Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome

Topics: Ancient Rome, Roman Empire, Roman Republic Pages: 2 (565 words) Published: January 24, 2014
Ancient Greeks and Romans Contributed Ideas on Government The first societies to experiment with ideas on government that would later influence Americans were Ancient Greece and Rome. The Ancient Greeks and Romans developed the ideas of democracy and representative government more than 2,000 years ago. A Democracy in Ancient Greece. The cities of Ancient Greece were organized into city-states, or small independent nations. Athens was one such city-state. For many years, Athens was ruled by a small group of wealthy and powerful men known as the Great Council. Members of the Council passed laws that favored wealthy people like themselves. Between 750 B.C. and 550 B.C., however, this system of rule began to change. Poorer Athenians, such as farmers and small merchants, protested the great power of the Council. They believed that the laws made by the Council harmed the interests of the middleclass and poor. Many Greeks wanted to participate directly in making laws affecting their lives. Greeks used the word “demos kratia”, to explain what they wanted. The equivalent word in English is democracy, which means government by the people. Gradually, Athenian leaders agreed that more Greeks should be allowed to participate in the Great Council's decision-making process. They developed a political system now known as a direct democracy. In a direct democracy, people not only vote for leaders, but actually serve in the government. In order to decide who should be allowed to serve in the Great Council, Greek leaders developed the idea of citizenship. Those Athenians who were citizens had the right to participate directly in government. But how was citizenship determined? Greek leaders decided that only men who owned large plots of land were citizens. Women, slaves, and people with little or no property were not given the rights and responsibilities of Athenian citizenship. While the Ancient Greeks restricted democratic rights to a small portion of the population, the idea...
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