The degree to which ancient Greek politics today shaped the Western political system

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Ancient Greek politics had a great impact on Western people’s political, economic, and social lives. The politics of Ancient Greece is based on both Greek and Roman philosophies. The political influence of Plato and Aristotle was focused on political philosophies. The philosophies of all citizens include justice, freedom, and prosperity. After the Greek dark ages of the 12th-19th Centuries, the Ancient Greece era was based on civilization. The end of Greece’s Hellenistic period led to the rise of classical Greece, which, by some philosophies, subsequently influenced Western culture. Liberal philosophies, such as Greek nationalism, were embraced by the West. The civilization of the Greek during the ancient days influenced the political, educational and philosophical mindset of the Western People. The philosophy of democracy was introduced by the Ancient Greek and shaped the Western political system in many ways. The literature discusses the extent to which the Ancient influenced the Western political system. The paper looks at the previous research and literature by another scientist, critique and concludes. Besides, the paper will discuss issues related to democracy jury referenda among others.

Key words: Ancient Greek Politics, Western Political system, democracy jury referenda




Review of background of the literature5

Politics and Justice in Greece5

Justice and Equality6

The Greeks Working of Democracy7

Justice and Legal System11

Democracy jury referenda14

Critique on Literature16




The ancient Greeks greatly influenced the emergence of evolution across the world. The ancient Greek transformed the world in various ways including ethics, philosophical, political, educational and ideological mindset. The ancient Greek included the practice of democracy and self-governance. The political influence of the Greeks was based on their philosophical and literacy. Lack of democracy and the poor political system had adverse consequences before the adoption of the ancient Greek ideologies and philosophies on democracy and people’s rights. The Greeks believed in self-rule, justice, and equality thus influencing many parts of the world(FINLEY, 1983). The political practice by the Greeks and ideologies is still celebrated today by the western world. The ancient Greeks civilization had great influence on the Western Politics during the neoclassical rising. The modern democracy celebrated across the western political system was positively influenced by the ancient Greeks. Ancient Greek philosophers like Plato and Heraclitus believed in social change which influenced the political ideology of the world and the in particular Western political system(Balot, 2008).

The Ancient Greece describes the Greek-speaking nation during the ancient period. The Ancient Greek has influence the Europe and western nations in many ways including political influence. The ancient Greek highly influenced the predominantly ideology experience today in the Western political system through the power of democracy. The ancient Greek democracy gave every citizen a right to participate in the governance as compared to anarchy system(Ferejohn, 2002). The ancient Greek democracy was mainly based on the people’s power and the rule by the people. The Greek word “demokratia” meant a lot to the ancient Greeks and was based on the Greeks ideology and philosophies. The end of Aristotle rule during the fourth century, there were several democracies(Mirhady and Arnaoutoglou, 1998).

The Greece used to be a single party nation and power used to be in the hands of the wealthy until the rise of revolution. The rise of devolution led to ideological change leaders such as Plato was committed to bringing the change. The rise of democracy in the Greece was fascinating and highly remembered. The popular votes had power on the rulers and citizens were given authority to exercise their rights through voting. Likely, the American political system adopted the ancient Greek political ideologies(Muehfeld, 2001). The ancient Greek philosophy emerged from the classical period from the fourth century to the end of the Roman Empire. The political ideology was introduced by Plato and Aristotle and started the revolution in the political institutions. The leaders focused much on ethics and political activities making the platonic models used to date. The ancient Greek invested much on the political philosophies and ideology and other genres.

Review of background of the literature

Politics and Justice in Greece

The ancient Greek political system was affected by many factors such as the emergence of independent State and other regimes which affected the people of Greece. The ideology of justice emerged and became very fundamental to the people of Greece. The problems facing Greece during the Archaic to the classical period were affecting the people so much, and there was a need for a solution. Justice was seen as the possible solution to the individuals and inclusive to both rich and poor. Justice was based on equal citizenship and was required across the cities. The nation was much towards understanding human needs and fulfilling them. The government collaborated in leading good life through good politics. The conflicts that arose were to be solved through fair justice which was laid as a foundation for good policy. Human happiness and justice were only possible through fair justice.

Justice and Equality

Equality is only possible through justice as explained the Greek Oligarchical philosophy. The slavery was highly condemned, and people focused much on freedom and democracy. The exclusivity of women was not accepted in the Greek and was condemned as well. The decision on public affairs was left to the citizens. Both the poor and minority were allowed to participate in the matters of the nation.

The Traditional Western Culture is said to be built by three things; these included the Greek Culture, Christianity and the Roman Empire’s culture and hence is regarding as the “Greco-Roman culture.” Hence the Ancient Greek civilization has indeed had a massive impact on the culture of the Western countries and the Western progress in general. City systems and republican system have known to exist long before the Greek civilization. However, the reason we accredit all of our knowledge of these topics to them is that the Greeks were the only people to have properly recorded all of their work and hence were able to pass it down generations and form a coherent history(Mills, 2015).

The modern-day historians pride themselves on having a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Greek civilization, including facts about how the civilization functioned politically, socially, academically, etc. The Greeks were the best at preserving their work and their concepts and hence had a proper way of passing down the knowledge they had. Following them, the Romans also made sure to keep detailed records of the Greeks’ works and to also preserve the literature and detailed scripts left behind by the Greeks and hence were able to further pass these on to their successors. The Christian church then followed and made an effort to preserve the Greek culture. The following of Greek culture became one of the primary reasons why a lot of the Western customs are an inspiration of that of the Greeks. The reason is that they are the only ancient civilization to leave behind enough artifacts that we can learn from them and are also the only ones held in high regard by the West (Henrichs 1995).

Another factor that ensured a thorough translation of the Greek influence was the records kept by the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines knew the philosophy, language and understood the ways of the Greeks so much so that they never had to translate and decrypt these but instead simply adapted these into their system. Hence as the Byzantine Empire grew, it was now in contention with several surrounding civilizations including the Mediterranean, European and Russian. It is natural that to match the capabilities of the Byzantine Empire. The opposing parties also started to adapt and learn the ways of the Byzantine and hence those of the Greeks, and they primarily focused on their children attaining the knowledge to be able to compete with the Byzantine empire on an equal footing. The Greek culture then started to spread throughout the Mediterranean region and hence laid the necessary foundations for what later came to be known as the Roman Empire. The Romans then managed to form their entire empire based on the Greek knowledge and hence carried the knowledge onto Europe.

The Greeks Working of Democracy

The greatest gift that the Greek civilization or any historical civilization has given the modern world today is definitely in the form of an equal and efficient political system which is the democracy. So much so that the word democracy itself in Greek means ‘people power’, it has managed to not only shape the political systems of the countries which follow democracy but has also managed to influence the government systems of other countries itself (Ober 2008). The system that the Greek civilization followed and also managed to record and pass down to other generations also managed to form the political, legal systems which constitute the basis of society today. Alexis de Tocqueville has also been recorded to observe that the Greek political system has also formed the basis of how society functions in general and not just the basis of the political system. Some of the very first recorded literature regarding the democratic form of government also comes from the Greek philosopher Plato. Plato wrote a scroll and encouraged people to stand up to any unrepresentative form of government and to demand their rights, called ‘politics’ and was used centuries later to learn more about the ancient political system and governance system (Ostwald 2011).

The Greek civilization was the first known democracy of the world and in a lot of ways, has inspired the systems of the modern Western democracies of the modern world. The Greek government systems were reliant upon the principle of all citizens being able to serve the public on an equal platform. And hence the voting system was initiated by the Greeks only and also forms the basis of the constitutional rights of the average citizen. In the Greek civilization, it was the norm to have laws proposed by an assembly of the people and then voted upon by all citizens and only then rules were put into practice. The assembly had a population of 6000 adult male voters out of which a general majority was needed to have a regular law passed. However, to pass a law to exile or banish someone, everyone in the assembly needed to pass the law unanimously(Balot, 2008). The law is very much in line with the current Western democratic government systems that are put into place. However, in the current administration systems of the West, for example, the United States of America. Instead of a direct democracy where every citizen voted on laws; a system of representative democracy is followed where the citizens vote on whom to elect to have them be a government official and then decide the policies by which the country would run.

Hence the western democratic system is on the one hand very similar to the Greek political system but at the same time is a more reformed version which better suits to a growing population and to a changing and reformed complex way of running nations. The founding fathers of the United States of America looked at the Ancient Greek civilization both as inspiration and warning of what happens when any entity in a political system is given too much power(Gill and Pellegrin, 2012).

The Greek civilization initially began with a monarchy and then after much progress went on to be changed into a relatively progressive democracy before which it was also an oligarchy. Once it became a democracy, the people did end up having an electoral form of government like the modern times, but that is pretty much where the similarities ended. These people did not have an equally representative form of government in the parliamentarian or the presidential form. Instead, they had elections where all citizens voted, but the only people who were given the status of a citizen were grown men, and hence they were the only ones allowed a vote (Gursoy 2017).

The form of democracy that the Greeks followed was based on the reforms of Solon that he brought about in 594 B.C. The system of democracy established by the Greek civilization came to a downfall in 338 B.C. Hence the term democracy then became one who was actively looked down upon and viewed only as a form of government which led to chaos and anarchy and did not bring about any significant asset to society. It was not until the revival of democracy in the 19th century that brought back the system of democracy and via reforming it and practicing it more tactfully managed to redeem its reputation and make it what we know today as the more representative and socially accepted form of government(Vaughan, 2007).

Even in the late 18th century, the word democracy was still looked down upon and not seen as a desirable form of government. Most of the criticism that existed with regards to the type of governance was by the fact that it leads to a system that is very unstable and venerable to corruption and factionalism. It was also frequently highlighted that such a form of democracy can only not work in a country like America as the small population and magnitude of the country did not allow for such a system of direct democracy to work at all. Hence, the example of it been effected in a relatively smaller region like Athens was an unparalleled comparative; an opinion which was also shared by one of the writers of the American Constitution, James Madison(Gill and Pellegrin, 2012).

The views presented by Madison were then in direct contention with those held by Thomas Paine. Thomas Paine was a staunch defender of the Greek democracy from the very beginning and went on record to declare that he saw the democracy as a government system that was especially needed for a country with an excessively growing population rather than one which should be condemned. He regularly advocated for the fact that democracy was perhaps the only way to have a country function properly and could not be abandoned by a people and a country which claimed to stand for the rights of the civilians (Vlassopoulos 2007). His constant advocacy and his rational reasoning behind supporting democracy as a prestigious form of government are what eventually made the people of American also understand that they were believers and even supporters of both the Democratic as well as the Republican values.

The influence of the Greek political system on the modern political systems is more complicated. The fact is that from very early times, except Thomas Paine, most of the policymakers of the United States of America have dismissed direct democracy an invalid and impractical form of government. Policy makers have fostered a known dislike and disapproval for the type of government and have always dismissed it and looked to avoid it. The fact, however, is that the representative form of democratic government that the United States eventually ended up adopting is not one which fits well with many people.

In fact, it is known that many people within the country have looked at the form of government as one which is too exclusive and which creates a vacuum between the people and the government and hence does not allow the public as much say in the policy matter as they would have otherwise liked or enjoyed. Hence many have recently started to raise more voice against the civic alienation that has been created due to the form of government and is now initiating public movements to speak against the perceived and overly dramatized harms of the representative government systems. The system includes several states coming up and making their local governments turn to a direct form of democracy which is loosely modeled on the version used in Athens in the Greek history. Movements like the Occupy movements were also initiated after being inspired by the Greek civilizations’ form of government(Ferejohn, 2002).

Justice and Legal System

It was not until 620 B. C that the Greek civilization saw its first proper law being drawn up which was when Draco, the lawgiver decided to have the punishment of getting exiled from the Kingdom for anyone who committed homicide. Draco then went on to develop many more laws however the one legislation and punishment for homicide was the only one which was kept when Solon came in and reformed the entire Empire. Solon was then inclined to make several more laws for the land to be able to function properly. Solon’s laws fit into four drawn categories.

The first was Tort laws; these were to punish criminals when they commit crimes against a person or a person’s property. The crimes included murder, rape, and robbery. The punishments were drawn and different for each offense specified. The sentence for murder was as ascribed by Draco. The fine for robbery was different for each case and was dependent upon the amount or items were stolen and whether the stolen property had been restored or not. The fine for rape under Solon was 100 drachmas, which was the currency of the Greek Empire(Rhodes, 2009). The law was an incredibly detailed law set which also specified punishments for relatively little crimes such as a dog biting a person, the penalty for the crime was to surrender the dog. There were also clear laws for things like the placements and spacing between things like houses, ditches, walls, beehives as well as guidelines for where individual trees could be planted and where the plantation for not permitted(Rhodes, 2009).

The second category was family laws. These were laws which dictated several things, including things like the designated role of men and women in a family. Family laws also loosely included all laws dictating how women were to be treated. However, the roles of women in a family or the Greek civilization, in general, were very minute and negligible. The reason was partly that the women were always supposed to be held back by their designated official guardians, these were the men providing for said women or any men who had a permanent role in the woman’s life like a father or a husband of the woman. Hence the role of woman in the legal system was then limited to occasional court appearances either as witnesses or as victims to waive the decision of the jury in a particular case.

The third type of law was the public law which dictated the provision and allocation of public services and public resources. These included laws which dictated how the Empire’s day to day functions was carried out. For example, it set out rules for how to distribute minerals amongst the land, how the export of certain resources was allowed and of others was banned. Public law dictated how people were only allowed to dig their wells if they were from a particular distance from an existing fresh water source. Laws that dictated was the maximum amount of land a person could own, how much tax could be charged on one’s property and resources and how contracts and deals were carried out.

The last category was procedural law, which is relatively self-explanatory. It set out step by step guidelines for how laws were to be carried out and enforced. It set out instructions for judges to conduct and enact laws and even included details of the amount of evidence or number of witnesses needed to convict someone of a certain crime (Gagarin 1986).

Another aspect that we see carried on to the modern-day is the treatment of the lawmakers or as we see it policymakers as people who are on the outside of the political spectrum. These are individuals who are the common man and are far away from the political glorified and hence do not have ulterior motives when making laws; these were people who designed the laws that were then carried out through the state. The most famous law makers of the Greek empire were Draco and Solon who were both praised for not having any political affiliations, an attribute that is to the present day very valued in any member of the justice system in a progressive Western country(Liddel, 2009).

The court system that the Greek empire followed is very clearly an immature version of the complex courts we see in the Western world today. Followed by a period where the laws were then made by an assembly of citizens where an attendance of at least 6000 people was needed to pass any law. Under the definition of direct democracy then became the system of lawmaking in the Greek Civilization.

According to the justice system of the Greek, Empire is carried on down through generation in different fragments as no proper collections of the laws could be found in the heritage. The system includes the knowledge we have managed to derive from the Homeric poetry as well as the traces of the remains of the law found in the ex parte parts of the speeches delivered by the attic orators. Often there are inscriptions which can aid the understanding of the legislation and the speeches the laws are extracted from but more often than not these can also be very unreliable. Perhaps the most accurate records present are attained from the legislation of Athens that is discussed in the Laws of Plato.

Democracy jury referenda

Referendums, as had become apparent through the relatively recent Greece bailout case or in the instance when the United Kingdom voted in favor of Brexit, has proven to be a problematic approach in the modern world and not as easily carried out as it was in the Greek civilization(Liddel, 2009). In the Greek empire, referendums were conducted every nine days or so and pressing matters including those regarding religion, politics, laws, education, and policies were decided. People were made to present their evidence both in favor or against an issue, and the prominent speakers from each side were made to speak up, and then voting happened via a mere show of hands. The method worked in the old days as the number of people present in a community was a tiny percent of the number of people involved today(Mills, 2015). The meeting themselves was a sound way to ensure that people understood the impact of their decisions and that they actively considered themselves to be a part of the community and that they were making an informed choice. The problem with enforcing the same policies today is just that. The sheer lack of transparency that prevents people from being actively involved in government affairs and hence when are questions to make important decisions are left out of the loop needed to make said decisions(Schemeil, 2000).

Truly, Athenian democracy was the principal known democracy that created in a little size city-state which as indicated by Rein and Brodie (2009) furnished its residents with a feeling of dynamic engagement in broad daylight issues. As per Held (2006), the antiquated vote based city-state was considered as a novel political group since its improvement overall prided itself on a free and open political life in which nationals could create and understand their three limits and abilities. Another explanation behind its uniqueness as Rein and Brodie (2009) watched was that Athenian democracy was an “immediate democracy which held the most participatory type of legislative issues that Western human progress has ever observed” (50). Likewise, it endeavored to empower “men of various foundation to express and change their comprehension of the great through political cooperation and support” (Held, 2006, p.15). Such political interest comprised of direct voting wherein in-assemble residents unreservedly voted on official bills and enactment without being arranged into monetary class.

This implied the Athenian political framework constituted no type of political delegates in the interest of the resident populace. Or maybe, natives specifically voted in favor of bills and enactment as they saw suitable to their group. Regardless of its free and open political life, Athenian democracy notwithstanding has numerous weaknesses. Athenian democracy victimized ladies and slaves by not enabling them to partake in governmental issues. Similarly, this along these lines disposed of the heft of the populace from political participation. Also, just the individuals who were instructed and affluent (high society male natives) were fit the bill to take an interest. At its stature there were about “exactly 300 000 individuals in Athens, yet just 40,000 out of 300 000 were considered as nationals” (Rein and Brodie, 2009, p.50). “Whatever is left of the populace ladies, kids, remote occupants, and slaves were rejected from the positions of residents and from political life” (Rein and Brodie, 2009, p.50). This implied Athenian democracy did not satisfy its definition and reason, yet rather it was a framework in which a minority led the political circle.

Critique on Literature

Despite the influence of the ancient Greeks on the Western political system, the system was based on the rule of laws and sovereignty of the power. The ancient Greeks ruling were accompanied by a fundamental factor which led to revolution and change. Change is inevitable, and the nation was committed towards revolution. The Western Political system has changed a lot due to the influence. The ideological difference may have contributed to the change in many ways. The Greeks have been regarded as the first world’s civilized nation. However, the Western Political system has grown far much better through many ways. The western political systems have dominated the world due to the availability of resources and many strong armies. The ideology and philosophical aspect of the great philosophers contributed a lot towards the democracy. Aristotle and Xenophon wrote the Greek constitution. Athens is the mother of democracy, and the word “demos” is derived from Greek. The main critics on the Greeks democracy where the death sentenced on Socrates during 399 BCE. There was no respect for human beings, and the philosophy of equality was not respected(Mitchell, 2008).

The democracy in the Greek was fatal and believed in political masses and mob ruling. The political power of the people was being misused by the citizen and the leaders. The government was full of unskilled citizens who only believed in art and craft work(Vaughan, 2007). Socrates and Plato were so hungry for popularity rather than the people. The mob was so rhetoric and ignorant. The crowd was easily swayed and did not believe in themselves rather on the influence from the leaders. Before the struggle for democracy, ancient Greece was ruled by different methods that led to the division of the cities(Schemeil, 2000). The ancient Greece was ruled through:





The democracy of the Athens in Greek was so biased, and the Western political system should not use it to influence leadership on the people. The ancient Greeks were not practicing the real democracy. Democracy should be under the people, and the power of leadership belongs to the citizen. The rules and regulation put in place were not favoring all the citizens as some class of people were regarded rich. The poor, slaves, foreigners and under age were not allowed to participate in the voting process. Socrates critique on the democracy which Athens struggled for indicates mistrust in the government systems. Besides, there was no justice among the people despite the philosophy of justice. Politics and justice were embraced, but latter did not succeed. The ancient Greek neglected their ideologies and focused on the power of masses. According to Plato, democracy gives people excessive freedom. Democracy should be a government of the citizen and by the people. However, the great philosopher did not consider it as the method of government as it leads to anarchy where people are allowed to do whatever they wish. Freedom of exercising one’s right may result in tyranny where dictators may decide to use their anarchy and leaders will lack skills and morals. Athens can justify Socrates critics on democracy. The leaders of the Athens had freedom and could misuse their powers to suppress people.

Democracy as a form of government was begotten from the ancient Athens, and the method of governance is different from Monarchy, aristocracy, and others. The democracy was meant to place citizens at liberty and exercise the values of society. The western politics democracy is different from the Athenian democracy that prohibited some people from the community from exercising their rights(Mitchell, 2008). The Athenian democracy was not based on the principle of justice and fairness. The system was based on egalitarian that favors some class of people and excluding the majority. Today’s democracy in the western political system is based on true democracy where every person has a right in the society(Liddel, 2009).


The ancient Greeks politics influenced the Western political system in various ways. The Athenian ruler Cleisthenes introduced the system of democratic which is power exercised by the people. The democracy was mean to save people from other forms of governance such as anarchy and tyranny. The Athens constitution was based on democracy and was meant to fulfill the interest of the majority. The Athens believed that every person in the community is important and there was need for equal representation. The monarchy as form of leadership was used in some parts of the Greece, and the ruler could put the interest of his people first before anything. The tyrants had the overall power of the people and ruled in an unconstitutional manner with respect for human dignity. The Greek tyrants had their own interest and not the people they rule. The oligarchy system was the leadership style in the Athens and was highly appreciated by the people before the introduction of democracy.

The democracy upheld today was adopted from the ancient Greek political systems. The democracy gave the people opportunity to exercise their opinions and freedom. Democracy is power within the people and by the people. The democracy enables individuals to choose their leaders and is exercised today across the world. The Greek and Roman believed in self-governance exemplified in the Athenian democracy. The critic s by Plato on democracy cannot be considered today in the liberal democracy today. The liberal democracy has given people freedom to exercise their rights in many ways such as including electing their own leaders. The democracy enjoyed today was developed by the Athens and has contributed to the rule of law, election of leaders by the people and multi-party systems in many countries including the western.


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