Jared Sidney Messer
Hi 101, Essay 1
Some early Greeks were sharply divided over the advantages and disadvantages of their new form of democratic government. While democracy provides equality and justice for everyone, it also allows the ignorance of the masses to control the state.
The first advantage pointed out by the Greeks is that democracy protected the many from being ruled by the few. Everyone had a say in state affairs and not just some group of aristocrats. Consequently, the poor and middle class Greeks upheld this form of government. Since they formed the majority of the population, democracy survived for a long time in the Athenian community, as can be seen by the reelection of Pericles, the leading advocate of democracy. Another advantage is the equality and justice provided to all. The democratic courts allowed a person to be judged by his peers in a jury, which provided a means of unbiased justice to even the poorest of the Greeks. The person’s background, his social status, wealth, or whether he owned property or not did not matter. He would receive a fair trial. The commoners even had the chance to be elected for jury duty and be paid for it. The last advantage allowed for self-advancement in spite of one’s poverty or social status. Each man could progress in life as far as his talents and capacities could take him. The poorest Greek could become a hoplite, philosopher or any occupation he aspired to. All that was required of him was a good reputation in the community and the capacity to handle the job. In the words of Pericles, “…if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition.”
Other skeptical Greeks though were adamant at pointing out the disadvantages of the democratic government. They did not like the fact that democracy allowed the commoner to have the same amount of influence as respectable citizens. In their eyes, “The masses display extreme ignorance,...
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