American Democracy Through Ancient Greek Eyes

Barry Strauss looks at the contrasts and similarities between the city-states and the 'land of the free'.

Two thousand five hundred years after the founding of democracy in Athens, the United States of America is a larger, wealthier, and more powerful democracy than any Athenian could have imagined. But would an Athenian indeed consider America to be a democracy? If he could be restored to life and brought to Washington DC, would an Athenian visitor feel at home, even among the marble columns and the neo-classical fa├žades? Would he judge the American government to embody 'the power of the people', as did Athens' demokratia (a compound of demos, 'people', and kratos, 'power')?

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