The Purpose of the Kleisthenic Reforms


Primary Sources

Herodotus 5. 66-81, 89-94, and 6.131.1.

Arist. Politics 1275b 34-39 and 1319b 19-27.

Arist. A.P. 20-21, esp. 21 with pages 236-241 of Moore's commentary.

Arist. A.P. 29.3 (the rider of Kleitophon).


Secondary Sources

C. Hignett, History of the Athenian Constitution 124-158.

C. W. J. Eliot, The Coastal Demes of Attica (Phoenix Supp. V, 1962) 136-147.

D. M. Lewis, "Cleisthenes and Attica" Historia 12 (1963) 22-40.

A. Andrewes, "Kleisthenes' reform bill" Classical Quarterly 27 (1977) 241-248.

M. Ostwald, "The reform of the constitution" Cambridge Ancient History IV (1986, 2nd ed.) 309-325.


Main Questions

Ensure that the class understands the basics of the Kleisthenic reforms by clearly defining the tribes (phylai), trittyes, and demes. Explain how the new tribal organization worked with the council (Boule) and the army.

Should we accept that the objective of Kleisthenes was simply to strengthen the citizenry of Attike, either by giving the common people a greater role in the government (as AP 22.2), or by unifying them in such a way as to de-emphasize traditional regional allegiances? If not, why not? What other theories have been put forward to explain the purpose of the Kleisthenic reforms? Which is most plausible and why?

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