FERRI E (2016). La polis y el polites: orígenes y características de la categoría de ciudadanía. CUADERNOS ELECTRÓNICOS DE FILOSOFÍA DEL DERECHO, vol. 34, p. 115-133, ISSN: 1138-9877, doi: 10.7203/CEFD.34.9262
The author describes a number of distinctive traits of the status and role of citizens in the democratic Athens of the 5thcentury BC and in the Athenian democratic framework which saw the establishment of the figure of the citizen. He highlights the exclusiveness of citizenship and the legal institutes that “closed” access to citizenship status. Citizenship was reserved to males born to Athenian parents, and excluded resident aliens (meteci), the other Greeks and the Barbarians.
Starting with the Aristotelian category of “citizens in the absolute sense”, the author shows that even within the community of free Athenians, young people, the elderly and, above all, women, were barred from fully participating in the political life of the city for various reasons. Such categories were in all effects excluded from the decision-making process and from the management of power. At the same time the research shows how Athenian citizens, made up of free men which formed but a minority in the city population, succeeded within two centuries to fully develop a high degree of participation in the political life of the city. It was not long before members of lower-income groups started holding key positions in the city that were previously reserved to individuals belonging to the wealthier classes. It was a turnaround that reflected the full realisation of the democratic principle according to which it was the people of Athens as a whole that governed and defended the choices made with an army made up of Athenian citizens.
Democracy, citizenship, equality, freedom, partecipation