Law and Politics in the Ancient Athenian Agora

The Agora was the central gathering place for all of Athens, where social and commercial dealings took place. Arguably, it’s most important purpose was as the home base for all of the city-state’s administrative, legal and political functions. Some of the most important, yet least acclaimed, buildings of ancient history and Classical Athens were located[…]

Overthrowing Oligarchy in the Athenian Revolution of 508-507 BCE

Athens had the largest and wealthiest city-state, but they also had a larger class of people excluded from political life by the nobility. Introduction and Background The Athenian Revolution (508–507 BCE) was a revolt by the people of Athens that overthrew the ruling aristocratic oligarchy, establishing the almost century-long self-governance of Athens in the form[…]

The Golden Age of Ancient Athens in the Fifth Century BCE

The famous Greek playwrights, historians, and physicians familiar to us today lived in the fifth century. Introduction Fifth-century Athens is the Greek city-state of Athens in the time from 480 to 404 BC. Formerly known as the Golden Age of Athens, the later part being the Age of Pericles, it was buoyed by political hegemony,[…]

A History of Athens since the Early Modern Period

Athens was chosen as the Greek capital for historical and sentimental reasons. Ottoman Athens The first Ottoman attack on Athens, which involved a short-lived occupation of the town, came in 1397, under the Ottoman generals Yaqub Pasha and Timurtash.[25] Finally, in 1458, Athens was captured by the Ottomans under the personal leadership of Sultan Mehmed[…]

A History of Ancient and Medieval Athens

Athens has been inhabited from Neolithic times, possibly from the end of the fourth millennium BCE, or over 5,000 years. Introduction Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for perhaps 5,000 years. Situated in southern Europe, Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece in the first[…]

Greek Government in the Medieval Duchy of Athens

Exploring the establishment of the Duchy following the Fourth Crusade. Introduction The Duchy of Athens was a Latin or Frankish state in Greece that existed from 1205 to 1458 CE. It was created in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204 CE) and would be ruled for the majority of its history by the Burgundian[…]

The Areopagite Constitution and the Reforms of Ephialtes in Ancient Athens

Ephialtes’ reforms are considered by Aristotle and modern scholars to mark the end of the Areopagite constitution. The Areopagite constitution is the modern name for a period in ancient Athens described by Aristotle in his Constitution of the Athenians. According to that work, the Athenian political scene was dominated, between the ostracism of Themistocles in[…]

The Draconian Constitution: The First Written Legal Code in Ancient Athens

The people of Athens commissioned Draco to devise a written law code and constitution, giving him the title of the first legislator of Athens. Introduction The Draconian constitution, or Draco’s code, was a written law code created by Draco near the end of the 7th century BC in response to the unjust interpretation and modification[…]

The Persian Wars and the Maritime Supremacy of Ancient Athens

Figure 1: Greek Colonization of western Asia Minor / Image by Alexikoua, Wikimedia Commons The development of naval supremacy and of democracy became interdependent. In the period of about 600–480 BCE, Ionian colonists emigrated from Attica to the Aegean coast of Asia Minor, which is modern Turkey [1]. There they inhabited a narrow coastal strip from[…]

The Long Walls of Ancient Athens

Part of Themistocles’s wall in Kerameikos / Wikimedia Commons Built in several phases, they provided a secure connection to the sea even during times of siege. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.08.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Although long walls were built at several locations in ancient Greece, notably Corinth and Megara,[1] the term Long Walls (Greek: Μακρὰ Τείχη) generally refers to[…]

Voting and Civic Participation in Ancient Athens

The Acropolis of Athens. Dominating the acropolis is the Parthenon, built between 447 and 432 BCE in the Age of Pericles, and dedicated to the city’s patron deity Athena. / Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons Ancient Athenians actively served in the institutions that governed them, and so they directly controlled all parts of the political process. By Mark Cartwright / 04.03.2018 Historian[…]

A Brief Overview of Law and Courts in Ancient Athens

The Athens Acropolis as seen from the Court of Cassation (Areopagus, i.e. the “Stone, or Hill, of Ares”) / Photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis, Wikimedia Commons Focusing on Athenian law in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Introduction When we investigate how the law and the courts of Classical Greece worked, the law of ancient Athens provides most of[…]

Social Norms in the Courts of Ancient Athens

Ancient Athens was a remarkably peaceful and well-ordered society by both ancient and contemporary standards. By Adriaan Lanni, J.D. Touroff-Glueck Professor of Law Harvard Law School Abstract Ancient Athens was a remarkably peaceful and well-ordered society by both ancient and contemporary standards. Scholars typically attribute Athens’ success to internalized norms and purely informal enforcement mechanisms.[…]

The Concept of Ethical Business in Ancient Athens

Athens agora / Photo by Andreas Trepte, Wikimedia Commons Ethics was a function of being and, as the guiding principle for dealings with others, it naturally applied as well to the sensitive areas of money and commerce. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 09.11.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief It would be hard to overstate the influence[…]

Solon the Lawgiver: A Constitution of Property

The Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians / British Library (Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 131), Wikimedia Commons Solon’s new constitution was based on ownership of property. Introduction By the early 6th century B.C. social tensions in Athens had become acute, pitting the poorer citizens against rich and powerful landowners. Many citizens were reduced to the status of share[…]

Athens: Hellenistic Hegemony

The Erechtheum, western side, Acropolis, Athens, Greece / Photo by Jebulon, Wikimedia Commons Athens attained its Golden Age under Pericles in the 5th century BCE, and flourished culturally as the hegemonic power of the Hellenic world. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 08.04.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Emergence and Growth The Rise of Athens (508-448 BCE) In 514[…]

Ancient Athens and the Art of Exiling One’s Political Enemies

Ostraka from classical Athens nominating the persons of Kallias and Megakles. Cycladic Art Museum, Athens, Greece/Wikimedia Commons For the first time in recent memory the possibility of imprisoning political rivals has entered the political discourse of a modern western election. But ostracism is an ancient democratic tradition that offers an alternative approach. By Dr. Chris Mackie / 11.22.2016 Professor of Classics La Trobe University Throwing one’s political opponent in jail has[…]