Athens Developed the First Democracy31 Ιανουαρίου, 2022
In Athens, the world’s first democracy developed. The word democracy comes from the Greek words, demos and kratia, meaning literally, “the people rule.” A democracy, then, is a government in which citizens rule themselves. Athenian democracy inspired those who founded America’s democracy as well as many other people around the world.
Athenian democracy took shape slowly. Around 620 B.C, the Athenian ruler Draco tried to make reforms in the city-state. Draco organized laws by putting them down in a written code. Draco’s code let people know exactly what the laws were and that they applied to all. The code also explained the harsh penalties for people who broke the laws. In addition, it gave a person accused of murder the right to a trial. The accused had to be proven guilty before being punished. Overall, the code helped Athens develop a government based on written laws.
Solon, an Athenian ruler in about 594 B.C, also moved the city-state closer to democracy. Solon made Draco’s laws less harsh. He wrote economic and social reforms into law and ended the practice of enslaving those who failed to pay their debts. Solon also created a court for all citizens and gave all citizens the right to vote. However, citizenship was quite limited. Women and slaves could not be citizens. Only men who were born in and lived in a city-state could be citizens. Altogether, only slightly more than half of the male population of Athens were citizens. At the same time, only citizens could be members of the assembly that approved decisions made by the government.