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War, disenfranchisement and the fall of the ancient Athenian democracy

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  • Tridimas, George

Abstract

The ancient Athenian democracy emerged in 508 (all dates BCE), became a dominant naval power, fought a multitude of external wars and ended in 322 after it was defeated by Macedon and was replaced by oligarchy. The paper employs a political economy framework to examine the demise of democracy. It illustrates that war was a means of redistribution, benefiting the majority of poorer Athenians at the expense of the rich elite, who bore a disproportionate burden of its cost. A model of conflict is set up to study the incentives of the poor majority to go to war. After analyzing a dynamic setting it also investigates the circumstances when after defeating Athens her enemy chooses to impose oligarchy that disenfranchises the poor. As victory at war is probabilistic it is concluded that the fall of the democracy was neither unavoidable nor inevitable.

Suggested Citation

  • Tridimas, George, 2015. "War, disenfranchisement and the fall of the ancient Athenian democracy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 102-117.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:38:y:2015:i:c:p:102-117
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2015.01.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Economou, Emmanouel/Marios/Lazaros & Kyriazis, Nicholas & Metaxas, Theodore, 2015. "The Themistocles Naval Decree of 483/2 BCE and the Greek Referendum of 2015: A comparative analysis of choice set under direct democracy procedures," MPRA Paper 76421, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. repec:spr:homoec:v:34:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s41412-017-0039-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Economou, Emmanouel/Marios/Lazaros & Kyriazis, Nicholas & Zachilas, Loukas, 2016. "Interpreting sociopolitical change by using Chaos Theory: A lesson from Sparta and Athens," MPRA Paper 76117, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Democracy; Ancient Athens; Redistribution; Conflict; Disenfranchisement;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation

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