What the Ancient Greeks Can Tell Us About Democracy

Posted: 6 Jun 2008 Last revised: 10 Jun 2009

See all articles by Josiah Ober

Josiah Ober

Stanford University - Department of Classics

Date Written: June 2008


The question of what the ancient Greeks can tell us about democracy can be answered by reference to three fields that have traditionally been pursued with little reference to one another: ancient history, classical political theory, and political science. These fields have been coming into more fruitful contact over the past 20 years, as evidenced by a spate of interdisciplinary work. Historians, political theorists, and political scientists interested in classical Greek democracy are increasingly capable of leveraging results across disciplinary lines. As a result, the classical Greek experience has more to tell us about the origins and definition of democracy, and about the relationships between participatory democracy and formal institutions, rhetoric, civic identity, political values, political criticism, war, economy, culture, and religion.

Keywords: classical theory, Greece, civic identity, political criticism, culture

Suggested Citation

Ober, Josiah, What the Ancient Greeks Can Tell Us About Democracy (June 2008). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 11, June 2008, Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics Paper No. 090703, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1141407

Josiah Ober (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Classics ( email )

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