Major political concepts from ancient Greece

ancient Greece politics

The present system of democracy traces its roots back to ancient Greece. It is by reading Plato's 'The Republic' do we get an understanding of the political thought processes of the ancient Greeks. Herein Plato speaks of the discussions he had with his teacher Socrates. By reading the dialogues between the teacher and his student, we understand the political concepts and theories that were conceived and developed by the ancient Greeks. The Greeks were the first to recognize the damage caused to society by monarchical and dictatorial rules. They identified that human freedom and human rights should be the foundation of a free, independent, modern, and prosperous community. The Greeks were amongst the first civilizations to identify the importance of democracy. They devised a process for electing a leader. This would, later on, become what we understand as 'election of leaders through the process of secret ballot.' 

However, the establishment of a democratic form of government, as we know now, happened much after Socrates. Yet it was in ancient Greece that the rudimentary form of democracy was set up by Athenian leader Cleisthenes in 507 BC. Ancient Greece gave rise to numerous political thoughts, and some of these which are also required to write the cheapest essay are as follows: 

Justice as a significant part of political ideas

The ancient Greeks believed that for a society to thrive, there should be a form of justice. This has to be both political and social justice. In other words, there should be a legal framework governing the day to day activities of the people. They encouraged the common man to join political discussions so that lawmakers and leaders gained an insight into the political expectations of the people of Greece. The ancient Greeks started the idea of political justice. Here all individuals are treated equally in the eyes of the law.

Similarly, the notion of social justice, where everyone is treated equally irrespective of his birth, race, caste, religion, and creed, was also started by the ancient Greeks. During these discussions, the political thinkers of the period tried to give structure to the arguments. They provided structure by defining the guidelines based on which the debates would be carried out. This gave rise to the concept of courts of laws where even the common man can go if he has been victimized. This is the only place where his grievances would be heard and redressed within the legal framework. Thus, justice for the victim and even the idea of universal amnesty were started by the ancient Greeks. Justice is an essential part of the political concept of ancient Greeks.

Development of democracy

The Greeks are lauded with the development of democracy. They were the first to identify that people should be included in the political process of a country. This is essential if a state wishes to progress. A monarch or a dictator will only work for personal success and power. He will not be concerned about the nation, because he is the king and the rest are all his subjects. It is when a man decides to participate in the political process of his country and elects leaders, who are concerned about the welfare of the nation, only then will the country progress. The Greeks were amongst the first to identify this nature of man. It was Cleisthenes who started what was then called 'demokratia' or 'rule by the people.' The Greek words' demos' means 'the people', and 'kratos' means power. Thus, both together means power rests with the people, which embodies the concept of democracy. The democratic leaders would be chosen by-election, where votes would be cast by able-bodied Greek men who were at least eighteen years of age. This, too, is reminiscent of the modern concept of democracy and secret ballot. Thus, the Greek political thoughts regarding democracy laid the foundation stone for the setting up of democratic countries across the globe. 

Separation of the state and the judiciary

The Greeks were amongst the first to recognize that the country and the court must be kept separate for a nation to function correctly. Although the state comprises the elected representative, yet policy forming powers rest with them. Hence, without the judiciary acting as a check, these elected representatives can create policies that would serve only themselves. This once again would prove detrimental to the health of the country. Hence, the judiciary keeps a check on these elected representatives and has the right to declare a policy illegal.

Additionally, the Greeks identified that the judiciary of a democratic nation must function independently and without fear of persecution. Their rights need to be safeguarded. Although these were not implemented successfully during the time Cleisthenes, yet it formed a significant part of the political thoughts of ancient Greeks.

Importance of political association

Aristotle, in his book 'Politics,' discusses the idea of political participation in the politics of a country. Another important concept that was explored by thinkers of ancient Greece was the extent to which man should participate in the political process of his country. Aristotle believed that man is a 'political animal' and this is what separates him from the savage beasts. If so, then he must participate in the political process of his city or as the Greeks called it 'polis'. His participation should be as much as he engages in the activities of his house. Although Aristotle puts men on a higher pedestal, by giving the slave master analogy, yet it is here that he discusses the importance of participation in politics. It is here that the foundation of political awareness and political thought is laid.  

Aristotle also stresses that man should be virtuous. He speaks of moral and social virtue, which also forms a part of the political thought process of ancient Greeks. Aristotle goes on to define that it is only a virtuous citizen who can participate in the politics of his country. Thus, the political concepts of ancient Greeks combine ethics, justiceancient Greece politics, and uses virtue as a benchmark for evaluating political leaders.  

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Apr 15, 2020

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