Fall 2020

Political Thought - Classical and Medieval

, 3 pts, GU4132


The course examines the historical and theoretical foundations of democracy. The underlying assumption is that political arrangements and institutions are the embodiment of political ideas and theories. The course will investigate the historical emergence of democracy as a form of government based on equality before the law and equal access to all citizens to the deliberative, decisional and control processes. The historical starting point is identified in Solon’s reforms in Athens which dramatically broke the hegemony of ancient nobility; we will then study Cleisthenes’ reforms and their redefinition of citizenry; in the context of the new political ideal of isonomia. We will proceed to examine the theoretical debate of the fifth century BCE, which includes Herodotus (III, 80-82), Thucydides and Protagoras. We will then examine the criticism levelled at democracy by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle: their thought enables us to compare the ancient idea of democracy to our own. Finally, we will study the Roman contribution to the theory of democracy, namely Cicero’s ideal of ‘republic’ and the role that ius, codified law, played in it.

Section Number
Call Number
Day, Time & Location
MW 8:40AM-9:55AM To be announced