Ancient Greece is widely known for its contribution to the world in various fields such as philosophy, literature, art, architecture, and politics. The form of government practiced in Ancient Greece is called democracy.
The word democracy comes from two Greek words – demos which means people and kratos which means power or rule. Therefore, democracy means the rule of the people.
A Brief History of Ancient Greek Democracy
The concept of democracy originated in Athens, Greece around 508 BC when Cleisthenes reformed the existing system of government. Before this reform, Athens was ruled by aristocrats who inherited their positions through birthright. Cleisthenes’ reform allowed all male citizens over the age of 18 to participate in the governing process.
The Structure of Ancient Greek Democracy
The system of government in Ancient Greece was based on the principle of direct democracy. In a direct democracy, citizens directly participate and make decisions instead of choosing representatives to make decisions on their behalf.
All male citizens over the age of 18 were eligible to attend the meetings held at the agora (public square) where they could propose and discuss laws and policies. These meetings were called assemblies and were held at least once a month.
The Role of Ekklesia
The highest authority in Ancient Greek Democracy was ekklesia which was an assembly made up of all eligible male citizens. Ekklesia had the power to make important decisions such as declaring war or making peace treaties with other nations.
Ekklesia also had a role in electing officials such as archons (rulers) who were responsible for executing laws and policies passed by ekklesia.
The Role of Boule
Boule was another important institution in Ancient Greek Democracy. It was a council made up of 500 randomly selected citizens who served for one year. Boule was responsible for preparing the agenda for ekklesia meetings and ensuring that all laws and policies were executed properly.
The Role of Magistrates
Magistrates were officials who were elected by ekklesia. There were different types of magistrates such as archons, strategoi (military leaders), and others. These officials were responsible for executing laws and policies passed by ekklesia and boule.
In conclusion, Ancient Greek Democracy was a revolutionary concept that allowed citizens to directly participate in the governing process. The system of government was based on the principles of direct democracy where citizens had the power to make important decisions. Ekklesia, boule, and magistrates were important institutions that played a crucial role in ensuring that democracy was practiced effectively in Ancient Greece.