Was Democracy Really Born in Ancient Athens?
Was Democracy Really Born in Ancient Athens? Why is the relationship between democracy and ancient Athens far more nuanced in reality than the way it is often portrayed? This is the story of the genesis of democracy and how it relates to ancient Athens in classical Greece. From the early reforms of Solon to the more comprehensive reforms of Cleisthenes, ancient Athens flourished as a democracy for well over a century, although this ancient form of democracy had notable limitations by present-day standards. The adoption of a form of this radical idea by the ancient Athenian civilisation did not go unchallenged however, as the Spartans invaded in a failed bid to reverse the move towards a more democratic constitution by the political leaders of classical Athens.
This video will also highlight the views of some of the most famous and arguably some of the wisest and greatest philosophers in the ancient world – namely, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle – whose views on democracy as a governing constitution may surprise you, considering how well and how highly people think of democracy today. Interestingly, Socrates and Plato had deep suspicions of democracy at best, and hated democracy at worst, although Aristotle had a more nuanced view of the form of governing constitution that is widely perceived today to be the pinnacle political system any nation-state can adopt.
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Aristotle (Translation – Sinclair, T., and Saunders, T.) (1981) The Politics (London: Penguin Group).
Berg-Schlosser, D. (2019) “Long Waves and Conjunctures of Democratization,” in Haerpfer, C., Bernhagan, P., Welzel, C. and Inglehart, R. (eds.) Democratization, 2nd edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 67-81.
Braund, D. (1994) ‘The Luxuries of Athenian Democracy David Braund,’ Greece and Rome, 41:1, 41-48.
Fox, R. L. (2006) The Classical World: An Epic History of Greece and Rome (London: Penguin Group).
McWhorter, R. L. (1951) ‘The Athenian Democracy,’ The Georgia Review, 5:3, 290-299.
Plato (Translation Lee, D.) (2007) The Republic (London: Penguin Group).
Note: the sources consulted to construct this narrative do not necessarily endorse the narrative constructed.
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