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Isonomia ( Gr. Ἰσονομία, from ἴσος ísos, “equal”, and νόμος nómos, “law”) in ancient Greece denoted the political equality of all full citizens of a polis before the law. Accordingly, slaves , women and metics (non-residents) were excluded from isonomy.

Isonomy formed the basis of democracy in the ancient Greek poleis, although ancient democracy cannot be equated with the modern concept of democracy (e.g. due to the lack of separation of powers ). Around 508/507 BC Kleisthenes carried out reforms in Athens based on Isonomia ("balance, equality") and Isegoria ("equal right, equal freedom to speak"). Isonomia saw itself as a contrast to Eunomia ("good order"), which Solon 594 BC. Established social order, and aimed primarily to prevent the tyranny and rule of nobility cliques. One of the reasons for this was the shift in military weight from the cavalry provided by the nobility to the heavily armed infantry, the hoplites , who procured their equipment themselves and whose war achievements implied more participation.

Elections were now held, but most of the officials were elected by lot. Civil servants were also sworn in to represent the interests of the citizens. The end point of this development was finally around the middle of the 5th century BC. Chr. In Athens established Athenian democracy . This was based the opinion of Aristotle on a further postponement of the weight of the small group of heavily armed hoplites to a larger army of light infantry and the navy.

The idea of ​​isonomy was taken up again in Europe during the Enlightenment .

See also


  • Jochen Bleicken : The Athenian Democracy. Schöningh, Paderborn 1986. 4th, completely revised and significantly expanded edition 1995, ISBN 3-8252-1330-7 .
  • Christian Meier : The emergence of the political among the Greeks. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1980, ISBN 3-518-07505-5 , p. 506 (index, see isonomy there ).
  • Oswyn Murray : Early Greece (= dtv history of antiquity. = Dtv 30139). 6th edition, first German edition. German Taschenbuch-Verl., Munich 1998, ISBN 3-423-30139-2 , p. 345 f.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Roman Herzog: States of the early days. Munich 1998. p. 209.