Cleisthenes

Life

  • Athenian leader known as the “father of Athenian democracy”
  • Played a major part in the Athenian revolution
  • Born ~570 BC
  • Member of the Alcmaeonidae clan
  • Pericles was his a grand-nephew

Reforms

  • Complete reogranization of the citizen body
    • Divided into 3 regions: city, coast, inland
    • Each region is divided into 10 artificial trittyes (“thirds”, so thirty in alll)
    • Each tryttys includes a variable number of Demes, pre-existing “neighborhoods” (about 170 in all)
      • From individual perspective, deme was the most important as your deme identity made you a citizen
    • 10 new tribes (Phylai), each consisting of 3 trittyes, one from each region
      • It was supposed that every tribe would represent a cross-section of the Athenian population in equal size
    • New council (Boule)
      • Consisted of 500 men
        • Serving 1 yrear
        • 50 from each tribe elected by a lot
          • At this rate, the Boule served as a kind of education centre for the Athenian citizenry
      • Prytany system
        • Council year is divided into tenths, with each tribe’s council members serving as executive comitte (Prytaneis_) for that allotted period
      • The Boule framed legislation, that would be then debated and voted on for ratification by the assembly
        • It generally served as a sort of executive power
      • The old council (Aeropagus) and archons (magistrates, 9 of them) still continue to exist, but they are routinely examined by the Boule
    • Board of 10 generals (Strategoi)
      • Each out of one tribe
      • Elected anually
        • Could be reelected without limit
    • Popular courts - Citizen juries of upto several hundreds to hear cases
    • Ostracism
      • Official process voted on anually by the assembly
        • The vote required a qorum of 6,000 (a lot of citizens together at one place and one time)
      • The citizens were supplied with ostraca (just means a bit of busted pot)
      • These were deposited in collection vases and the citizen who got the most votes had to leave Athens for 10 years
        • No appeal to this
      • Isonomia
        • Condition of “equal law” and equality under law