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Individuality and the Survival of Democracy

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Individuality and the Survival of Democracy

Athenian society and culture developed a sense of individuality within each citizen due to the democratic reforms of Cleithenese from 508 -500 B.C. The origins of individualism can be traced to the ideas of Cleithenese whom believed in the sovereign man. His democratic reforms were based on the idea of sovereignty. He changed the basis of Athenian citizenship , the nature of the tribes, reshaped political institutions and increased the opportunities for each Athenian to become involved in public affairs. These democratic reforms created a sense of individualism which gave value to each Athenian. This value allowed them to sustain their democracy by preserving their most valuable asset: democracy. The reforms were challenged when the Persian army was engaging in imperial activities. Ultimately, this individuality, had created the proper social and political environment to allow the Athenian's to defeat the Persian army.

The growing ideas of Cleithenes cemented the emphasis of individuality and the sovereign man within Athenian political institutions. These ideas were reflective in his democratic reforms. Cliethenes had put a large trust in the people by believing that they are capable of handling their own affairs. While other civilizations ruled over their subjects, Cleithenes believed in the sovereign man, which was ruled by himself. He aligned himself with the ordinary citizen and took Athens on a path towards democracy. For example, he believed that laws that protect the poor must be protected.

The political structures, which Cleithenes erected, had now reflected his beliefs in sovereignty. Democracy had become a valuable asset of the Athenian state. It encompassed a respect for private concerns and gave every Athenian a far chance at handling public affairs. Cleithenes had taught humanity a great lesson by showing that people could manage their own affairs and he even referred to his subjects as "companions." Democracy became Athens valuable asset and it became apparent that it would have to be protected. For example, they proposed ostracism, which was the act of exiling someone out of Athens due to conspiring against the government. The banishment, however, was symbolic to the strength of Athens. The act of each individual accusing other individuals illustrates the growing emphasis on individuality in the Cleisthenes democratic reforms. This also, reflects their belief that their thriving democracy must be protected.

The beginnings of democracy depict the growing instability within Athens that would later evolve to a Democracy. Cleisthenes ran for leadership of Athens but was defeated by Isagoras, a friend of the Spartan king Cleomenes. Cleisthenes was a threat to the position of Isagoras, as a result, asked Cleomenes for help. The Spartan king arrived with troops and attempted to disband the Council of 300 and install Isagoras as head of a new council, but Clemomenes was forced to leave Athens and Isagoras was arreted and killed. Cleisthenes returned to reform the constitution in favor of a democracy. Upon his return, the political structures in his reforms emphasized the power and the role of the individual in the political process. Cleithenese's democratic reforms gave power and value to the Athenian citizen by giving him an active role in society. In 507 B.C. he established a legislative body run by individuals chosen by lot, rather than kinship or heredity. The Council of 500, or Boule, consisted of 450 members chosen by lot. . Their job was to propose laws to the assembly of voters. By choosing through a lot, this made every Athenian a possible candidate for a political position in Athens, thus, increasing the scope of representation. This demonstrates the growing path towards individual power within society. Now, the average Athenian, had an opportunity to become involved in the political process. This reinforced the idea of individuality by giving each member in society a greater

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