Pericles and the Athenian democracy

The cultural peak of Athens and the development of Athenian democracy are directly linked to the name of Pericles (495 - 429 BC). Pericles was a Greek politician who expanded the reforms already initiated by Ephialtes. The latter envisioned, among other things, a reduction in the power of the nobility.

In Ancient Greece, people’s sovereignty was exercised through the so-called Ecclesia, a people’s assembly. Every adult male Athenian who possessed civil rights was a member of the Ecclesia. Ecclesia made all important decisions, such as alliance issues or decisions about war and peace.

The Council (the so-called “Boule”) was assigned to the People’s Assembly. The Boule had 500 members. Among them, 50 were men from each of the ten phylai (administrative districts) of Athens. Any citizen of Athens over the age of 30 could become a member of the Council.

During the reign of Pericles, Athens introduced the casting of lots to determine new Council members, as well as the rule that no man could become a Council member more than twice. The aim was to ensure that the Council’s decisions were decided by a broad range of people. Likewise, these rules meant that only a few people had access to power. However, the Council formulated only preliminary verdicts. The actual decision was up to th...

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