Essay On Athenian Democracy

The three branches of the United States government are modeled after three parts of Athenian democracy. Athenian democracy implemented three institutions that ran their government. While Athenian democracy was made up of the Ekklesia, the Boule, and Dikasteria, American democracy is made up of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branch. There is a close resemblance in the Legislative and Judicial branches of American democracy and the Ekklesia, the Boule, and Dikasteria institutions of Athenian democracy.

The United States House of Representatives has many similarities to the Ekklesia in Athens. The Ekklesia is also referred to as the Assembly, and was “the sovereign ruling body of Athens” (History. com Staff). Participation in the Assembly was originally allotted only to males with at least two years of military experience, but Solon opened it up to all Athenian citizens. In order for the Assembly to operate, a quorum of 6,000 people was required on some occasions (Revolvy). They wrote and revised laws, disciplined public officials, discuss foreign policy, and war.

It was also the responsibility of the Assembly to hold an annual lottery in order to elect the new members of the Boule. This was an occasion where a quorum had to be met in order to operate (Revolvy). The Assembly met around forty times a year, every ten days or so, in a hillside auditorium called the Pnyx. The House of Representatives meets once a year of an extended period of time on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C. They discuss many of the same thing as those in the Assembly does and they both vote on their decisions using majority rule.

The Boule was the model for the United States Senate. The Boule is much smaller than the Assembly and is not opened to the general public. It is made up of five hundred members who are selected by a lottery and serve one-year terms. They used a lottery because it was more democratic than an election. This way it gave every citizen an equal chance to hold a position. The Boule meets every day, except on holidays, and discusses legislature that was previously ratified by the Assembly. This body has many important duties once they have discussed legislature ratified by the Assembly.

They oversee the magistrate’s performance to ensure that he is not gaining too much power, oversee the Navy to guarantee hat it is fit to defend the city-state, regulate elections, and make most financial decisions for the city-state (Packard Humanities Institute). Like the Boule, the United States Senate is the smaller of the two legislative bodies. The Senate is made up of one hundred members and oversees the work, which the House of Representatives put through. Like the Boule, the Senate also regulates financial obligations for the country and has a check upon the Executive Branch of the government.

In order for any new tax to be brought up to a vote in the United States it must irst be presented in the Senate and move forward from there. The third most important institution was the Dikasteria, or popular courts. Every day five hundred or more men, over the age of thirty, were chosen by lottery to serve as jurors. In a city- state where there were no police, the citizens brought cases to court. It was up to the citizen who brought the case to court to argue the case. It was not uncommon for a citizen to present a case merely to punish or embarrass their enemies.

The citizen would act as the prosecution and the defense and present their ase to be heard by a magistrate or arbitrator (Packard Humanities Institute). Aristotle once said that the Dikasteria “contributed most to the strength of democracy” (History. com Staff). He thought this because the jury had almost unlimited power to make their decisions. In Athenian democracy, the jurors were paid for their time in the court. The wages were less than one would usually earn in a day, as a result many of the jurors were retired elderly citizens (History. om Staff).

The popular courts of Athens had many similarities and difference compared to the courts in the United States. The courts in Athens resembled the lower level courts of the United States rather than the Supreme Court. There was not a court in Athens that was considered to be the supreme law of the land. No one was there to ensure that the different branches of government were implementing laws the way that they were suppose to be done. Athenian democracy lacked a system of checks and balances the way that United States has.

While Athens did have an executive branch, they did not allow it to have as much power as the executive branch in the United States has. The voting system in Athens was different than that of the United States. In Athens, in order to vote someone had to meet two qualifications. The first was that they had to be a citizens. In order to be a citizen in Athens at this time one must be a free man, woman, or child. Slaves were not considered to be citizens at this point in time (Packard Humanities Institute). The second qualification they had to meet was that they had to show up to the Assembly on the day that the vote was being cast.

The date in which the vote would be taken was posted in advance and citizens would gather on that day when the Assembly met to cast their vote. This system allowed everyone the opportunity to vote and take part in government (Packard Humanities Institute). Once the votes had been casted they decided whom was the winner based off of majority rule. In order to be considered the winner, one must have fifty percent of the vote plus one. In order to vote in the United States it is different; however, it is based off of the same principles. In the United States one must be a citizen and registered to vote.

To be a citizen one must be born in the United States or a U. S. territory or they must have gone through the naturalization process. In order to vote on most laws one must be a member of the House of Representatives or the Senate. It is these two branches of Congress that vote on laws before they are sent to the President for final approval and passage. However, the President does not have to sign a law he can also veto it. When this happens the law does not go into affect and it must go through the process again. Citizens are able to participate more directly through state and local governments than they are at the federal level.

At the state and local levels of government citizens go out to olling centers in order to cast their vote and let their voices be heard. At these levels citizens are able to vote on laws directly because a smaller amount of people are being affected. When it comes to the federal level of government citizens elect representatives to project their views for them. While this is still a democracy, it is what is known as a representative democracy. Direct democracy does exist in the United States, except, it is easier to regulate at the state and local levels.

The founding fathers, branches of government, and the system f voting are all things that are similar in the United States and Athens. Without the strong leaders who founded and helped to implement the many institutions in which it takes to run a government neither would still be around today. Neither government is perfect; yet, they both are still able to keep their citizens safe and protect them from outside forces. Solon, Cleisthenes, and Pericles were able to work together, without actually being together, to create a democracy that would later help to establish one of the most powerful countries on the Earth.