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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY

From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS

II. THE GREAT AGE OF THE GREEK REPUBLICS TO 362 B.C.

Em. Macron, Rediscovering the Path to Europe
Em. Macron, Rediscovering the Path to Europe


» Contents of this Chapter
Page 13

ATHENIAN IMPERIALISM

Athens under Pericles ruled more than two hundred towns and cities in Asia Minor and the islands of the Aegean Sea. The subjects of Athens, in return for the protection that she gave them against Persia, owed many obligations. They paid an annual tribute and furnished soldiers in time of war. In all legal cases of importance the citizens had to go to Athens for trial by Athenian courts. The Delian communities, in some instances, were forced to endure the presence of Athenian garrisons and officers. To the Greeks at large all this seemed nothing less than high-handed tyranny. Athens, men felt, had built up an empire on the ruins of Hellenic liberty.

NATURE OF THE ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY

If the Athenians possessed an empire, they themselves were citizens of a state more democratic than any other that has existed, before or since, in the history of the world. They had now learned how unjust was the rule of a tyrant or of a privileged class of nobles. They tried, instead, to afford every one an opportunity to make the laws, to hold office, and to administer justice. Hence the Athenian popular assembly and law courts were open to all respectable citizens. The offices, also, were made very numerous—fourteen hundred in all—so that they might be distributed as widely as possible. Most of them were annual, and some could not be held twice by the same person. Election to office was usually by lot. This arrangement did away with favoritism and helped to give the poor man a chance in politics, as well as the man of wealth or noble birth.

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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY: Table of Contents

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Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy

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