Athenian Democracy (Book published May 25, 2018)


Book Details

Author  The Great Courses
Publisher  The Great Courses
Publication Date   May 25, 2018

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Roughly 2,500 years ago, the Athenian people established a radical democracy in which power derived from the votes of everyday citizens. At a time when local governments ranged from oligarchy to tyranny, the elite classes of Athens gradually ceded power to the inexperienced masses, whose votes served as referendums for everything from taxation to war to welfare. The sequence of events that led to this development is astonishing, and the society that flourished under Athenian democracy is one of the greatest - even if greatly flawed - achievements in world history.

Today, when the foundations of our own democracy are under greater and greater scrutiny, the Athenian experiment in citizen rule offers a powerful object lesson in national politics. How did the Athenian system of democracy work? What were its strengths and weaknesses? And how does it compare to democracy in our world today? Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages answers these questions and more with 24 captivating lectures. Professor Robert Garland of Colgate University takes us back to ancient Greece and unpacks the development and workings of Athenian democracy. You'll witness the story of history through the lens of Athenian government, going inside the assemblies and courts to find out how democracy worked - and where it came up short.

You may be familiar with the broad strokes of Athenian history, but Professor Garland's unique lens offers a wealth of insights into everything from taxation and welfare to military structure and strategy. Go beyond the traditional "kings and battles" history to gain a sense of what life was like for the people living in the democracy. The heart of Athenian democracy is the "demos", the body of citizens who participated in public assemblies, made speeches, and voted on matters of law. But because only citizens were allowed to vote, Professor Garland also explores Athens through the eyes of women, immigrants, and slaves who could not participate. 

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