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Democracy and Imperialism Discussion Forum 2013-4

Democracy and Imperialism Discussion Forum 2013-4 Discussion of Term 1 Lecture 5 Democracy and Imperialism in 500-450: Key Questions

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  1. •What do you make of Athens’ foreign policy decisions in the 470s -450s? •To what extent do you think Ephialtes’ reforms made a real difference to workings of the Athenian political system? •How much was Pericles the master of the Athenian democracy?
  2. *What do you make of Athens’ foreign policy decisions in the 470s-450s? * Cimon’s foreign policy can be seen as the fundamental shift between Athens as an ally to a tyrant ruling unwilling subjects. The Peace of Kallias would suggest that the purpose of the Delian League was redundant and therefore Athens ought to focus on their home policy without the threat of another Persian conflict. However the fact that Athens commemorated their victory with such exaggerated monuments such as the statue of Athena Promachos to portray their victory to all those around them, and to suggest that it was their own Athenian victory. Following this they forced the obedience and cooperation of the Delian League and crushed those who attempted to rebel against them. In order to consolidate their own authority and power their foreign policy during this period consisted of making those around them less powerful. * * *To what extent do you think Ephialtes’ reforms made a real difference to workings of Athenian political system?* Ephialtes’ reforms did restrict the power of the old aristocrats by giving more power to the masses. His decision to move more law cases to the dikasteria in theory limited the power of the old aristocracy who ran the Areopagus. The jury for the dikasteria was chosen by lot in order to make it especially fair and unbiased. However the jury of 500 were selected from a lot of 6000 names, many of whom would not regularly be in Athens. Therefore it benefited those who could afford to take time away from their work to sit on the jury, or those who lived within Athens. Thus, the wealthy still had the power because until Pericles introduced pay for jurors, ordinary citizens could not afford to take time away from work in order to travel to Athens and to sit on a jury. * * *How much was Pericles the master of the Athenian democracy?* Pericles encouraged equality and sought to give all full citizens the same opportunities and rights. However he introduced pay to jurors and soldiers and provided work to the masses with the Periclean building programme, he was also an excellent orator. As a result of this the demos loved him and he was even continuously elected general for his tribe. This proves that his attempt to make things fair and democratic actually undermined democracy because they allowed him to gain more power as a sole leader because the demos had total faith in him and gave him ultimate power.
  3. 1.Athens’ attack on Thasos in order to gain silver mines on the Thracian mainland is a watershed moment. It is not fair to mitigate this with the mild treatment of Phaselis – in that instance there were no supplies of silver at stake. 2.I think that his reforms whether successful in the long term or not, showed that there was enough anti-Aeropagite/aristocratic sentiment for the devolution of powers to the people. 3.Pericles, an aristocrat, certainly became the leading man in the democracy but I wonder if Pericles was so much at the helm to what extent was it a polis run by the people
  4. •How much was Pericles the master of the Athenian democracy? In book 2.65 Thucydides wrote of Athenian society under Pericles that 'in what was nominally a democracy, power was really in the hands of the first citizen'. This seems to suggest that Athens wasn't a democracy at all so can we call Pericles the master of democracy when surely in order to have a democracy you can't have any one prominent individual who can be called the first citizen or master of it?
  5. *•What do you make of Athens’ foreign policy decisions in the 470s - 450s? * I think that the peace with Persia (peace of Kallias) was a necessary move, as further war with them would have been expensive and (given how lucky their past escapes had been) very risky. However, the attack on the island of Thasos, which seems to have been entirely motivated by monetary gain, was unnecessary; and perhaps unexpectedly cruel given that Thasos was still a member of the Delian league with Athens! *•To what extent do you think Ephialtes’ reforms made a real difference to workings of the Athenian political system?*I think that a real different was made, because of the new power bestowed onto the people's court, and the very important introduction of pay for jury members. *•How much was Pericles the master of the Athenian democracy?* Just because /democratia/ came into being as a term around the time of Pericles, does not mean that he can be called the mastermind of this concept. In fact, there is a good reason why later ancient writers refer to policies before Pericles', such as Solon's and Cleisthenes', as/democratia/. In hindsight, that is what they were to these historians, democratic! I think that democracy was masterminded long before it became a word.
  6. •*What do you make of Athens’ foreign policy decisions in the 470s -450s?* * *I think the Peace of Kallias was necessary, although I do think it rendered the Delian League as a bit useless, as it's main function was as a defensive/offensive against the Persian threat. This may be what made Athens a bit harsh when it came to the League - before Thasos tried to rebel, Naxos had also tried to leave and they also suffered, I think they were made to tear down their walls and also lost their vote in the League. *•To what extent do you think Ephialtes’ reforms made a real difference to workings of the Athenian political system?* * *His reforms seem to be putting the power more in the hands of the people, especially by limiting the legal powers of the Areopagus to religious cases and homocide, and handing it over to the Dikasteria. The pay for public offices is also quite important too, I think. Could it make poorer citizens more likely to go for such positions? •*How much was Pericles the master of the Athenian democracy?* * *I wouldn't quite call him the master of democracy, but he was important, especially when jury pay is concerned. One could call his building programme a little imperialistic i.e. using the spoils of war/the delian league to build up Athens and show everyone how great it is (I think this applies to the Parthenon in particular). His citizenship law leaves me a little puzzled - it does reduce the number of eligable voters etc but it also makes it more "Athenian" if you like - so perhaps more relevant?
  7. •What do you make of Athens’ foreign policy decisions in the 470s -450s? I understand the desire to want to increase security and reinforce superiority through expansion, but if you consider the Empire as a polis, by extension of the metaphor, Athens is a tyrant, and this directly conflicts with the reforks of Ephialtes and Pericles over this period. Unfortunately, the irony of a democracy ruling over an Empire filled with alternative methods of government seems to have been lost. •To what extent do you think Ephialtes’ reforms made a real difference to workings of the Athenian political system? In terms of the concept behind Ephialtes' reforms, then it is arguably the moment when a form of democracy kicks into Athens, or at least has a strong case for doing so. Perhaps in practice, the impact would've been lessened, for practical reasons rather than an unwillingness to participate, but the reforms of Ephialtes certainly opened the door for Pericles to encourage the demos to take am active role in politics. •How much was Pericles the master of the Athenian democracy? In my mind, 'the master of Athenian democracy' seems a bit of a paradox, as it is a concept that encourages equality and empowers the people. Certainly, he seems to have mastered the art of rhetoric, and through various sources, such as Herodotus, we are shown that a mastery of rhetoric often rewards you with heavy influences over the Athenians (Thucydides, Aristagoras, etc.)
  8. 1. What do you make of Athens’ foreign policy decisions in the 470s -450s? The fact that the Delian League was not abolished once revenge had been sought and post Peace of Kalias, shows how the intentions of the Athenians, led by Cimon, developed. One would think that the league would have disbanded once the peace treaty had been made but when Thasos (and other) attempted to rebel against the league, Athens attacked them and this shows the switch in intention as now we can see that the league is less defensive. 2. To what extent do you think Ephialtes’ reforms made a real difference to workings of the Athenian political system? Ephialtes removed the powers of ‘guardianship of the law’ from the Areopagus and into the hands of the Dikasteria (people’s court), thus taking the last of the powers that were in the hands of the aristocrats and giving them to the people. Now, one can argue that the people’s court was selected from a group of about 6000 men and so only those who can afford to attend were able to make a difference, but the fact that Ephialtes displayed the laws publicly acted as a permanent reminder to where these powers were now and even those who rarely came into the centre of Athens would still have noticed this public display whenever they were there. 3. How much was Pericles the master of the Athenian democracy? I don’t really see Pericles as the master of the Athenian democracy even though it was quite important that he introduced jury pay. He is most acclaimed for introducing the citizenship law whereby both the mother and father had to be a citizen in order for their child to claim Athenian citizenship. I don’t really see how this benefitted the people in terms of political equality and advancements. Maybe you could argue that he was a master in the eyes of the Athenians because they loved him for his building programme.
  9. #3: Pericles' control of Athens was interestingly close to absolute. He held the generalship for a huge number of successive years, had the influence to delay Assembly meetings until public opinion swung in his favour, and ostracised most of his rivals through open debates in the Assembly - often when they were trying to ostracise him. He got away with a lavish building programme, an equally lavish mistress, and was able to pass almost whichever laws he wanted. All in all, his manipulation of the democratic system was damn-near perfect.
  10. 1. I can't think of anything else to add to this discussion, but my main interest is in the Peace of Kallias, which should have ended the Delian League. I believe after this moment Athens' tyrannical tendencies are more obvious and more significant as they reveal Athens as an imperial power reigning, rather than one of the "Hellenes." 2. I believe Ephialtes' reforms made a significant constitutional difference, but thinking particularly in terms of the Areopagus, it is likely that the reason he did it was because the idea of an aristocratic stronghold having such power to an Athenian in the 460s seemed like a strange, outdated concept. Therefore I believe in removing the last key powers from the old aristocracy his reforms were more significant in symbolic terms than anything else, as the dikasteria was still only really open to those who could afford it, which suggests the change in the political workings were not as significant. 3. Pericles appears to be more the master of democracy in his manipulation of the system, as Tom points out he was a master of rhetoric. It could be argued that he is able to use his massive influence, shown in how he was elected every year between 443 and 430 to become his deme's general, to manipulate the demos, using the power they have, in order to push forth the policies he wanted; especially in terms of the building programme, and his imperialistic policies.
  11. 1) In the 470s-50s Athenian foreign policy became overtly imperialistic in nature. After the Peace of Kallias, Athens still ruled the now redundant Delian League and as thus turning into the Athenian Empire. This imperialism is showcased is shown with the attack of Thasos in order to gain access to the silver mines. 2) I think the reforms were important because it lead from a shirft in power from the aristocracy to the demos. Particularly the removal of legal power from the Areopagus (an aristocratic institution) to the Dikasteria (the court of the people) 3) I don't believe that Pericles was the master of democracy shown through him turning the Delian League into an empire. However I think he was the master of democracy in terms of manipulating it to his own advantage, his skill in oratory lead him to be the the "first citizen" (Thucydides) of Athens. Aristotle even notes that he bribed the people with thwir own money with the introduction of jury pay and a policy of naval power in order to acquire political influence. (Constitution of Athens 27-8).
  12. To what extent do you think Ephialtes' reforms made a real difference to workings of the Athenian political system? I agree with the general consensus on this question so far. The reforms of Ephialtes appear to be very democcratic in their nature, and in a way appeared to consolidte the growing power of the poorer citizens, by taking away some of the powers of the elite (in reducing the powers of the Areopagus), and transfering them to the Peoples' court. Of course the idea that these reforms made some difference, but only in theory is an argument of merit. It has to be considered whether the poorest citizens would be able to give up their time to partake in the system. Yet, I believe that because pay was introduced for some military functions and public offices, the poorer citizens may have been able to do more than before. Finallu, whilst it could be argued that these reforms did not make a huge difference to the workings of the Athenian political system, tit cannot be denied that they 'tidied' it up.
  13. *How much was Pericles the master of the Athenian democracy?* Pericles was not so much the master of the Athenian democracy as he was just another leader of it, furthering the roots of democracy which had already been laid out since the 6th Century. I think he strengthened it and to some extent made it his own, but it relied on the foundations of Solon and Cleisthenes.
  14. 3. Pericles can be seen as the master of democracy because he used the institutions of democracy to achieve and maintain leadership and control. By making sure that he kept within the consrtucts of democracy to gain power and make changes he effectively legitimized his position and was able to make huge decisions such as his building programme without any opposition meaningful enough to halt action.
  15. To what extent was Pericles master of Athens? Pericles' continuous re-election to the position of strategos was a symptom of the inherent Alcmaeonid bias which Athenian democracy had created and fostered under Cleisthenes. It is indeed a strange anomaly that Pericles is supposedly 1/10 strategoi yet Thucydides in his history barely mentions them at all; Pericles is practically allowed to dictate foreign policy at the beginning of Peloponnesian War. This is because, as I have stated in earlier posts, the makeup of the assembly would have been heavily influenced by city dwellers (the basis for Alcmaeonid support). Perhaps the term ‘master’ is misleading though; he was after all, democratically elected (although you may cast some scepticism on how representative the electoral assembly was of the demos). A scheming chap who knew how to work the system certainly; but so were many other popular figures in Athenian politics that actually ended up in exile.
  16. Question 3: I think Pericles was the master of democracy. He mastered the art of getting to the top and staying at the top; I doubt this was just through his building programme and success in the Peloponnesian Wars; I imagine just like in the modern day there was a fair amount of intrigue and backstabbing involved! I think he essentially did what every aspiring leader tries to do in a democracy: he found out how to get to the top and he stayed there. As for the contradiction of there being a master of a democratic system as some people mentioned I think it depends on how you look at it. If you can see the modern US, who spend 6 billion dollars on their election and try to create a cult of personality around their potential future presidents, as a democracy, then I don't think you can claim Pericles being at the head of a democratic system undemocratic.
  17. *To what extent do you think Ephialtes' reforms made a real difference to workings of the Athenian political system?* Ephialtes main reform was to set up a judicial system of courts in 461 B.C, just after the rejection of Athenian help by the Spartans. Because of the ill-feeling at the time that this created, this was an opportune moment for such reforms. His judicial courts were consisted of citizens over 30 chosen by lot; this made it almost impossible to bribe the jurors because all the trials were concluded in just one day and the juries were large, sometimes ranging even to several thousand. Ephialtes sponsored laws removing many powers from the Areopagus and gave them instead to the assembly; because the Areopagus, consisting of former archons serving for life, was the least democratic of Athens’ political institutions, this would have made Ephialtes’ reforms all the more radical. I think that they would have therefore made more of a difference due to adding to Athens’ transformation into a very radical form of democracy. However, his reforms still did not make Athens all inclusive: it is questionable whether the poor citizens would have been able to partake in this system regardless of the lessened powers of the Areopagus.
  18. 2 I think Ephilates' reforms of the law courts would not necessarily have made the courts extremely fair. Lawyers are employed for a reason, they are trained to be able to present the case in a persuasive manner. Having each man represent himself in court would hugely favour the upper classes who have had a good education (which we know is based around rhetoric). They would have a natural advantage in the courts due to this, while the poorer man may not be able to put his points across as well, or may not have the confidence that the richer, trained man has in the courts. It is a good idea in theory, but I think it requires an equality of education to really mean anything.
  19. To what extent was Pericles the master of Athenian democracy? Pericles's introduction of pay for a number of offices in Athens, such as jury pay and pay for some military services and the council of 500, was a big step forward for Athenian democracy. In essence, it gave the poorer masses who had been enfranchised by various reforms throughout the last century the means to exercise the new powers given to them. It was all well and good the working classes being given the right to demonstrate their ability in the political/civic arena, but it wasn't as meaningful (as the Persian herald mockingly points out in/Suppliant Women/) when it wasn't viable for them to contribute in such a way due to their work, lack of money etc. Pericles's introduction of this pay made it practical for them to take part and so in that way it can be argued that Pericles was very important for Athenian democracy, though whether he was the "master" of it after Solon and Cleisthenes is debatable.
  20. •To what extent do you think Ephialtes’ reforms made a real difference to workings of the Athenian political system? Ephialtes' reforms fundamentally changed Athenian hierarchy by removing direct influence on the part of the aristocracy. Through the Areopagus, the nobility had a final foohold in the running of the democracy, which allowed them to increase their power elsewhere. Yet, the situation was not as severe as it seemed; they were still able to exercise power in other posts, through they're basic citizen rights, and of course the boon of affluence allowed them to make extensive dedications to the city, gaining them popularity necessary for the few posts elected by votes, as well as in speeches.

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