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and the Council of 500

Author(s): A. G. Woodhead
Source: Historia: Zeitschrift fr Alte Geschichte, Bd. 16, H. 2 (Apr., 1967), pp. 129-140
Published by: Franz Steiner Verlag
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A BHA NDL UNGEN

IYHrOPIA AND THE COUNCILOF 5oo


In a paper published in Ancient Society and Institutions,' Mr. G. T. Griffith
has considered the growth of the concept of loryopla as an element in Athenian
democracy. Its application is most explicit in the assembly of the Athenian
of
people. It was the regular procedure in the ecclesia, after the -Xpo3oLXe[uot
the council had been read and the principal officers of state, together with the
proposer of the measure, had said what was necessary and apposite, that the
- "who wishes to speak?".
xnpui asked the question r1' akyop?eevPout$Xeact
Any citizen present could elbow his way to the front, if he had not already
stationed himself there awaiting the herald's cue, could ascend the bema and
say what he wanted on the matter in hand. Athenians were then, as now, both
loquacious and passionate in political affairs: there may have been a queue of
those awaiting their turn, especially when the business was controversial and
opinions well divided. We are told on various occasions that 'many spoke'2, and
we know that some speakers came armed with amendments to the probouleuma,
which they were able to persuade the assembly to adopt. Sometimes there were
no more than small corrections of expression or phrasing;3 sometimes they
introduced changes of principle4 and even brought in new business which the
1 Studies presented to Victor Ehrenberg on his 7s5th birthday, pp. II5-I38.
Mr Griffith
was kind enough to let me see an early draft of his article, and it was from mutual discussion
of this that the present considerations arose. Not content with urging that these be put
on paper, he has also improved the result by useful criticism. The reader may find it
profitable to consider the two articles in conjunction, by reason of their fairly close
interdependence, and I have not repeated the bibliographical references on tiyop(x
which may be better consulted in the context of Mr. Griffith's more extensive and more
general treatment of that subject.
2 On the procedure cf. A. H. M. Jones, Athenian Democracy, 1957, iio/iii,
with references to the ancient literature. See also V. Ehrenberg, The Greek State, I960, 56-57; GlotzCohen, HistoireGrecque II, I948, 270-275.
lapot6weq 7roXol gXcyov:e.g., Thuc. I 139, 4, III
36, 6, VI 15, i; Xen. HG 1 7, 11/13; cf. VI 5, 36. Precedence was accorded to senior citizens Aeschin. I 23-25.
It was perhaps to avoid a penchant for unnecessary oratory when
business was non-controversial that 7ipoXCeLporovEawas instituted; cf. Busolt-Swoboda,
Griechische Staatskunde II, 1926, 996-7 with note 5. Such an interpretation seems preferable
to that of H. Schaefer, P. W. s. v. rpopoC1Xcu[a,that 7rpoXcLpoTov(x was a survival from
the 'token' popular assent of a pre-democratic period.
3 E.g., I. G. Is i i 8, lines 26-30 (M. N. Tod, Greek Historical Inscriptions I2, 1946, g90).
On amendments see A. G. Woodhead, The Study of Greek Inscriptions, 1959, 39 and 125.
4 E.g., I.G. Is 45 (M. N. Tod, op. cit., 44); cf. A. H. M. Jones, op. cit., I68-9.
9

Historia XVJ/2

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130

A. G. WOODHEAD

probouleuma had not covered, although this is generally held to have been, on
a strict interpretation of the rules, impermissible.5
All this is tolerably familiar to students of Athenian history and constitutional practice - so familiar indeed that few pause to reflect what an extraordinary
proceeding it was. In Rome, where the aristocracy had succeeded in holding
firmly in their grip the democratic possibilities inherent in the constitution, the
citizen in the comitia had the right to vote but could do nothing more. In
oligarchically governed communities in Greece (and, after all, oligarchies were
the most usual of governments in the archaic and early classical Greek 7oGt6et)
it was in the oligarchs' interest that as few as possible should have any practical
voice in running the city's business. There was nothing in the general atmosphere of Greek political practice, or indeed (before the Athenian experiment)
of Greek political thinking, to suggest that every man ought of right to have a
say in the formulation of his city's policy. In Athens of 460 BC, Mr Griffith's
terminus ante quem for the institution (if that is the proper word) of to-iyopoc,
the oligarchic past was not so very distant. Until half-a-century earlier, Athens
had been controlled either by the aristocrats or by the Pisistratid autocracy,
and the idea that 6oPouX6[evoqwas entitled to express himself was undoubtedly
at a discount.
It is true that ever since the time of Solon any and every citizen had had the
right to lay complaints against an ex-magistrate, to form part of the 'jury' in
the Heliaea, and to vote in the assembly. In the second and third of these
activities, however, he was not expected to say anything. About the machinery
for effective implementation of the first of them, as far as the archaic period is
concerned, we are not informed. As a plaintiff in a case of administrative
malfeasance a citizen would, unless he were a wealthy man at factional variance
with the magistrate concerned, be wise to get an influential supporter to take
up his wrongs. Solon is usually much praised for his introduction of the possibility of redress against mis-government; the whole idea was, says Aristotle, one
of the most 8-%uorLx6v things about his legislation.6 But it took its place in a

system of government that remained essentially aristocratic, designed not to


further democracy but to restrain the aristocrats from misapplication of their
power. Although, with hindsight, it may be considered to have contributed to
the development of the 'full' Athenian democracy, it was surely not democratic
in intention. We may guess that the path was not easy for a member of the
lower orders who might wish to make use of it. In most cases it was undoubtedly
better for him, as it always had been, to keep his mouth shut. In practical terms,
PlUt
NlInUV CaMpopouACUTOV C'MgpkPWO
42).
?Eh.g., I.Gj. I2 39 (M. N. Tod, OP.cit.,
Solon I9; Busolt-Swoboda, op. cit., II, 998; but the rule was evidently not universal in its
application and might be interpreted with some latitude. Cf. Dem. XXII 5.
S Aristotle, 'AO. IIoX. 9, I. Cf. J. Day and M. Chambers, Aristotle's History of Athenian
Democracy, 1962, 86.

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IZHrOPIA and the Councilof 500

131

while it served to increase the enjoyment of 'aovoQdOC


and was conducive to
evvopux,we can hardly see in this provision more than a token and unpremeditated advance towards layop'Ux.7The right to get up and address the political
assembly was a right fundamentally different in its nature. It presupposed that
the assembly was an active, not a passive, body, it concerned policy rather than
jurisdiction, and it looked to future acts rather than to those of the past.
In the period between Solon and 460 B.C., therefore, we must envisage a
development whereby the ordinary Athenian citizen came to feel that he did
indeed have a right to address his fellow countrymen in the general assembly.
What is more, we must suppose that he grew to feel courageous enough to do so.
This latter point seems hitherto to have escaped comment; but it should not be
overlooked, for it is important. Aristotle rightly alludes to it, and is of the
opinion that there were two stages in the growth of democratic confidence. He
expresses it in general terms, of the 81Lloqand nXiOo, but we must think of it
not only as collective, the extra self-assertion of a like-minded crowd, but as
individual, the growth of a personal readiness to act publicly with decision and
independence. The two stages were reached in the 480 s and again in the 470/60 s.
In the intervening period between them the crisis of the Persian Wars led to a
revived dependence on the older, well-tried leadership of the magistracy and
the august, traditional council of the Areopagus, but after a decade or so, once
the crisis was past, the refreshed laurels of the Areopagus began once more to
fade.8Although it is hard for us to see what had given the Areopagus its renewed
vigour at this relatively late stage, and why a body of ex-archons (who since 487
had in any case been selected by lot) should have been able to retain both
prestige and power, it is significant that Ephialtes' 'revolution' of 462 initially
took the form of an attack on the Areopagus. The realised concept of 'LcyopLO,
the fact of the xitput proclaiming -rL;&yopeUsLv
Pou'?at, is a developed and
sophisticated concept. Mr. Griffiththinks it likely that it came in with Ephialtes'
reforms. This is probably its most plausible as well as its most convenient
location; it could hardly have come earlier, for as a feature of 'complete'
democracy there was scarcely place for it before that time.
As has been said, the familiarity to us of this Athenian practice masks its
extraordinary character. It seems natural to us in its context. But there was
nothing natural or inescapable about its emergence. It had not occurred before;
its modern occurrences in western civilisation owe much to the Athenian
example and its acceptance (derived from Athens) as an ideal. In any case it is
only possible to 'throw the meeting open' effectively in a small and fairly
informal gathering, when business is relatively uncomplicated. On a larger scale,
7 From a different angle of approach Mr. Griffith had reached a comparable conclusion,

art.cit., 121-122.
8 'AO. HoX. 22, 3; 25, i. In the latter passage I take a'E,vottkvou to refer to a rise in
confidence rather than merely to a rise in the birth-rate.
9*

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A. G.

132

WOODHEAD

and amid a greater complexity of problems, it becomes unworkable even when


attempted.9 How therefore did the ordinary Athenian come to feel that this was
an inherent right which he ought to enjoy, which he felt confident enough to
exercise, and with which he could and should contribute to the better management of his city's affairs?
The 8N%o4as a whole grew in confidence between 490 and 460, as already
discussed, but what of the individual citizen? It was no small thing, unless a
man was born and bred to leadership in the state, to get up alone in front of
several thousand people and begin to harangue them. Some among the 7CX60oq
had the gift in them by nature, and were no doubt frequently heard; but all,
whether they spoke regularly or seldom, had to have something to say and the
ability to say it well, for the assembly was, we are told, composed of connoisseurs
who valued the manner as well as the matter of what was said.10The developed
Athenian democracy could not have worked at all, let alone work with such
remarkable success and efficiency, had the assembly not been attended by
citizens well versed in the duties of citizenship and with a working knowledge of
their city's problems.'1If an Athenian's political experience were limited to the
forty regular meetings of the ecclesia which were held each year, even on the
assumption that he were able and willing to attend all these, together with any
extras which might have been summoned, his knowledge of the city's plans and
policies and needs would still, it may be argued, have been inadequate for this
to be a reasonable element in the machinery of government.
form of tarryopLa
Although Plato claims it as a weakness of the democracy that experts were
valued in any matter except state policy,'3 it is significant that he does concede
that the ecclesia did summon the experts when expertise was required. In state
affairs they felt that they were themselves sufficiently the experts. This was
part of their acquired confidence, and so far from being a weakness of the
9 The nearest modern approach is perhaps the 'town meeting' of the smaller towns of
New England, 'held annually or oftener in the central hall. At the annual meeting voters
openly nominate and elect town officers. At the annual meeting or at intervening sessions,
local 'bills' are proposed, debated, and defeated or enacted into 'law'. Every voter present
has the privilege of making proposals, engaging in discussion about them, and casting
a vote'. (W. Beard, Government and Liberty, I947, 76). But in larger towns in the same area
this system has had to be modified, and when it spread into other areas of the north and
middle west it rarely survived. In Europe, meetings of voters in three of the cantons of
over their
Switzerland, Unterwalden, Appenzell and Glarus, still exercise a kind of C'u'Ouva
cantons
other
in
but
cantonal
affairs;
of
supervision
direct
and
a
representatives in Bern
this practice has already lapsed, and will probably soon do so even where it has survived
hitherto. Andrd Siegfried points out, however, (Switzerland, 1950, 126; cf. 131-7) that the
Landesgemeinde is not in essence a popular assembly on the Athenian model, but a gathering
of warriors Germanic in origin.
'0 Thuc. III 38, 6.
12 Plato, Protagoras 319b-323a,

11 Cf. Mnemosyne

Gorgias 455a-456a.
D. Kagan, The Great Dialogue, x965, 8I-83.

XIII

1960, 295-6.

Cf. A. H. M. Jones, op.cit., 46-7;

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IIHrOPIA and the Council of 500

I33

democracy it was its strength.13The assembly was not prepared to fall silently
under the thumb of professional 'governors'whose oligarchy or autocracy could
be justified by a claim to greater experience or knowledge of affairs. All Athenian citizens could, if they took the trouble, acquire a sufficient experience or
knowledge to entitle each of them, with justice, to his icrlyopLa,and both
experience and ta'yoptL.together constituted a bulwark against the enemies of
democracy. Both were required; by itself, neither sufficed.
Thus, although regular attendance at the assembly, plus private political
discussions, plus his growing up in an atmosphere of political involvement, so
that he was accustomed to it and viewed it as natural, would all have played
some part in providing a citizen with the requisite political experience, more
was needed to make -lyopio work and to make it an expected right. This
additional experience was provided by the Pou?cn,the council of 500 chosen by
lot from among all citizens over the age of thirty capable of service on it and
prepared for their names to go forward. It has become a truism, repeated in all
the text-books about the Athenian state, that the P3oiXnwas the education of
the Athenian citizen and the lynchpin of the democracy. Oligarchic coups d'6tat
rightly chose it as their prime target for liquidation. This claim may appear less
plausible when it is remembered that no man could serve on the council more
than twice in his lifetime, and that he might be quite elderly before his name
came up at all. It is indeed probable that at any given time less than half the
citizens of Athens had ever served on the Cleisthenic PoUA. Those who had
served, and had received that extra amount of political education, would be at
an advantage as candidates for other offices, the more so if they were relatively
well-to-do, as the majority of this minority probably were. This would so well
suit the whole concept and composition of Cleisthenes' council as envisaged
below that one can hardly feel such a development unpremeditated by Cleisthenes himself. He will have provided, in that event, that his ex-councillors would
be able to exercise a moderating but powerful influence throughout the other
organs of government, and the knowledge and confidence of these ex- PouXvTat
would in any case spill over into the assembly, of which they would no doubt
form an active and respected part.
Nevertheless, a man might become a ,ouXeu'q- early as late; he would
probably have a father, brothers, relatives, friends and acquaintances who had
served or were serving their tum and from whose experience his own would be
enriched. Their informed opinion in discussion, their readiness to speak out in
council, would communicate themselves to him. What a man would do, or knew
others to have done, in front of 499 fellow citizens he would be prepared to do
before ten times that number, simply because he became used to formulating
a worthwhile opinion on the basis of the best information, and to expressing it
before a large and critical gathering.
Is

Cf. (Xen.), 'Ae. flox. I,

2.

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I34

A. G. WOODHEAD

For we must suppose that the procedure in the ,3ou?Vwas in some measure
that of the assembly in microcosm. The matters which needed attention would
be introduced by those responsible for them - magistrates, generals, prytaneis,
commissioners, and so forth - and they would be thrown open for general discussion. In a body as large as 500 this would of necessity involve some formality
of procedure; 'discussion' is perhaps the wrong word. 'Delivery of opinion', as
in the Roman senate, though without its strict order of precedence in calling
for sententiaeand with a formal motion (to go ultimately before the ecclesia) to
be evolved rather than responded to, would be a more apposite description.
Among the 500, as in any committee large or small, there would be some who
might be relied on to speak up at every session and say something about
everything. There would be others who might never open their mouths throughout their tenure. But for the most part the average Poueu - would be content
to intervene now and then, when he had something particular to contribute on
a subject which had engaged his special interest and on which he felt himself
well qualified. Those who were shy would become bolder as the months went
by, as their colleagues as well as the business under consideration became more
familiar, and when perhaps their month in prytany had brought them into the
most intimate contact with events and their day as chairman, if the lot so fell
on them, would have made them 'president for a day', head of the res publica,
had finished their year they
in effect, for twenty-four hours. When the ,Bou?,eurou'
were thoroughly au fait with the city's current problems, with an experience
and an expert knowledge from which the city ought to have been able to profit.
Their opinions and advice were not the amateur things Plato tries to suggest,
but were worth having and ought not to be missed. Yet without full 1v-yopta
in the assembly they would have no chance to produce them; their voices would
be silent at the very time when they had become particularly well worth
listening to. And if lay6yopLwas desirable from the city's point of view, it may
also be imagined that the ex-councillors themselves got used to saying what they
thought about public affairs, and used to influencing their conduct. That they
should require the right to speak freely in the ecclesia was in the circumstances
and a natural developa corollary of the freedom they had enjoyed in the Pou?X4,
ment of it. If the lawgiver had not included it in his legislation when he shaped
the council of 500, it was a right that those who sat on his new council would
in the end come to demand, and which the city would be equally ready to
concede. It is therefore the institution of the Cleistheniccouncil which is cardinal
to the whole issue of the development of 'qtyopLa.If Ephialtes' reformsprovide
its terminus ante quem, those of Cleisthenes must be regarded as the terminus
post quem, for it is only in the light of the working of Cleisthenes' system that
the need and demand for free speech on the Pnyx can be effectively envisaged.
In this connexion it is noteworthy that Herodotus saw Lonyopiy)as the most
significant product of Cleisthenes' legislation. When he wrote, it had begun to

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I?HFOPIA and the Council of 500

show itself as a XpY,uMMrotlAa.ov


on the basis of which

I35
noc gxocarog&OUrTjr

rpo0u9t6sTo xarEpyoaOeAct."'

The intentions of Cleisthenes' reform of the Athenian administrative system


have always offered a profitable field for the exercise of scholarly industry and
ingenuity.", It has, I think, come to be generally agreed that what began as a
faction manoeuvre in an inter-aristocratic struggle for supremacy', ended with
the inauguration of a system in which the aristocrats' influence was greatly
diminished. The key to the functioning of the Athenian government was to be,
as heretofore,'7a council, but a new system of appointment to it was to destroy
all possibility of its being the instrument of a close oligarchy. Hence the method
and character of its composition became vital. Solon's council of 400 was to have
been the effective Governing Body of Athens, its members elected apparently
for life among the wealthiest and most responsible citizens, whether these were
14 Her. V 78. I am not inclined to consider memories of the Homeric assembly as having
created the supposition that 'Laiyopla was a natural right. In Ithaca, and in the army at
Troy, the common people had neither voice nor vote when decisions of policy were made,
even though they had the right to assemble. Cf. M. I. Finley, The Ancient Greeks, 1963, 9.
Mr Griffith, who shares the same view, has dealt more fully with this point, art. cit., II7.
In the archaic period it is likely that the aristocracies had no formulated principles of Lcyop(x
as such, but that an equal right to speak in aristocratic councils, i-raLpcZtL and the like,
was tacitly admitted among gentlemen.
16 I do not venture upon the mounting bibliography on Cleisthenes, who has attracted
renewed attention in recent years - if indeed there ever was a time in the last century when
he lacked it. It is however opportune to draw attention to four recent studies - J. A. 0. Larsen in Essays in Political Theory presented to G. H. Sabine, 1948, r-I 7; C. Hignett, A History
of the Athenian Constitution, 1952, 124-158;
D. W. Bradeen, T.A. P.A. LXXXVI I955,
22-30;
D. M. Lewis, Historia XII I963, 22-40. These are particularly relevant to the matter
at present under discussion.
Consideration of Cleisthenes and his works has perhaps been unduly affected by the
refinement of the cartographical-cum-prosopographical approach, born of the esprit handed
down by Sir Lewis Namier and Sir Ronald Syme, which is very much in the current fashion.
Valuable in itself, its preoccupation with detail and insistence on personalia may sometimes
obscure simpler and in the end more vital issues. Much less enlightenment seems to me to
derive from the mathematical-sculptural treatment of P. Leveque and P. Vidal-Nacquet,
ClisthUne l'Athdnien, I964.
16 Her. V, 65-6.
17 The attempt of Hignett, op. cit., 88-96, to disprove the existence of the Solonian
council of 400 has always seemed to me unconvincing, but this is not the place to examine
it in detail. Cleisthenes' own actions in regard to his council are, however, a not inconsiderable
argument in favour of the existence of its predecessor. 'Der Rat von 508 ist also der neue
kleisthenische, sein Vorhandensein spricht nicht fur einen solonischen Rat, spricht fur diese
Zeit eigentlich dagegen', wrote U. Kahrstedt, Klio XXXIII 1940, 6; on the same evidence,
my own conclusion is the exact opposite. Hignett refused to think that a council could be
is implicit in Andrewes' useful remarks (Proother than probouleutic, and 7rpopo6zualg
bouleusis, 1954, 21-2). Again my own opinion is to the contrary. Solon's council of 400 was
designed to be the body which actually did the main business of governing, and Cleisthenes
intended that his Pou?,4 should fulfil the same function with different personnel. It is too
early yet for an ecclesia "with extensive and important powers" (Hignett, 92).

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A. G. WOODHEAD

I36

of the old landed aristocracy or of the newer 'mercantile class', if (without


begging questions) one may thus conveniently designate those who were
wealthy but not blue-blooded.18Cleisthenes did not wish to alter either the
functions or the character of the council in his 'reform' of it. The major r6le in
the government of the city which he envisaged for his council would be precisely
that of its Solonian forerunner. Membership of it would remain, by and large,
the prerogative of the well-to-do, simply because they alone could afford to
serve on it."9 Until payment for office, the hallmark of the full democracy, was
introduced very few thetesand not many, perhaps, of the poorest of the hoplite
classwould become PouXutoc,even though they were henceforwardconstitutionally entitled to allow their names to go forward if they wished. Entrusted to
the good sense and responsibility of the upper-middle class, but safeguarded
from the possibility that a clique drawn from that class could perpetuate itself
in power, Cleisthenes wished to ensure that the government of Athens would
retain its essence but shed its imperfections. There were two evident ways by
which he could try to achieve this aim, and it was necessary to make use of both.
First, Cleisthenes considered that as a substitute for the elected council now
abolished, a cross-section of the citizen body selected at random but on a fixed
system of apportionment would produce the most reliable representation of
Athenian opinion. In the second place, strict rules of rotation in membership of
this new body were to prevent the formation of a new-style oligarchy in place
of the old. To achieve his cross-section Cleisthenes had so to divide up the
population that a fair representation of the whole of Attica was secured, and
his solution to this part of his problem thus proved to be geographical. It is too
well known to require repetition. By the medium of the trittyes into which they
were grouped, the demes - long the basic geographical element in Attica but
assessed on
now more accurately defined - produced their quota of PouXeurxaE
their numerical strength, so that each tribe found fifty councillors per annum.
And because the three trittyes of which each tribe was formed were drawn one
apiece from the urban, coastal and inland areas" each group of fifty was itself
representative of a variety of backgrounds and interests. More so indeed than
the ecclesia; for whereas the ecclesia would be liable to contain a preponderance
of those who lived in the city, who could most easily get to it, the council was
always composed of citizens from all districts and offered a much fairer and
more accurate representation of Attica as a whole.
15

Contrast Hignett, op. cit., 143.


19 Cf. Hignett, op.cit., 143 note i and I57.

20 Bradeen rightly observes that these divisions had nothing to do with the old partisan
divisions of 'plain, coast and hill'; but both Cleisthenes' divisions and the earlier ones
emphasise that there was a need for a fair representation of Attica in its totality on the new
Pou)i. However, the very existence of the old three party division has been called into
question by R. J. Hopper, BSA LVI I96I, 189-219.

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IEHrOPIA and the Council of 500

137

It was, it may here be added, immaterial that in certain cases the territory
of two trittyes within the same tribe was contiguous. Since Aristotle specifically
says that Cleisthenes sought to mix up the people,21 it was felt to be something
of a stumbling-block when it was appreciated that within three tribes at least
out of the ten his arrangements signally failed to do this by producing a large
area of continuous tribal territory.22The error has lain in supposing that the
lawgiver was especially concerned to combat the local interest of local landowners, it being supposed that hitherto the aristocrats had secured their position
by exercising pressure on their humbler neighbours in the area of their landholdings and drawing on their support in the assembly like patroni with their
clientes.2 But this was not a problem; since he did not care about trittys-contiguity, and left to the drawing of lots the assignment of trittyes to their tribes,
it is evident that Cleisthenes did not see it as such. For one thing, this kind of
pressure can only be effectively exercised when a group or area delivers a block
vote, as was the case at Rome." Individual votes freely cast are less susceptible
to control of this sort, and Cleisthenes inherited an ecclesia in which individual
voting was the practice. Local pressures of the kind inferred cannot be seen to
have been a feature of it.
Furthermore, if this had been a problem, Cleisthenes' measures were far from
solving it. Contiguous blocks of trittys-territory mattered less than the demeunit, for it was on the deme that local patriotism centred. This patriotism
Cleisthenes expressly tried to enhance.2 If a local bigwig could influence his
neighbours before Cleisthenes he was in no less of a position to influence them
after him, at least until passing generations and a certain amount of social
mobility had dispersed some of the 8n,u6rxtto other parts of Attic territory and such a dispersal went far towards nullifying the intent of Cleisthenes' redistribution, so that it cannot be held that he was looking forwardto some such
development. What is more, the phratriai and thiasoi which have been claimed
as focal points of this personal influence remained an integral and cherished
1 Aristotle, 'AO. Ho?A.2I, 2. The enrolment of new citizens, or confirmation in their
rights of citizens enrolled under the tyranny, is essentially a side-issue in the larger perspective of Cleisthenes' reforms, although at the time it was no doubt a burning question. See
most recently J. H. Oliver, Historia IX I960, 503-7; D. Kagan, ibid. XII I963, 41-46.
'
The tribes Antiochis, Akamantis and Aigeis. C. W. J. Eliot, Coastal Demes of Attika,
I962,
144, believes that, so far from having wished to avoid such contiguity, 'Kleisthenes
preferred to have the coastal and inland trittyes contiguous within a phyle where it was
topographically possible'. By contrast, there were cases in which demes belonging to the
same trittys were not contiguous. Cf. Lewis, oc. cit., 35-6. There is a great deal about
Cleisthenes' methods of survey and preliminary studies before the lots for his tribes were
finally drawn which we cannot know and about which we can only advance rival speculations; but through it all the end which he had in view remains clear enough.
' So, e.g., E. M. Walker, C.A.H. IV, I47-8.
"Bradeen rightly emphasises this point, loc. cit.
a?Aristotle, 'AO. HOX. 21 5-6

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I38

A. G. WOODHEAD

element of Attic society. Their importance, such as it may have been, in political or administrative arrangementswas superseded; they seem to have retained
some religious functions of consequence, and their prestige and significance for
the citizen-body certainly survived. Enrolment in a phratry or thiasos was as
much an element of entry upon citizenship as enrolment in a deme. When a
foreigner is accorded citizen-rights, his enrolment in a phratry is mentioned
pari passu with his registration in a deme, and as a particular privilege he
might be permitted to choose to which deme and phratry he wished to be
assigned.26Now personal influence, to whatever end, can be exerted in any
context by those who wish to profit from it. Many men have used, and will
always use, non-political club membership, sporting associations, freemasonry,
religious organisations, indeed any kind of society, as fields for the exercise of
commercial or political patronage or pressure.27In some cases societies formed
for non-political ends, and with non-political names, have developed into political organs. The phratries could offer such admirable scope for this kind of thing
in the future as they had, if they had, in the past. Cleisthenes' geographical
basis for his reform had thus nothing to do with local landlords and local
pressures; it was the one practicable basis for the kind of ,3ou)t he had in mind.
For it was to the council and not to the assembly that he looked from the Attic
demes; the PouXAwas the target, and the beneficiary, of the whole exercise.28
The city area was represented on the council to the extent of one third of its
total strength, Bradeen correctly regards the committee of prytaneis, itself a
representative Pou?,nin miniature, as a vital element in Cleisthenes' arrangement, and suggests that the reform was primarily concerned to see that the city
was properly represented in all the tribes.29But Busolt and De Sanctis,30whose
36 E.g., I.G. I1 1I03, lines 30-33 (M. N. Tod, op.cit., II, 1948, 133), in which Dionysius I
of Syracuse and his sons are so honoured; I.G. II2 237, lines 21-2 (Tod, op.cit., I78). Cf.
G. Klaffenbach, Griechische Epigraphik', i966, 8o-8i.
n Suppose for instance that in a parish the parish council (potentially the instrument of
an ambitious local squire) were abolished as an administrative unit, but that the parochial
church council, a religious body on which the same squire might well have a place, remained.
The squire could continue to guide the parish and what went on in it by his membership of
the one council as of the other, and merely by living in the place and being a substantial
property-holder would not be without strong personal influence. What the local inhabitants
might do in parliamentary elections would in the last resort be outside his control however
many local bodies he might belong to and whatever pressures he might try to exercise.
28 Cf. J. A. 0. Larsen, Representative Government in Greek and Roman History, 1955, i8.
29 It is perhaps relevant to mention that my reading of Bradeen's study results in a
mixture of agreement and disagreement even within sections of an argument. For example,
he maintains that it is impossible to believe that the tripartite character of each tribe aimed
to eliminate Eupatrid influences in the localities. With this I agree, as against Lewis, art. cit.,
who emphasises this aspect, and Eliot, op. cit., 145 note I5, who does not discount it. But
I disagree with Bradeen when he goes on to suggest that Cleisthenes' main blow to this end
came in the substitution of deme for phratry, a suggestion only plausible if every other

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IHHrOPIA and the Council of 500

139

views he discarded, are equally in the right. In the assembly the city was, as we
have seen, generally over-represented.On the Pou)v-it got its fair representationno more and no less. Cleisthenes had from the start a universal view of Attica,
and need not be interpreted as wishing either to enhance or to diminish city
influence, which in these decades before the growth of the VCUTCxOq
6koq may
not have presented itself as a serious issue. If it was an issue, his reforms simply
put it into perspective in the course of their application; it does not appear to
have been the mark at which they were directed.
Cleisthenes' constitution was regarded by later generations as nearer to that
of Solon than to the developed democracy.3' The possibility of such an interpretation gives us cause to rememberthat as regardsboth the formation and the
execution of policy Cleisthenes will have had the council rather than the
assembly in mind as the real organ of government. In this he will have sought
to perpetuate the Solonian arrangements but with a council of changed form.
The development of the ecclesia as an effective sovereign body, with a corresto a probouleutic and executive role dependent
ponding diminution of the Pou)An
on and controlled by the assembly, was no part of his intention,32although it
was perhaps an inherent result which could not be well avoided once the initial
form of local organisation or 'gens-grouping', for whatever purpose, had been eliminated.
Cleisthenes did not 'substitute locality for birth as the basis for citizenship'; rather did he
add it. Birth was strongly emphasised by the 'full' democracy as a qualification (Aristotle,
'AO. JIoX. 26, 4; cf. G. Nenci, Riv. Fil. XCII I964, 173-80); the importance of locality was
less as a qualification than as a vital cog in the machinery. That the territorial division was
made with the Eupatridae in mind, as Bradeen argues, I find hard to accept.
ao G. Busolt, Griechische Geschichte II, 405-17;
G. de Sanctis, AXrOE2, 1912, 335-46.
Lewis, loc.cit., 39, remarks that Cleisthenes wished to ensure that 'all citizens, old and new,
would start equal in his new demes and new tribes'. It is in respect of the council, and
perhaps the army, that I take his statement to be valid. But this, and the delimitation of
the trittyes which he examines at length, has nothing to do with the breaking of local
loyalties, which persisted and were meant to persist. It was to ensure that all areas were
justly represented numerically and by every grade of respectable society that the redistribution was set in hand.
31 Aristotle, 'AO. IloX. 29, 3. Cf. Plut. C'i. I5, who speaks of the &ptaroxpaLczof the time
of Cleisthenes.
82 So Larsen, Representative Government, 15 - 'Tlle supremacy of the assembly does not
seem to have been included in the original reforms of Cleistheiies, but to have been introduced a few years later. Before this, the council of five hundred must have been very nearly
supreme in the state'. Cf. eund., Essays . . . G. H. Sabine, I5 - 'Cleisthenes' reforms set off
a chain of reactions that caused the government to evolve rapidly'. Cleisthenes somehow
expected the continuance of an aristocratically-controlled government operating, as formerly, through upper-class associations (-catpetoa), in which he would have the better of
his opponents because he had made the 8 Io;lis C'O,cpoL (Her. V 66). His disappearance
from history may not perhaps be unconnected with his miscalculation and the disappointment of his expectations. That a constitution may take a turn unwelcome to its author
is not without parallel. Jacksonianism was little to the taste of Jefferson and other survivors of the generation of founding fathers; and cf. Mnemosyne XIII I960, 36-17.

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I40

A. G. WOODHEAD, IIH1OPIA and the Councilof 500

steps had been taken.1mIndeed, by its denial in practice of the principle of fair
representation, putting sovereign power in the hands of a body seldom if ever
truly representative of Attica as a whole, it to a considerable extent negated
what Cleisthenes was trying to do. The ecclesia, in becoming sovereign, depended on the same 'growth to confidence', on the basis of the Cleisthenic system,
on which we have already seen ?a"yopLato depend. The two elements are
inseparable, neither of them willed by the lawgiver but both of them the direct
results of his reforms. Both resulted, in fact, from the practice of the council of
500 and the education in complete citizenship which membership of it gave to
rhe ordinary Athenian citizen - an education from which he was so ready to
profit that his opportunity became his duty, and his duty became his cherished
tight.
Corpus Christi College,

A. G. WOODHEAD

Cambridge
u It is in the context of such a development that I.G. Is I
I4 probably belongs - the first
stage in the process of limiting the powers of the council and enhancing those of the
assembly, and this less than a decade after the enactment of the original reforms if, as has
been proposed, the law re-enacts a measure of 502/I B.C. See Hignett, op.cit. 153/5 and
references there quoted. It is also noteworthy that Cleisthenes' assembly may have met no
more than once a month, in contrast to the four times a month of the developed democracy.
The increase is significant of the change in the balance of the constitution and the extent to
which Cleisthenes' expectations miscarried.

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