The legacy of ancient Greece and Rome Judeo-Christian traditions FOUNDATIONS OF DEMOCRACY
ESSENTIAL QUESTION • How did the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome and the belief systems of Judaism and Christianity lay the foundation for the development of democracy in the modern world?
Ancient Greece • Main contribution: concept of democracy • Democracy – “rule of the people” • Comes from the Greek words “demos” (people) and “kratos” (rule). • Geographic isolation contributed to development of many independent city-states, rather than one central government. • Each city-state (polis) consisted of a city and surrounding countryside. (Ex: Athens, Sparta)
Case Study: Athens • Largest, most powerful city-state • C. 2000 B.C – 683 B.C. – monarchy • 683 B.C. – aristocracy (rule by few nobles) • 594 B.C. – the reforms of Solon transformed Greece into a limited democracy by extending citizenship to more people. Still, only about one-tenth were considered “citizens.” • 508 B.C. – Cleisthenes turned Athens into a full democracy.
Athens • Pericles led Athens from 461-429 B.C. (the Golden Age of Greece) • Increased # of paid public officials • Paid jurors • These changes allowed even the poor to participate in the government • His changes transformed Athens into a true direct democracy.
Legacy • Greek democracy ended in 338 B.C. when conquered by Macedonia. • Important ideas: • The Greeks’ respect for human intelligence and the power of human reason led them to choose democracy over authoritarian rule.
They were also the first to think of three branches of government • Legislative – pass laws • Executive – carry out the laws • Judicial – interpret laws and settle disputes
Ancient Rome • Main Contributions: Representative government ( a republic) and a written code of laws • C. 600 B.C. – Rome had a monarchy • 509 B.C. – the king was overthrown and a republic was established. • Form of government where citizens have the right to elect leaders to represent them. (Indirect democracy)
The Roman Republic • Executive Branch – two consuls – commanded army and directed govt (1 year term limits) • Legislative Branch • Senate: aristocratic branch • Two assemblies: more democratic; included other social classes
Roman Law • Roman law applied equally to everyone in the empire, even conquered people, regardless of their nationality. • 451 B.C. – officials made a collection of Roman laws called the Twelve Tables. • A.D. 528 – the Emperor Justinian compiled all laws since the Tables. • Written laws were VERY important because they established the idea of “ a government of laws, not of men.”
Legacy of Rome • Summing it up… • Idea of a republic • Legal and political terms (senate, dictator) • Every individual is a citizen of a state rather than the subject of a ruler • Written legal code • Laws are to be applied equally and impartially to ALL citizens
Judeo-Christian Tradition • These 2 religions taught individual worth, ethical standards, and the need to fight injustice, ideas that had a strong impact on the development of democracy.
Judaism • Monotheistic religion founded by Abraham and the Hebrews’ covenant with God. • Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) state that humans are created in God’s image. This = that humans have a God-given dignity. • Comparison: • Greeks/Romans: humans have dignity because of ability to reason • Hebrews (Jews): humans have dignity by simply being a child of God
Judaism • Also had a written code of laws – Ten Commandments • Strong belief that every person has a responsibility to oppose injustice and oppression AND… • The community should help those in need
Christianity • Derived from the name Christ – which was given to Jesus by his followers • “Christos” – Greek word meaning messiah or savior • Jesus’ teachings stressed the equality of all human beings • “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” • Paul, one of Christianity’s first missionaries
Legacy of Judaism and Christianity • To sum it all up… • Ideas that shaped democracy… • Duty of the individual/community to fight oppression • Worth of each individual • Equality of all people before God
The grand irony, however…. • Despite what these traditions taught, believed, practiced, they did not always practice it. • Greece & Rome—did not allow everyone (slaves, women) to participate • Wars/violence and slavery have been justified by the Judeo-Christian tradition for 2,000 years.