First of all, we need to establish what democracy meant in Athens in the 5th century BCE and how it operated. In doing so, we will see it was radically different from what we mean by democracy today. In Athens, democracy was direct. This means that every single male citizen who was not a slave not only had a say in government, but could participate directly in the affairs of state. This is what Pericles is referring to in his funeral oration when he says,
Its [i.e., the Athenian constitution's] administration favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy.
This stands in contrast to the system of representative democracy prevalent in the developed world today. Now, decisions relating to a country's governance are made by elected representatives, such as members of Parliament in the United Kingdom and members of Congress in the United States.
Athenian democracy consisted, then, of a deeply ingrained formal equality. This imbued all men (that is, free men, not...
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