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NIHIL NOVUM SUB SOLE

1001 deeds, sayings, curiosities and anecdotes of the ancient world

The first text of political thought is also provided to us by Herodotus

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The ancient Greeks theorized about the various political systems: monarchy, democracy, tyranny

There are several forms of personal power: monarchy, royalty, tyranny…they are all different, but these three terms have many relationships with each other.

Throughout History, the ancient Greek people not only had different political systems (monarchy, democracy, tyranny ...), but often theorized about this important issue and devoted its most illustrious thinkers like Plato or Aristotle. It could not be otherwise by those who created the Philosophy, rhetoric, science, and reflected and theorized about so many things. Their reflections were by no means simple, but difficult and detailed.

We owe to Herodotus, the "Father of History", the first text of Greek literature in defining the various forms of government, the first text of political thought. In his Histories, III, 80.1 he puts in the mouth of three Persians (King Darius and his generals Ótanes and Megabizo) the benefits and harms of the monarchy, democracy and oligarchy.

Ótanes rejects monarchy (Greek μονος (mónos): one, and αρχειν (arjéin): government) because the monarch (king or tyrant are not delimited), who can do whatever he wants without accounting for it, develops pride, excess (ὕϐρις  hybris) and envy of those around him and hurts and kills without trial those he considers his enemies. Ótanes defends the "people's government" or isonomy (from the Greek ἰσονομία  "equality before the law”, as well of ἴσος, isos," equal "and νόμος nomos," usage, custom, law "), because the magistrates are exercised by election and issues undergo deliberation of the people.

Megabizo rejects democracy or isonomy or government by the people because people are ignorant, insolent and impulsive. He proposes to elect a group of well-prepared persons, named the oligarchy (from the Greek ὀλιγαρχία, ολίγο = little, few and αρχειν (arjéin): government). Oligarchy is then considered as a degeneration of the aristocracy 'government of the best "(Greek ἀριστοκρατία  aristokratía, of ἄριστος aristos, excellent, and κράτος, kratos, power) and therefore it is also a tyrannical system of government.

Darius rejects democracy because debauchery is inevitable in it; he also rejects the oligarchy because in it inevitably exist rivalries and hatreds, strife and murder against each other because they all want to occupy the head of power; so he is in favor of the monarchy, because, being a single ruler, state secrets are best kept and avoid the above problems. But this monarchy is not tyranny because it governs the people properly. This way, democracy degenerates into oligarchy and, at the same time, this last one turns into a monarchy, which is the best system, because the monarch acts as a judge between the aristocratic groups and favors the people. But even this monarch can easily become a tyrant, who takes away the freedom from his citizens.

Lately Socrates, Plato, Aristotle deeply developed these ideas, but the first one who presents the discussion, at least the first text we know, is of the "father" Herodotus.

Today Western world’s citizens are mostly democratic, but there isn’t shortage of voices, that are heard with some frequency, defending oligarchic systems as they consider people ignorant and easily manageable.

It’s also interesting that still remain good number of Western monarchies, although its political function, very small, is under the rules of democracy.

And even in many countries of the world there are monarchies, tyrannical monarchies, oligarchies and tyrannical oligarchies and in them there is no freedom for their citizens. Certainly humanity has improved, but how difficult to extend and keep freedom is.

 

see: history had a father

 

   
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