Dēmos · Classical Athenian Democracy · a Stoa Publication

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→ Introduction:.

Ephialtes’ Family and Character.

The Areopagus Before the Reforms..

The Reforms.

Political Background to Ephialtes’ Reforms: Cimon and Themistocles.

Political Background to Ephialtes’ Reforms: the People.

The Reforms Themselves.

The Death of Ephialtes.

Secondary Works Cited.

Index of Citations

General Index

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Christopher W. Blackwell, edition of January 27, 2003

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· Introduction: ·

Read about the evidence
Isocrates (Isoc. 15).
Aristotle (Aristot. Ath. Pol.).
Plot on a Map

Writing in the 4th century BCE, the orator Isocrates offers this critical description of Athenian politics in the early 5th century BCE: “…the city waxed powerful and seized the empire of the Hellenes, and our fathers, growing more self-assured than was appropriate for them, began to look with disfavor on those good men and true (τοῖς μὲν καλοῖς κἀγαθοῖς τῶν ἀνδρῶν) who had made Athens great, envying them their power, and to crave instead men who were base-born and full of insolence (πονηρῶν δ᾽ ἀνθρώπων καὶ μεστῶν θρασύτητος ἐπεθύμησαν), thinking that by their bravado and contentiousness they would be able to preserve Democracy (διαφυλάττειν τὴν δημοκρατίαν)” (Isoc. 15.316-317). Aristotle describes the early history of the Athenian democracy in terms of a struggle between two factions in Athens, that of the rich, and that of the People, with individual Athenians leading each party. After the tyranny of Peisistratus and his sons, which ended c.510 BCE (source: OCD3), Isagoras took the side of the rich, and Cleisthenes took the side of the People, then Miltiades and Xanthippus, then Aristides and Themistocles, and then Cimon led the rich, while Ephialtes took the side of the People (Aristot. Ath. Pol. 28.2). The most significant event in the political development of Athenian government in the time of Cimon and Ephialtes, according to Aristotle, was when Ephialtes “put down the Council of the Areopagus” (καταλύσας τὴν Ἀρεοπαγῖτιν βουλήν) (Aristot. Ath. Pol. 41.1). Because of the changes to the power and authority of the Council of the Areopagus, “it came about that the constitution became still more democratic” (Aristot. Ath. Pol. 27.1).

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