In classical Athens, ordinary citizens ruled over the political elite. That's what demokratia, "rule by the people," meant. How did non-elite Athenians pull that off? In this seminar, we'll explore two fascinating, important and in some respects baffling short texts, both titled "The Constitution of the Athenians," one attributed to Xenophon and the other to a student of Aristotle. We'll also look at some additional brief extracts from Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle. Though the material concerns ancient Greek politics, we'll approach it with all our assumptions and anxieties about modern democracy in mind. How different was ancient Greek democracy from what we call democracy today—and could we manage something more like it here?Requirements: regular attendance, doing the reading, 200-word max online forum response prior to each session, and a willingness to ask questions and float ideas in class. Anyone interested in ancient or modern democracy and who is excited to try to put together a big picture from fragments is very welcome.
All readings and discussions will be in English.