Monarchy, Aristocracy and Democracy: Ancient Politics in Practice

History 103A.001

Fall 2017
3104 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
F 10-12
Class Number: 

The Ancient Mediterranean offers numerous case studies to how complex pre-modern societies structured governance. Greek political theory divided political systems into three basic categories: Monarchy, Aristocracy and Democracy. Some Greek political theorists believed that these modes ran in cycles as the corruption of one form of rule led to the rise of another. We will explore how different modes of governance operated on the ground, impacting various aspects of rule such as military command, administrative delegation, governmental accountability, resource distribution, social and economic inequality, infrastructure and development, and economic growth. Case studies will include Athens and Sparta, Achaemenid Persia, the Hellenistic kingdoms, and Rome during the Republic and Principate. Students will undertake a significant research project on a topic of their choosing related to the themes of the course.