Here are some famous quotes from the discussion on ideal polities from the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.
This is from the Book VI speech of Athenogoras:
Are you then reluctant to share equal rights with a mass of others? But they are people just like you, so how could it be right to deny them like entitlement? I shall be told that there is no sense or equity in democracy, and that the moneyed classes are best equipped to govern best. To that I reply first of all that “demos” denotes the whole people, and “oligarchy”, government by the few, denotes only a part; secondly, that the rich are the best financial stewards, policy is best developed by people of sense, and decisions on the arguments advanced are best taken by the general public; and that these three categories, both separately and including all participants, have equal value in a democracy. An oligarchy, though, gives the people their full share of danger, while hogging the benefits and depriving others to establish its own monopoly of advantage. This is what your grandees and your young men are working to achieve, but it is a lost cause in a great city. To these people I make a direct last-minute appeal. At present you are utterly devoid of sense: if you do not understand the error of your ways, you must be the most stupid of all the Greeks known to me, or else the most immoral, if you know perfectly well what you are doing and persist in it. But I urge you even now to learn or reform and work for the general good of the whole city.
In this speech, Athenogoras makes an impassioned defense of democracy when compared to a system such as an oligarchy, which entails rule by a few people who control the means of production. He points out how an oligarchy only serves the interests of a few who have money and does not do anything for the overall happiness of the the city-state.
Another striking passage is the discussion on the "tyrannicide"—he describes how Aristogeiton and Harmodius conspired together, because of a thwarted love affair, to murder the tyrant who controlled...
(The entire section contains 566 words.)
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