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Athens had its Ekklesia

Even Sparta (on paper) had its citizen assembly.

 

and so... of course did Rome.

 

This seemingly ubiquitous social institution seems to be a Greek (for lack of a better term) thing.

But from most of the history of the early Republic it seems that the Etruscans were the stronger initial influence.

 

 

Did they get it from the Greeks. Or did they get it second hand through the Etruscans?

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Athens had its Ekklesia

Even Sparta (on paper) had its citizen assembly.

 

and so... of course did Rome.

 

This seemingly ubiquitous social institution seems to be a Greek (for lack of a better term) thing.

But from most of the history of the early Republic it seems that the Etruscans were the stronger initial influence.

 

 

Did they get it from the Greeks. Or did they get it second hand through the Etruscans?

Salve, CD.

 

I would guess they were independent developements by each state.

 

MPC gave us a couple of excellent related commentaries on this thread, based on Aristotle's Politica.

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It was an indo-european thing, everybody had it to some extent. Even in strong monarchies like Macedon the assembly/the army had an important role. The same it's visible in Homer.

The assembly and the army were often the same thing and this remained so throut roman history. The army could raise a leader on the shield and that gave him some legitimacy.

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And we have little source evidence for how the Roman system developed. Livy and Dionysios attribute the original division of the tribes to Romulus (Livy 1.13, Dion. 2.7) but this is also terribly steeped in legend. Other developments of the assemblies throughout the regal period are also uncertain due to the mythical context of early Rome's history. Regardless, Kosmo is probably accurate in suggesting that it was an Indo-European cultural development across the board. We can't be entirely sure which specific culture or government had the most direct influence on the early development of the curiae, though it certainly has a Greek city-state similarity.

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Regardless, Kosmo is probably accurate in suggesting that it was an Indo-European cultural development across the board.

 

But the Carthaginians of Atistotle's Politica were semitic.

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Personally, I doubt very much if any of the city-states had 'democracy', i.e., 'people rule', in the dictionary sense. I believe that the 'people' did as their masters bid them. And I also don't think that all the citizens participated, or were allowed to participate.

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Regardless, Kosmo is probably accurate in suggesting that it was an Indo-European cultural development across the board.

 

But the Carthaginians of Atistotle's Politica were semitic.

 

By language, but not necessarily by genetics. I'm aware of a theory that the Phoenicians pre-date both the Indo-European and Semitic groups, but this is something I would not claim to have any expertise in. It seems unlikely for the Roman influence to come from Phoenicia but rather that the Greeks influenced the Carthaginians, but again this is not a claim I make with resounding magnanimity.

 

In any case, the development of democracy/citizen assembly, etc. by the non indo-european Phoenicians (via Carthage) wouldn't necessarily preclude the development of similar governing ideology as a cultural phenomona throughout the Indo-European world, or would it?

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It was an indo-european thing, everybody had it to some extent.

 

...at some time, but not all the time.

 

BTW, I was curious about whether the ancient Indians really had democratic states as well (to some extent, that is). And I came across this fascinating passage in Q. Curtius Rufus' History of Alexander, which is referenced in an interesting article, "Democracy in Ancient India".

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By language, but not necessarily by genetics. I'm aware of a theory that the Phoenicians pre-date both the Indo-European and Semitic groups, but this is something I would not claim to have any expertise in. It seems unlikely for the Roman influence to come from Phoenicia but rather that the Greeks influenced the Carthaginians, but again this is not a claim I make with resounding magnanimity.

 

In any case, the development of democracy/citizen assembly, etc. by the non indo-european Phoenicians (via Carthage) wouldn't necessarily preclude the development of similar governing ideology as a cultural phenomona throughout the Indo-European world, or would it?

 

If we restrict ourselves to Genetics, nowadays North-African populations (moroccans, algerians, tunisians) show a distinct Y chromosome-related markers distribution (ie, high frequency of Eg3b2) from both "Phoenician" (ie, high J2) and "Viking-Slave" profiles (ie, high R1a1). Here's a nice original article from the American Journal of Human Genetics.

 

Anyway, "Indo-European" is a Linguistic term, not ethnic, even less genetic. There is not even consensus about the possible identity of the hypothetical ancestral population of "Proto-Indo-European" speakers (if such a language ever existed at all).

 

I think we should be extremely careful to ascribe any cultural trait (as political structure) to specific ethnic and/or genetic groups

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Anyway, "Indo-European" is a Linguistic term, not ethnic, even less genetic. There is not even consensus about the possible identity of the hypothetical ancestral population of "Proto-Indo-European" speakers (if such a language ever existed at all).

 

I think we should be extremely careful to ascribe any cultural trait (as political structure) to specific ethnic and/or genetic groups

 

Agreed. Well stated. There is so much borrowing culturally (linguistic borrowing is mostly at the lexical base, from what I can tell), that sometimes it's hard to did what, and where they got the idea from.

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Personally, I doubt very much if any of the city-states had 'democracy', i.e., 'people rule', in the dictionary sense. I believe that the 'people' did as their masters bid them. And I also don't think that all the citizens participated, or were allowed to participate.

 

Just to add, democracy for the Greeks was very different from what we know. Some city-states actually had a combined government of oligarchy and elected citizens ( Sparta is a very good example of that). Another common requirement was that in order to vote, one would need to be a "male" citizen and sometimes with a certain amount of wealth.

 

However, I doubt(I'm not a real scholar by the way) that Greek democracy directly influenced Roman government but rather that Etruscan civilization that had Greek influences actually shaped the early Republic. Not to mention there was Campania at the bottom of Italy.

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What's the evidence for an Etruscan democratic assembly prior to 509? As far as I know, there is no such evidence. Assuming they didn't have a democratic assembly (they were, after all, said to be ruled by kings), they couldn't very well be the inspiration for the tribal assemblies in Rome.

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What's the evidence for an Etruscan democratic assembly prior to 509? As far as I know, there is no such evidence. Assuming they didn't have a democratic assembly (they were, after all, said to be ruled by kings), they couldn't very well be the inspiration for the tribal assemblies in Rome.

The only evidence I was able to find was for a century later, specifically at CCCLI AUC (403 BC);

Here comes Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, Liber V, Ch. I):

 

"... Romani Veiique .. Comitia utriusque populi longe diuersa ratione facta sunt... Veientes contra taedio annuae ambitionis quae interdum discordiarum causa erat, regem creauere. Offendit ea res populorum Etruriae animos, non maiore odio regni quam ipsius regis... cum ob iram repulsae, quod suffragio duodecim populorum alius sacerdos ei praelatus esset... auxilium Veientibus negandum donec sub rege essent decreuit; . .

 

... Rome and Veii ... Each elected their magistrates, but on totally different principles... The Veientines, on the other hand, tired of the annual canvassing for office, elected a king. This gave great offence to the Etruscan cantons, owing to their hatred of monarchy and their personal aversion to the one who was elected... His candidature for the priesthood had been unsuccessful, another being preferred by the vote of the twelve cantons... and they decided, in consequence, that no assistance should be given to the Veientines as long as they were under a king. . ."

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Anyway, there is some epigraphical evidence from Etruscan necropolis and monuments which suggests that the social and political background of at least some of them might have been analogous to Monarchical and Early Republican Rome:

 

An excerpt from en.wikipedia:

 

"The population described by the inscriptions owned the tombs in which their relatives interred them and were interred in turn. These were the work of craftmen who must have gone to considerable expense, for which they must have been paid... The society of the tombs therefore was that of the aristocrats. While alive they occupied magistracies recorded in the inscriptions.

 

The inscriptional evidence shows that families were interred there over long periods, marking the growth of the aristocratic family as a fixed institution, parallel to the gens at Rome and perhaps even its model...Etruscan naming conventions are complex and appear to reveal different stages in the development of names. The stages apply only to aristocratic names, attested in the inscriptions... Everyone at all times had a praenomen... individual males were further distinguished by a patronymic... Recorded names are minimally binomial: Vethur Hathisna, Avile Repesuna, Fasti Aneina. Patronyms and other further specifications are added after it: Arnth Velimna Aules, "Arnth Velimna son of Aule." In those contexts double patronymics can be used, naming the father and grandfather: Arnth Velimna Aules clan Larthalisla, "Arnth Velimna son of Aule son of Larth."

Etruscan society therefore was patrilineal and probably egalitarian.

 

The historical Etruscans had achieved a state system of society, with remnants of the chiefdom and tribal forms... The Etruscan state government was essentially a theocracy... The political unit of Etruscan society was the city-state, which was probably the referent of methlum,

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I think we should be extremely careful to ascribe any cultural trait (as political structure) to specific ethnic and/or genetic groups

 

That is obviously true. Still many indo-europeans showed common cultural and religious traits, not only language. Genetics are irelevant to a cultural trait like political ideology, but other cultural traits like religion, myths, language are very important.

What other definition of ethnicity could be besides that? If a population uses a language and a culture it can be described with the loose term of ethnos. A term that it's vague, but still usefull.

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