Democracy in Ancient GreeceEddie WittenThe Greeks were very advanced for their time. They realized that theyneed a new form of government and they were able to invent the first democraticgovernment in the world. The democracy that the Greeks came up with was basedon two important factors. The first one was the population growth in Athensgrew 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 livingconditions in the Dark Ages. The Greek system of Democracy did have its sharesof problems though.
The Greek system of democracy was ruled by a body of nine electedofficials whom were called archons. These men who were aristocrats lead thegovernment and had supreme control over all of the verdicts and criminalaccusations in Athens. Problems arose when aristocrats become jealous of oneanother and rivalries ensued under the early stages of Athenian democracy. Theresult of this jealousy was the establishment of a code written by the appointedruler Draco. This code of laws promoted stability and equity.
These lawshowever did more to hurt the democracy of Athens than to help it. It seems thatDraco wrote this code of laws in order to benefit himself rather than to benefitthe government of Athens. The democracy of Athens was used in many ways other than for what it wasdesigned for. It was abused by many rulers of that time.
They were concernedwith their own personal growth and because of their greed and selfishness, theymade laws and codes that would benefit their own personal gain. The resultsthough have not always been as what they had expected to have been. Many of thelower classes were treated very unfairly and rulers lost popularity to the lowerclasses. Civil war was even about to break out at one point due to Draco’scodes and laws.
When civil war almost broke out in Athens the codes and laws were onceagain revamped. This time a pathway was attempted to be laid down that wouldaccommodate both the upper and the lower classes. In the end four classes weredeveloped to rank the male citizens of Athens based on their income. The five-hundred-measure men, horsemen, yoked men, and laborers were the four classesthat were devised by this new system of codes and laws. In the Athenian society both the theories failed the men, and in turnthe men failed the theories. Some of the theories that the rulers came up withneeded a lot of support from the male citizens of Athens.
Most of the timethese theories were considered unfair and the male citizens were not cooperativewith these theories. Also theories that were fair to the citizen but notrecognized by them failed. The men failed the theories in this sense, sincethey did not give them a shot and try them out. They would have seen that thesewould have helped them in the long run.
Considering the outcome of the Peloponnesian War the Athenians fellvictim to internal restraints. Their own problems within their democraticstructure caused them to lose that war. The codes and laws that they had at thetime 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 theydeveloped democracy they were not able to perfect it and watch other societiesfunction under it. If they had a few hundred more years to perfect theirdemocratic society they most likely would have had much more success in thePeloponnesian War and with all of their endeavors.