australian colonial history
meg dillon
© Meg Dillon 2008
Australian Colonial History
Western Civilisation
Session 2
2

Athenian Democracy

Section One: Recapitulation:

In our first session we saw In the late Bronze Age (1100BC), a series of catastrophes occurred over a 200 – 300 year period that collectively caused the various Mediterranean civilizations to collapse, throwing the area back into a series of dark ages. o 300 year drought (1250 – 950 BC) o Increases war activities as various cultures fought to control decreasing resources o Increase in seismic activities (1225 – 1175BC) caused the destruction of a number of cities eg Mycene and cities in Minoan Crete. The result of these changes caused o Central administrations disappeared o Elites disappeared o Centralised economies collapsed Settlement shifted and populations declined, with the region sinking back into a series of rude smaller settlements. This dire period lasted from around 1100BC to around 800Bc, during which time inhabitants of the region looked back on previous times as a type of ‘golden age’ when heroes and gods mingled with humans and great deeds were done which in turn became the foundation myths of Greek culture. As prosperity started to increase again, poets celebrated these former times and two stories in particular survived and defined the Greeks’ attitudes to their past: The Illiad and the Odyssey, attributed to the poet Homer in 800 – 700BC. 1 But by the time Homer was gathering the threads of these past myths, he reflected the more critical attitudes that were developing towards the past. This is particularly evident in the Iiiad. In Homer’s portrayal of ten days during the siege of Troy: He was critical of the callousness and fickleness of the gods who toyed with the success and failure of the ongoing battles. Homer seemed to portray these battles as pointless. He disparaged the selfishness and self centredness of Achilles, a half – god, half - human hero, aided by Athena, who after challenging Prince Hector of Troy to single combat, defiled his body after killing him, by dragging it round in front of the walls of Troy instead of allowing the customary burial practices to proceed. Homer was also critical of the cruelty perpetrated on women when he described the beatings that Zeus gave his wife/sister Hera when she displeased him. Homer highlights the fate of the two high born female captives Chriyseis and Briseis, one ransomed by her father, the other handed round as war booty by King Menelaus. Human sacrifices were made of King Menelaus’s daughter and another female to gain favourable winds for the voyages to and from Troy. Instead, for Homer the heroes were human. Prince Hector of Troy fought bravely and loved his wife and baby dearly shown in his touching farewell to them. King Priam of Troy was portrayed as compassionate and brave father who went into the Greek camp to beg for the body of his son and shamed Achilles into giving it up. Even Helen was portrayed as repentant of her decision to leave her husband and flee to Troy with Paris. In Homer’s portrayal the real heroes were the humans and the gods were shown up to be more powerful but lesser creatures. Presenter to lead discussion and questions related to this summary. Recommendation: Stephen Mitchell’s translation, The Iliad, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Great Britain, 2011.

Section Two: Introduction: Incessant Warfare a characteristic of Greek city-states:

Short discussion of the continued emphasis on fighting and local wars. All Greek city states prepared for war. Most required adult men to train as soldiers to defend or fight in the numerous small conflicts. Sparta was the most devoted to strict military training, where all men lived in barracks and were debarred from any other type of employment. Married men could visit their wives but were also required to live in barracks. Spartan women appeared to have a freer life than most as it is thought they ran businesses, managed estates and slaves (helots). Actions: Ask participants to spend time after the session gathering information about Sparta and its system of government and its social structure. This can be presented in session 3. Athens was also involved with many local conflicts due to alliances and disputes. We will look at two important battles that Athens engaged in in 840BC. The Persian empire under king Xerxes wanted to expand into Europe. Xerxes spent three years marshalling an enormous army and a fleet of ships and made a two pronged attack on the Greek peninsula aiming to capture Athens. Ancient texts claim he amassed an army of 250,000 soldiers and around 400 war ships. By contrast only 7000 Greek soldiers blocked his passage at the pass at Themopolae and 200 deadly triremes destroyed his fleet at the straights of Salamis. Greece had been under threat from the Persian Empire for many years and had halted them ten years prior at the battle of Marathon, another pass through the mountains that gave Greeks a fighting advantage. This threat prompted Athens to build a fleet of Triremes to defend itself from attack. Show video of the land battle at Thermopolae. Video gaming technology explains and shows the stages of the battle and the strategies used by the Greeks and Spartans under King Leonides. Video: Thermopylae The Spartans Video describes the Greek and Spartan fighting styles. (20 minutes) Athens had used its vast wealth from its silver mines to build a fleet of 200 Triremes, each with 130 rowers and a deadly brass ram at the prow of each boat. This was state of the art technology. These were highly manoeuvrable and the fastest boats on the Mediterranean, capable of travelling at 9 knots. The Greeks used a ruse to lure the Persian fleet into the narrow Straights of Salamis, where they surrounded them and crushed them. Show video. It emphasises Greek technology in the design of the Triremes and shows the battle strategy. Video: Engineering an Empire Ancient Greece History Channel, Peter Weller. Battle of Salamis , 480 BC. Show this from the Start to the 11 minute point. Discussion of this defence of Greece o Technology o Militarised state of the Greek city states, including Athens o Questions

Section three: Athens during its democratic period: 550BC – 350BC

The purpose of this session is to ask whether the radically new political model of a proto-democracy that emerged in the city-state of Athens can be called a foundation model that influenced the establishment of democracies in later Western Culture. What were the similarities and differences? During this period Athens became the wealthiest power in Greece due to the success of its silver mines and the wealth accrued by the trade it had with other Mediterranean cultures. Foreigners flocked to the city to make money and set up businesses to produce many of the luxury goods for its citizens and for trade. The arts, literature, plays for the festivals, philosophy and a brilliant progression of pottery and sculpture developed and some survived, giving us more information about Athens than most other Greek cities of the period. The Greek city states were autonomous and several different forms of government existed. Greeks believed that there was a natural progression through different forms of government. Firstly tyrants or single rulers could seize power and either be good or bad rulers. This form of government often morphed into Kingship in which a dynasty could be created in which usually one of the king’s sons would succeed him. This in turn could change into an oligarchy, or government by a small elite who became dissatisfied with the powers of a single ruler. All forms of government were prone to eventual corruption and decay and this forced changes within city states or countries. Suddenly into this mix a new model of government was proposed by Solon when the citizens, angered by the rapacious activities of the existing oligarchy, approached him to devise a fairer system.

The Social Structure of Athens : Citizens, Foreigners and Slaves

All systems of government are influenced by the social structure of the people who are governed. This was true of Athens. We must first look at the social structure of this city state and see how this structure was reflected in the model of government Solon introduced in 594BC. Since the 1970s historians have examined previously ignored groups and created a more complex understanding of how Athenian society was structured. More scholarship was devoted to the study of the place of women, both citizens and slaves. Since 2010 more research has been published about metics or foreigners who lived in Athens. What was their function and their obligations?

Mini lecture - Athenian Citizens:

Citizens: Men: Men had to register with their local group when they turned 18 and were allowed full voting rights at the Assembly, if they had completed their military service, when they were 20. Both parents had to have been citizens. Greek male citizens were ambivalent about working for a living, especially those from the wealthier groups. Not all male citizens were part of the elite, educated or wealthy. Some citizens were poor and had to work to live eg. become rowers in the triremes, manage enterprises run by others in the city or in rural areas or appeal for financial assistance from the city state when they needed it. At one point during the democratic period, all citizens could claim a small living allowance from the state. Some poor citizens also asked to be given a state owned slave to look after them. Because arable land in Greece was scarce and most land was of poor quality, Greeks traded a lot of their products such as oil and wine for grain. When the population of a city state became too large it established a colony in other more fertile parts of the Mediterranean including Italy, Spain and Turkey. Trade then proceeded with the Greek colonies ‘clustered like frogs around a pond’ (Plato, Phaedo 109b) that produced grain and other needed products. It is assumed most colonies had social and political structures similar to their founding cities. Women Female citizens had to have both parents with citizen status. No females could vote or participate in government. Married at 14, attached to a household where they were expected to have children, manage the household slaves, spin wool (a necessary craft occupation for the production of cloth). They brought a dowry to their marriage. They could dissolve the marriage (divorce) and return with their dowry to their parent’s house. This brought considerable shame to the husband. It is probable that Athenian men could still have more than one wife, as in olden times, and could also require household slave women to have sex with them. It is probable that Athenian women were far more restricted in their everyday lives than women in many other Greek city states. Certainly Spartan women lived in their own homes (husbands were required to live in barracks), ran businesses, organized slaves and by nature of Spartan society were far more independent than most Greek women. In Athens the women needed permission to leave their home and engage in any sort of activity outside the home. It was common practice all over Greece, and also in Athens for female children to be ‘exposed’ when born if the husband demanded it. This meant they were put outside the city and left for wild dogs to kill and eat. There were probably several reasons for female infanticide including: o If a girl was reared by her parents , they would be expected to find an expensive dowry for her when she married. This would reduce the wealth of the household. o Demographically there was a high mortality of young men aged 18 to 26. These were the soldiers killed in the incessant warfare that raged between Greek city states. Female infanticide probably helped rebalance the numbers between the sexes. This also greatly reduced population growth in ancient Greece. More recently a lot of scholarship has occurred about the role that free men and women, who migrated to Athens played in the life of the city state: Video: Slaves and foreigners in Athens. University lecture Slaves and foreigners in Athens Wesleyan University Middletown, CT. USA, Prof Classical Studies Andrew Szegedy- Maszak. (20 minutes) Follow up with group discussion and questions about the following points made in the video. Foreigners (Metics): Could be Greeks from other city states or colonies. Could be from other Mediterranean countries eg. Egypt, Crete, Persia, Phonicea, etc. Many businesses and factories were owned and operated by metics. They owned shops, were traders, miners, were builders and craftsmen. Some became very wealthy but very few were granted citizenship rights. All owned slaves that they employed to work in their businesses. Athenian citizens were known to be adverse to working for a living. It was seen as shameful. This made an economic space for metics to fill and many were attracted to move to Athens because of its preeminent position and wealth.. Metics had to pay taxes and complete military training. They had no political rights. Metics could not marry Greek women who were Athenian citizens. They could not own land in Attica. Foreigners could visit Athens, but in order to reside there permanently, they had to be sponsored by a citizen. Slaves: The state of slavery in ancient Greece was often overlooked by former historians, especially in the nineteenth century. Enamored of Greek culture, they fudged the issue and described the slaves as servants, often referring to them by their occupation eg cooks, tutors, managers, scribes, concubines, wives, nurses, escorts, miners and agricultural workers. Most dangerous jobs were done by them. Most Athenian households had at least 2 domestic slaves, with wealthy households having as many as 20 to 30. Most workshops producing household goods or luxury goods had a variety of skilled and unskilled slaves working in them. It is ironic that some of the wonderful black and red Greek pottery and marble and bronze statues would have been produced in workshops where skilled slaves were employed. In fact there were several types of unfree labor in ancient Greece. Debt slavery: If a person could not pay his debts either he or members of his family were taken as slaves to repay the debt. It was later banned in Athens that any citizen could be enslaved to redeem a debt. Slave children: The children of slaves were also deemed to be slaves and were the property of the slave master. Chattel slavery: Populations of towns captured in wars were either killed or more likely sold as slaves. Men and women of working age were likely to be distributed amongst the victors or sold in bulk to a slave trader, many of whom followed the battles in order to buy the defeated populations. The children were often abandoned in the ruins to die as it was it was uneconomic to raise them. Slaves could be bought, sold, rented, bequeathed and abused. Slaves who were freed by their owner could gain the status of metic in Athens. The city state of Athens became extremely wealthy from the labor of tens of thousands of state owned slaves that worked in the silver mines. A few slaves became wealthy in the service of their masters and bought their freedom. Household slaves could be welcomed into the household as inferior members, but still part of the family structure.

Section four: Athenian democracy.

Mini Lecture by Presenter Most of us believe that our democratic forms of government, rule by the people (demos), originated in Athens between the 5th and 4th century BC. This may be to some extent true, but the Athenian proto-type was extremely different from the forms of democracy that we know today that developed in Europe in the late nineteenth century and evolved into the post World War 11 forms that dominate Europe and the Anglo-sphere now. If I had to describe Athenian democracy in 3 words they would be: EXCLUSIVE UNSTABLE UNPOPULAR EXCLUSIVE: Fewer than 30% of the Athenian population were eligible to vote at the Assembly. Only adult males citizens, 20 years and older, who had completed their military training, could put forward proposed legislation to the Assembly , speak for and against proposed laws and vote. This same group, but aged over 30 years. could be elected or selected by ballot for the various courts that up held the laws. Women, slaves and foreigners (metics) were unable to participate. The definition of ‘citizen’ varied a little over the 200 years of Athenian democracy. At its strictest, a child could only be declared a citizen if both its parents were also citizens. Some historians believe that in the earlier days, children of a citizen father and slave mother could also be declared a citizen, but this is still not certain. Metics (foreigners from other Greek cities or elsewhere) were rarely granted citizenship even though some wealthy men made huge gifts to Athens in the hope of being granted this privilege. This exclusivity is one of the chief reasons why some historians today argue that Athenian democracy cannot be seen as a model for the versions of democracy that developed in Western Civilization. UNSTABLE: Over its 200 year period, it was introduced and modified by three chief theorists; Solon (638-558 BC), the law giver who was asked to propose a better form of government than that imposed by an oligarchy of nobles. (594 BC) o Basically he granted every citizen a political function that previously only aristocrats had enjoyed. All male citizens owning property could propose legislation and vote. o He banned the practice of debt slavery being imposed by Athenians on other citizens and henceforth only chattel slaves, obtained from victorious battle or bought from slave traders could be used. o He also designed the structure under which the legislative system could work with some checks and balances; and a series of courts with different functions that could ensure the laws were upheld. o Cleisthenes (508 BC) o Reduced the aristocrats’ power further by making all males of the Athenian hinterland of Attica also citizens of Athens. o He abolished the traditional tribal groupings of citizens and created 10 new groupings, each of which had three treaties which consisted of several demes. Every male citizen over 18 years had to be registered in his deme. Ephialties (462 BC) o Persuaded the Assembly to reduce the powers of the criminal court (the Areopagus) for the crimes of homicide and sacrilege. o Membership of the Areopagus was extended to the lower levels of the citizenship with property. From these developments we can see that this proto-type democracy was very much in the state of modification as the demos was always having to beware of the most powerful citizens trying to exert more of their power than the model allowed. Two revolutions occurred in this period which briefly established oligarchies (rule by the powerful elites) interrupting the democracy. UNPOPULAR: Most of the surviving accounts of Athenian democracy are very critical of it. These include Thucydides (historian and playwright); o Common people too credulous, believed rumors and failed to check facts. o Plato ( the philosopher) and Aristotle (philosopher); o Numerous poor tyrannized the rich expecting them to contribute more of their wealth to the upkeep of state and citizens o Plato believed a better system would be to have a hierarchical structure based on education in which a ‘philosopher-king’ who had all knowledge and information would rule, assisted by the next level of elites who were educated to a finite level that enabled them to perform their functions of administration. The lowest level of citizens needed even less education as they were mostly involved by supporting the existing government. Plato said: ‘The organization of the city must be confined to those who possessed knowledge, who alone can enable their fellow citizens to attain virtue, and therefore excellence, by means of education.’ o Plato believed the democracy had made too many mistakes ; these included the execution of the philosopher Socrates and other injustices to generals and citizens. It could be argued that these critics were members of the Athenian elite and were in effect, arguing for a modified form of oligarchy or Kingship that would give their class more influence and power than they had under the democratic model. We must remember that so far, no documents or evidence of the views of the disenfranchised have been uncovered. What did women, metics and slaves think of this form of government that they too had to live under?

BASIC POLITICAL STRUCTURE OF ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY

The Assembly (Ecclesia) had a quorum of up to 6000 adult male citizens. Not all citizens were forced to attend, but some decisions did require at least 6000. Any man could propose laws and speak for or against proposed legislation. The Council ( Boule) of 500 elected or drawn by lot from the 10 voting groups of the city. A citizen could only hold membership for one year. The Council convened and set the agenda for meetings of the Assembly and presided over the sittings. The Boule had an executive of 9 and an additional 10 on committees of the Boule, all drawn from the 500. The Courts: Powerful and responsible for different types of legal responsibilities. Only citizens over 30 years could be selected or drawn by ballot to serve for a year in one of these courts. Military magistracies: In all 33 citizens in 5 different suites of responsibilities of whom 10 were elected generals. They commanded the military and presided over issues that involved the duties and faults of the military. Civil magistracies: Around 600 citizens elected to these functions, including two specialist (and archaic?) appointments - the Superintendent of Springs and the commissioners of the Theoric Fund ( it funded festivals, and distributed money to citizens - largess). Archons: Nine citizens organised feast days, and presided over family matters and inheritance law. Popular tribunal (Helliaia) Drawn by lot for one trial only by the Assembly. It judged civil and criminal cases, the legality of decrees and could examine the magistrates. As well it voted on the laws. Ancient Tribunal ( Areopagus)150 citizens who judged homicides of Athenian citizens. In some ways one can see that the Courts acted as a type of check or balance against the Assembly. Within these structures of government it is also possible to see how rich or important citizens could influence various levels of the Assembly or court system. About 100 popular orators, wealthy and educated, tended to lead the debates at the Assembly.

Conclusion:

Across the ancient world three main types of rule had existed – tyrants, kings and oligarchies. Some Greek philosophers believed that countries cycled between these three because all eventually were corrupted and failed. These failures forced people to move to another form of government. Tyrants (rule by a single person who seized power and may have provided either good or bad leadership) evolved into the kingship model which gave the ruler a guaranteed successor, usually a son. When kings failed to rule well, an oligarchy of the powerful elite sometimes took over and ruled as a group. In Athens, oligarchies interrupted the proto- democracy for brief periods between 412 – 400BC. A number of other Greek city states also experimented with forms of democracy during this period, although the Athenian model appears to have been the most developed and successful while it lasted. Not a lot of information has survived about many of the other Greek city-states. Read more? Several well written entries in Wikipedia offer more detailed information about these topics. Go to the following links. They also have excellent reading lists attached for anyone who wants to read more. Triremes, Women in Classical Athens Ancient Greek Government Athenian Democracy. Athenian Coup of 411BC (oligarchy)
Homer: The Illyad & The Odyssey 1. ‘Homer’ maybe one or possibly many authors, who read or sang the exploits of the sack of Troy and Ulysses’ long voyage home afterwards. This oral tradition allowed plenty of scope for different bards to modify or add to these stories over time. The Iliad is thought by some historians to have been devised in its current form about 100 years prior to the Odyssey.
2
australian colonial history
meg dillon
© Meg Dillon 2008
Australian Colonial History
Western Civilisation
Presenter Meg Dillon
Session 2

Athenian Democracy

Section One: Recapitulation:

In our first session we saw In the late Bronze Age (1100 BC), a series of catastrophes occurred over a 200 – 300 year period that collectively caused the various Mediterranean civilizations to collapse, throwing the area back into a series of dark ages. o 300 year drought (1250 – 950 BC) o Increases war activities as various cultures fought to control decreasing resources o Increase in seismic activities (1225 – 1175 BC) caused the destruction of a number of cities eg Mycene and cities in Minoan Crete. The result of these changes caused o Central administrations disappeared o Elites disappeared o Centralised economies collapsed Settlement shifted and populations declined, with the region sinking back into a series of rude smaller settlements. This dire period lasted from around 1100 BC to around 800 BC, during which time inhabitants of the region looked back on previous times as a type of ‘golden age’ when heroes and gods mingled with humans and great deeds were done which in turn became the foundation myths of Greek culture. As prosperity started to increase again, poets celebrated these former times and two stories in particular survived and defined the Greeks’ attitudes to their past: The Illiad and the Odyssey, attributed to the poet Homer in 800 – 700 BC. 1 But by the time Homer was gathering the threads of these past myths, he reflected the more critical attitudes that were developing towards the past. This is particularly evident in the Iiiad. In Homer’s portrayal of ten days during the siege of Troy: He was critical of the callousness and fickleness of the gods who toyed with the success and failure of the ongoing battles. Homer seemed to portray these battles as pointless. He disparaged the selfishness and self centredness of Achilles, a half – god, half - human hero, aided by Athena, who after challenging Prince Hector of Troy to single combat, defiled his body after killing him, by dragging it round in front of the walls of Troy instead of allowing the customary burial practices to proceed. Homer was also critical of the cruelty perpetrated on women when he described the beatings that Zeus gave his wife/sister Hera when she displeased him. Homer highlights the fate of the two high born female captives Chriyseis and Briseis, one ransomed by her father, the other handed round as war booty by King Menelaus. Human sacrifices were made of King Menelaus’s daughter and another female to gain favourable winds for the voyages to and from Troy. Instead, for Homer the heroes were human. Prince Hector of Troy fought bravely and loved his wife and baby dearly shown in his touching farewell to them. King Priam of Troy was portrayed as compassionate and brave father who went into the Greek camp to beg for the body of his son and shamed Achilles into giving it up. Even Helen was portrayed as repentant of her decision to leave her husband and flee to Troy with Paris. In Homer’s portrayal the real heroes were the humans and the gods were shown up to be more powerful but lesser creatures. Presenter to lead discussion and questions related to this summary. Recommendation: Stephen Mitchell’s translation, The Iliad, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Great Britain, 2011.

Section Two: Introduction: Incessant Warfare

a characteristic of Greek city-states:

Short discussion of the continued emphasis on fighting and local wars. All Greek city states prepared for war. Most required adult men to train as soldiers to defend or fight in the numerous small conflicts. Sparta was the most devoted to strict military training, where all men lived in barracks and were debarred from any other type of employment. Married men could visit their wives but were also required to live in barracks. Spartan women appeared to have a freer life than most as it is thought they ran businesses, managed estates and slaves [helots]. Actions: Ask participants to spend time after the session gathering information about Sparta and its system of government and its social structure. This can be presented in session 3. Athens was also involved with many local conflicts due to alliances and disputes. We will look at two important battles that Athens engaged in in 840 BC. The Persian empire under king Xerxes wanted to expand into Europe. Xerxes spent three years marshalling an enormous army and a fleet of ships and made a two pronged attack on the Greek peninsula aiming to capture Athens. Ancient texts claim he amassed an army of 250,000 soldiers and around 400 war ships. By contrast only 7000 Greek soldiers blocked his passage at the pass at Themopolae and 200 deadly triremes destroyed his fleet at the straights of Salamis. Greece had been under threat from the Persian Empire for many years and had halted them ten years prior at the battle of Marathon, another pass through the mountains that gave Greeks a fighting advantage. This threat prompted Athens to build a fleet of Triremes to defend itself from attack. Show video of the land battle at Thermopolae. Video gaming technology explains and shows the stages of the battle and the strategies used by the Greeks and Spartans under King Leonides. Video: Thermopylae The Spartans Video describes the Greek and Spartan fighting styles. (20 minutes) Athens had used its vast wealth from its silver mines to build a fleet of 200 Triremes, each with 130 rowers and a deadly brass ram at the prow of each boat. This was state of the art technology. These were highly manoeuvrable and the fastest boats on the Mediterranean, capable of travelling at 9 knots. The Greeks used a ruse to lure the Persian fleet into the narrow Straights of Salamis, where they surrounded them and crushed them. Show video. It emphasises Greek technology in the design of the Triremes and shows the battle strategy. Video: Engineering an Empire Ancient Greece History Channel, Peter Weller. Battle of Salamis , 480 BC. Show this from the Start to the 11 minute point. Discussion of this defence of Greece o Technology o Militarised state of the Greek city states, including Athens o Questions

Section three: Athens during its democratic

period: 550 BC – 350 BC

The purpose of this session is to ask whether the radically new political model of a proto-democracy that emerged in the city-state of Athens can be called a foundation model that influenced the establishment of democracies in later Western Culture. What were the similarities and differences? During this period Athens became the wealthiest power in Greece due to the success of its silver mines and the wealth accrued by the trade it had with other Mediterranean cultures. Foreigners flocked to the city to make money and set up businesses to produce many of the luxury goods for its citizens and for trade. The arts, literature, plays for the festivals, philosophy and a brilliant progression of pottery and sculpture developed and some survived, giving us more information about Athens than most other Greek cities of the period. The Greek city states were autonomous and several different forms of government existed. Greeks believed that there was a natural progression through different forms of government. Firstly tyrants or single rulers could seize power and either be good or bad rulers. This form of government often morphed into Kingship in which a dynasty could be created in which usually one of the king’s sons would succeed him. This in turn could change into an oligarchy, or government by a small elite who became dissatisfied with the powers of a single ruler. All forms of government were prone to eventual corruption and decay and this forced changes within city states or countries. Suddenly into this mix a new model of government was proposed by Solon when the citizens, angered by the rapacious activities of the existing oligarchy, approached him to devise a fairer system.

The Social Structure of Athens : Citizens, For-

eigners and Slaves

All systems of government are influenced by the social structure of the people who are governed. This was true of Athens. We must first look at the social structure of this city state and see how this structure was reflected in the model of government Solon introduced in 594 BC. Since the 1970s historians have examined previously ignored groups and created a more complex understanding of how Athenian society was structured. More scholarship was devoted to the study of the place of women, both citizens and slaves. Since 2010 more research has been published about metics or foreigners who lived in Athens. What was their function and their obligations?

Mini lecture - Athenian Citizens:

Citizens: Men: Men had to register with their local group when they turned 18 and were allowed full voting rights at the Assembly, if they had completed their military service, when they were 20. Both parents had to have been citizens. Greek male citizens were ambivalent about working for a living, especially those from the wealthier groups. Not all male citizens were part of the elite, educated or wealthy. Some citizens were poor and had to work to live eg. become rowers in the triremes, manage enterprises run by others in the city or in rural areas or appeal for financial assistance from the city state when they needed it. At one point during the democratic period, all citizens could claim a small living allowance from the state. Some poor citizens also asked to be given a state owned slave to look after them. Because arable land in Greece was scarce and most land was of poor quality, Greeks traded a lot of their products such as oil and wine for grain. When the population of a city state became too large it established a colony in other more fertile parts of the Mediterranean including Italy, Spain and Turkey. Trade then proceeded with the Greek colonies ‘clustered like frogs around a pond’ (Plato, Phaedo 109b) that produced grain and other needed products. It is assumed most colonies had social and political structures similar to their founding cities. Women Female citizens had to have both parents with citizen status. No females could vote or participate in government. Married at 14, attached to a household where they were expected to have children, manage the household slaves, spin wool (a necessary craft occupation for the production of cloth). They brought a dowry to their marriage. They could dissolve the marriage (divorce) and return with their dowry to their parent’s house. This brought considerable shame to the husband. It is probable that Athenian men could still have more than one wife, as in olden times, and could also require household slave women to have sex with them. It is probable that Athenian women were far more restricted in their everyday lives than women in many other Greek city states. Certainly Spartan women lived in their own homes (husbands were required to live in barracks), ran businesses, organized slaves and by nature of Spartan society were far more independent than most Greek women. In Athens the women needed permission to leave their home and engage in any sort of activity outside the home. It was common practice all over Greece, and also in Athens for female children to be ‘exposed’ when born if the husband demanded it. This meant they were put outside the city and left for wild dogs to kill and eat. There were probably several reasons for female infanticide including: o If a girl was reared by her parents , they would be expected to find an expensive dowry for her when she married. This would reduce the wealth of the household. o Demographically there was a high mortality of young men aged 18 to 26. These were the soldiers killed in the incessant warfare that raged between Greek city states. Female infanticide probably helped rebalance the numbers between the sexes. This also greatly reduced population growth in ancient Greece. More recently a lot of scholarship has occurred about the role that free men and women, who migrated to Athens played in the life of the city state: Video: Slaves and foreigners in Athens. University lecture Slaves and foreigners in Athens Wesleyan University Middletown, CT. USA, Prof Classical Studies Andrew Szegedy-Maszak. (20 minutes) Follow up with group discussion and questions about the following points made in the video. Foreigners (Metics): Could be Greeks from other city states or colonies. Could be from other Mediterranean countries eg. Egypt, Crete, Persia, Phonicea, etc. Many businesses and factories were owned and operated by metics. They owned shops, were traders, miners, were builders and craftsmen. Some became very wealthy but very few were granted citizenship rights. All owned slaves that they employed to work in their businesses. Athenian citizens were known to be adverse to working for a living. It was seen as shameful. This made an economic space for metics to fill and many were attracted to move to Athens because of its preeminent position and wealth.. Metics had to pay taxes and complete military training. They had no political rights. Metics could not marry Greek women who were Athenian citizens. They could not own land in Attica. Foreigners could visit Athens, but in order to reside there permanently, they had to be sponsored by a citizen. Slaves: The state of slavery in ancient Greece was often overlooked by former historians, especially in the nineteenth century. Enamored of Greek culture, they fudged the issue and described the slaves as servants, often referring to them by their occupation eg cooks, tutors, managers, scribes, concubines, wives, nurses, escorts, miners and agricultural workers. Most dangerous jobs were done by them. Most Athenian households had at least 2 domestic slaves, with wealthy households having as many as 20 to 30. Most workshops producing household goods or luxury goods had a variety of skilled and unskilled slaves working in them. It is ironic that some of the wonderful black and red Greek pottery and marble and bronze statues would have been produced in workshops where skilled slaves were employed. In fact there were several types of unfree labor in ancient Greece. Debt slavery: If a person could not pay his debts either he or members of his family were taken as slaves to repay the debt. It was later banned in Athens that any citizen could be enslaved to redeem a debt. Slave children: The children of slaves were also deemed to be slaves and were the property of the slave master. Chattel slavery: Populations of towns captured in wars were either killed or more likely sold as slaves. Men and women of working age were likely to be distributed amongst the victors or sold in bulk to a slave trader, many of whom followed the battles in order to buy the defeated populations. The children were often abandoned in the ruins to die as it was it was uneconomic to raise them. Slaves could be bought, sold, rented, bequeathed and abused. Slaves who were freed by their owner could gain the status of metic in Athens. The city state of Athens became extremely wealthy from the labor of tens of thousands of state owned slaves that worked in the silver mines. A few slaves became wealthy in the service of their masters and bought their freedom. Household slaves could be welcomed into the household as inferior members, but still part of the family structure.

Section four: Athenian democracy.

Mini Lecture by Presenter Most of us believe that our democratic forms of government, rule by the people [demos], originated in Athens between the 5th and 4th century BC. This may be to some extent true, but the Athenian proto-type was extremely different from the forms of democracy that we know today that developed in Europe in the late nineteenth century and evolved into the post World War 11 forms that dominate Europe and the Anglo-sphere now. If I had to describe Athenian democracy in 3 words they would be: EXCLUSIVE UNSTABLE UNPOPULAR EXCLUSIVE: Fewer than 30% of the Athenian population were eligible to vote at the Assembly. Only adult males citizens, 20 years and older, who had completed their military training, could put forward proposed legislation to the Assembly , speak for and against proposed laws and vote. This same group, but aged over 30 years. could be elected or selected by ballot for the various courts that up held the laws. Women, slaves and foreigners (metics) were unable to participate. The definition of ‘citizen’ varied a little over the 200 years of Athenian democracy. At its strictest, a child could only be declared a citizen if both its parents were also citizens. Some historians believe that in the earlier days, children of a citizen father and slave mother could also be declared a citizen, but this is still not certain. Metics [foreigners from other Greek cities or elsewhere] were rarely granted citizenship even though some wealthy men made huge gifts to Athens in the hope of being granted this privilege. This exclusivity is one of the chief reasons why some historians today argue that Athenian democracy cannot be seen as a model for the versions of democracy that developed in Western Civilization. UNSTABLE: Over its 200 year period, it was introduced and modified by three chief theorists; Solon (638-558 BC), the law giver who was asked to propose a better form of government than that imposed by an oligarchy of nobles. (594 BC) o Basically he granted every citizen a political function that previously only aristocrats had enjoyed. All male citizens owning property could propose legislation and vote. o He banned the practice of debt slavery being imposed by Athenians on other citizens and henceforth only chattel slaves, obtained from victorious battle or bought from slave traders could be used. o He also designed the structure under which the legislative system could work with some checks and balances; and a series of courts with different functions that could ensure the laws were upheld. o Cleisthenes (508 BC) o Reduced the aristocrats’ power further by making all males of the Athenian hinterland of Attica also citizens of Athens. o He abolished the traditional tribal groupings of citizens and created 10 new groupings, each of which had three treaties which consisted of several demes. Every male citizen over 18 years had to be registered in his deme. Ephialties (462 BC) o Persuaded the Assembly to reduce the powers of the criminal court (the Areopagus) for the crimes of homicide and sacrilege. o Membership of the Areopagus was extended to the lower levels of the citizenship with property. From these developments we can see that this proto- type democracy was very much in the state of modification as the demos was always having to beware of the most powerful citizens trying to exert more of their power than the model allowed. Two revolutions occurred in this period which briefly established oligarchies (rule by the powerful elites) interrupting the democracy. UNPOPULAR: Most of the surviving accounts of Athenian democracy are very critical of it. These include Thucydides (historian and playwright); o Common people too credulous, believed rumors and failed to check facts. o Plato ( the philosopher) and Aristotle (philosopher); o Numerous poor tyrannized the rich expecting them to contribute more of their wealth to the upkeep of state and citizens o Plato believed a better system would be to have a hierarchical structure based on education in which a ‘philosopher-king’ who had all knowledge and information would rule, assisted by the next level of elites who were educated to a finite level that enabled them to perform their functions of administration. The lowest level of citizens needed even less education as they were mostly involved by supporting the existing government. Plato said: ‘The organization of the city must be confined to those who possessed knowledge, who alone can enable their fellow citizens to attain virtue, and therefore excellence, by means of education.’ o Plato believed the democracy had made too many mistakes ; these included the execution of the philosopher Socrates and other injustices to generals and citizens. It could be argued that these critics were members of the Athenian elite and were in effect, arguing for a modified form of oligarchy or Kingship that would give their class more influence and power than they had under the democratic model. We must remember that so far, no documents or evidence of the views of the disenfranchised have been uncovered. What did women, metics and slaves think of this form of government that they too had to live under?

BASIC POLITICAL STRUCTURE OF ATHENIAN

DEMOCRACY

The Assembly (Ecclesia) had a quorum of up to 6000 adult male citizens. Not all citizens were forced to attend, but some decisions did require at least 6000. Any man could propose laws and speak for or against proposed legislation. The Council ( Boule) of 500 elected or drawn by lot from the 10 voting groups of the city. A citizen could only hold membership for one year. The Council convened and set the agenda for meetings of the Assembly and presided over the sittings. The Boule had an executive of 9 and an additional 10 on committees of the Boule, all drawn from the 500. The Courts: Powerful and responsible for different types of legal responsibilities. Only citizens over 30 years could be selected or drawn by ballot to serve for a year in one of these courts. Military magistracies: In all 33 citizens in 5 different suites of responsibilities of whom 10 were elected generals. They commanded the military and presided over issues that involved the duties and faults of the military. Civil magistracies: Around 600 citizens elected to these functions, including two specialist (and archaic?) appointments - the Superintendent of Springs and the commissioners of the Theoric Fund ( it funded festivals, and distributed money to citizens - largess). Archons: Nine citizens organised feast days, and presided over family matters and inheritance law. Popular tribunal (Helliaia) Drawn by lot for one trial only by the Assembly. It judged civil and criminal cases, the legality of decrees and could examine the magistrates. As well it voted on the laws. Ancient Tribunal ( Areopagus)150 citizens who judged homicides of Athenian citizens. In some ways one can see that the Courts acted as a type of check or balance against the Assembly. Within these structures of government it is also possible to see how rich or important citizens could influence various levels of the Assembly or court system. About 100 popular orators, wealthy and educated, tended to lead the debates at the Assembly.

Conclusion:

Across the ancient world three main types of rule had existed – tyrants, kings and oligarchies. Some Greek philosophers believed that countries cycled between these three because all eventually were corrupted and failed. These failures forced people to move to another form of government. Tyrants (rule by a single person who seized power and may have provided either good or bad leadership) evolved into the kingship model which gave the ruler a guaranteed successor, usually a son. When kings failed to rule well, an oligarchy of the powerful elite sometimes took over and ruled as a group. In Athens, oligarchies interrupted the proto- democracy for brief periods between 412 – 400 BC. A number of other Greek city states also experimented with forms of democracy during this period, although the Athenian model appears to have been the most developed and successful while it lasted. Not a lot of information has survived about many of the other Greek city-states. Read more? Several well written entries in Wikipedia offer more detailed information about these topics. Go to the following links. They also have excellent reading lists attached for anyone who wants to read more. Triremes, Women in Classical Athens Ancient Greek Government Athenian Democracy. Athenian Coup of 411BC [oligarchy]