Ancient Greek Democracy

It is no secret that the America we know today has evolved and incorporated many of the successes and failures from the civilizations that came before us. The major foundation of the American society, our democratic system of government, was influenced by a preceding civilization. Throughout this paper, I will convey the monumental influence that the Ancient Greek invention of democracy had on our modern-day American democracy; I will discuss the main aspects of the Greek democracy, the main aspects of the American democracy, and the similarities that both democracies utilize.

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The ancient Greek civilization is one of the great influencers on Modern Day America. Greek democracy was founded roughly during the 5th century BC, and it was an unprecedented idea or system of government.

According to HISTORY.com editors, this system of government is comprised of three separate institutions: the Ekklesia a sovereign governing body that wrote laws and dictated foreign policy; the Boule, a council of representatives from the ten Athenian tribes; and the Dikasteria, the popular courts in which citizens argued cases before a group of lottery selected jurors. The Greeks adopted the use of direct democracy; this became problematic when there were urgent matters at hand and hindered the efficacy of having a democratic government. Because there were not any preceding democracies, the Greeks had to improvise when new situations arose; the were not afforded the opportunity to look back on other democracies that had either succeeded or failed. Therefore, it is comprehensible that the Ancient Greek Democracy would reach it’s downfall in 404 BC. There is some controversy on when exactly our government became a democratic system. Some believe, it was in 1776, after the Declaration of Independence was signed, and others say it was formed when the United States adopted the Constitution in 1788, which they consider to be the world’s first formal blueprint for democracy, which is states by Joseph Stromberg on SMITHSONIAN.com. The United States has adopted a representative democracy, which means that we elect government officials to make decisi8ons or vote on o9ur behalf. This has both benefits and downfalls.

A possible advantage would be that it doesn’t take quite as long to come to decisions as it would if every pe4rson in America showed up at all hearings or bills to vote. A disadvantage that tends to arise is the fact that it is easier for Americans to feel like their vote doesn’t count or they don’t have a voice. Our democratic system of government also has three institutions of government; however, they are called legislative branch, which makes laws, the judicial branch, which interprets the laws, and the executive branch, which enforces the laws. In this day and age, a person can speculate that there may be many more aspects of the government than those of the Ancient Greek. For example, our technology, educations system, and cultural differences require us to have new laws or delegated political jobs that the Ancient Greeks would not have required. Because the Ancient Greek Democracy influenced our government today, th4re are bound to be some major similarities. Some of the major similarities between Ancient Greek Democracy and American democracy are prejudicial voting at one time, having a group that gathers and votes on specific matters at hand, the right to trial by jury, and the idea that they wanted a government ruled by the people. Both democracies were based on the fundamental values of a government ruled by the people.

As earlier stated in this paper, our American democracy practices an indirect form, called representative democracy; on the contrary, Ancient Greeks utilized a direct democracy. They’re two different forms of democracy, but they are both built off of similar ideology. An unfortunate similarity between both democracies is the utilization of prejudicial voting. The ancient Greeks allowed free men, who were also of Athenian descent, to be considered a citizen, thus only allowing those men to participate. This is similar to the early voting prejudices against women and slaves and their right to vote. These prejudices were very problematic for both democracies. Both democracies upheld the right to a speedy trial by jury. Our juries are made up of a lot fewer jurors, though; the Greeks randomly chose 200-6000 citizens to sit on the juries during their trials, while the US has about 12 jurors. The final similarity between the two democracies is the fact that both democracies possessed a group of citizens that gathered to vote on laws and different aspects of societal needs. the Greeks called theirs an assembly, and Americans call theirs congress. These are not the only similarities or evident influences between the two democracies, but they are some of the major ones. Without the precedented idea of democracy, nobody knows if we wo9uld even recognize our society. Throughout this paper, I have summarized both the Ancient Greek Democracy and Modern-day American society; I then presented a collection of similarities between the two democracies. This further cemented the idea that the ancient Greek democracy extensively influenced American democracy.

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