Every Cook Can Govern

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2022-06-22 12:30:05

This conventional view on the role of slavery in classical Greece has been challenged in recent years. Ellen Meiksins Wood, in her excellent book Peasant-Citizen and Slave: The Foundations of Athenian Democracy, Verso, London, 1988 argues that the domination of agriculture by free peasants limited the growth and influence of slavery. (Bewick)

The Greek form of government was the city-state. Every Greek city was an independent state. At its best, in the city state of Athens, the public assembly of all the citizens made all important decisions on such questions as peace or war. They listened to the envoys of foreign powers and decided what their attitude should be to what these foreign powers had sent to say. They dealt with all serious questions of taxation, they appointed the generals who should lead them in time of war. They organized the administration of the state, appointed officials and kept check on them. The public assembly of all the citizens was the government.

Perhaps the most striking thing about Greek Democracy was that the administration (and there were immense administrative problems) was organized upon the basis of what is known as sortition, or, more easily, selection by lot. The vast majority of Greek officials were chosen by a method which amounted to putting names into a hat and appointing the ones whose names came out.

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