The goddess of democracy crowning the people of Athens, c. 337 BC (Photo: Craig Mauzy)
The Athenians develop the world’s first democracy in the 6th century BCE. The right to isegoria or ‘equality of speech’ – including the right to address the assembly – is a cornerstone of Athenian democracy.
This is how the orator Aeschines describes the Athenian assembly:
“the herald … does not exclude from the platform the man whose ancestors have not held a general’s office, nor even the man who earns his daily bread by working at a trade; nay, these men he most heartily welcomes, and for this reason he repeats again and again the invitation, ‘Who wishes to address the Assembly?’”