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To What Extent Did the Reality of Athens Match Its Ideals? Essay

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Updated: Oct 30th, 2021

Introduction

During the Western civilization, Athens had certain ideas that were developed to promote the ideas of freedom and justice in the society. Athens is known as the intellectual and the artistic center of Greece where mankind’s precious and significant moral values originated from[1]. In addition, Athens is stated as being the base for the Western civilization whereby the concepts that were born in Athens plus its ideals formed the core principles of civilization in other parts of the world. Athens’s ideals included, forward-thinking, freedom, justice and democracy. Though Athens held these ideals, the people of Athens and the leaders did not manage to live according to the ideals fully[2].

Main text

Athens’s ideal of democracy was achieved through the effort of a charismatic and noble leader known as Pericles. This leader participated greatly in democratizing Athens. The Athens government was able to establish a system of government where they did away with the king’s rule to form a government of a council of nobles, and later managed to rule by the consent of the people. In this system, the citizens participated in the governing system by electing their own leaders. Through this measure the leaders in Athens ruled with the power given to them by the people. It was a system of direct democracy where all men were expected to vote as a fulfillment of their duties, to participate in the community service as well as their military duty.

However, the idea of democracy was only applicable to only those born in Athens.

The Athens democracy did not include women, freed slaves, slaves or any other person who was not born in Athens. Though the leaders in Athens supported democracy, they did not allow those not born in Athens to participate in the democratic process which indicates a limitation to the complete practice of the democratic ideal.

Another ideal in Athens, freedom, was not fully followed which shows that Athens never managed to match its own ideals when it came to their real life.

Freedom was expected to allow people to move, work or associate with the others without any restrictions. But freedom was not given to all people living in Athens. For instance, the Greeks great democrats in Athens practiced slavery[3], a practice that denied slaves their freedom. They even went further to own slaves. Since an estimated one-third of the people who lived in Athens were slaves, a good number of Athens residents were denied their freedom.

Justice which was also one of Athens’s ideals was not observed in reality. Though democracy was seen as one of the ways of doing people justice by allowing them to elect their own leaders and to be treated equally, justice failed when Athens displayed brutality and harshness to some of its residents. For instance, slavery and harsh treatment of women denied the individuals their rights as human beings and as citizens. This kind of brutality went against fair treatment of all people as an aspect of ensuring justice to all.

Athens experienced corruption when democracy resulted in “class wars”. The rich and the poor were split into class wars which played a huge role in paralyzing the state functions.

Furthermore, the democratic elections that were held in Athens resulted to gang street fights between various factions, a situation that undermined the ideal of democracy/pure democracy. The class wars in Athens also undermined its own foundation.

Summary

In spite of Athens’s failure to express the ideas in reality, its ideal of forward-thinking was well observed, which made it the foundation of western civilization.

Athens contributed greatly to philosophy and art because it managed to have free time to develop their own culture. Drama, music, and the poetry festivals were able to be hosted by the amphitheaters[4]. A cultural explosion was experienced due to the flocking of Greeks to Athens to participate in the festivals plus the Delian League money. Athens made great advances in philosophy, science, politics and architecture.

These advancements fulfilled their ideal of forwarding thinking.

Works cited

  1. Benjamin, Broome. 1996. Exploring the Greek Mosaic. Intercultural Press Greece
  2. Attica Hotel Association. History and Culture: Athens. Web.
  3. Rick, Steve. 2007. Europe 101 History and Art for the Traveler Getting a Grip on the Golden Age of Athens. Web.
  4. Benjamin, Broome. 1996. Exploring the Greek Mosaic. Intercultural Press Greece
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"To What Extent Did the Reality of Athens Match Its Ideals?" IvyPanda, 30 Oct. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/to-what-extent-did-the-reality-of-athens-match-its-ideals/.

1. IvyPanda. "To What Extent Did the Reality of Athens Match Its Ideals?" October 30, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/to-what-extent-did-the-reality-of-athens-match-its-ideals/.


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IvyPanda. "To What Extent Did the Reality of Athens Match Its Ideals?" October 30, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/to-what-extent-did-the-reality-of-athens-match-its-ideals/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "To What Extent Did the Reality of Athens Match Its Ideals?" October 30, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/to-what-extent-did-the-reality-of-athens-match-its-ideals/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'To What Extent Did the Reality of Athens Match Its Ideals'. 30 October.

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