What put Athenian democracy to the test?

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The biggest test for the Athenian democracy was the rise of the political system of oligarchy at the end of Athens' Golden Age. An oligarchy is a government ruled by a few wealthy people or groups. Athens' oligarchy rose in response to the unilateral military defeat that occurred in 409...

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The biggest test for the Athenian democracy was the rise of the political system of oligarchy at the end of Athens' Golden Age. An oligarchy is a government ruled by a few wealthy people or groups. Athens' oligarchy rose in response to the unilateral military defeat that occurred in 409 BCE Sicily.

Critics such as Thucydides and Aristophanes challenged the democratic rule in Athens by pointing out the fact that democratic proceedings were governed by the elite. These critics also tested the democratic system by demonstrating its changeability depending on who was speaking. Popular political leaders could easily sway the democratic system with convincing speeches and emotional pleas. This led to a lack of logical decision making and arguably weakened the state of Athens.

Despite these challenges, democracy in Athens emerged again in a somewhat different form. Democracy was such a heavily integrated part of the Athenian system that, even when tested, it could not be destroyed.

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