Ekklesia (ancient)

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The Ekklesia ( ancient Greek ἐκκλησία ekklēsía ) was a popular assembly in the cities ( poleis ) of ancient Greece . Their composition and political powers were different in the cities. Besides ekklesia there were also other names.

A gathering of able-bodied men is already mentioned in Homer . The Ekklesia acquired a special significance as a bearer of popular sovereignty in the democratic cities of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. People's assemblies continued to exist in the Poleis in the Hellenistic and Roman times, but were limited in their importance compared to the councils. The assemblies mostly took place in theaters, and in some cases a separate meeting place was created for the Ekklesia, the Ekklesiasterion .


At the time of the Attic democracy , the Ekklesia was the supreme sovereign of Athens. To her were all full male citizens who were at least 18 years old, by Keryx ( κῆρυξ invited "Herald"). However, they only received voting rights after completing two years of military service. In the 4th century BC In Athens forty popular assemblies per year of office were prescribed. The Ekklesia took place in the early days of the Agora , from the time of Kleisthenes in the Pnyx , from the late 4th century BC. In the Dionysus Theater . Of the approx. 35,000 to 40,000 full citizens of the classical period, around 6,000 on average took part; this number was also used as the quorum for important decisions. Women, metics and slaves were not allowed to participate. The Ekklesia was advised by the Bule ( βουλή boulé "Council of 400", later "Council of 500"), which ultimately carried out the decisions.


  • Jochen Bleicken : The Athenian Democracy (= UTB 1330). 4th, completely revised and significantly expanded edition. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn a. a. 1995, ISBN 3-8252-1330-7 , pp. 190-216.
  • Dorothee Haßkamp: Oligarchical arbitrariness - democratic order. On the Athenian Constitution in the 4th Century. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 3-534-18809-8 , v. a. Pp. 17-23.
  • Gerhard Schrot : Ekklesia. In: The Little Pauly . Volume 2: Dicta Catonis to Iuno. Druckmüller, Stuttgart 1967, Sp. 222-224.