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ATHENS A YOUNG DEMOCRACY How did the culture in Athens differ from other Greek city-states? Athens was another important polis (city-state.) It was 153 miles northeast of Sparta, (about a 2-day trip in those days) high above a plain facing the sea. The Athenians were descendants of the Mycenaeans. LIFE IN ATHENS Athenian men worked as farmers, artisans, and merchants. After finishing work in the mornings, they would often spend their afternoons exercising at the gymnasium. Upper-class men spent their evenings eating, drinking, and discussing philosophy or politics in all male gatherings. Athenian women took care of their families and homes. Girls often married at a young age, sometimes in their mid-teens. Poor women helped with farm work or sold goods at the market. Upper-class women often supervised the servants and spun, dyed, or wove cloth. Most upper-class women rarely left their houses except to attend funerals and festivals. Athenian women were always under the care of a male family member. Husbands were responsible for their wives and unmarried daughters. Sons were responsible for their widowed mothers. EDUCATION The people of Athens believed in an education that would produce strong minds and bodies. In Athenian schools, boys studied arithmetic, geometry, drawing, music, and public speaking. They also participated in sports. When the boys finished school at 18, they were expected to take part in public affairs. EDUCATION Athenian girls were educated by their mothers at home. They were taught how to spin, weave, and to manage their households. Some wealthy families allowed their girls to learn to read, write, and play music. Except for a few women, usually foreigners, women were not expected to take part in government. SLAVERY? IN ATHENS? Slavery was common in ancient civilizations, often considered to be a normal part of life, even by the slaves themselves. Most Athenian households had at least one enslaved person. Many wealthy Athenian families had more. Many of the slaves were prisoners who had been captured in battle. They could be Greek or non-Greek. Slaves worked on farms, in artisan shops, or at hard labor. Female slaves were cooks and servants in wealthy homes. Some slaves even taught the children of the upperclass. Sometimes, but rarely, slaves could earn money to buy their freedom. Although they had no rights, slaves were given some protection by the Athenian government. GOVERNMENT IN ATHENS By 600 BCE. most Athenian farmers owed money to the nobles. Some farmers even sold themselves into slavery to repay their debts. Athenians began to rebel. Farmers wanted an end to all debts and asked that land be given to the poor. Solon, a respected merchant, poet, and lawmaker led the reforms, looking to find agreement between the nobles and farmers. He knew they needed to be able to work together. In 594 BCE Solon ended the farmers' debts and freed those who were enslaved. He opened the assembly and the law courts to all male citizens. The Athenian assembly was responsible for passing laws written by a council of 400 wealthy citizens. • MORE REFORMS In 560 BCE, a tyrant, and a relative of Solon's, Peisistratus, took over the government. He took the reforms even further. He divided large estates among farmers who had no land. He provided loans to help farmers buy equipment to work their farms. He gave citizenship to Athenians who did not own land. He built more shrines to different gods, but encouraged worship of Athena. TOWARD DEMOCRACY The next leader of Athens was Cleisthenes, (KLYS thuh neez) a nobleman. Cleisthenes valued the idea of a democracy, and made more reforms toward that end: ~ made the assembly the city-state’s major governing body ~ continued to allow all male citizens to participate in the assembly and vote on laws [assembly members could now freely discuss issues, hear legal cases, and appoint army officials] ~ created a new council of 500 citizens to: ` help the assembly ` manage daily government affairs ` introduce laws ` control the treasury ` manage relations with other city states How do you suppose the Athenians chose the members for this important council? YES !! THE LOTTERY !! Athenians used a lottery system to choose their council members because they believed an election might unfairly favor the rich, who would be more well-known. Every citizen had a chance to be on the council because each term was limited to one year, and no one could serve on the council for more than two terms. While Cleisthenes’s reforms made Athens’ government more democratic, many residents were still excluded from the political process. Still, it was a large step toward true democracy.