Dēmos · Classical Athenian Democracy · a Stoa Publication
→ Passages: Creating Democracy.
Thomas R. Martin, with Neel Smith & Jennifer F.Stuart, edition of July 26, 2003
page 10 of 13
1286b: 11-22: When there came to be many men alike in their excellence, they ceased to put up with kingship and instead, seeking something shared, established a polity. As they became [morally] worse and began to make a profit from common affairs [or “resources”], oligarchies arose, for they made wealth something honorable. Then these oligarchies changed first into tyrannies, and from tyrannies into democracies. For by always bringing power to ever fewer people in search of base profit, they made the multitude stronger, which attacked [the ruler(s)], and democracies arose. Now that city-states have become even larger than before, it is not very easy for any system of government but a democracy to come into existence.
1301a: 28-31: [Rule by the] people developed because those who are equal in whatever way suppose that they are quite simply equal [in all ways]. Since they are all free in like manner, they think they are quite simply equal.
1296a: 22-36: When there is factional strife between rich and poor because there is not a strong “middle” [in the citizen body], the conflict leads to either democracy or oligarchy, depending on who wins. Once the fight is decided, the victors do not establish a shared or equal system of government; rather, they establish one to their own advantage.
Plot on a Map
1273b: 35-1274a15: Some people say that Solon did away with an excessively unmixed oligarchy [at Athens] and ended the enslavement of the people (
1304a: 17-34: Changes towards democracy (or another type of government) can come about when a magistracy or some part of the city-state grows in power. This led to greater democracy at Athens after the war with Persia, when those who rowed in the fleet became the cause of the victory at Salamis and of the leadership [over its Greek allies] that Athens earned from its naval strength. So, too, at Syracuse, Chalcis, and Ambracia the people set up democracies after their participation in battle was the crucial element enabling their city-state to be victorious in war.
page 10 of 13