Chapter

Power to the People

Cynthia Farrar

in Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780520245624
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932173 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520245624.003.0007
Power to the People

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One of the allures of studying the ancient Athenians is that everyone has relatively easy access to the limited number of literary and epigraphic sources. Arguments about the interpretation and implications of the evidence thus appear in sharp relief. Each commentator's choice of a period and context in which to locate the emergence of democracy reflects the salience he attributes to particular elements of governance. For Robert Wallace, the key features in the creation of democracy are Solon's ascription of legal and political standing—citizenship—to the plebeian residents of Attica, the thetes, and the creation of the basic institutions of Athens' democracy, even though the citizens did not realize the potential of those institutions for more than a century. Kurt Raaflaub agrees with Wallace that the full demos did not exercise political control during the time of Solon or even Cleisthenes, but he interprets this fact differently.

Keywords: Robert Wallace; commentator; thetes; Kurt Raaflaub; salience

Chapter.  12418 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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