The ecclesia or ekklesia was the principal assembly of the democracy of ancient Athens. It was the popular assembly, opened to all male citizens over the age of 18 by Solon in 594 BC. In the 5th century BC this amounted to about 43,000 people. However, only those wealthy enough to spend much of their time away from home would have been able to participate. The assembly was responsible for declaring war, military strategy, and electing strategoi and other officials. It originally met once every month, but later it met three or four times per month. The agenda for the ekklesia was established by the Boule, the popular council. Votes were taken by a show of hands.
A gang of slaves carrying ropes dipped in red paint would travel through the city on the days the Ecclesia was to meet, and would lash those citizens not in attendance with their ropes. With garments thus stained, shamed citizens could legally carry out no business until they visited the meeting grounds of the Ecclesia on the hill called the Pynx.
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