The Great Age of Athenian Democracy

The Great Age of Athenian Democracy

  • Submitted By: Lala
  • Date Submitted: 08/03/2008 5:54 PM
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Words: 557
  • Page: 3
  • Views: 3

Why was the great age of Athenian democracy during the 5th C BCE also the great age of Athenian empire (via the agency of the Delian League)? [Hint: in addition, use the documentary source in the Global Experience, Thucydides's account of Athens during the Peloponnesian War, document # 34.]

In Ancient Greece there were two different major forms of government, Oligarchy and Democracy. The two city-states that best represent each form of government were Sparta (oligarchy) and Athens (democracy). The oligarchic government in Sparta, though centrally equal, fair and fairly basic for its time, did not meet the needs of the Greeks. It is the democracy in Athens that put an attitude of culture and overall prosperity of the city state as its first priority which best met the needs of Ancient Greece.

Democracy is one of the most astonishing and compelling invention of the Athenians. Solon (594 BC), Cleisthenes (509 BC), and Epilates of Athens (462 BC) all contributed to the development of Athenian democracy. The greatest and longest-lasting democratic leader was Pericles. The Athenians had freedom of speech and thought. This was a real democracy where everyone voted for everything. Officials, picked by lot, served for one year and couldn't serve again. People who didn't participate were seen as worthless. Pericles was a strong believer in democracy - Everyone from all classes could serve. "Government in the hands of the many, not of the few."

In the History of the Peloponnesian War, historian Thucydides presents two opinions of the Athenian democracy—his own opinion and that of Pericles. Pericles was an ardent supporter of the democracy whereas Thucydides found it to suffer many flaws. However, near the end of Pericles’ life, he too expressed some of the same concerns with the democracy as Thucydides. Thucydides recounted Pericles’ Funeral Oration, which a speech was given by Pericles in honor of those who had died during the war. The speech was in many ways...

Similar Essays