Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Athens: The Truth About Democracy

In this two-part series, historian Bettany Hughes charts the remarkable rise of ancient Athens from small city state to imperial democratic power, and it's equally extraordinary collapse just a century later.

Democracy, liberty and freedom of speech are celebtrated as the touchstones of Western civilisation. This series explores their origins. What we want to remember about Athens is that it was enlightened and egalitarian. We choose to forget that in the name of democracy, Athens followed a policy of aggressive overseas expansion and persecuted some of its leading intellectuals, putting back the course of science 1,500 years. As well as inspiring the West, Athenian democracy was built on slavery and was the place that first introduced the full face veil for women. Despite its legacy which lasts to this day, democracy in ancient Athens didn't flourish but quickly died.



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