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Greek Government. End of the Dark Age. Communities that survived the Dark Ages were very small and simple Ruled by local nobles and wealthier citizens who owned most of the land: Virtually impossible to change your status in life Commoners were forced to pay tribute to these rulers.

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Greek Government


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end of the dark age
End of the Dark Age
  • Communities that survived the Dark Ages were very small and simple
    • Ruled by local nobles and wealthier citizens who owned most of the land:
      • Virtually impossible to change your status in life
      • Commoners were forced to pay tribute to these rulers
during the archaic age
During the Archaic Age
  • Evolve into city-states
    • Remember: Greece is not one unified nation, but rather a collection of federations
  • The Greeks called their city-state the polis.
    • Each polis was an independent governing unit with varying forms of government.
classifications of government
Classifications of Government
  • Aristotle:
    • Rule by the one
    • Rule by the few
    • Rule by the many

Now it is evident that the form of government is best in which every man, whoever he is, can act best and live happily…holla!

athenian government
Athenian Government
  • Most notably Athens was a democracy; however, it was not the only form of government in the city state…
athenian government1
Athenian Government
  • On its way from a Monarchy to Democracy Athens had several people who made important reforms to develop their government:
  • Early Athens was ruled by a king after it became a unified polis about 700 B.C.
  • Later Aristocrats took power as they controlled most of the land
  • Increased trade led to the development of a merchant class, these merchants become Tyrants
the reformers draco
The Reformers: Draco
  • First Athenian lawmaker (7th century BC)
  • The first to codify & write down laws of Athens—previously interpreted & administered arbitrarily by aristocratic magistrates
    • Code famous for its harshness
    • Death was the penalty for almost all crimes
    • One advance was in the laws of homicide, which recognized the responsibility of the state, not the victim's family, in punishing a murderer; thus blood feuds were to be avoided
    • Draconian - unusuallysevereor cruel
the reformers solon
The Reformers: Solon

Draco needed to chillax…

  • Laid foundation for democracy in Athens
  • Drew up clear, simple plan that balanced rights of citizens
    • Built-in safeguards to keep one group from oppressing others
    • Passed law that canceled all debt owed by poor to rich landowners ; forbade anyone be enslaved for debt
    • Wrote code of laws, simpler and less brutal than existing Draconian laws
    • Divided citizens into 4 classes according to property ownership (each with a different share in the government)
solon s political classes
Solon’s Political Classes

Drafted into army based on what you could provide:

the reformers peisistratus
The Reformers: Peisistratus
  • Aristocrat who seized power in 560 B.C. and becomes a “tyrant”
    • Took land from the rich and gave it to the poor
      • Greek Robin Hood?
    • Popular with the poor in Athens
      • First form of “socialism”?
the reformers cleisthenes
The Reformers: Cleisthenes
  • Came from one of the most powerful families in Athens
  • Created a new council of 500 that oversaw foreign affairs, and made laws that were voted on by male citizens
    • The basis for The Boule (council of 500); came into prominence after his rule helping to shape Athenian Democracy.
the reformers pericles
The Reformers: Pericles
  • Organized a vote in the popular assembly that deprived the Areopagus (old aristocratic courts & judges) of its remaining power
    • Power to the People!
    • Believed to have been the defining moment of Athenian democracy
what did athenian democracy look like
What did Athenian Democracy Look Like?
  • Athenian democracy was a participative democracy.
    • Government was carried out directly by the people who voted on all major issues
  • Two Governing Groups:
    • Ekklesia- general assembly, the main body, open to all male citizens over the age of 18
    • Boule - a council of 500 elected officials
the ekklesia
The Ekklesia
  • Adult male Athenian citizens who had completed their military training as ephebes
    • About 20% of the population
  • Excluded a majority of the population:
    • slaves, freed slaves, children, women and metics.
the boule
The Boule
  • Set the agenda for the ekklesia
  • Carried out all laws & administered decisions of ekklesia
    • Did not receive recompense
    • Requirements: > 30 and an Athenian citizen
    • Served for one year at a time and could not serve for more than two years in a lifetime
    • 50 men were elected from each of the 10 tribes of Athens
      • Chosen by lot
      • Each section of Attica was equally represented
spartan government
Spartan Government
  • A highly unusual system of government
    • Primarily an oligarchy, but it included democratic elements.  
  • Two kings from two different families ruled the city-state, but a 28-member 'council of elders' limited their powers.
    • Council of Elders (known as the Gerousia)
      • male citizens over the age of sixty
      • elected and served for life. 
    • Apella
      • all male citizens over the age of thirty
      • voted on proposals that originated in the gerousia
      • also elected the elders who served on the gerousia.