Members of the Assembly

================================================== Ruins of the Assembly Ultimate political power in Athenian democracy rested in the hands of the assembly, which made its decisions by majority vote. The assembly of citizens was a much larger body of people than the council, and, given the constant turn over in the council (only one year, nonsuccessive terms were possible), resulted in the people of the assembly being the actual rulers.

Such a direct democracy had both advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, it insured true representation of the people (something not always common in indirect democracies where the citizens elect representatives). On the negative side, it often stymied the flow of government when it responded to the mood shifts of the citizens and reversed its decisions. And, at its worst, it made powerful demagogues who were more than willing to manipulate public sentiment for personal gain.

Picture: View of the Athenian Assembly
1995 Kevin T. Glowacki and Nancy L. Klein
The Ancient City of Athens