Actually, they did give power to the people. The definition of democracy is: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them DIRECTLY or INDIRECTLY through a system of representation usually involving periodically held elections. The Athenians chose the most intelligent and just people to vote. Males. Having females and children involved could have ruined the entire system... Also, their constitution favored the MANY instead of the FEW. And that's the reason it's a democracy.
Yet the democracy (Council of 500) had made itself master of everything and administers everything by its votes in the Assembly and by the law-courts. Which means it put itself over all the people without consulting them with their opinions.
If you look into the laws, they give equal justice to all. The Athenians were people of the free. The Athenian democracy was actually very successful. The system completely improved society, giving people, as a whole, a better life. I promise you, that this was NOT an Oligarchy. I've done my share of research, and what came with oligarchy was: A government in which a SMALL group exercises control ESPECIALLY for CORRUPT and SELFISH purposes. The Athenian's democracy was nothing of the kind. It improved the life of the people, and the laws gave everyone equal rights.
It did not give equal justice to all as most of population was actually SLAVES. 34% of the population were slaves which could not vote. As only 12 % of the 240,235 actually could. And the males actually did not get to vote due to slavery and most of that 34% is males. Even the males who were free, the proper age, and has 2 citizen parents could not entirely vote. They also had to go through military training which excludes much of the male population. So therefore it actually is an oligarchy. And they had to vote they didn't have the chose or they would be prosecuted. This doesn't give right to the people as they didn't even have the choice whether or not to vote.
Slaves, if you didn't know, were NOT SEEN AS HUMAN. They were seen as pets, or creatures. This is NOT the fault of the Athenians. Through out history, slaves have NEVER had the right to vote. Are you saying that, before Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, that America was NOT a democracy? Because I'm fairly certain it was. Even though, only white males who owned property could vote. Are you willing to question history now? The Athenian democracy worked practically the same way. And just because it worked the way it did, does not mean it wasn't counted as a DEMOCRACY. They did what they felt was just and what would help society prosper. They were working towards giving more and more power to the people, even more than the laws already gave them. Also, it's actually a very smart tactic to force educated, just men to vote. It obviously worked, because society prospered. So if you think that America was not a democracy up till Lincoln, I'd have to say you're crazy.