Ancient Greek and Roman Republic Political Developments
Throughout history there have been countless individuals who have etched their experiences and depictions of events during their lifetime. The legendary Greek poet, Homer, is a perfect example of an individual who encompassed his culture into his writing. In the Iliad Homer unknowingly stated, “A generation of men is like a generation of leaves; the wind scatters some leaves upon the ground, while others the burgeoning wood brings forth- and the season of spring comes on. So of men one generation springs forth and another ceases”. This powerful statement shows the influence a generation of men could make. Similar to the leaves scattered upon the ground, the Ancient Greek and Roman Republic imprinted their political ideals for generations to come. Like spring, new precedents have been established with the intention of preserving and advancing those statutes that the ancient world has instilled in history. Both Ancient Greece and the Roman Republic have made countless political developments, especially in division of power, legislation and execution of power.
To begin, both the Ancient Greek and Roman Republic have made several political developments in the division of power. Both the Roman Republic and Ancient Greece had a domestic strife over who should possess the power of its’ respected commonwealth. Despite experiencing comparable internal turmoil, both civilizations divergently developed solutions to end the power struggle. Initially, Ancient Greece had several forms of government. During the Mycenaean period (2000-1200BC) the majority of Greece consisted of monarchies. A monarchy is a form of government in which a king or queen has absolute power. Therefore all political power was held by one individual. Unfortunately, the city Mycenae was burned down, and there was a vast influx new invaders into Greece, the Mycenaean period reached its demise. Around the 8th century, poleis began to flourish in Greece. The polis according to Spielvogel, was a “community of citizens where all political, economic, social, cultural, and religious activities were focused”. Eventually more colonies began to establish their own independent poleis. As a result, each polis formed their own ideal of politics and government.
Following the conclusion of monarchies, many oligarchies were established. Oligarchies were mainly aristocratic governments that held complete authority. The best example of an oligarchy is Sparta. As Spielvogel describes, Sparta was governed by two kings from two different families. In addition to the two kings there was a council of twenty-eight elders who were called, “gerousia”. Plus, there was an assembly of men, “apaella” and 5 “ephors” who were like judges. All 4 components were essential to divide the ruling power of Sparta. Unfortunately, oligarchies were neither as popular nor successful in other parts of Greece.
Many citizens were disenchanted with oligarchies and tyrants began to try and take power. According to Spielvogel, tyranny in Ancient Greece was referred, to “rulers who seized power by force and who were not subject to law.” However, tyranny did not last because it began to resemble a monarchy. Again, the community did not want one individual to hold all of the power. As Theognis of Megora proposed:
Their utter disregard of right or wrong, or truth or nonour-out of such a throng. Never imagine you can choose a just or steady friend, or faithful in his trust. But Change your habits! Let them go their way! One example would be the Cleisthenes who overthrew the tyrant Hippas. Cleisthenes reformed Athens pave the way for democracy. Just like the end of Hippias tyranny, many other regions experienced the new opportunity for more citizen participation in community affairs. Thus, tyranny opened the doors for democracy. By establishing the end of the reign of tyranny the...
Bibliography: Spielvogel, Jackson J. Western Civilization. Vol. 1. Belmont: Cengage Learning, 2008.
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