The Power of the People: Participatory Politics in the Ancient World

History 103A.002

Fall 2014
Day & Time: 
M 12-2P

This seminar will focus on two very different ancient states with a strong participatory element: Athens and Rome. In Athens, a vigorous, even radical, direct democracy developed over the course of the 5th century, as Athens itself transformed into an aggressive imperial power. In Republican Rome, citizens' assemblies practiced a form of deferential democracy, electing candidates to powerful magistracies from a narrow range of aristocratic contenders; this phase of moderated participatory engagement took place at a time when Rome likewise rocketed to Mediterranean hegemony. This course will explore the central role of participatory politics in these two very different imperial states, touching on such issues as constitutional organization, democratic ideology, citizen rights and obligations, the relationship between mass and elite, and the interplay between participatory politics and mass military mobilization. While the focus will be on Athens c. 500-300 BC and Rome c. 300-50 BC, some brief consideration will be given to other ancient states with participatory elements, such as Carthage and Sparta, as well as decentralized decision making in some ancient non-state societies, in particular the early Germanic peoples.  

Course Books

The Old Oligarch: Pseudo-Xenophon's Constitution of the Athenians by Osborn, Robin LACTORs. ISBN: 978-0903625319 Required
The Athenian Constitution by Aristotle (Rhodes, P.J. Translator) Penguin Classics. ISBN: 978-0140444315 Required
How to win an election by Freeman, Philip Princeton University Press. ISBN: 978-0691154084 Required
The Crowd in Rome in the Late Republic by Millar Fergus University of Michigan Press. ISBN: 978-0472088782 Required
Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece by Raaflaub, Kurt UC Press. ISBN: 9780520258099 Required