Emily and Phoebe

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Did you know that Kleisthenes is known as the founder of democracy? It seems that he assumed power in Athens having been granted an amnesty to return from exile by his political opponent Peisistratos (who was more or less on his deathbed when he did so). Anyway, Kleisthenes set about making great changes to the way things were run in Athens. Previously, political parties had been class-based and different classes had lived in different parts of the city. Kleisthenes' predecessor, for example, was nominally the representative of the city's poor. The major change made by Kleisthenes involved grouping the citizens into 10 phyles (or tribes), each of which had a strategos (leader) and elected fifty bouleutes (representatives) who sat in the "boule (parliament) of 500". This parliament discussed and made preparations for all the debates, enactments of laws etc, that would take place in the ekklesia (assembly), where all citizens could attend, speak and vote.

This is part of what I have learned (to be honest, not everything sunk in) after helping Emily with the 2 pages of History that she missed due to illness last week. Emily is nine and a half. Her conclusion, having ploughed through the above, is "Democracy sucks". Way to go, Educational Institute (the wonks who wrote the book), for engendering a love of history and an appreciation of democratic principles in the nation's youth!


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