Democracy's Beginning: The Athenian Story

Democracy's Beginning: The Athenian Story

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 0300215037

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A history of the world’s first democracy from its beginnings in Athens circa fifth century B.C. to its downfall 200 years later

The first democracy, established in ancient Greece more than 2,500 years ago, has served as the foundation for every democratic system of government instituted down the centuries. In this lively history, author Thomas N. Mitchell tells the full and remarkable story of how a radical new political order was born out of the revolutionary movements that swept through the Greek world in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., how it took firm hold and evolved over the next two hundred years, and how it was eventually undone by the invading Macedonian conquerors, a superior military power.
 
Mitchell’s superb history addresses the most crucial issues surrounding this first paradigm of democratic governance, including what initially inspired the political beliefs underpinning it, the ways the system succeeded and failed, how it enabled both an empire and a cultural revolution that transformed the world of arts and philosophy, and the nature of the Achilles heel that hastened the demise of Athenian democracy.

 

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domestic responsibilities of a wife. The main character, Ischomachus, tells Socrates the instructions he gave his new young wife who was not yet fifteen. Your duty will be to remain indoors and send out those servants whose work is outside, and superintend those who are to work indoors, and to receive the incomings and distribute so much of them as must be spent, and watch over so much as is to be kept in store, and take care that the sum laid by for a year is not spent in a month. And when wool

advocates of peace, who included Phocion and probably Aeschines. In August 338 the fateful encounter took place at Chaeronea in Boeotia. The main allied forces comprised the Athenians, Boeotians, Euboeans, Achaeans, Megarians, Corinthians and Corcyraeans. The numbers on either side were probably close to even, but the result was a decisive victory for Philip.71 Athens feared the worst and made frantic preparations to defend the city. But Philip wanted peace. His mind was now fixed on a grander

republican powers, Athens and Rome, have done more honour to our species than all the rest of it. A new country can be planted only by such a government.’ Of greater importance is the second question, regarding the lessons that the Athenian experience can offer to a world still in transition following the collapse of communism, which brought a dramatic swing away from all forms of absolute or oligarchic rule, and a renewed appetite for power to the people. For some, the end of the history of

settlement, which is generally surrounded by a wall and contains temples, a gathering place and residences of the leading nobles (basileis). The more developed Homeric polis was a self-governing community, controlled by a group of nobles who held the title of basileus, which later came to mean ‘king’. This largely hereditary aristocracy would have comprised the households (oikoi) that had the greatest wealth and power, derived from the size of their estates, the extent of their kinsmen,

outrage, could advance a conspiracy to overthrow the democracy. It seems far more likely that the mutilations of statues and mockery of the Mysteries were escapades of the kind favoured by a high-living, hard-drinking, sophisticated, young elite, who got kicks from profaning religious beliefs and practices that they scorned. Andocides says the idea to deface the herms arose at a drinking party. He excuses his own involvement as youthful folly that gave way to a moment of madness. Other alleged

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