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Democracy and the Athenians

  • About this Course
  • About this Lecturer

About this Course

In this course, Professor Paul Cartledge (University of Cambridge) explores compares and contrasts the democracy of Classical Athens with that of the United Kingdom in the 21st century. The course begins by considering the origins of democracy in Athens, thinking in particular about the meaning of the word itself ('power of the people', but who was included in the 'people'?) and the circumstances of its adoption in late sixth-century Athens. In the second module, we consider the key differences between ancient and modern democracy, before looking in the third and fourth modules at two of the key institutions of Athenian democracy—the popular assembly (ekklēsia) and the law courts (dikastēria). In the fifth module, we focus on an institution common to both ancient and modern democracies—namely, the referendum—before turning in the sixth module to consider the future of democracy in the 21st century and beyond.

About the Lecturer

Paul Cartledge is Professor of Greek History in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge, where he has taught since 1979; he is also a Fellow of Clare College. His undergraduate and doctoral qualifications where obtained at Oxford, where he completed a dissertation on the archaeology and history of early Sparta under the supervision of Professor Sir John Boardman. He is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of a score of books, including most recently The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece; The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization; Sparta and Lakonia: A Regional History c.1300-362 BC; The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others; The Spartans: An Epic History; Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past and Thermopylae: The Battle that Changed the World . He co-edits two monograph series, sits on the editorial boards of three learned journals and serves as consultant in ancient history to Duckworth publishers. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and holds the Gold Cross of the Order of Honour awarded by the President of the Hellenic Republic.