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Presentation on theme: "A CONSTITUTION IMPRESSED BY GRECISM"— Presentation transcript:


2 Democracy was a rather rooted Greek invention: in ancient Greece , in fact , it had the character of universality and eternity; besides it impressed our Christian soul, in particular the State and the society. The word that Ancient Greeks used to define their political system was <Democracy> and it referred to “ majority”.

3 The most important Athenian political leaders were:

4 (Pericles’ word attributed to him by Thucidides in II,37)
“The word we use to define our Democracy is “ Oikèin” because our political system refers to “ majority “ and not to “ power” or to “ entire people”…but in private disputes we give equal weight to everyone and there is freedom in our public life.” (Pericles’ word attributed to him by Thucidides in II,37) Pericles, the greatest Athenian political leader, with this sentence, labelled the existing political system in V century Athens, associating political system not to the power of the entire people, as was erroneously stated in the preamble to the European Constitution draft in 2003, but to the majority expressed by the people.

5 Athens, despite the disastrous conclusion of the Peloponnese war, thanks to Democracy became the school of Greece, being the spokesman of principles such as <parresia>, <isegoria> and <isonomia>, that praised freedom of speech and equality of laws and rights. However Greek writers weren’t in favour of Democracy and their hostility derived from their aristocratic and conservative character whose model was Sparta, clearly in opposition to the democratic Athens.

6 At the beginning the Athenian government was led by the Archons that, elected by the nobles every year and supported by the <Aereopago’s Assembly> ,that was the most ancient and aristocratic judicial Body, represented the monarchic power. Only then a way was opened towards a real democratic Constitution, through important reforms, such as the Solon’s ones, that abolished slavery in 524 b.C. and the creation of <Elièa> (the judicial popular Body opposed to the aristocratic <Areopago>).

7 But the real democratic Costitution was known in Athens in 510 b. C
But the real democratic Costitution was known in Athens in 510 b.C. thanks to Cleisthenes. He created the 500 Council (Bulè),that through the 50 members elected by each of the ten tribes, had an executive character and deprived the Archons of their authority very soon; it controlled the work of all magistrates and stategists,and it drew up the agenda of the general people meeting through the Ekklesia Body. It was formed by male citizens only, over 20 and the functions of <Ekklesia>, unlike the Bulè were legislative but also judicial, as it was decided about the preservation of existing laws and the withdrawal or the preservation of magistrates, entirely dependent on the decisions taken by the people.

8 The third fundamental democratic Institution was the <Elièa>,the judicial popular Body instituted by Solon. It was formed by judges, opposed to the aristocratic power of the <Areopago>. But people had soon another formidable instrument of control, <Ostracism>, that banished whomever was impopular from the State. Athenian Constitution had its glorious period in 462; Areopago’s power was limited in favour of three popular Bodies: the <Assemby>, the <500 Council> and <Elièa>. Moreover in 457 also the <zeugiti>, that represented the third class, were admitted to the office of Archon.

9 Pericles gave, with the <Misthophorìa>, an important development to the Athenian Democracy, permitting the active participation of all political members to the Assembly. Pericles guaranteed not only the individual liberty in Athens but also the <isonomia> and the <isegoria>, essential elements of democracy for the Greeks: in fact ancient Greece was called the <cradle of culture>. Subsequently there will be the decline of the Democracy but ancient Greece will remain the symbol of the West forever.

10 Pericles was perceived as a real princeps by Thucidides: a kind of supremacy, a personal power that established Democracy, and on the contrary, there was the government of <PRÒTOS ANÈR>(II, 65). Thucidides described Pericles as the princeps with very similar characteristics to those of the tyrant Pisistratus whose governament was characterized by uninterrupted continuity within a correct costitutional system.

11 In Aristotle,the difference between the two opposing political systems did not lie in the fact that lots or few people possessed the citizenship, but in the fact if they were owners or not; he set out that even in oligarchies the <majority> was in power. In “Politician” and “Laws” Plato argued that laws should be supreme.

12 In these conditions Greek political life investigated about the origins of the two constant motives of ancient political thought: 1) the lack of sympathy for democracy, not appreciated more than monarchy or oligarchy; 2) the ideal of the “mixed State” as an excellent state. The “mixed State”, costant ideal of Greek politicians, was an effetive balance between the state Bodies corresponding to the political forces.

13 Comparing the Greek Democracy to ours, we very often reduced it to liberty and equality only; the real reason was that our Democracy (Western Europe and America) came to maturity during the Enlightenment, that defined the political problem in essentially individualistic terms. Besides, the popular sovereingnity consisted in the State control by people meant as a combination of individuals, whose fundamental aspiration was to garantee their own person.



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