Government In Ancient Greece And Rome

1596 words - 6 pages

Classical education is arguably one of the most influential educations in American history. Not only does it allow the student to study great literature of Ancient Greek and Roman writers, but allows them to develop both written and spoken language while learning of great men and their achievements. Without the knowledge of the past, it is impossible to look forward toward the future. To be considered an educated person in today’s society, it is imperative that one possesses an understanding of ancient Greek and Roman civilization. The Founding Fathers of our nation believed this and used their knowledge acquired through classical education when developing the system of government we have in place today. This essay will look at the ancient Greek and Roman styles of government in an attempt to show how the Founding Fathers took the best parts of these governments and applied them to America and the Constitution.
Ancient Greece was not a unified nation. The Greek peninsula contained several islands with mountainous terrain, which made travel and communication difficult. Therefore, each community developed their own political systems, known as city-states. These city-states then formed their own system of government, which varied greatly among them. Corinth, for example, was an oligarchy. An oligarchy is a system of government that is ruled by a small group of powerful leaders. Other city-states developed a system of government that contained several governing styles. Sparta’s government, for example, contained a monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy. It contained two kings, a council of 30 noblemen, and an assembly of all the Spartan men. Athens, however, is considered the most influential city-state to Western civilization with the invention of direct democracy.
Due to times of conflict and unrest among the people, Athens developed direct democracy in the 500’s B.C.E. Peace was achieved when reorganization of the government took power from noble families and distributed it among the citizens. The reformed government of Athens included three major bodies: the Assembly, the Council of 500, and the People’s Court. Cleisthenes, the founder of Athenian Democracy, formed ten tribal groups throughout Athens. Each of the ten tribal groups contained an Assembly. All male Athenian citizens were members of the Assembly. They would meet regularly for discussion and vote on issues that influenced all aspects of Athenian life. As an incentive to participate in the Assembly, citizens would be paid for their involvement in the Assembly. This allowed even the poorest of people to take time from their work to have a hand in government policy. Each year 50 citizens would be sent by the 10 tribes of Athens to serve on the Council of 500. The Council served as an advisory board for the Assembly. Although its’ main function was to set the agenda for the Assembly, it would sometimes issue decrees on its own. In the People’s Court, juries...

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