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date: 27 November 2022

democracy, Athenianlocked

democracy, Athenianlocked

  • M. H. Hansen


Athenian democracy from 508/7 to 322/1 bce is the best known example in history of a ‘direct’ democracy as opposed to a ‘representative’ or ‘parliamentary’ form of democracy.Today democracy is invariably a positive concept, almost a buzz-word, whereas dēmokratia in ancient Greece was a hotly debated form of constitution, often criticized by oligarchs and philosophers alike. The Athenian democrats themselves, however, connected dēmokratia with the rule of law (Aeschin. 1. 4–5) and, like modern democrats, they believed that democracy was inseparably bound up with the ideals of liberty and equality (Thuc. 2. 37). Democracy was even deified, and in the 4th cent. bce offerings were made to the goddess Demokratia (Inscriptiones Graecae 22. 1496. 131–41).Dēmokratia was what the word means: the rule (kratos) of the people (*dēmos), and decisions of the assembly were introduced with the formula .


  • Greek History and Historiography
  • Greek Law

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