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Classics & Ancient History   >   Democracy and the Athenians


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Democracy and the Athenians

In this course, Prof. Robin Osborne (University of Cambridge) explores the development and operation of Athenian democracy. In the first half of the course, we outline the major landmarks in the development of development of democracy, from Solon in the early sixth century, through Cleisthenes in the late sixth century, and then through the fifth century and the reforms of individuals such as Ephialtes and Pericles. In the second half, we think about the operation of Athenian democracy in its most radical form, focusing in particular on the workings of the popular assembly and the law-courts, the kind of political leaders that were influential in this period, and the benefits and drawbacks of mass participation in the political system.


In this module, we discuss Solon, the Athenian law-giver who was active in the early sixth century BC. In particular, we think the kinds of rules that all Greek city-states were introducing at this time - rules that tended to dictate how the people in charge should behave, rather than how the general populace should behave - as well as the particular changes that Solon made at Athens, changes that included the abolition of bond-slavery, the introduction of new property classes, and a redistribution of land.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Osborne, R. (2018, August 15). Democracy and the Athenians - Solon [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Osborne, R. "Democracy and the Athenians – Solon." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Prof. Robin Osborne

Prof. Robin Osborne

University of Cambridge