What were some flaws in Ancient Greek Democracy?

July 5, 2013 | By

Question by Nick: What were some flaws in Ancient Greek Democracy?
I am writing a paper. As two flaws, I already wrote that women, foreigners, etc could not vote. Only one hundred percent Athenian males could vote. Also, i wrote that the government was full of inexperienced men, since the public officials were chosen randomly. Apart from these, were there any other flaws in ancient greek democracy? Any I could write a paragraph on?THANKS.

Best answer:

Answer by TheSicilianSage
Democracy (a.k.a. "mob rule") is subject to emotional rather than reasoned arguments. ... Thus they are often quick to take rash action. ... Example: During the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), upon the urgings of Alcibiades in 415 BC, Athens dispatched a massive expeditionary force to attack Syracuse in Sicily. ... The attack failed disastrously, with the destruction of the entire force, in 413 BC.

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Comments (2)

  1. Kriss F

    Athenian male citizens who had completed two years of military service could vote. There was a quorum but because people had to walk to Athens from all across Attika this discriminated against people who couldn’t afford to take a day out of work or who couldn’t cover the distance. Marathon is in Attika but is famously 26 miles away, a whole day’s walk. Eleusis is 13 miles away and Sunium would also take a day. It met anything from once a month to 3-4 times a month so could take up a lot of time. This is the reason payment was introduced in around 400 bce.

    Because outside Athens people mostly worked on the land, their availability would be determined by the seasons. During the olive harvest everyone would be busy – similarly for ploughing in spring. So this privileged people who didn’t work on the land.

    Another thing that affected this is tribal loyalty. Socially Athens was divided into ten tribes and large family groups who had loyalty to each other. Bear in mind arranged marriage was universal and a way to build political alliances so family links had an effect on politics. People would be expected to vote according to their tribal and family links.

  2. staisil

    Only ten per cent of the total population of Athens actually had voting rights and all
    of these citizens were upper class men who were over thirty years old.
    Women, no matter what the class or age, were given no freedom at all.
    They were first owned by their fathers and then were passed from them to
    their husbands who then gave them nothing more than the responsibilities
    of managing the household and educating the children. During a meeting of
    the Assembly, a policy could be adopted and formed into a law but once the
    meeting of the assembly ended, the enforcement of that law was left in the
    hands of people who may not agree with that specific law. Also, a rule of
    the Assembly said that if a certa! in speaker became too powerful, he
    could be expelled from the country if given a majority vote by the
    Assembly. This rule could easily be abused and really infringed on the
    freedom of speech that most democracies have.

    Great information below.

    http://jjjjournal.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/politics-and-its-flaws/
    http://www.fsmitha.com/h1/hell04.htm
    http://ancientepic.nmhblogs.org/2012/04/02/athenian-democracy-a-boon-and-a-doom/
    http://www.studyworld.com/newsite/ReportEssay/History/European%5CSparta_Vs_Athens.htm