Democracy and Oligarchy in Classical Greece Essay
The Classical Greece period in history ran from 480-323 B.E.C.Greece not only includes Athens as its territory but also consisted of many Greek city-states.These city-states were located throughout the eastern Mediterranean.Although, there was distance from the center of Athens to their territories they still exerted continual dominance and collected annual dues from subject states.Athens was an imperial power due to primitive democracy.To successfully control the states, have free open debate of issues, and benefit the commoners of Athens democracy was the better form of government in classical Greece not Oligarchy.
In order for Athens to successfully control all states and collect tribute from their subjects, Athens needed to be a strong ruling authority. The Athenian democracy was well built and able to maintain an empire, although Cleon, a representative of Oligarchy, claimed:
… democracy is incapable of empire…your [Athens] empire is a despotism and your subjects disaffected conspirators, whose obedience is ensured not by your suicidal concessions, but by the superiority given you by your own strength and not their loyalty (Cleon, Peloponnesian War, Bk. III).
Athenian history proves this statement false.The Athenians had an undefeatable military and men willing to fight for their city, as said by Pericles.
Our military training is in many respects superior to that of our adversaries.If then we prefer to meet danger with a light heart but without laborious training, and with courage which is gained by habit and not enforced by law (Pericles' Funeral Oration).
This speech of Pericles refutes Cleon's statement.The people of Athens were loyal and willing to die for their city."Such is the city for whose sake these men nobly fought and died; they could not bear the thought that she [Athens] might be taken from them" (Pericles' Funeral Oration)