A database of literary and epigraphic evidence for the drawing of lots in Archaic and Classical Greece
The study of drawing lots in the ancient Greek world relates to the practices of drawing lots, their contexts, and the egalitarian mindset that both enabled and expressed them. Long before lots became a political instrument in the Athenian democracy, Greeks were drawing lots for distribution, selection, determining turns and procedure, initiating social and political mixture, and divination. Greeks participated in lotteries on an equal basis, defining the contours of the community in the process, and emphasizing the values of equality and fairness.
The birth of democracy in ancient Greece cannot be fully understood without researching the wide spectrum of drawing lot with their emphasis on individual, equal or equitable “portions,” and the interchangeability (hence equality) of participants. The centuries between Homer and Cleisthenes (roughly 750-500 BCE) have never been studied comprehensively with the question of drawing lots in mind. Drawing lots expressed a horizontal, egalitarian “vector” of society that was often at odds with the elitist one.