”...the following institutions are democratic in character: election of officials by all and from all; government of each by all, and of all by each in turn; election by lot either to all magistracies or to all that do not need experience and skill; no property qualification for office, or a very low one; no office to be held twice, or more than a few times, by the same person, or few offices except the military ones; short tenure either of all offices or of as many as possible; ... also payment for public duties, preferably in all branches, assembly, law courts, magistracies, or if not, for the magistracies, the law courts, council, and sovereign assemblies, or for those magistracies which are bound to have common mess-tables”.
Aristotle, Politics, 1317b 17-35. (Loeb Classical Library)
These words of Aristotle about democracy in general were written over 2.000 years ago. The enumeration of characteristica for democratic institutions in classical Athens – the democratic state par excellence has given rise to many questions. In an empirical and well structured manner this book sets out to answer some of these questions: did officials receive pay in lieu of their services 23 centuries ago? Was “democracy” merely a catchword of a social élite or did it reach out to all levels of society?
In order to clarify these issues the author employs sociohistorical methodology, successfully exposing the main socioeconomic stratification of Athenian society.