The Greeks Essay

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he Greeks: Influences on the US Government

Athens Greece: Roots of Democracy? Four Forms of Government
Monarchy: Rule by a king
Oligarchy: Rule by a small group
Tyranny: Rule by a dictator
Democracy: Rule by the citizens, voting in an assembly

Two Types of Democracy
Direct Democracy (Greece): A government in which people vote to make their own rules and laws
Representative Democracy (Rome): A government in which people vote for representatives. The representatives make rules and laws that govern themselves and the people.?

Around 510 BCE - The Ancient Athenians Invented Democracy

Over 2400 years ago, the famous and arguably greatest Greek general and leader Pericles, said, "It is true that we (Athenians) are called a democracy, for the administration in in the hands of the many and now the few, with equal justice to all alike in their private disputes."
Only in Athens, and only for a short time, "rule by many" meant that all citizens had to be willing to take an active part in government. That was the law.
Each year, 500 names were drawn from all the citizens of Athens. Those 500 citizens had to serve for one year as the law makers of ancient Athens. This was called the Council of 500.
All citizens of Athens were required to vote on any new law that this body of 500 citizens created. One man, one vote, majority ruled. Women, children, and slaves were not citizens, and thus could not vote.
After the Peloponnesian War with Sparta, which Athens lost, once again Athens was ruled by a king. But for a brief period of about 100 years, Athens was a democracy. It was not a perfect democracy, but it established the roots of democracy.
Constitutional powers rested with the citizens
All ideas were expressed through the Assembly
Anyone could address the Assembly
Assembly vote determined law of the land
Assembly concerned with the common good
Any law passed was associated with the person who proposed it
If citizens thought law was contrary to Athenian principles, they could challenge it
If law was found unconstitutional, whoever had proposed the law was fined a LARGE sum of money
Greeks practiced OSTRACISM ? the practice of citizens voting on disliked politicians and banishing them for 10 years

Steering Committee
Also known as the Council of 500
Athens was divided into 10 districts (called tribes)
Districts were divided into precincts (called demes)
Each precinct named candidates for the Council of 500
From these precincts each tribe chose 50 to represent them on the
Steering Committee

Duties of Steering Committee
The Council of 500 was divided into 10 subcommittees
Each took turns watching the government
One-third of subcommittees had to be on hand in case emergencies arose Responsible for publishing Assembly Agenda
Had to research issues to be discussed
Recommended solutions to problems…