The Origins of
Democracy
The Green Family
Introductory History Unit
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The state of California has established the following standards to
be learned in the tenth grade.
10.1.1 Students will analyze the similarities and differences in
Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian views of Law, Reason, Faith,
and the duties, and responsibilities, of the individual.
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10.1.2 Students will trace the development of the Western
political ideas of; the Rule of Law, Democracy, and Tyranny
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Greek lecture:
1. INNOVATION…
means a brand new thought, invention, or strategy...
The Ancient Greeks innovate a culture that becomes the foundation of
Western Civilization.
Odysseus
A. Drama
B. Architecture
C. Science
D. Mathematics
E. History
F. Politics
G. Philosophy
H. Government
The Sirens
This is me if you don’t
do your homework!!!
Greek drama: antagonist, catastrophe, catharsis,
character, chorus, comedy, conflict, dialogue, drama,
epic, foil, hubris, legend, motivation, myth, ode,
persona, plot, protagonist, scenery, setting,
tragedy.
columns
Greek Architecture
Euclid…mathematics (geometry)
Herodotus…the “father of history”
Pythagoras…mathematics
2. GEOGRAPHY
 Played an important role in Greece’s development…why do you think?
 Greece occupies a small, mountainous peninsula.
 The mountains isolated Greek communities, so they followed their own ways of
life
 These communities developed into city-states…the POLIS
 The polis consisted of the city and the surrounding countryside.
 Politics means…the things of the polis
There are 100’s of little islands in the Aegean
Greek City-states…the POLIS
All political, social and religious
activities took place in the polis
From polis we get…politics,
Metropolis
Acropolis
Cosmopolitan
And Police
These city-states become very
independent and even fought each
other.
Check out the map…see how isolated
from each other they are?
You will notice that Greece has a
huge coastline…lots of sea
The sea made the Greeks explore
and set up new cities and settlements
throughout the Mediterranean.
Politics…Greek style
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The running of the polis soon fell into the hands of local rich men, called…?
An Oligarchy …a form of government where a few wealthy people hold power over a larger group of
citizens.
The gap between the rich and the poor grew wider under the oligarchy system and this led to…?
The rise of Tyranny …an authoritarian form of government where one man seizes power and rules
single-handedly
Some Tyrants were good for their city-states while others were cruel and power hungry
Tyrants were rulers who were not subject to the law…they could do anything they wanted
Should rulers/leaders/politicians be above the law?
In the Greek city-state of Athens, tyranny did not last long…soon Athenians were asking for more
say in the way their city was run.
They rejected authoritarian forms of government, such as tyranny, chieftains, or kings
They developed a form of government where all adult males were members of an assembly, or
legislature. We call this form of government…?
Democracy …democracy is 2 Greek words…demos=people and cracy=government.
Democracy then means “rule of the people”
Women, in Greece, were not allowed to participate in law-making
In fact, women were not even allowed to eat at the same table as their husbands…
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The male citizens of Athens met about 40 times a year to debate and decide public issues.
They declared war, signed treaties, and spent taxes…maybe that’s why they didn’t allow women…I’m
just kidding!
So, from the lowliest worker to the richest man all had the right to vote, to hold public office, and to
express his opinion in the assembly.
Clearly, such a system was based on the belief that the average citizen was capable of participating
intelligently in the affairs of state.
The greatest Athenian statesman Pericles said:
 “ Our constitution is called a democracy because power
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is in the hands of the many and not the few”
Pericles and other
men meeting in the
assembly
Pericles
A modern Greek drachma coin
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The ideals of the democratic state could only have happened in a society that had a
respect for human intelligence and the power of reason.
The Greeks were the first people to try to explain nature, human behavior, and culture,
scientifically.
Earlier peoples, including Greeks, had interpreted the world…nature…through myths.
There was a human named Narcissus. He was so handsome that
every girl or boy that saw him immediately fell in love with him. But
Narcissus had no heart and loved no one.
An example of a myth…how One day, Echo met Narcissus and fell in love with him. Echo could
do you explain an echo?
not speak to him, but she had felt she needed to see him. So Echo
followed him, just enough to see him, but not enough to be seen.
Narcissus became lost and called out, "Is anyone here?"
Echo said, "Here, here, here."
Narcissus told whoever was there to come out. Echo came out and,
because she couldn't talk, used her hands to show Narcissus how
much she loved him. Narcissus, annoyed that so many people liked
him, rejected her love. Echo, heart-broken, prayed to Aphrodite for
death. Her prayer was answered, but Aphrodite loved her voice, so
she let her voice live on.
How did humans discover fire? According to the ancient Greeks…
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Prometheus is the Titan chiefly honored for stealing fire from Zeus in the stalk of a fennel
plant and giving it to mortal humans for their use. For that, Zeus ordered him to be
chained on top of the Caucasus mountains. Every day an eagle would come and eat his
liver, but since Prometheus was immortal, his liver always grew back, so he was left to bear
the pain every day. He is depicted as an intelligent and cunning figure who had sympathy
for humanity.
Prometheus
bound up
Prometheus bringing
fire
Prometheus statue in New York’s
Rockefeller Centre
Let’s get back to reason, science and human potential…
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The first Greek philosophers were not satisfied in explaining nature, and how it worked, to be the
actions of the gods…lightning was not Zeus throwing bolts from Mt. Olympus.
Instead, all things in the Natural World followed predictable patterns, which they called Natural
Laws.
The rules of nature could be discovered by human beings through careful observation and reasoned
enquiry.
Socrates was the first of the three great Athenian philosophers (the other two are Plato and
Aristotle).
When Socrates was in his forties or so, he began to feel an urge to think
about the world around him, and try to answer some difficult questions. He
asked, "What is wisdom?" and "What is beauty?" and "What is the right thing
to do?" He knew that these questions were hard to answer, and he thought it
would be better to have a lot of people discuss the answers together, so that
they might come up with more ideas. So he began to go around Athens asking
people he met these questions, "What is wisdom?“... Sometimes the people
just said they were busy, but sometimes they would try to answer him. Then
Socrates would try to teach them to think better by asking them more
questions which showed them the problems in their logic. Often this made
people angry. Sometimes they even tried to beat him up.
We do not have any pictures of him…just sculptures…he was supposed to be pretty ugly!
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Socrates loved Philosophy …the love of wisdom.
He taught a number of students…not for pay…he believed the role of education was to improve the
individual…he questioned everything!
His questioning of authority led him into trouble with the leaders of Athens…does this sound like
Antigone?
He was tried and found guilty of treason…and sentenced to death by hemlock poisoning.
The Death of Socrates
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One of Socrates’ students was PLATO…probably the
greatest philosopher in western civilization.
When Plato was a young man, he went to listen to
Socrates, and learned a lot from Socrates about how to
think, and what sort of questions to think about.
Plato began to write down his own ideas about philosophy
instead of just writing down Socrates' ideas.
One of his earlier works/book is The Republic, which
describes what Plato thought would be a better form of
government than the government of Athens.
Plato thought that most people were pretty stupid, and so
they should not be voting about what to do….can you blame
him? And, he hadn’t even met my mother-in-law!
Instead, the best people should be chosen to be the
guardians of the rest.
Plato was from a rich aristocratic family, so he probably
considered himself among the best people!.
Plato believed that for society to work it needs to have
order…Order gives stability
House point challenge:
Law and justice give order and stability
What was the Academy?
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One of the ways Plato tried to explain his ideas was with the famous metaphor of the cave. He said,
Suppose there is a cave, and inside the cave there are some men chained up to a wall, so that they
can only see the back wall of the cave and nothing else. These men can't see anything outside of the
cave, or even see each other clearly, but they can see shadows of what is going on outside the cave.
Wouldn't these prisoners come to think that the shadows were real, and that was what things really
looked like?
Suppose now that one of the men escaped, and got out of the cave, and saw what real people looked
like, and real trees and grass. If he went back to the cave and told the other men what he had seen,
would they believe him, or would they think he was crazy?
Plato says that we are like those men sitting in the cave: we think we understand the real world, but
because we are trapped in our bodies we can see only the shadows on the wall.
One of his goals is to help us understand the real world better, by finding ways to predict or
understand the real world even without being able to see it.
What is truth?
What is reality?
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Let’s finish Plato with a quick look at one of the most important works in literature…
The Republic
In The Republic he writes about the perfect form of government…
He didn’t like democracy because he didn’t think people were ETHICAL.
House point challenge: what do the following mean…ETHICAL, WISDOM,
COURAGE and MORAL?
In The Republic Plato divides society into three:
A. at the top…philosopher kings who were inspired by wisdom
B. second group…warriors who protected society
C. the rest…the masses, people who are not driven by wisdom or courage but by a desire
for material things “stuff”
**** Very important and you must remember it…or!!!
PLATO BELIEVED THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY,
NOT THE HAPPINESS OF THE INDIVIDUAL WAS THE
MOST IMPORTANT THING
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ARISTOTLE was a student of Plato
Unlike Plato…who believed in a perfect state…
Aristotle did not think a perfect state could
exist
He examined a lot of different kinds of
government around at that time
House point challenge: identify and explain
what the following governments are
 CONSTITUTIONAL
GOVERNMENT
 MONARCHY
 ARISTOCRACY
 OLIGARCHIES
 TYRANNIES
 DEMOCRACIES
 REPUBLICS
 10 POINTS FOR EACH ONE
 Aristotle favored constitutional monarchy
Don’t get mad…
He believed women were inferior to men
and should be subordinate in marriage and
society
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As we finish with the Greeks let’s remember one of their greatest achievements
They questioned the old ways of looking at the world.
Over time, every aspect of Greek civilization – science, art, literature, drama, and politics
– showed a growing reliance on reason and inquiry and less dependence on the
supernatural or traditional explanations
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With this achievement, the Greeks broke decisively with the past.
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Let us do a comparison between two Greek city-states
ATHENS
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Democracy…all citizens (free males)
participated in government activities
All citizens were equal before the law
Women and slaves were denied
citizenship
Young Athenians developed their
artistic, and intellectual sides.
Philosophy, mathematics, science, and
drama flourished.
Pursued individual wealth
Individuality very important
Individual quest for happiness important
SPARTA
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Totalitarianism: a form of government that
uses force and power to rule its own people.
Spartan society was divided into 3 groups;
1. slaves…provided food and labor
2. women…taught to be fit, brave, patriotic,
and make babies for Sparta
3. Men…all became warriors
 Newborn babies judged to be weak
were killed
 Boys at the age of 7 were taken from
home to live in army barracks and
received military training
 They were barefoot and wore minimal
clothing to toughen them up
Gave up wealth as unpatriotic
Spartan men glorified war!
No room for individuality
State before the individual is most
important
The following modern quotes are more like Athens or
Sparta?
“All development is struggle”
“Only force rules”
“…all men are created equal…”
“liberty and the pursuit of happiness…”
“history has been determined by the
principle of force and power”
“governments derive their power from the
consent of the governed”
Two men are responsible for these quotes. One stressed
equality and democracy.
The other stressed totalitarianism…state before individual.
House point challenge: who were they?
What does this political cartoon have to do with
what we are learning?
Let us jump ahead, from the Greeks to the Romans
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We have seen how the ancient Greeks contributed to the development of
WESTERN CIVILIZATION…Individualism, science, government, drama,
architecture, art, philosophy, exploration, and innovation.
The Romans contributed to the development of Western Civilization too…
The center of this civilization was the city of Rome, in Italy.
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The Romans set up a REPUBLIC …a form of government without a king or queen…
the term "republic" is generally applied to a state where the government's political power
depends solely on the consent of the people governed.
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The Roman republic grew to be a great power by conquering lands and then bringing the
conquered peoples into its system
Everyone wanted to be a Roman citizen!
While the Greeks lived in small city-states, each governed by different laws, the Romans
controlled an enormous amount of territory.
House point challenge:
What language did the
Romans speak?
What modern languages are
derived from _ _ _ _ _?
What did Romans use for
toilet paper?
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The Romans allowed conquered peoples to keep their cultures and traditions, but…they
established one system of laws for the whole empire.
Romans, like the Greeks, believed laws should be based on principles of Reason and
Justice and should protect citizens and property.
An example of a Roman law…see if you recognize it… “No one should suffer a penalty
for what he thinks.”
House point challenge: what similarity can you see between this law and the first
amendment to the US constitution?
Here is another one… “in inflicting penalties, the age of the guilty party must be taken
into account”
NATURAL LAW
Like the Greeks, the Romans believed the RULES OF NATURE could be
discovered by careful observation …show me you understand by writing an example.
The Romans also believed that all human beings were born alike and should all be
subject to the same moral laws and principles
Human laws SHOULD agree with natural law….that is…all people are born with
certain natural rights that NO government can take away, or deny.
Now give me examples of natural rights…
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JUST THREE OF THE EMPERORS WE
WILL NOT BE STUDYING…WHAT A
SHAME, BECAUSE BORING THEY
ARE NOT
CITIZENSHIP…WHAT IS IT?
During Roman times a person was proud to say – “I am a Roman citizen”
Roman citizenship was a kind of invisible shield of respect.
It meant that the citizen was protected by the laws of the Roman Empire.
Men and women could be citizens.
Of course, only male citizens could hold public office…they were also expected to fight
for Rome.
The idea of “CITIZENSHIP”, like many of our basic ideas of government, began with
the ancient Greek city-states and the Roman Republic.
When people had both rights and responsibilities in their communities, people became
“citizens.”
As we will see in the next unit…American and French Revolutions…modern states
developed and the term “citizen” became common again.
All modern states –not just democratic ones- have citizens, though their rights and
responsibilities vary.
In general, citizens are expected to be loyal to the nation, obey its laws, pay taxes, and
perhaps give military service.
In return, the state is supposed to protect its citizens.
House point challenge: With the other members of your house discuss the rights/things
you have/receive from our government…and list them.
 Discuss, and list, the rights/things you think we should have, but don’t.
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The Judeo-Christian Tradition…
Ancient Greece and Rome are two sources of
Western democratic ideals.
A third source is the Judeo-Christian Tradition
The ancient HEBREWS had, by about 1000
B.C. established the State of Israel…also know as
Judea.
They were the first people to believe in
monotheism…the belief in one God.
They set down their laws and traditions in a sacred
book…The Bible, or The Torah….it is also known
as The Old Testament.
The Hebrews, or Jews as they would become
known as…they came from Judea.
They believed in one God, a God that is perfect,
all-knowing, all powerful, and eternal.
Earlier peoples…like the Greeks and
Romans…believed in many gods.
The Hebrews/Jews believed that it was God’s
wish for people to live moral lives.
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‫…‪Hebrew alphabet‬‬
‫כך י ט ח וז ה ד ג ב א‬
‫ת ש ר ק צץ פף ע ס נן מם ל‬
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The Hebrew scriptures…the Bible…state that human beings are created in God’s image.
This meant within each human being is a divine spark…soul…which gives everyone a dignity
that cannot be taken away.
For the Greeks and Romans human beings had dignity because they had the ability to
reason.
For the Hebrews, each person had dignity simply by being a child of God.
The Hebrews believed that God had given humans moral freedom…the capacity to
choose between good and evil.
Therefore, each person was responsible for the choices he or she made.
And that’s why God gave the Hebrews the 10 Commandments…to live a moral life.
The spiritual leaders of the Hebrews were the prophets…messengers of God.
The prophets attacked war, oppression, and greed.
The Hebrews believed all people have the right to be treated with justice and dignity.
They believed that it is the responsibility of every person to denounce injustice and
oppression and the community should assist the poor and unfortunate.
The prophets held out the hope that life on earth could be improved, that poverty and
injustice need not be accepted…
And, every individual was capable of living to a high moral standard.
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Moses with the 10 Commandments.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal
3 examples
The movie
The sculpture
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In the first century a Jewish Rabbi…teacher…named Jesus was traveling throughout Israel preaching.
Israel had been conquered by the Romans and had become a province of Rome…no longer an
independent state.
The Romans changed the name of Israel to Palestine…after the Philistines, Israel’s enemy.
Jesus adopted much of the Prophets’ moral outlook.
Like them, he believed human beings were God’s children and were judged according to high moral
standards.
Like them, he spoke out against injustice.
Like them, he saw morality as the essence of Jewish faith… “..do unto others only what you would
have done to yourself”
The early Christians were Jews.
Unlike the other sects of Jews, the Christians were evangelists…they wanted to spread their beliefs
to all people.
Christian missionaries worked throughout the Roman Empire to convert people to Christianity.
And so, from the Judeo-Christian tradition there emerged several ideals that have been crucial to
the shaping of a democratic outlook…
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The sacred worth of the individual
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The duty of the individual and of the community to combat oppression
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And the equality of people before God.
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The Origins of Democracy - Vista Unified School District