A form of popular government established in Athens by Cleisthenes (died 508 bc) in the last decade of the 6th century bc. The principal organ of democracy was the popular assembly (ekklesia), which was open to Athenian male citizens aged over 18. All members had the right to speak and it was the assembly that decided all legislative and policy matters. The council (boule) of 500, elected by lot for a year from Athenian male citizens over the age of 30, was an executive body which prepared business for the assembly and then saw that its decisions were carried out. Pericles dominated the democracy until his death in 429, but none of the ‘demagogues’ who followed him achieved the same level of influence.
Subjects: Politics — World History.