Athenian Constitution Outline

Topics: Athenian democracy, Harmodius and Aristogeiton, Tyrant Pages: 4 (1279 words) Published: November 23, 2014

The ancient Athenians had used an oligarchic constitution; it was not a good era to be stricken with poverty. The aristocrats dominated the peasants, so much so that the peasants were dependent on them. The poor worked the fields of the rich for a portion of the harvest, and if the rent was not met, their wives and children were seized in order to pay it off. Officials were chosen based on their birthright, at first for life, then for a decade. The officials consisted of the basileus, the traditional rulers, the polemarch, and the archon, which were responsible for newer traditions. Following the archon, the thesmothetae had been created. The thesmotheta were appointed for only a single year; they were in charge of writing and preserving statutes for the resolution of disputes. The officials occupied the Bucoleum, the town hall, the Epilyceum, and the thesmotheteum, in their respective orders. During Solon’s time, they all converged in the thesmotheteum, where they gave final judgment in lawsuits. The greatest of the affairs were handled by the council of the Areopagus, punishing the disorderly. Soon after this, Draco passed his legislation. Political power was granted to those who owned land, as well as generals and cavalry commanders, who had legitimate sons over the age of ten. A council of four hundred and one were appointed by men who had political power. Men were unable to hold office again until they all had a chance. Meetings were of great importance, if a member was absent, they were fined. During the era of this government, people revolted against the notables. Eventually, Solon, a hero of the people, was appointed as reconciler and archon. Solon was an admirable citizen, although he belonged to the “middle” class. Upon acquiring political power, Solon liberated the citizens and ensured a peaceful future. Solon ended debtslavery and removed existing debts. Certain people used this to their advantage, amassing great wealth. Solon was, in...
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