Supplemental government reading 2012

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  • 1. Supplemental Government Reading 2012-13
  • 2. The Nature of Athenian Democracy Nick Ewbank, Dickson College 2009More than sixty per cent of the readers of this article would have stood no chance of playing arole in Athenian politics! Women, those born overseas (unless by special grant) and adult maleswith non-Athenian parents were all excluded from citizenship in this supposedly democraticancient society. Slaves were merely ‗tools with hands‘ (Aristotle); no-one in ancient Greecewould have given a second thought to their disenfranchisement.Athens operated on a franchise that today we would find unacceptably narrow. Of the estimated150 000 residents of the city state of Attica, only about one fifth held the privilege of citizenship.Paradoxically, the segments of society that generated much of the wealth of the state – many ofthe traders and the laboring and agricultural workers – were excluded from participating inpublic affairs. Many of those involved in trades were metics (resident foreigners) and much ofthe laboring workforce was servile. It has been suggested that slaves did not wear distinguishingclothes or uniforms because otherwise it would be seen how they outnumbered the free residents.The evolution of democracy in AthensAncient Athens was an oral society. While some people could certainly write and read, for mostpeople oral/aural communication was the primary mode of transmitting information and opinion.In such a society, personal involvement in politics has a certain sense of urgency. Pericles, thefamous Athenian statesman, commented in 431 that;Our constitution is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority butof the whole people… everyone is equal before the law; when it is a question of putting oneperson before another in positions of public responsibility, what counts is not membershipof a particular class, but the actual ability which the man possesses…Even for Pericles‘ own time, this is not an accurate evaluation of Athenian democracy; it wasalways subject to the limitations I outlined earlier.Political ‗progress‘ in Athens was more about attempts to limit the powers of particular greatfamilies than popular agitation for equality. One exception was the seisachtheia (‗easing ofburdens‘) introduced by the statesman Solon in the 590s BCE (largely a reform of the law ofdebt); this was the first notable easing of the inequality between rich and poor. As the sixthcentury progressed, there was some gradual improvement in the plight of the poor.Paradoxically, this came during the period of the domination of one family – the Peisistratus,who used popular support (or at least middle class support) as a counterbalance to their noblerivals.In the sixth century the term ‗democracy‘ was not used at all. The reforms of Cleisthenes, c510-507BCE, were described as isonomia (equality of rights‘) rather than demokratia (‗rule by thedemos which referred to ‗the whole people‘, i.e. adult male citizens). Cleisthenes‘ reforms wereessentially about breaking the voting power of the rich. This was achieved by changing the 1
  • 3. composition of the ‗tribes‘ (phylai) which were the organizing groupings for the operation of thedemocracy. (By ensuring that each of the tribes was comprised of citizens from all over Attica,Cleisthenes broke the control of local baronial families over a particular tribe.)Popular participationThe demeThere is a saying that ‗all politics is local‘ – this was certainly the case for Athenian citizens.Each citizen belonged to a particular deme (‗neighborhood‘) – so important was this concept thata citizen‘s full name was so-and-so of X, where X was his familial deme. Each deme had a localcouncil and mayor. There were somewhere between 100 and 200 demes in Attica, so, if weaccept the estimate of 30 000 citizens, each deme held between 150 and 300 voters. During apolitical lifespan of, say forty years (from eighteen onwards), the likelihood that a citizen wouldbe called up to serve in his deme council was therefore extremely high. Therefore, almost everycitizen would have some experience of at least local politics, if not service in local government,before the end of his life. Each individual deme also belonged to a particular tribe.The ecclesiaThe ecclesia (assembly of all citizens) seems to have had its origins as a court of appeal againstthe decisions of the state magistrates (archons, see below) as far back as the seventh centuryBCE. In addition to their participation in local politics, every citizen had the right to attend theecclesia. The assembly passed all legislation (by simple majority of those present) and annuallyelected the ten generals (usually one from each tribe). Each undertook the role of polemarch(field marshal) for a month during the year (according to Herodotus) – although there is at leastone example of a polemarch handing control to someone he felt to be a better leader (at theBattle of Marathon in 490). Being a strategos had the advantage that, unlike other office holders,they could be re-elected ad infinitum. The pre-eminence of Pericles in the 440s and 430s isshown by his almost unbroken holding of the office of strategos for the best part of two decades.Voting in the ecclesia was originally by voice; then by ballot. Voting by ballot involved using awhite or a black bean or stone (white for yes, black for no – hence the term ‗blackballed‘). It‘snot clear what the typical attendance at an assembly meeting was – some authorities put it ashigh as 6000, but it was probably (much) lower. We do know that when the ecclesia was insession, all citizens in the market place were expected to attend. In fact, state-owned slaves wentout into the agora with ropes, to herd all the citizens into the meeting. (The irony of having theservile press the free into attendance was apparently lost on the Athenians!)The most famous act of the assembly was the annual vote on the question of ostracism. (Thename comes from the broken potsherds used as writing tablets in the process – ostraka). Citizenswere allowed to nominate anyone to be banished from Attica for ten years. For the vote to bevalid, at least 5000 citizens had to cast a ballot and a majority of people had to vote for aparticular candidate‘s banishment before such a banishment could be enforced. While thepotential for factional rivalries is clear (indeed, this is evidenced by excavated caches of pre-prepared ostraka, with the same name etched onto the shards), ostracism proved to be a useful‗safety valve‘ to stop one individual exerting too much sway over the state. 2
  • 4. The courtsIt is apparent from the writings of the Athenian playwright Aristophanes (c. 456-386) that juryservice became an important aspect of the participation by citizens in their body politic. Therewere no mechanics of state prosecution - cases were the business of individual citizens toprosecute. Athenian juries were large – 501 in the case of Socrates – and it is clear that many sawjury service as another form of civic duty. However, just who formed the juries is an interestingquestion.Selection for jury duty was also by lot. It is here that we encounter one of the most marvelousand weird inventions of the ancient world, the kleroterion. The kleroterion was an advancedform of lottery machine, designed to insure the legal process against fraud. Its invention speaksvolumes for both the ingenuity of the Athenians and their determination that bribery andcorruption should not subvert the ‗popular‘ will.Other featuresAfter 508 (the reforms of Cleisthenes) the city was divided into the ten tribes (phylai). Of thesetribal members, fifty served annually on the boule (state council of 500). In a lifetime, citizenscould only serve twice on the boule. Additionally, the fifty to serve each year were by lot, notelected. Every citizen therefore had something like a two in three (sixty seven per cent) chanceof serving on the boule if he lived to be sixty. Given their familiarity with local politics andgovernment, these men were reasonably well prepared to serve.The Athenian year consisted of ten months. For one month a year the fifty representatives of aparticular tribe as a group took it in turn to run the Athenian government (the order in which thishappened was decided by lot). These representatives were called the prytany, which acted as aform of Executive Council for the month. Even the presidency of the prytany rotated – a day at atime. The prytany’s most important duties were to prepare the agenda for the Assembly and tosupervise the civil administration (including holding office-holders to account for their budgetsand so on).Each year, the tribes also nominated ten people from their tribe, again selected by lot, for the ‗topjob‘ – that of archon. There was, however, a property qualification – only the rich could benominated. From the field of 100 candidates, nine (plus a secretary) were selected (by lot) – butin this case, there didn‘t have to be a representative from each tribe. While the archons wereoriginally the most important officials in the Athenian state, by the middle of the fifth centurytheir power was in retreat. In monthly rotation, the archons presided over the ecclesia, and, uponcompleting their year in power, they became judges of the Areopagus – the murder court. Thegreatest honour fell to the archon selected (by lot) to be archon in the first month of the year –the so-called eponymous archon. To him fell the privilege of having the year known by his name(‗the year in which so-and-so was archon‘).SummationMost Athenian citizens (free born adult males only) would have had some experience in 3
  • 5. government service, at least at the local level. A combination of selection by lot and rotation ofoffices formed a series of formidable ‗checks and balances‘, to prevent domination by oneindividual or faction. The exception to the rule was the strategoi – the generals – who wereelected annually by the Assembly and who could be re-elected year in, year out. (Presumably,the Athenians realized that when fighting, it‘s best to have the most able men in charge!) Therepeated use of selection by lot suggests that the Athenians saw civic participation as each man‘sduty – not a right – and every citizen as being, almost by definition, capable of usefulparticipation in civic life.So why did democracy fade? While the government of Athens evolved, so did the web itbecame entangled in that led to democracy‘s destruction.The Persian WarsFrazer Brown, Dickson College 2009The Persian invasions of 490 and 480/79 played a major role in the Athenian rise to power andthe political climate of Greece, particularly during the inter-bellum period and the secondinvasion. Unity between Sparta and Athens was also influenced by the invasions. Beginning in aperiod when fear of Persia was rife and the Greek city-states were constantly quarrelling, therepulsion of the first ‗invasion‘[1] , proved the Athenians‘ own worth to themselves, and gaveprestige to their population. As a result of this new confidence, politics in the inter-bellum periodwere quite different to the period before the war, which caused the second war to be fought in adifferent way, and on a different scale. Instead of attempting a naval invasion, Xerxesimplemented a land-based attack, supplemented by the Persian Navy rather than following hisfather‘s example by using a fleet. Both the Persians and the Greeks utilized larger armies. Athensgained naval supremacy as a direct result of the second invasion.The prelude to the ‗invasion‘ tells us something quite important about Greek society: that theyvalued their freedom, even at the expense of human life. Darius ―sent out heralds in diversdirections round about Greece, with orders to demand everywhere earth and water for the king‖[2] . Earth and water was a symbolic token of submission, which meant accepting the role ofsubordinate ally [3] . Most states complied with this demand out of fear of the Persian army, asMacedon did [4] . Neither Athens nor Sparta complied, however, and this tells us that theyvalued freedom over life; they would rather have control over their own territory, but with halfthe original population, than have a full population subjected to Persian hegemony. The Greeks‘view of the Persians, as barbaric in their practices, effeminate, and excessive [5] , meant thatPersian control over Greeks would have been offensive and demeaning. This situation tells usthat Greek society was by no means homogeneous, as most city-states submitted to the Persians,but not Athens and Sparta. The other states had less to lose by having Persian control than didAthens and Sparta as their system of government was similar to that which the Persiansimplemented in their subject states. Persia‘s policy in Ionia and in other parts of her own Empireindicate that the city-states that submitted on the Greek peninsula would probably have been 4
  • 6. ruled by either existing pro-Persian Greek tyrants, or by newly appointed tyrants[6] . Athens had,in the recent past, instituted the beginnings of a democratic system. Sparta had a functionalsystem that worked very well for them. The Spartan system of dual kingship had served Spartawell, allowing the Spartans to become truly elite warriors. Having a foreign ruler imposed by aforeign people would have damaged Spartan society, and would have also significantly loosenedthe Spartan grip on the Peloponnese. The main reason for Spartan and Athenian resistance wasthat both of their systems would be destroyed if the Persians were allowed the chance to instatetyrants in the Persian fashion [7] .The first ‗invasion‘ itself, particularly, the battle of Marathon, influenced Greece quitesignificantly. It gave Athens a large confidence boost. The Athenians and Plataeans at Marathonfelt that the gods were on their side, and that they had thus won a moral victory, a victory ofgood over evil [8] . It also demonstrated to the Greeks that Persia could be defeated, and showedthem the weaknesses in Persian armor and tactics. This is one of the reasons that the Spartans,upon arriving late for the battle, ―viewed the slain‖ [9] . Many Athenians saw the victory atMarathon as a victory for democracy. The skill of Miltiades and Callimachus (two strategoi,Callimachus was Polemarch) in planning the battle [10] reinforced the concept of meritocracy.As a result, after 487BCE the strategoi were elected by popular vote [11] . One of the outcomesof the enhanced confidence and optimism of the Greeks was that they gained hubris; theybecame so confident of their abilities that they assumed the Persians were dealt with for good,and continued with their internal quarrels [12] . This ended the first invasion, and began theinter-bellum period.Shortly before 480, envoys were again sent to the city-states demanding earth and water, thistime most complied, only thirty-one states did not, and they became the ‗Greeks‘ at the‗Congress at the Isthmus‘ [13] . Athens and Sparta were not approached by envoys at all though,as the two states had killed the envoys ten years earlier [14] which was a grievous offence. Theywould not be given the chance to redeem themselves but would be ruthlessly punished. Theconfidence that the Spartans and Athenians had gained from the first invasion was helpful tothem. This can be seen from the resolve and enthusiasm shown by the Spartans and allies at thebattle of Thermopylae. The battles of Thermopylae and Salamis were momentous events, thelatter being the beginning of Athenian naval supremacy, and the moment that tipped the war inGreece‘s favour, this is substantiated by their move to offensive strategy, confronting Persia atPlataea and later Mycale. As the Athenians furnished many of the ships used at Salamis, Athensgained the credit for the victory and became a naval power. This gave the Athenians and theirclose allies the upper hand, and inspired them to go on the offensive, attacking Mycale andSestos, and freeing the Ionian cities from Persian rule in 479 BCE.In the first invasion, the Athenians sent to Sparta for help, but were told that they must wait untilthe end of the festival that the Spartans were celebrating, as it would be sacrilegious to leave itearly [15] . Regardless of the veracity of the excuse, it demonstrates the fact that the Spartanswere reluctant to act unless they could really see the value of their action[16] . In the case of thefirst invasion, the threat was in Attica, the territory of their rival city-state, and it was of littlesignificance to them if their rival was defeated. In the second invasion, the Spartans, althoughstill reluctant to act, could see that the Persians were a real threat to them; they had beenconvinced by the Persian subjugation of central Greece [17] . The Spartans were reluctant to act, 5
  • 7. preferring to protect the Peloponnese alone [18] . To the Spartans, as in the first invasion, threatto their rival was not important to them, and a festival was given as an excuse [19] . However,the congress decided that Sparta would go and fight. The repeated Spartan reluctance to fightwith and for the other city-states reinforces the fact that Greece was not homogenous, and showsthat some of the city-states operated in their own interests.Throughout the course of the Persian invasions of 490 and 480/79 the Athenians rose to greatpower. They began by becoming aware of their own strength at the battle of Marathon. Thisstrengthened them and made them capable of defeating the Persians again a decade later, afterwhich they became the supreme naval power of the region. The Persian wars also increased thefreedom of Greek peoples as a whole, the victory in 479 deterred the Persians from any furtherattempts at conquest of the peninsula, and the Athenian navy freed the Ionian Greeks fromPersian rule. However, Spartan compliance with the wishes of Greece was reluctant, and Greeksociety was diverse and heterogeneous.The alliance that the Greeks built seemed to be in their best interest, but after the Persian War,Sparta‘s isolationism caused them to withdraw and left Athens as a dominant force. Athens‘sevolved democracy seemed enlightened, so when the city appeared as the dominant power lefton the Greek stage, the citizens were determined to shine a light on the world, whether or notanyone else wanted them to do so. Athens used the old alliance to build influence and takewealth. A financial tribute to Athens from the other city-states was considered payment formilitary protection. Weaker city-states that refused to pay tribute or recognize Athenian strengthwere destroyed. Peloponnesian War by Rit NosotroThe main cause of the war was the radically different worldviews between Athens and Sparta.During the thirty-year truce prior to the Peloponnesian War, Athens supremacy over the sea leadto immense wealth through trade with an increasing number of allies. Corinth, one of Spartasallies, was a trade rival of Athens. Corinth had colonized Corcyra who, in turn, colonizedEpidamus. In 435 B.C., the political factions in Epidamus were disputing so severely, thatEpidamus asked for military assistance from Corcyra. As Corcyra did not respond, Epidamusasked Corinth for help, and Corinth sent some troops. Irritated by Corinths interference,Corcyra, which had an excellent navy, attacked and defeated the Corinthian fleet. After thisbattle, trade dependent Corinth went to work on another fleet which prompted Corcyra to lookfor a city-state to ally with. It turned to Spartas bitter enemy, Athens. The Corinthian delegatespassionately protested against this but Athens accepted the proposal of a defensive alliance withCorcyra. This alliance put the Thirty-year Truce in jeopardy.The first actual blow to the truce came in 433 B.C., when, after two years of rebuilding, theCorinthian fleet went to battle against the Corcyra fleet at Sybota. At the climax of the battle, theCorinthian fleet was on the verge of winning a great victory when Athenss galleys intervened 6
  • 8. and destroyed any chance of the destruction of the Corcyra fleet. This intervention was the firstbreach of the Thirty year Truce. The second breach came when the king of Macedon started tosow seeds of discontent among the Athenian allies and, to the extent, that the allies came to theverge of revolt and one of them was a city by the name of Potidea. Potidea (a Corinthian colony)was ordered by Athens to drive out the Corinthian magistrates and burn the city to the ground.This was ordered because Athens did not want any more trouble from its allies. Thus, the secondblow to the truce was struck.The first blood that was drawn in this war, surprisingly, was not in Athens or Sparta but was inPlataea. At night 300 Thebans were treacherously let into Plateae in an attempt to "free" Plataeafrom Athens. The Plataeans were satisfied with their freedom under Athenian rule and, when thesmall number of their enemies was discovered, drove out the Thebans. As soon as this was over,Plataea was besieged by a combined force of Sparta and Thebes.In 431 B.C. when the corn was ripe, King Archidamus with a large Peloponnesian army invadedAttica, in an effort to destroy the Athenian countryside. This he did, causing the country peopleto flee to the city of Athens. This huge influx of citizens caused an overflow of population andthis, in turn, caused a plaque that killed 80,000 Athenians. King Archidamus continued to ravageand pillage the country around Athens. Meanwhile, Athens continued to operate by the sea andattacked Methone with success. In Thrace, Potidea capitulated to Athens, the citizens weredriven out, and Athens soon colonized the area. During this time, the Athenians, discouraged bythe plague, deposed Pericles, their great leader. To compound the punishment Pericles was finedbut in the end the Athenians reelected him, as he was judged to be the best leader. In 429 B.C.,Plataea was besieged by King Archidamus and was asked to surrender. Plataea refused to since itwas relying on the promises of help from Athens. Athens did not send help. So Archidamuscontinued to besiege it while Plataea fought fervently back and inflicted severe losses to thearmies of Archidamus. Archidamus now realized he would have to blockade Plataea. He built ahuge earthen wall around Plataea but this was to no avail as the citizens of Plataea were able toescape through the blockade and made an effort to run to Athens. Only the strongest made it andthe Spartans captured many of the physically weaker citizens.In 427 B.C. Athens countered with an attack on Nisea. Athens, first, built a base at Minoa andused it to enter Nisea. The Athenian army eventually took the city by a blockade and wasallowed in at night by conspirators. This was a huge success as Athens had lost Nisea in theThirty-year Truce with Sparta.Sparta, however engineered an attack by assigning Brasidas, a Spartan general with daring anddecisiveness not usually associated with generalship, to invade Thrace. He possessed oratoricalability, he was just and tolerant, and he had a popularity that made strangers like him. Brasidaswas able to convince many Athenian allies to submit to him. He captured Amphipolis byattacking it unprepared and he also took Torone, one of the strongest cities in Thrace. He used asubtle plan by taking seven soldiers to kill the sentinels and let the troops into Torone.This successful campaign in Thrace caused the Athenians to despair. Swayed by a peace party,Athens sued for peace. A truce was readily agreed to, but just as the war was about to end, arevolt broke out in Scione and they invited Brasidas in and crowned him. This caused Athens to 7
  • 9. send troops to blockade it, which started even more fighting. Eventually, at the battle ofAmphipolis, in March of 422 B.C., the two Athenian generals, Cleon and Nicias (leader of theAthenian peace party) fought Brasidas. Brasidas and Cleon were killed. Brasidass deathremoved the main obstacle for peace. In the end Athens was at the mercy of Sparta and thisresulted in peace.With Athens weakened, Sparta had complete supremacy over Greece, particularly after makingan alliance with the Persian Empire. Sparta demanded that Athens tear down its walls andsurrender all its warships except twelve which were to provide military support for Spartasbattles. However, the revolution in Greece had not finished.Once Sparta had conquered Athens, Sparta was very tolerant by letting Athens stay as a cityrather than totally tearing it down. Sparta, instead, implemented its own weak government whichbasically consisted of thirty tyrants administrating the city any way they pleased. Thegovernment was so bloodthirsty that after less than a year of this tyranny, Athens revolted anddrove the tyrants out. After this Athenian revolution, Athens was extremely weak, so Spartadecided to let Athens have its democracy back.As was mentioned previously, Sparta had a strong military but an inadequate government. Theirgenerals were easily corrupted by wealth and started ruling the new empire with governmentsbased on a military mindset. Through this, Sparta squandered the potential wealth and power thatcame with ruling an empire because of its lack of solid administration. The end result came whenthe rest of Greece revolted.This caused the Greek economy to take a plunge as Greece fought Sparta. This continuingwarfare resulted in a major decline in living conditions. This tyrannical government had soseverely affected Greece, that more Athenian citizens died during the eight-month rule of thetyrannical Spartan government than in the Peloponnesians (Sparta and her allies) slew in tenyears of war.Unlike the Athenian worldview, Spartas worldview did not value human life, freedom, anddignity.As Spartas warrior-citizens were defending new territory, Sparta itself became populated mainlywith Helots (slaves) and few Spartans. Having had enough of tyranny, Thebes and Corinth joinedtogether and defeated the "invincible" Sparta. This surprising victory encouraged Persia to takeadvantage of Spartas weakened army.As soon as Sparta was defeated, there was a leadership vacuum in Greece that brought on yearsof revolutions. These many wars caused Greece to become very weak until the King Phillip ofMacedon conquered Greece.Spartas victory in the Peloponnesian war marked the beginning of the end of the Athenianempire and the start of the short Spartan supremacy throughout the whole of Greece. 8
  • 10. After the destruction and defeat of the powerful Greek polis, philosophers and students of Athensdebated the proposition that everyone could participate in government and whether or not theindividual was truly enlightened enough. Western Philosophy, the Beginning Platos Republic: Teachings of Socrates and Plato Plato wrote his work as a dialogue among characters. The main character was Socrates,who voiced Plato‘s ideas. (The real Socrates never wrote down his ideas.) Through thedialogue, Plato was trying to duplicate the way Socrates taught philosophy by engaging hisstudents on significant questions. The Republic is set in a private home where a small group of Athenians have gathered tohave a philosophical discussion with Socrates. The dialogue focuses on two questions: What isjustice and why should an individual act justly? The first book of Platos Republic is Socratic likethe earlier dialogs, but the rest of the Republic seems to be more the ideas of Plato than ofSocrates. Socrates narrates the long work which begins with a discussion of old age in whichthey note Sophocles comment how he felt he had escaped from a raging beast when asked abouthis service of Aphrodite. When the passions and desires relax, Cephalus believes we are freed ofmany mad masters. The happiness of old age depends primarily on prudence and cheerfulness.Cephalus also finds that he thinks more about the tales of the afterlife and how wrong-doers maypay the penalty there so that he examines his life more. By living justice in piety he has hope thatthis is in reality the greatest wealth.In considering whether justice is paying back what is due, Socrates thinks that it would not begood to give weapons back to someone when he is not in his right mind even if they were his.Then Cephalus suggests the idea of Simonides that justice is giving each his due, which meansdoing good to friends and evil to enemies. This is modified by questioning to benefiting the justand harming the unjust. However, if one has friends who are unjust or enemies who are just, onemay end up harming the just and helping the unjust. The good person will not harm anyone at all.Those who are harmed become more unjust, and the just would never make anyone unjust. Onlythe unjust make people more unjust.This conclusion bothers Thrasymachus, who demands Socrates give him a definition of justicewithout saying it is beneficial, profitable, or advantageous. This is impossible, but Thrasymachusdefines justice as the advantage of the stronger, as each form of government enacts laws to itsown advantage whether it is democratic or tyrannical. Socrates asks whether sometimes they errand make laws that are not to their advantage which would result in bad for themselves. Socratesasks if each art does not serve its clients rather than the practitioner, who is usually compensatedby pay. Thrasymachus uses the example of the shepherd who fattens the flock for his own use,and he points out that the unjust person always gains the advantage over the just. He believespeople are not afraid of doing injustice but only of suffering it; if injustice is done on a largeenough scale, it can be masterful and advantageous. 9
  • 11. Socrates disagrees that injustice is more profitable than justice. As each art is for the advantageof the clients, so government is also for the advantage of the governed, which is why governorsare paid in money, honor, or should have a penalty for refusing to govern. The latter is thegreatest inducement for the good person, as the penalty is to be governed by someone lesscapable. Although Thrasymachus claims that injustice is a virtue, Socrates is able to argue thatthe just person is wise and good, while the unjust is bad and ignorant. Those who are unjust willwrong each other and be incapable of cooperation so long as they are unjust, as injustice bringsconflicts and hatred. Thus the unjust are enemies to each other as well as to the just andultimately even to the gods. The unjust cannot accomplish anything except insofar as they actwith some justice and cooperation.Although Thrasymachus gives in to Socrates arguments based on justice as a virtue, in thesecond book of the Republic Glaucon and his brother Adeimantus are not satisfied that it wasadequately proven even though they do not agree with Thrasymachus but with Socrates, whobelieves that justice is good not only for its results but for its own sake. They argue that justicewas invented, because people fear being wronged more than they gain by wronging; thus peoplemake a compact and laws for everyone. Glaucon tells the story of Gyges, who found a ring thatcould make him invisible and used it to seduce the queen, kill the king, and take over thekingdom of Lydia. Since people believe there is profit in injustice, Glaucon wants to separatecomplete injustice from the purely just. Since it is unjust for one to have the reputation for justicealong with the power and advantages of injustice, this must be compared to a just person who istreated as the worst criminal. This contrast could not but have reminded Platos readers of theirmiserable politicians and how the most just Socrates was executed. Socrates proposes to answerthis dilemma by looking at the larger picture of the state to see if they can find out what justiceis.They begin by speculating about the origin of a city with the division of labor necessary for theirbasic needs. They start with a farmer, builder, weaver, and shoemaker and soon expand it tocarpenters, smiths, craftsmen, herders for draft animals, then to merchants, traders, shipbuilders,shopkeepers, and wage-earners. Socrates describes a simple life with a mostly vegetarian dietwith some cheese, wine, and moderate relishes. However, Glaucon asks if this is not a life forpigs. He wants couches, tables, and meat. Socrates replies that then he does not want to create ajust city but a luxurious one. Socrates suspects that this will lead to the origin of justice andinjustice. The healthy state has already been described, but now they are going to create afeverish state. Now a much greater multitude of workers are needed, including many moredoctors because of a less healthy diet of meat.This greater population will require more territory, which must be taken from their neighbors. Ifthey do not limit their desires but abandon themselves to the unlimited acquisition of wealth,then they must go to war. Thus a large army will be needed to march out and fight in defense ofall the wealth and luxuries. To have a successful military they must be professional and welltrained. These guardians must be able to distinguish their friends from their foes and thus need agood education. This takes the discussion straight into what is the proper education. This sectionis the turning point from the quest for true justice that Socrates followed to the justification of anunhealthy state that Plato now wants to explore after the Spartan model. Suddenly Socrates is nolonger questioning the most basic assumptions but blithely going along even though it is clear 10
  • 12. that this is not the best state at all. Having just proven that it is not just to harm anyone, now theyhave accepted an unnecessary army to harm enemies for the sake of luxurious and unneededwealth.Next they make various pronouncements about education involving censorship and theperpetration of falsehoods without really questioning whether those policies are good exceptfrom one limited point of view. They start the discussion of education with the traditionalgymnastics and music, which includes all the cultural arts. Imperiously they are to decide whichstories are to be rejected and proceed to recommend censoring the poets and playwrights forportraying the gods as imperfect in virtue. How do they expect to do away with these famouswritings? Why dont they teach people to think and question them instead of trying to cover themup and hide them? If the gods are good and truthful, can they not teach that rationally and showthe limitations of the poems and stories? Tragically Plato seems to have fallen into anauthoritarian approach to justifying the materialistic imperialism of western civilization, whichthe world has been suffering from that day to this.The rulers will lie, but it is considered a sin for others to do so. The multitude is expected to obeytheir rulers just as they practice self-control over their appetites. Music is to be limited to martialtunes that encourage bravery and gentle harmonies that are peaceful. Not only the poets but allthe artisans must be carefully controlled. Everyone must do their own work, and the sick shouldnot be coddled by doctors that merely prolong their illnesses. The guardians are to be trained tobe good judges by discerning injustice in others but not experiencing it themselves. They are tobe gentle, orderly, prudent, and brave. Those who are cowardly and rude and fail to pass the testsof toils and pains are to be rejected. A false myth is to be told of the guardians that they weremolded within the earth to rule with golden qualities, while their helpers, the military, are to beconsidered silver, and the artisans and workers brass and iron. Individuals found to have thewrong qualities should be transferred to another class. They should say an oracle predicted thatthe state would be overthrown when a man of iron or brass becomes its guardian. The armyshould make sure that the workers do not become the masters.The guardians are to live an austere life without any private property, sharing things in commonand not using luxuries like gold and silver. While the guardians rule and the army defends thecity, all the productive work is to be done by the artisans and workers. This system is supposedin this discussion to be for the greatest happiness of the whole city, but the analogy with anindividual unfortunately treats the individuals in this city as parts not wholes themselves in theirquest to achieve unity in the state. Even wives and children are to be held in common. Theguardians are to be wise, the military brave, and everyone moderate and just. Although self-control can bring an individual freedom, when one class controls another, the result is more likeslavery. The guardians are to judge all lawsuits, which are expected to be few because there is noprivate property; but unfortunately that is no guarantee of equal sharing without disagreements.Socrates describes the three parts of the psyche that relate to the three classes as the part thatlearns, what feels anger and emotions, and the appetites of the body. The emotion of anger cansupport the reason in its struggle with lower desires just as the two highest classes must controlthe larger third class of workers. They conclude that this city exemplifies justice, though some 11
  • 13. seriously doubt it. The opposite state of injustice they believe is when these three principlesinterfere with each other and revolt.Adeimantus questions the policy of having the women and children in common, since it is such aradical idea. Socrates argues quite rationally that except for the fact that women are weaker andmen stronger, there are no differences that should prevent women from getting the sameeducation and performing the same functions as the men. A woman is just as likely to have themind of a physician as a man, and they have the same capacity for administration. Thus womenought to be guardians and cohabit with those men. Socrates prophetically notes that it is thecurrent practices of sexual discrimination that are actually more unnatural than his utopianscheme. Women can also be soldiers although they should be assigned lighter duties.However, the plan to have the women and children in common is clearly more problematic,especially when eugenics controlled by the guardians is introduced. To enable the best specimensto have more children the rulers are to deceive them by awarding prizes that seem random butare not. Those considered inferior are to have less chance to procreate. Although by grouping thechildren by age, the parents can know which group contains their children, brothers and sisters ofdifferent ages will surely be unknown. Thus they ask for a dispensation from the Delphic oracleregarding brothers and sisters cohabiting. Socrates argues that they will be more likely to respecttheir elders not knowing which are their parents, but it could also be argued that the respect inpractice would be far less.By getting rid of the concepts of "mine" and "not mine" they hope to have more unity, butwithout close family feelings there could be even more chaos and alienation. In most Greek citiesof this time the workers would be considered slaves. The hope that there will be no quarrels overproperty since it is all held in common is naive. Socrates does argue that they ought to treat otherGreek cities better than has been the practice in their time by not burning their houses orenslaving their peoples in wars; such treatment is to be reserved for the barbarians who speakother languages. With the exception of equal treatment for the women this does not seem like ajust nor a wise society.Socrates suggests that there will be no cessation of such troubles until philosophers become therulers or the rulers pursue philosophy seriously. The guardians must be the wisest. Ironically theycite truthfulness as a most essential quality for the rulers after recommending the guardians tellvarious lies. They must also be prudent, brave, liberal, just, and intelligent with a good memory.To describe the current situation Socrates uses the metaphor of a ship in which the skilled pilot isignored by the sailors as impractical, because they are able to get the shipmaster to do what theywant. Thus the one with the finest spirit and the greatest knowledge of navigation is thought auseless stargazer.Philosophers are also ignored, because many who call themselves such constantly quarrel andpretend to knowledge they dont have. Socrates criticizes the professional sophists who teach forpay but inculcate the beliefs of the multitudes and confuse the good with what pleases. Thesepeople cannot distinguish beauty itself from the many beautiful things. Thus youths of greatability are led astray and filled with ambitious hopes without doing the hard studying necessary,and so such prospects are discouraged from taking up true philosophy. In the current political 12
  • 14. climate a true philosopher would be destroyed like a man among wild beasts withoutaccomplishing any benefit. The true philosopher is focused on the eternal ideas and does nothave the time to engage in the petty strife of envy and hate.Socrates argues that pleasure cannot be the good, because some pleasures are bad. He tries todescribe the offspring of the good as like the light that helps us see. The sun is the greatest sourceof light that allows us to see the world around us. The sun ... not only furnishes to visibles the power of visibility but it also provides for their generation and growth and nurture though it is not itself generation. ... In like manner, then ... the objects of knowledge not only receive from the presence of the good their being known, but their very existence and essence is derived to them from it, though the good itself is not essence but still transcends essence in dignity and surpassing power. (509b)He delineates four ways of perceiving things. Perceiving objects in the visible world gives belief,while their likenesses involve conjecture; in the intelligible world, the ideas are known, while thehypotheses about them involved understanding.Plato, speaking as Socrates asks us to imagine a line divided into to four parts all together. Thesegment that runs from A to C represents the physical world while the other segment from C to Erepresents the intelligible or logical world. Each section is then broke up further into two parts: alower segment that stands for representation and a higher segment that represents the real. ABcontains representations of the physical world such as shadows, reflections, etc. BC representsthe actual objects such as a chair or rock. CD represents our ideas about our own reality whileDE is the actual truth (which we can only come to conclusions about, not actually experience).Socrates asks us then to imagine a cave that runs deep and expansive into the earth so that nonatural light from the sun is visible. Inside the cave are three shelves or steps in the ground. Onthe top layer is a giant fire that burns brightly. On the second layer are men that walk back andforth in front of the fire carrying objects and casting shadows onto the rest of the cave. Finallyon the bottom layer are prisoners restrained and unable to move. Distantly behind them on thislevel is the entrance to the cave, but it so far away and inclined above them that the sunlight istotally diffused. They are facing the walls of the cave unable to see the rest of the scene justdescribed. All that is visible to the prisoners are the shadows cast upon the wall, created by themen that walk back and forth carrying objects in front of the fire. Now imagine yourself as oneof the prisoners. How would you know what the shadows were? Chained here all of your lifeyou, all you ever knew were these shadows. You might suppose that the entire world is this cavewall and the shadows that cast upon it. Your fellow prisoners would help in making up namesfor each of the objects. They might see a small circular shadow and one of the prisoners mightmutter a made up word. The other prisoners including yourself might repeat that, creating aname for what you think that object is. With names and a language created, how accurate wouldthey be with no writing, reading, teaching, or previous knowledge? Eventually objects are 13
  • 15. repeated and prisoners make a contest of who can correctly recognize the objects the fastest.Those that can remember the most are heroes and considered intelligent. Now imagine that you escape and start wandering away from the wall of shadows.Eventually you see a small amount of sunlight and you continue to move toward it. Becomingbrighter and brighter, the light begins to sting your eyes as you slow to adjust. Eventually youleave the cave and can see smaller, darker objects. Larger, lighter objects in color then becomevisible and eventually you can see the sun. For the first time you can see the physical worldaround you. Realizing that the cave was not genuine and you were a prisoner of a false reality,you venture back into the cave to lead the rest of the prisoners to revolt. Trudging through thecave, your eyes have to readjust to the darkness. When you get to the prisoners, you attempt torelease them and lead them to freedom, explaining the real world. You have forgotten thecontest and are unable to identify the objects before you since your eyes are not used to theshadows, combined with the overwhelming experience. The other prisoners think you are astupid fool and are mortified that you want to take them away from their world, so in rage, theykill you.Many analogies can be drawn between the cave and the world we live. What is the reality andwhat are the shadows cast before us? Who are the people that trick us with fire and shadows ofstrange objects? Where is our frustration vented and do we become mad because we have foundout the truth or because someone is trying to show us, but we refuse listen? notes that contention for office and power causes strife and results in destruction. Nextthey discuss the education of the guardians, recommending mathematics, geometry, astronomy,and finally the dialectic of discussing ideas. Socrates explains the relationships between the fourlevels of consciousness, saying that intellection deals with essence and opinion with generation.As intellection is to opinion, so science is to belief, and understanding is to image making. Incontrast to the authoritarian methods already implied, Socrates suggests that the education of the 14
  • 16. guardians should not be by constraint, because learning by compulsion is ineffective. Herecommends that children learn by playing so that their natural capacities can be discerned. Thecomprehensive and practical education of the guardians is not complete until they reach the ageof fifty.The 8th book of the Republic is a brilliant discussion of the four kinds of government that areinferior to aristocracy in which the best rule by virtue. The first of these is like the constitution ofCrete and Sparta and is called timocracy. This tends to degenerate into plutocratic oligarchy, thendemocracy, and finally tyranny. The forms of government reflect the psychology and values ofthe citizens. The aristocracy deteriorates into timocracy when honor replaces virtue, as theyouths become less cultured and educated. They begin to strive for position which causesconflicts and wars. The ambitious and aggressive in attempting to gain more power and wealthtend to enslave the population around and do not care as much about the good of their subjects.Wanting wealth but not being allowed to possess it openly, they become stingy but prodigal withthe wealth of others in order to enjoy pleasures unobtrusively. No longer educated to be virtuous,they become contentious and covetous of honors in war and government. While young they loveathletics, hunting, and war preparations; but as they get older, they long for more wealth. Thetimocratic person develops because his mother and others, dissatisfied with the scant rewards ofhis fathers virtue, encourage the son to be more ambitious.In the oligarchy called plutocracy wealth becomes dominant, and citizenship depends on holdingproperty; the rich hold office, while the poor are excluded. They find ways to pervert the laws toincrease their wealth. The values of virtue, honor, and victory succumb to wealth. This statebecomes divided in two between the rich and the poor. Wars are not as successful, because theyfear arming the people and are reluctant to spend money. Many of the poor must either beg orbecome thieves. The son of the timocratic man sees his fathers possessions declining in hispursuit of honors and war. So he turns to earning money by hard work and thrift, and he admiresthe rich and the attainment of wealth. He seeks to satisfy his own desires but is careful not tospend money on attaining honors or helping others. Property becomes greatly esteemed. Theyencourage prodigals to spend their money by loaning to them so that they can take over theirproperty and become even richer. In this way many who were noble become reduced to poverty.These discontented and impoverished nobles become leaders of revolution, as the rich becomeidle and soft. Factions arise, and the parties bring in allies from other states until a war results.When the poor attain victory, they institute a democracy and grant equal citizenship andeliminate property qualifications for offices, many of which are assigned by lot. Freedombecomes the greatest value, and everyone can say what they like and do what they please.Diversity increases; varieties of entertainment abound; and just about everything is tolerated,even crime. Those who say they love the people are elected. Everyone is treated as equal,whether they are equal or not. Liberty and license lead to self-indulgence and the pursuit ofpleasures. The desires have overcome the discipline used for money-making. The children of thewealthy indulge themselves, and the poor long for liberty. Such prodigality and the shamelessquest for freedom at any cost bring about the democratic revolution.All values and pleasures are considered equal, as people indulge themselves in whatever suitstheir fancy - some drinking, others dieting or exercising, sometimes idle and neglectful, other 15
  • 17. times diligently occupied with philosophy or any other pursuit; they rush from one thing toanother. Those who do not govern liberally are accused of being oligarchs, while those who obeyare called slaves. In this anarchic mood the rulers resemble the subjects, as the subjects becomethe rulers. Parents try to be like their children, and the children have no respect for their parents.Even the animals are allowed liberty. Teachers fawn on their students, and students think theyneed no teachers. The young compete with their elders, and the older people imitate the young.Sex roles become confused and people chafe at any kind of servitude.Eventually the people find a leader who promises them everything as their champion andprotector. In gaining control of the people he may shed some blood while hinting at abolishingdebts and land reform. Such a powerful figure may be slain by his enemies or become the leaderof the faction fighting the property owners. In danger of being assassinated, he requests abodyguard to make the state safe for this "friend of democracy." This protector then graduallybecomes a tyrant. His leadership is strengthened by stirring up wars he must lead. This gives himan excuse to destroy his enemies and thwart his rivals. Those who criticize him must be silenced,resulting in a negative purge in which the best, instead of the worst elements, are eliminated.This tyranny is then the most unjust and worst form of government.The tyrant is like the person who has been enslaved by one desire; everything is spent for thatone addiction. Then the tyrant must take from others by deceit or violence. If one has the power,the tyrant refrains from no atrocity in this lawless quest, robbing even ones parents or thefatherland. They associate with flatterers and have no real friends, everyone being either a masteror a slave. Thus the tyrannical person is enslaved in suffering the disease of unfulfilled desire,full of alarms and terror, always in anguish and insecure, envious, faithless, unjust, friendless,impious, and a vessel of every vice. Thus they conclude that the unjust are the most unhappy,while the just are happy.Socrates explains that the faculty of reason is best able to judge the pleasures, and so the lover ofwisdom will do better than the lover of gain. Many confuse pleasure with the cessation of bodilyneeds and pains, as gray seems whiter than black even though it is not white. The purest andmost lasting pleasures relate to the truth and immortal qualities. The philosophers seek the purestpleasures, while the tyrants and those most enslaved desire the grossest. Socrates likens thereason to a person, the emotional part to a lion, and the appetites to a many-headed monster. Therational human part is most divine and should rule for the best results. To accept gold unjustly,for example, ignores the reason and enslaves one to the worst part. The lion should be controlledby the reason, as also should the effeminate part that might engender cowardice and luxury. Ifthe beast desiring wealth with unbridled lust rules, one becomes more like an ape.So it is best for the intelligence to rule the individual and for the wisest to rule in the state.Escaping the penalty for wrongdoing is likely to make one worse, while those who are chastenedbecome more moderate and just with wisdom, because the soul is far more precious than thebody. Thus the body must be fine tuned by the soul. The wise will work to better themselves andwill not allow their reason to be overthrown even though the ideal state may only exist as amodel in heaven. 16
  • 18. Once again Socrates criticizes poetry and fine art for being imitations of things which imitate thetrue realities. He complains that tragedies and comedies stir up the passions and emotions, and hefinds no value in this vicarious experience, although he does leave the argument open for arebuttal to show that they can benefit people in an orderly society. He then argues for theimmortality of the soul based on the idea that its disease, vice, does not kill the soul the waydiseases of other things kill or destroy them. Neither does any other evil kill the soul; therefore itmust be immortal. The soul in its love of wisdom is most akin to the divine. Now Socrates asksto reinstate the rewards of justice that were taken away in order to prove that justice was good forits own sake even without its rewards. He says that the gods love and help the just, but dislike theunjust. If good things do not come to one just, it is because of sins in a previous life. He noteshow the just by the end of a competition will win the prize. Yet the rewards on earth are verylimited compared to those that come after death.Socrates recounts the tale of Er, who revived on a pile of corpses after he was thought dead forseveral days. This near-death experience describes in elaborate detail what happens to souls afterleaving the body and when preparing to come into other ones. Souls who have died go into upperand lower worlds, and souls come from both these regions to be born again. Often those comingfrom above do not make wise choices, while those having suffered below choose more carefully,so that good and evil often alternate. According to Er, the penalties of wrongdoing areexperienced tenfold in the next world, and the worst tyrants may have to suffer even more than athousand years for their crimes. Thus Socrates points out the importance of studying to learn howto make wise choices regarding good and evil in choosing what to experience in life. Beforebeing born again the souls had to drink from the River of Forgetfulness, but Er was preventedfrom drinking and so brought back the memory of the other world, hence why his story can betold.Finally Socrates exhorts his listeners to keep their souls unspotted and follow the upward way inpursuing justice with wisdom always so that they will be dear to the gods in this life and the next. 1. What different definitions of justice are given? 2. What do you think of justice? Can you create a definition? 3. How does Socrates use the hypothetical theory of the city to provide examples of justice and injustice? 4. What problems does the author of this summary provide about Plato‘s thoughts on education? 5. What enlightened view of women does Socrates‘ give? 6. Why should philosophers be kings according to Socrates? 7. What final plea does Socrates make for us to be wise and just? 8. What do the prisoners represent? 9. What does the prisoner who escapes represent? 10. What do the shadows on the wall represent? 11. What does the allegory of the cave mean? 12. Can you relate this allegory to anything today? 17
  • 19. taught Plato, Plato instructed Aristotle, and Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great.Alexander led Macedonia and conquered much of the ―known‖ world, spreading the ideals ofjustice and duty from Athens to much of the Mediterranean region. Taking up the banner ofcitizenship was the Roman people who evolved in their own way into a powerful state, gobblingup territory, wealth and slaves, but also aspects of Athens. Their large nation demanded a moreefficient system of government and so the republic was born with many elected offices to governthe land.Offices Consul Dictator Pontifex Censor Praetor Aedile Quaestor - - Maximus - - - - Head of Ruler in Religion Public Law Public Treasurer State Crisis - Morality Officer Works - Assemblies The Senate Comitia Curiata Comitia Centuriata Concilium Plebis Comitia Tributa Patrician Assembly Ward Assembly Military Assembly Plebeian Assembly Tribal Assembly RomeAfter the overthrow of the Tarquin monarchy by Junius Brutus in 509 BC, Rome did not revertback to a monarchy for the rest of its history. The era of the great expansion of Roman powerand civilization is the era of the RomanRepublic, in which Rome is ruled by its Senate and itsassembly, which were institutions formed at the beginning of the monarchy. The history of theRepublic is a history of continuous warfare; all of the historical stories which the Romans willuse as stories of Roman virtue and values date from this tumultuous period of defense andinvasion.The Romans had at the beginning of the Republic a constitution which had laid down thetraditions and institutions of government; this constitution, however, was not a formal or even awritten document, but rather a series of unwritten traditions and laws. These traditions and lawswere based on the institution of a monarchy, so while the Romans did not revive the monarchy,they still invested enormous amounts of power in their officials. At the top were the consuls, 18
  • 20. who were two patricians elected to the office for one year. These patricians exercised imperiumin much the same way the kings had in the Roman monarchy. These consuls initiated legislation,served as the head of the judiciary and the military, and served as chief priests to the nation.They even dressed as monarchs, by wearing purple robes and sitting on the seat traditionallyreserved for the monarch: the ivory chair.However, the power of the consuls were severely limited. First, they only served for one year, atwhich point they would have to be re-elected or enter into private life again. Second, there weretwo consuls; either consul could effectively prevent any action or decision by the other consul bysimply vetoing him. No consul could act without the other consul in agreement. Third, theconsuls would have to serve on the Senate after their term in office; this led them to cultivateassiduously the cooperation of the senate. So the consuls exercised absolute power, imperium ,but their power was severely hamstrung by the circumstances of their office. As a result, theconsuls did not exercise much initiative or creativity, so Roman government tended to be highlyconservative and cautious. This, however, was the intent of the consular system. In 325 BC,however, the consul system was changed to allow for proconsuls, who were consuls whoseterms in office were extended because of military campaigns. Beneath the consuls were two financial officers called quaestors, and as the Republic evolved,an officical called the praetor was invented. The praetorship was originally a judicial office, butlater became a military office; the praetors were essentially the central generals of Rome. Thepraetorship, like the consulship, was a one-year appointment, but like the consulship could beextended in times of war. In addition, the task of classifying citizens according to wealth and taxstatus, which was a consular duty, eventually fell to a new pair of officials called censors. It wasthe job of the censor to draw up the roll of citizens (somewhat like our modern day census;census is the Latin word from which "censor" is derived) and to fix their tax status. As you mightimagine, the censors had all kinds of opportunities for bribery and corruption since they weresetting tax rates, so after a while the office fell only to the most incorruptible and virtuous men ofthe Republic: former consuls. Eventually, the office of the censor acquired great powers, such asthe power to dismiss senators from the Senate not merely for financial reasons, but any reason atall. By the time of the late Republic, the censors had become some of the most powerfulpoliticians in Rome.It is immediately evident that the imperium was fully concentrated in the hands of the patricians.The consuls were elected from the patrician class, as were the quaestors and the praetors; thecensors, by definition, were always patricians. Because the consul reverted to the Senate, theSenate, composed only of patricians, became the principle power in Rome. The Republic in itsearly form was largely a transfer of power from the monarch to the wealthiest classes in Rome,and this dominance of Roman law, finances, and foreign policy by the patricians instantlyproduced resentment among the plebeians; from its inception in 509 BC to its demise at thehands of Caesar in the middle of the first century BC, the political history of the Roman Republicis a tumultuous, chaotic, and often violent conflict between the two classes in Rome vying forpolitical power.This conflict was called "the struggle of the orders" (the orders of society) and is largely aboutthe patrician class attempting to hold onto power while the plebeians attempted to achieve socialand political equality. The patricians found themselves unable to exist without the plebeians: not 19
  • 21. only did the plebeians produce the food and supply the labor that kept the Roman economygoing, they also supplied the soldiers for the Roman military. If the plebeians could act as agroup, they could effectively shut down the Roman economy and military; the latter wasespecially important since Rome was in continual military conflict during the age of theRepublic.In Roman historical tradition, in 494 BC the plebeians withdrew from Rome and occupied theSacred Mount. There they declared an alternative government. They formed a tribal assembly,modelled after the Roman assembly, which would be headed by tribunes who were heads of theirtribes. They declared that these tribunes could veto any decision by a Roman magistrate orofficial, and could veto any decision or legislation by the Senate. The assembly itself, like theformer assembly, voted by tribe, and the decision of the assembly was binding on all plebeians.In other words, the plebeians had won for themselves the right to author their own legislation.Their decisions, however, were not binding on non-plebeians.In 450 BC, the struggle of the orders produced the Law of the Twelve Tables, which simplyformalized and codified Roman law and its constitution. The Romans, however, saw it as avictory for the rights of the citizen for it gave them an instrument to know where they stood asfar as the law is concerned. In 445 BC, plebeians acquired the right to marry a patrician, and in367 the plebeians gained the right to be elected consul, when the first plebeian consul waselected. The Licinian-Sextian laws demanded that at least one consul be a plebeian. After thecompletion of the term of consular office, the consul became a member of the Senate, so thepatrician hold on the Senate had, in part, been broken when the plebeians gained full access tothe office of the consul. In 300 BC, plebeians were allowed to serve at all levels of thepriesthood, thus making them religiously equal to the patricians. Finally, in the greatest victoryof all in terms of power and influence, in 287 BC, the decisions and legislation of the plebeianassembly were not only binding on the plebeians, but on the entire Roman citizenry. Thesereforms were purchased without any civil war or internal bloodshed; they would not resolve thestruggle, but they certainly prevented out and out civil war.The Romans, then, reformed their government as the need arose rather than pursuing anyparticular plan of reform or development. At the same time, the Romans built their territorialpower with the same lack of planning and purpose. Originally, the wars which the Republicfought were largely defensive wars; the expulsion of the Tarquins provoked many attacks bytheir allies and by Etruscans. Soon, however, the Romans were moving to gain control overneighboring territory in order to neutralize the threat of attack. Their logic was that control overthese territories would obviate any potential attack from the people occupying those territoriesand at the same time provide a buffer region between themselves and potential attackers. Romanconquest, then, was pursued largely for Roman security; the end result of this process would be,first, the conquest of the entire Italian peninsula by 265 BC, and then the conquest of the world.The Roman Empire was an accident, so to speak; it was formed in the pursuit of other policies,namely, security. Only in its later stages was the Roman Empire a deliberate objective. Richard Hooker War with Etruria, the Volscians and Aequians 20
  • 22. Had Rome rid itself of its Etruscan despots and allied itself with the cities of the Latin League,then now she stood at the head of Latium. But enemies still loomed all around; the Etruscanswere still a potent force and Sabellian and Oscan hill tribes (foremost the Volscians andAequians) threatened the plain of Latium. Rome was therefore always at war, attacked orattacking her Etruscan neighbour Veii, or the Volscians or Aequians, or an occasional Latin foe.Meanwhile the Hernicans (Hernici), who were a Latin tribe wedged between the Aequians andthe Volscians, preferred alliance to Rome (486 BC). It was a typical example of the Romanmotto divide and conquer.When the Etruscan sea power was shattered by Hieron of Syracuse at Cumae in 474 BC, themenace from Etruria was so much weakened that for nearly forty years there was no war withVeii. The Aequian and Volscian powers were broken. In all wars of the fifth century BC thebalance of victory lay with Rome and her allies. Usually this involved a gain of territory by thevictors, the lions share going to Rome whose strength therefore constantly increased. Aequiansin particular suffered when the Romans were victorious. In one incident their army was literallycut piece to piece, no whole body surviving.One very notable incident of the Aequian wars occured in 457 BC when a Roman army was sentto attack the enemy garrison on Mt Algidus. It marched right into a trap and urgent help wasneeded to save the survivors of the battle. One consul was trapped with his army and the otherseemed to cower in the city. A relief force was quickly organized and handed to one LuciusQuinctius Cincinnatus, including the powers of dictatorship. During such a time of emergency itwas thought most efficient to appoint one man most of the power of Rome and the military.Cincinnatus, having been called from his fields to take up this greta office, led his forces againstthe Aesquians and managed to force a way through which the trapped army could escape. Hisjob done, Cincinnatus returned, relinquished his power and returned home to tend his farm. Itwas this which should make this man the ideal republican in many a later Romans eyes. And notmerely in Roman eyes, as the existence of the city of Cincinnati in todays United Statesdemonstrates. Cincinnatus was considered a model of Roman virtue. He was a farmer above all,although when called to serve his country he did so without question -- briefly and withoutambition. History, Books I-III by Titus Livius Rome had begun as a small city-state. Its constitution, its government, its social structure, andits moral values were those of a small, mainly agrarian state. All of these, the constitution,government, social structure, and values, adapted well to the governing of Italy. The Empire,however, which Rome had stumbled into by accident, provoked a profound crisis in Romansociety, government, and morals. 21
  • 23. In particular, the Second Punic War created vast disparities in wealth. Up until the SecondPunic War, the plebeians were farmers, craftsmen, or laborers. They would farm their own landthat, even though it was small, was still their property. As laborers or craftsmen, they worked fordecent wages (or the equivalent of wages). However, Hannibal of Carthage ( an enemy of Rome)had razed the countryside; while the wealth sat secure within the walls of Rome, thousands ofpeople had their farmlands and houses destroyed. With no land they had no work and so began toflood the cities. The wealthy, who had grown wealthier because of the spoils of war, bought upthe farmlands so that by the middle of the second century, Roman agriculture was dominated bylarge plantations owned by fabulously wealthy landowners. This was only the tip of the iceberg,though. The Punic Wars and the Macedonian Wars flooded Rome and Roman territories withnew slaves. Rome had had slave labor before then, but the second century saw a major shift inthe Roman economy from a laborer economy to a slave economy. By the end of the secondcentury BC, the majority of the population in Italy were slaves. This severely depressed jobopportunities and wages. For slavery is an economic phenomenon more than anything else;slavery is an economic device to keep the remuneration of labor at or slightly below subsistencelevel. This meant that the poor who were not slaves either couldnt work or had to work at belowsubsistence wages; it also caused massive migrations of the unemployed into cities. As in mostmigrations of the unemployed, the result was not necessarily employment in a new place. InRome, however, it meant the concentration of a large population of poor, disaffected, and angryfree Romans. The tinder-box was set to go off.The GracchiThe poor and the wealthy had been in conflict since the overthrow of the Tarquins in 509 BC;this conflict, however, largely revolved around political power and freedom. In 133 BC, theconflict erupted into civil war. In that year, Tiberius Gracchus was elected as one of the tribunesof the assembly. He proposed that the land ownership be limited to only 640 acres, thusremoving much of the land from the hands of the wealthy. If a single person owned more than640 acres, the excess would be seized by the state and given to the poor. As you might expect,the wealthy in Rome, and the Senate, were as opposed to this procedure as it is possible to beopposed. They controlled one of the tribunes, a man named Octavius, and persuaded him toconsistently veto Tiberiuss land reform. Fed up with the opposition, Tiberius removed Octaviusfrom office, a manifestly unconstitutional procedure. When his term as tribune expired, he stoodfor reelection to a second term—another unconstitutional procedure. At the elections a rioterupted and a group of senators assassinated Tiberius: the first civil bloodshed in Roman history.One cant underestimate the importance of Tiberius Gracchus for Roman history. Although hewas ultimately a failure in his reform, he created a new style of politics: appealing to the masses.Up until Tiberius Gracchus, political change had taken place largely in cooperation with anddeference to the patrician class. Tiberius Gracchus, however, sought to bring about politicalchange by ignoring the patricians altogether and appealing to the passions of the generalpopulace. This created a new type of politician in Rome; they were called the populares for theyattempted to gain power by raising the population in their favor. Against the populares were theoptimates ("the best"), who continued to attempt political change by appealing to traditionalmethods and structures.The family of the Gracchi were not finished. In 123 BC (and again in 122 BC), Gaius Gracchuswas elected tribune. Enormously popular among the people, Gaius managed to push several laws 22
  • 24. through the assembly. First, he stabilized the price of grain by building storehouses for excessgrain. Fixing this price would help small farmers keep their heads above water and keep grainprices from rising so high that the poor could not afford to feed themselves. In his second law,the one that provoked the most opposition, he proposed that citizenship be granted to all Italians(in order to increase his power base). The Senate, in 121 BC, then passed a law which ordered the consuls to make the Republic safeand declared Gaius Gracchus an enemy to the state. The consuls hunted him down, and, in theirfinal conflict, Gaius Gracchus killed himself and several thousand of his followers were killed orexecuted. Thus the Gracchan revolt.MariusShortly afterwards, Rome began a war with Jugurtha, the king of Numidia (south of Carthage), in111 BC. This war, the Jugurthine War, was prosecuted with little enthusiasm and the Romanpeople grew suspicious of the Senate. So in 107 BC, Gaius Marius (157-86 BC) was electedconsul and was assigned the province of Numidia by the assembly. He was a brilliant soldier andquickly defeated Jugurtha; but it was Marius lieutenant, Sulla (138-78 BC) who defeatedJugurtha for good. Now Sulla was of an old and well-established aristocratic family; althoughhe was relatively poor, he was as blue-blooded as they came in Rome. Marius, on the other hand,was a novus homo , a "new man," who was the first in his family to occupy the consulship. Thesenew men were bitterly resented by the aristocracy, and Sulla felt that Marius was being givencredit for work that he, Sulla, had done. The rivalry between these two men would result in civilwar in 88 BC. Marius, however, was an innovator and a maverick. He changed thefundamental make-up of his army by enlisting mainly volunteers. These volunteers were drawnfrom the poorest (and hence most disaffected and angry) classes, still bitter over the killings ofthe Gracchi. Marius held out the promise of the spoils of war and land-parcels as payment fortheir service (this on top of the guarantee of food and shelter for the length of their service).Something new had occurred. Poverty now pushed vast numbers of the poor into the military;these soldiers, however, owed their loyalty and gratitutde not to the state, but to their generalwho served as a kind of patron. This personal loyalty gave Marius, and future generals, access tocivilian power that they had never had before.SullaIn the 80s BC, Rome was heavily engaged in wars with Italian allies who suffered greatly fromthe economic inequities. Sulla proved himself to be an astonishing general during these wars andwas elected consul in 88 BC, finally getting the recognition he felt he deserved. Unlike Marius,Sulla was firmly in the patrician camp; he defeated Marius in a civil war and the Senate, fearfulof the population, seized complete control of the Roman government by appointing Sulladictator. Now the position of dictator ("one who speaks, one who dictates") was a constitutionalposition; the Roman government was allowed to hand complete authority, imperium , to a singleindividual in times of crisis. This imperium would not be shared with another, as it was in theconsulship. Sulla promptly set about "reforming" the Roman government over the next threeyears by restoring power to the Senate and deracinating the authority of the assembly. Sulla,despite his intentions to restore Roman government to what he saw as its original form, 23
  • 25. nonetheless brought about a revolutionary new way of doing government: as a general, he usedhis army to kill his opponents (and even some who werent his opponents). Dangerous newground had been broken.The Beginning of the EndSullas reforms, rather than restoring order to Rome, provoked a violent reaction. After the deathof Sulla, the Senate was facing armed rebellion.The Slaves RevoltSpartacus had been born in Thrace and received training in a Roman army, probably as anauxiliary, before becoming a slave. He was sold, in 73 B.C., into the service of Lentulus Batiates,a man who taught at a ludus for gladiators in Capua, twenty miles from Mt.Vesuvius inCampania. That same year Spartacus and two Gallic gladiators led a riot at the school. Of abouttwo hundred gladiator slaves, less than eighty escaped, using kitchen tools as weapons.In the streets they found wagons of gladiatorial weapons and confiscated them. When soldierstried to stop the band of escaped slaves, the band used their accustomed gladiatorial weapons,easily defeating the soldiers. Then they took the better, military weapons of the beaten soldiers,and set out on their way south to Mt.Vesuvius. Along their route, they picked up rural slaves.The Praetors FailLittle realizing how well Spartacus had organized his band of slaves, the praetors made aninadequate attempt to end the revolt. Clodius besieged the Spartacans on a mountain, which hadonly one narrow path to the top. The rest of the mountain was steep and slippery.As it turned out, the slippery surface didnt matter to Spartacus. Ample vines on the mountaintopprovided suitable material for ropes, which they used to climb down and surprise the Romans.Instead of the Romans putting an end to the slave revolt, the slaves took the Roman camp.Then the slaves headed towards the Alps, picking up a total of 70,000 slaves along the way.Spartacus intended for his men to disband and head to their pre-slave homes after a quick marchto the Alps. He had shown remarkable skill in creating a force capable of defeating Romanlegions, but he didnt have what he needed to be a great leader of his men. Many of his menpreferred to pillage the countryside. Now the Senate in Rome had to take the slave revoltseriously.CrassusCrassus was elected praetor and headed to Picenum to put an end to the slave revolt with tenlegions, six new and four old. Crassus correctly assumed the slaves would head north to the Alpsand so positioned most of his men to block this escape. Meanwhile, he sent his lieutenantMummius and two new legions south to pressure the slaves to move north. Mummius had beenexplicitly instructed not to fight a pitched battle. He, however, had ideas of his own, and when heengaged the slaves in battle, suffered defeat. 24
  • 26. Spartacus routed Mummius and his legions. They lost not only men and their arms, but whenthey returned to their commander, the survivors suffered the ultimate Roman militarypunishment -- decimation, by order of Crassus. All the men who had been involved in thedisgraceful operation were divided into groups of ten and then drew lots. The unlucky one in tenwas then killed.Meanwhile, Spartacus turned around and headed towards Sicily, planning to escape on pirateships, which he had hired, not knowing that the pirates had already sailed away. At the Isthmusof Bruttium, Crassus built a wall to block Spartacus escape. When the slaves tried to breakthrough, the Romans fought back killing about 12,000 of the slaves while losing only seven oftheir own.Slaves vs. 3 Roman ArmiesWhen Spartacus learned that Crassus troops were to be reinforced by another Roman armybrought back from Spain, he decided it was time to make a break for it. He and his slaves flednorth with Crassus at their heels. His escape route was blocked at Brundisium by a third Romanforce recalled from Macedonia. There was nothing left for Spartacus to do but to try to beatCrassus army in battle. The Spartacans were quickly surrounded and butchered, although manymen escaped into the mountains. Only a thousand Romans died.Six thousand of the fleeing slaves were captured by Pompeys troops and crucified along theAppian Way from Capua to Rome. Spartacus body was not found.Because Pompey performed the mopping up operations, he, not Crassus, got credit forsuppressing the rebellion. Jealousy and competition between these two rich and powerful menwere to lead to changes in the power structure of Rome.In 70 BC, two highly ambitious men, Crassus and Pompey, were elected consuls and promptlyrepealed Sullas constitution. A new political order was emerging: ambitious generals, such asPompey and Crassus, allied themselves with the tribunes and the disaffected assembly againstthe Senate and patricians. Pompey gained the imperium over the entire Mediterranean region in 67 BC for three years,and this imperium was extended several more years so he could prosecute a war in Asia Minor.By the end of this period, Pompey had become the single most popular leader in Rome. Crassus,however, was frightened of Pompey and, since he was unpopular in both the assembly and theSenate, he allied himself with popular leaders, the most popular of which was a brilliant general,Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BC). Julius was from an old, noble family, and had served as abrilliant military leader in Spain and in Gaul. When he returned from Spain, he demanded a triumph, that is, a victory parade, throughRome. Denied this triumph by the Senate (who feared his popularity with the masses), Juliusconvinced Pompey and Crassus to reconcile and the First Triumvirate was established. Thistriumvirate ("three men") was the beginning of the end of the Republic, for this alliance between 25
  • 27. these three politicians, two of whom were generals, had as its end the control of the Romangovernment for the political advantage of the three men.The First Triumvirate, consisting of Julius Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey, came to power in 59BC when Caesar was elected consul. The Triumvirate reform program was enacted and Caesargot himself appointed governor of Illycrium and Gaul. The way to power in Rome was throughmilitary conquest; this gave the general a loyal army, wealth (from the conquered), andpopularity and prestige at home. So the governorship of Illycrium and Gaul allowed Caesar tobecome the general and conqueror he so desperately desired to become. Now the Romans really had no reason to conquer northern and central Europe; the people wholived there, the Germans and the Celts, were a tribal, semi-nomadic people. The province ofIllycrium provided enough of a territorial buffer to defuse any threat from these people. ButJulius embarked on a spectacular war of conquest anyway. In a series of fairly brilliantcampaigns, Julius added a considerable amount of territory to the Roman Empire in northernFrance, Belgium, and even southern Great Britain, subjugating the Celts in all these territories.When he had finished his conquests, however, the Triumvirate had dissolved. Crassus had diedin a war against the Parrhians in the Middle East, and Pompey had turned against Julius and hadroused the Senate against him. The Senate declared Julius an enemy of the state and demandedthat he hand over his generalship and province. Marc Anthony, friend of Cesar, attempted to stopthe legislative action, but was unsuccessful and had to leave Rome. Julius, however, decided ona different course of action. His troops were fiercely loyal to him; so in 49 BC, Caesar orderedhis troops to cross the RubiconRiver, which separated his province from Italy, thus committing agrave crime against the state. The Civil War started the minute the first of his legions hadfinished crossing the Rubicon. The war was fought between these two great generals, Pompey and Caesar, but in 48 BC,Caesar defeated Pompey at Pharsalus in Greece. Shortly thereafter Pompey was assassinated bythe Egyptians among whom he had sought refuge. Caesar then turned his forces towards AsiaMinor in a conquest that was so swift that Caesar described it in three words: "Veni, vidi, vici"("I came, I saw, I conquered").Caesar returned to Rome in 46 BC and had the Senate appoint him dictator for ten years; he wasgiven imperium over the Roman Empire and was, for all practical purposes, above the law andthe constitution. Two years later he was appointed dictator for life, and he quickly assumed allthe important offices in the government. He reformed the government in many ways, but thesereforms were functionally meaningless considering his absolute power. Caesars absolute power,imperium for life (which made him imperator , or Emperor, of Rome), looked suspiciously like amonarchy, which, for all practical purposes, it was. The Romans, proud of their Republicantradition, deeply resented his power, and in 44 BC, on the Ides of March (March 15), a group ofconspirators, led by Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus, assassinated Caesar ashe entered the Senate in his usual manner: with no bodyguards or protection. 26
  • 28. The conspirators were striking a blow for the Republic, fully confident that the Republic wouldmagically reconstitute itself. Caesar had, after all, ruled Rome for a mere two years. Theirdreams, however, disappeared in a brutal civil war that would last for thirteen years. At the endof the war, the RomanRepublic would come to a shattering end and never again appear on thestage of history.Because many had enjoyed the order and efficiency that Julius Cesar had brought, his adoptedson Octavian Augustus would be declared the new Cesar. Augustus called himself "princeps," or"first" (from which we get the word, "prince"); his full title that he assumed was "first amongequals." So, in language at least, nothing had really changed in Roman freedom and equality. Hissuccessors, however, would name themselves after their power, the "imperium," and calledthemselves "imperator." Augustus, however, was on a mission to restore order and even equity tothe Empire, and so in many ways is considered the greatest of all these emperors. He radicallyreformed the government to curb corruption and ambition; he also extended Roman citizenshipto all Italians. While he allowed elections to public office, he rigged those elections so that onlythe best candidates would fill the office, and so many members of the lower classes entered intogovernment. He resettled his soldiers on farmland, and so agrarian equity was more closelyachieved than at any time since the Second Punic Wars. He turned the military from a volunteerarmy into a standing, professional army; Rome and the provinces became, in essence, a policestate. The military presence throughout the Empire spread the Roman language and Romanculture throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. And since Augustus controlled Romemilitarily and politically, he put the provinces in the hands of intelligent, less ambitious, andvirtuous men; for the first time since Rome began to build its empire, the provinces settled downinto peace and prosperity—this peace and prosperity would be the hallmark of the Age ofAugustus.Finally, Augustus began a vast project of building and patronage of the arts, and Roman cultureflourished in a boom of creativity that would make the age stand out as the greatest culturalperiod in the history of Rome. Two ages stand out as the great creative periods in Rome: the ageof Cicero near the end of the Republic, and the Age of Augustus and the beginning of ImperialRome. The Age of Augustus is known as the Golden Age of Roman literature, for during this timeflourished the greatest poets of Rome. Under Augustus, poets and artists were patronized not byindividuals, but solely through the princeps himself. To this end, Augustus appointed a culturaladvisor, Maecenas, to aid him in extending patronage to poets. The result was an incrediblypowerful system for identifying the best poets who could further the ideology of the Augustangovernment. Richard Hooker 27