Western Civilization

DemoKratia In Action:

Athenian Democracy Debate


In the year 507 B.C., and the Athenian leader Cleisthenes introduced a system of political reforms that he called demokratia, or “rule by the people.” This system 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.

While the Athenian Democracy is not perfect, you have heard about the Athenian system and there is growing interest in it.  You are a citizen of the Greek city of Centralis Ramesos, and you and your study groups will decide on whether the your polis should model it’s government on the Athenian demokratia model.


Read the following set of documents:  Ideal and Reality in Athens

Upon finishing reading the documents, your study groups will be assigned a role and develop arguments and questions based on the following perspectives:

Group 1: You are a group of aristocratic government officials on the City Council of the ancient Greek city of Centralis Ramesos.  You are being approached representatives of the people who are asking to have an Athenian style democracy implemented in the city.  Another group of traditional aristocrats are firmly opposed to this idea.  You all are actually a fairly enlightened lot and want to be as powerful as Athens so the idea is intriguing, though naturally you are skeptical of democracy.  You will need to come up with questions for BOTH groups based on your understanding of Athenian democracy from the readings.  Jot your questions down on this sheet of paper.  You will be judged on how critical your questions are of BOTH sides.

Group 2: You are a group of people (perhaps including the odd aristocrat) who want to have an Athenian style democracy in the city of Centralis Ramesos.  You will need to create the argument to present before the government council.  You will also need to create their counter arguments for what the aristocrats will throw at you.  You will need to persuade the council that true democracy in the Athenian style (and only the Athenian style – no modifications) is the way to make Msubos great.

Group 3: Your group consists of ancient Greek conservative aristocrats of the city Centralis Ramesos.  A group of ignorant and uppity people want to implement an Athenian style democracy in the city.  The last thing you want is a democracy.  It is a shame that the city council is even considering the idea, so you need to stop it now.  You all will need to convince the city council that not only is democracy a bad idea conceptually, but that Athens really isn’t a democracy anyway.  Therefore, you will need to create a detailed argument to that effect as well as being prepared to counter the people’s perspective.  This will be the downfall of our city, so make your argument well!  Jot some of your points on this piece of paper.

Your group assignments are as follows:

           • Machiavellians - Group 3

           • Jacobins - Group 2

           • Praetorians - Group 1

           • Stosstruppen - Group 2

           • Cavaliers - Group 3

           • Conquistadors - Group 2


     ⦿ Group 1:  List 5-10 questions to for BOTH sides of this debate.  You will ask these during the debate.  

     ⦿ Groups 2&3:  Complete a 1-2 paragraph argument in favor or against establishing an Athenian Democracy in Centralis Ramesos, based on your assigned perspective.

Groups 2&3 will present their arguments before the City Council.  After the completion of speeches, the members of Group 1 will pose questions and critiques of both sides, and the members of Groups 2&3 will have a chance to respond to Group 1 and debate with the opposing members of other groups.

     ⦿ When completed, email your group speech and questions to bcchseurosquad@gmail.com