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What are the similarities and differences between the Roman republican state and the Athenian polis?

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Scott David eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I would argue that the biggest similarity between the Roman and Athenian political systems lies in the historical context which underlines the evolution of Athenian democracy and the Roman Republic. To a certain degree, it does appear that both systems were designed to try to address similar challenges and answer a similar question, although their respective answers were radically different from one another.

It should be noted that Athens was not always a democracy. In fact, Athens had previously been aristocratic and was one of a number of Greek polises that fell under the control of Tyrants—individuals who were able to seize control of a given Polis. This history is important, because part of what lent Athenian democracy its radical nature was this history, because it was not always democratic and did fall under the spell of strongmen (most notably Pisistratus). Ideas like Ostricism, or the selections by lot—Athenian democracy was designed in such a way that whenever possible,...

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