and all members who were present voted on each measure” (SOURCE 1). Solon is the second person to reform the laws of Athens. He began revising laws in the 590s BC and “allowed all men in Athens to take part in the assembly that governed the city and to serve on the juries that heard trials” (SOURCE 1). Along with participation in the assembly, Solon “forbade the practice of debt slavery and set up a fund to buy back Athenian slaves who had been sold abroad” (SOURCE 2). Solon “based eligibility for political office on property qualifications, not birth,” permitting those not born of high social status to have the opportunity to hold an office (SOURCE 2). Through all of these events, society still did not accept the laws and because of this, more problems arose. During the troubles and chaos, a man by the name of Peisistratus “took advantage of the renewed conflict to seize power” (SOURCE 1). Peisistratus is a tyrant among the Athenians, however, is a popular person. This is because he “proceeded to institute Solon’s reforms” (SOURCE 2). The men of...

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