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The Limitations in Greek Citizenship and Democracy

According to most present-day historians that focus on the political and social realms of ancient Greece, the implementation of the concept of citizenship as the basis for the city-state (polis) and the extension of citizen status to all free-born members of the community is most closely related to the Athenians who desired to form a free society in the ancient world with democracy as its foundation. In Athens, citizenship carried certain legal rights, such as access to courts to resolve disputes, protection against enslavement by kidnapping and participation in the religious and cultural life of the polis. It also implied participation in politics, although the degree of participation open to the poorest men varied among different city-states. The ability to hold office, for example, could be limited in some cases to owners of a certain amount of property or wealth. But most importantly, citizen status distinguished free men and women from slaves and foreigners; thus, even the poor had a distinction that set themselves apart from these groups that were not given the gift of citizenship. There were also other limitations in regard to Athenian citizenship, for the incompleteness of the equality that under laid the political structure of the polis was most prominent as to status of citizen women who generally had an identity, social status and local rights that were denied slaves and foreigners. Citizen women had access to courts in disputes over property and other legal matters, but they could not represent themselves and had to have men speak for their interests, a requirement that reveals their inequality under the law. in contrast, all male citizens, regardless of their level of wealth, were 2 eventually entitled to attend, speak in, and cast a vote in the communal assemblies in which policy decisions for the polis were made and drafte...

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The Limitations in Greek Citizenship and Democracy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:22, July 06, 2015, from