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Having prevailed against Isagoras and the Spartans ordinary Athenians turned to Cleisthenes the man who had unsuccessfully stood up against Isagoras on their behalf Windows in history rarely open to revolutionary political change But such a window opened in 507 BC Cleisthenes was recalled from exile and asked to build the worlds first government of the people- the demos- a government that we now call direct democracy His unprecedented task was to forge a government that genuinely reflected the will of all Athenians aristocrats and commoners Cleisthenes first major reform was his reorganization of Athenian society In 503-502 BC he divided Athens and the surrounding countryside of Attica into 140 local units called demes The demes varied in size but each male citizen belonged to one Cleisthenes combined the demes into trittyes There were thirty trittyes- ten in the city ten along the coast and ten in the interior Cleisthenes combined the trittyes into tribes phylai The four tribes comprising the Council of 400 lost their political significance after this point The ten tribes he formed were comprised of three trittyes each Cleverly he declared that each tribe would have one trittye from the city one trittye from the coast and one trittye from the interior This division of regions ensured that each tribe had a mix of interest groups and families A powerful aristocratic family from one region would at most dominant only one of the tribes three trittyes It would have to compromise with the other trittyes to conduct business This undermined old channels of influence Also it is important to point out that unlike the four tribes that had long dominated Athenian politics the ten new tribes created by Cleisthenes were not hereditary By freeing tribes from hereditary restrictions Cleisthenes increased the number of Athenian males who were eligible for citizenship Therefore more male citizens than ever were able to meet regularly in the Assembly to discuss and
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