Democracy in Ancient Greece

Eddie Witten

The Greeks were very advanced for their time. They realized that they
need a new form of government and they were able to invent the first democratic
government in the world. The democracy that the Greeks came up with was based
on two important factors. The first one was the population growth in Athens
grew at a very fast rate. The second was the advocating of political, economic,
and legal equality for all which some male citizens remembered from the living
conditions in the Dark Ages. The Greek system of Democracy did have its shares
of problems though.
The Greek system of democracy was ruled by a body of nine elected
officials whom were called archons. These men who were aristocrats lead the
government and had supreme control over all of the verdicts and criminal
accusations in Athens. Problems arose when aristocrats become jealous of one
another and rivalries ensued under the early stages of Athenian democracy. The
result of this jealousy was the establishment of a code written by the appointed
ruler Draco. This code of laws promoted stability and equity. These laws
however did more to hurt the democracy of Athens than to help it. It seems that
Draco wrote this code of laws in order to benefit himself rather than to benefit
the government of Athens.
The democracy of Athens was used in many ways other than for what it was
designed for. It was abused by many rulers of that time. They were concerned
with their own personal growth and because of their greed and selfishness, they
made laws and codes that would benefit their own personal gain. The results
though have not always been as what they had expected to have been. Many of the
lower classes were treated very unfairly and rulers lost popularity to the lower
classes. Civil war was even about to break out at one point due to Draco\'s
codes and laws.
When civil war almost broke out in Athens the codes and laws were once
again revamped. This time a pathway was attempted to be laid down that would
accommodate both the upper and the lower classes. In the end four classes were
developed to rank the male citizens of Athens based on their income. The five-
hundred-measure men, horsemen, yoked men, and laborers were the four classes
that were devised by this new system of codes and laws.
In the Athenian society both the theories failed the men, and in turn
the men failed the theories. Some of the theories that the rulers came up with
needed a lot of support from the male citizens of Athens. Most of the time
these theories were considered unfair and the male citizens were not cooperative
with these theories. Also theories that were fair to the citizen but not
recognized by them failed. The men failed the theories in this sense, since
they did not give them a shot and try them out. They would have seen that these
would have helped them in the long run.
Considering the outcome of the Peloponnesian War the Athenians fell
victim to internal restraints. Their own problems within their democratic
structure caused them to lose that war. The codes and laws that they had at the
time wound up doing more damage to them in the long run then it did to help them.
That was the major problem with the Athenians view on democracy. Since they
developed democracy they were not able to perfect it and watch other societies
function under it. If they had a few hundred more years to perfect their
democratic society they most likely would have had much more success in the
Peloponnesian War and with all of their endeavors.

Category: English