Must understand the politics of ancient Greece before understanding the writings of Plato and
The tyranny of Greece is how it has an enormous lasting impact on the modern world.
Back when the writings of Greek were written, there was no actual Greece as we know it today,
there were rather hundreds of city states, or “Polis.”
Often when we talk about a certain piece of
writing or theory, we are speaking specifically of a specific Polis.
To further reiterate the
tyranny of Greece, the word Polis is the source of our words politics, politician, metropolitan,
An enormous amount of our ideas and notions and words of politics comes
from Greek origins.
The Greek Polis was more than a political institution.
Besides its political community, it had its
own unique culture, religion, athletic life, etc….
Athletics were closely tied to civic spirit.
There were very many city states that often warred with each other.
They were never unified
until the time of Alexander the Great.
In the modern day, politics are incredibly large and deal with hundreds of millions of people.
The typical Greek Polis had less than twenty thousand citizens.
Only three had more: Syracuse,
Athens, and one in Cicily.
The typical Polis had around five thousand citizens.
This was much
more of a “face to face society,” where you recognize people.
Athens was ridiculously larger, with between three hundred to four hundred thousand people.
the Athenians, about eighty thousand were slaves.
Slavery in ancient Greece was not based on
color, rather they were normally people captured by the army.
These slaves were not allowed to
participate in politics.
Aliens also did not have political rights in Athens, nor could they become
This only leaves about one hundred and sixty thousand people in Athens that are not
slaves or aliens.
Because women had no political rights (often only went into public veiled, and
not even that often then), and children did not yet have political rights, the politics were left to
about forty thousand adult men.
Yet that group divides even more, because often men who
worked in the fields or with their hands or did not own property could not be citizens.
only about twenty thousand men could be citizens.
It is ironic that Athens is touted so much for
Democracy, when in truth, only about twenty thousand people could speak politically for the
other hundreds of thousands in Athens.
Those twenty thousand people governed absolutely and
did so through the Assembly.
All citizens (the twenty thousand defined above) would meet in
the Agora (marketplace) roughly three times every month to make all of the political decisions.
Compared to the pathetic voter turnout we have to do once every four years, that is very
When they needed a smaller group, they had juries, executive councils, etc….