The Radical Greek Idea
Democracy in Ancient Athens
Could government by the people actually work?
A new, bold, radical idea emerged in ancient Athens in 508 BCE, the concept that the people could rule themselves. Democracy today is equated with good, just government, but in ancient Greece, it still had a lot to prove. The Athenians embraced democracy in its purest form: direct democracy in which each citizen participated in all the decisions of the state. They had no representatives; rather, they voted directly on all the laws and measures considered by the government. The question was: could it work? The Athenian democracy had plenty of chances to prove itself. It had to deal with the Persian Wars, wars with Sparta and its allies, and the rise of Philip and Alexander the Great. It had to govern a great empire and manage a growing society bent on high achievement. Perhaps the greatest proof of democracy’s merits was that from it came the Golden Age of Athens which gave the world so many of its intellectual and cultural foundations. Joel Farrell’s recounting of the development and challenges of Athenian democracy is peopled by some of the greatest leaders any democracy has produced, as well as some of its worst demagogues. Athenian government was sometimes wise and sometimes foolish, but usually effective. It teaches us much about the potential of democracy in our time and the challenges that any democratic society must face.
Format: 5.5 x 8.5 Black & White Paperback, 295 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (Jun 30, 2020)
Genre: HISTORY / Ancient / Greece