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
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
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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