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RevolutionStructure and Meaning in World History$
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Saïd Amir Arjomand

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226026831

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226026848.001.0001

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The Athenian Constitutive Revolution and Subsequent Revolutions of Ancient Greece

The Athenian Constitutive Revolution and Subsequent Revolutions of Ancient Greece

(p.55) Two The Athenian Constitutive Revolution and Subsequent Revolutions of Ancient Greece

Saïd Amir Arjomand

University of Chicago Press

The establishment of democracy in Athens through a constitutional revolution around 500 BCE is the subject of this chapter. Cleisthenes, scion of an aristocratic family who had been exiled by the sons of the tyrant Peisistratus led the revolution with the help of fellow-exiles. The Cleisthenian revolution thus fits the Aristotelian-Paretan model of integrative revolution for restrictive polities which exclude those with a sense of entitlement to inclusion and political power. It was a constitutional revolution in that it reconstituted the Athenian polity by a new division and restructuring of tribes and clans among which the citizens were distributed and the institution of common cults for them. His political reforms created the system of government that came to be called democracy. As he built on Solon's legal reforms and the development of law in Athens, Cleisthenes' can also be considered a constitutional revolution. The chapter then analyzes the cycle of revolutions and counterrevolutions this Athenian revolution generated throughout the city states of ancient Greece.

Keywords:   Greek revolutions, democarcy, constitutional revolution, counterrevolution, Cleisthenes, cycle of revolutions

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