Many orators were critical , particularly Cicero, and many Romans were aware their civilization was in decline- as today we complain about illegal immigration and corruption. Even under the Empire many republican traditions continued at the local levels of government.
I think the same could be said where it concerns Plato's critical anaylisis of Athenian Democracy. He saw the handwriting on the wall and told the truth about it, and the rusult was his demise..........and the demise of Athenian influence. Of course, Alexander the Great's decadent multiculturalism brought down Athens and everyone else. Just take a look at art during the Hellenistic period (the agransdisment of the common), and that of the height of Greek civilization (the worship of the ideal).
posted on 05/31/2003 1:36:40 AM PDT
I meant Socrates, not Plato. Scuse me!!
posted on 05/31/2003 1:42:11 AM PDT
The great days of Athens were long gone before Alexander. They ended with the city's utter defeat in the Peloponnesian War.
After that, it was doomed to be the Boston of the ancient world- full of history, museums, and universities, and little more.
posted on 05/31/2003 2:43:27 AM PDT
(This space for rent.)
Athens had already lost the Peloponesian war and its empire prior to the trial of Socrates. Athens never was a true democracy even prior to that -- it was a democracy only amongst the freeholding citizens, supported by massive slavery. After losing to Sparta, Athenian democratic institutions were put on a tight leash by the Spartans. Socrates was in trouble mainly because he was a troublemaker and non-conformist at a time when such were not to be tolerated. It can also be argued (as IF Stone did) that one reason Socrates was put to death was because he was actually an anti-democrat, and thus an enemy of the state. Socrates (or at least what we know of him by Plato) hated democracy. He thought that the government should be in the hands of those who had the character and ability to do a good and wise job of governing, rather than in the hands of the mob (which is what Athenian democracy in practice often became). And there is something to be said for this viewpoint, although it did cost Socrates his life in saying it.
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