Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages

Watch Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages

  • 2018
  • 1 Season

Explore the Athenians’ view of their great political experiment: democracy. In 24 history-rich episodes, Professor Robert Garland takes you into the world of leaders like Solon, Cleisthenes, and Pericles, as well as the judgments of contemporary historians such as Herodotus and Thucydides. The result is a fascinating story of what is arguably the boldest political initiative in history.

Filter by Source

Seasons
Democracy Today, Democracy Tomorrow
24. Democracy Today, Democracy Tomorrow
May 25, 2018
There are obvious correlations and differences between Athenian democracy and democracy today; and, now it's time to draw conclusions based on the comparison. In this final episode, consider what the Athenians might have made of our democracy today and what democracy really means in the modern world, and whether it is as secure as we sometimes assume.
Post-Athenian Democracies
23. Post-Athenian Democracies
May 25, 2018
Greece is often described as the "cradle of democracy," but democracy was not a continuing entity from its beginnings in the 7th century B.C. through today. In this episode, Professor Garland traces the story of democracy from the end of 4th-century Athens (when democracy took a nosedive) through modern times.
Ancient Critics of Athenian Democracy
22. Ancient Critics of Athenian Democracy
May 25, 2018
What did the Athenians themselves think about their system of government? Professor Garland shows that not everyone in the city-state was thrilled by the democracy. Despite moments of friction, such as during the Peloponnesian War, Athenian democracy was largely a success.
Law and Order under Democracy
21. Law and Order under Democracy
May 25, 2018
Athenian democracy had both a political and a legal component. In this episode, take a deep dive into the city-state's legal system, from the central role of the courts to the procedures of a trial. The process of arraignment, jury selection, and sentencing will sound familiar. Reflect on the strengths and flaws of the legal system.
The Democratic Theater
20. The Democratic Theater
May 25, 2018
Take a break from the historical narrative to explore the world of the theater, one of Athens's greatest cultural achievements. As you will learn in your study of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and others, there is a strong connection between politics and the theater.
Suspension, Restoration, and Termination
19. Suspension, Restoration, and Termination
May 25, 2018
Following the disastrous Sicilian campaign, Athenian democracy appeared to be on the ropes. But in 413 B.C., the demos appointed a board of 10 elderly "probouloi," or advisors, to deal with the immediate crisis. Find out how these leaders steadied the ship and and how the democractic experiment carried on into the next century.
Athenian Defeat in Sicily
18. Athenian Defeat in Sicily
May 25, 2018
The expedition to Sicily is one of the biggest military blunders in ancient history. Much like the ill-advised American war in Vietnam, the Sicilian expedition was an avoidable disaster. See how the combination of poor decisions from political leaders and a bitterly divided military leadership led to a humiliating failure.
Political Leadership in Athens
16. Political Leadership in Athens
May 25, 2018
You've already seen how public speakers dominated the assemblies. Now take a look at the politicians whose voices rose above the fray. While every citizen theoretically had a voice in the democracy, a few politicians and demagogues tended to dominate. Learn about Cleon, Alcibiades, and others.
The Culture of Athenian Democracy
15. The Culture of Athenian Democracy
May 25, 2018
Beyond democracy, the cultural achievements of ancient Athens are some of the most impressive in all of world history. Survey some of the city's great buildings and sculptures - including the Propylaea and the frieze of the Parthenon - to find out what made Athenian culture so distinctive, and where it came up short.
Democracy under Duress
14. Democracy under Duress
May 25, 2018
Revisit the march through Athenian history with a look at one of the city's less admirable periods. Beginning with the outbreak of a terrible plague around 431 B.C. and continuing through the civil war on Corcyra (modern Corfu), the doom and gloom of this period were caused less by the nature of democracy and rather more by plain old human nature, as the historian Thucydides observed.
Pericles's Funeral Speech
13. Pericles's Funeral Speech
May 25, 2018
The funeral procession was the most important ceremony performed in ancient Athens. Pericles's funeral speech, delivered over the war dead, as captured by Thucydides, is one of the most striking pieces of prose to survive from that time. Witness the structure of the funeral ceremony and unpack Pericles's great speech.
Public Speaking in Athens
12. Public Speaking in Athens
May 25, 2018
A successful public life depends on public speaking, so it should come as no surprise that the Athenians prided themselves on rhetoric. After learning a little about the art of public speaking, you will witness several of the great political debates of the era, including one politician's contention that his opponents were delivering, essentially, "fake news."
The Age of Pericles
11. The Age of Pericles
May 25, 2018
Pericles is one of the most fascinating political leaders of all time. Here, survey his life and witness some of the great moments in his rule. Professor Garland takes you beyond the dates and battles to show you what Pericles the man might have been in life, including scandals in his domestic life.
10. "The Empire You Hold Is a Tyranny"
May 25, 2018
The Delian Confederacy - originally an association of free city-states that Athens turned into an instrument of imperial ambitions - played a major role in 5th-century Greece. Follow the confederacy from the Persian Wars to the Peloponnesian War. Find out what each of the allies got out of the confederacy, and how Athens made sure it benefited the most.
The Citizens of Athens
9. The Citizens of Athens
May 25, 2018
Who were the citizens of Athens? As you'll reflect on in this episode, perhaps as low as one-fifth of Athenian residents were citizens. Women, slaves, and resident aliens were excluded. Learn about the responsibilities of citizens, and the lives of those who could not participate.
The Council and the Magistrates
8. The Council and the Magistrates
May 25, 2018
Shift your attention to another important arm of the government. Explore the roles of the Council of 500 officials chosen by lot, required to serve for a whole year, as well as the respected (if not particularly powerful) magistrates known as archons. Then, review the relatively limited systems of taxation and welfare in ancient Athens.
The Popular Assembly
7. The Popular Assembly
May 25, 2018
Go inside one of the hallmark institutions of Athenian democracy. Open to freeborn citizens older than age 20, the popular assembly met 10 times a year and was for many citizens who lived some distance from Athens a three-day affair - one reason Athenian citizenship might seem like a full-time job. Listen to the some of the debates and arguments of a typical assembly meeting.
Democracy at War
6. Democracy at War
May 25, 2018
The ancient Greeks were a bellicose people, and they considered military service a privilege. Innovations such as hoplite warfare and the construction of their navy, manned by the poorest citizens, went hand in hand with the development of democracy in Athens, particularly since the Athenian military had no permanent commander in chief.
The Nearly Bloodless Coup
5. The Nearly Bloodless Coup
May 25, 2018
According to Professor Garland, the conclusion of the Greco-Persian Wars in the early 5th century B.C. was Athens' finest hour. Then came the truly astonishing reforms of 462 B.C., when Ephialtes and Pericles attacked the aristocratic Areopagus and instituted radical democracy - direct, participatory rule for all Athenian citizens, an unprecedented experiment.
Cleisthenes the Innovator
4. Cleisthenes the Innovator
May 25, 2018
Fifty years after Solon's reforms, a tyrant named Peisistratus seized power. The overthrow of his tyranny, and the ensuing skirmish among different aristocratic groups, led to the rise of Cleisthenes, a truly innovative leader. Find out how he undermined the old aristocratic system and carried the democratic experiment forward.
Solon: The Father of Democracy?
3. Solon: The Father of Democracy?
May 25, 2018
To understand Athenian democracy, we first must understand Athens as a polis, or city-state, within the broader context of ancient Greece. Review the territory of Attica and get the lay of the land for Athenian government in the 6th and 7th centuries B.C. Then, witness the great crisis that led to Solon's reforms and set Athenian democracy on its course.
The Origins of Greek Democracy
2. The Origins of Greek Democracy
May 25, 2018
Among Greek city-states, Athens was not alone in having a form of democratic rule. As you'll discover in this episode, Greek governments ran on a sliding scale from oligarchy and democracy to kingship and tyranny. Delve into Homer's epics to examine several early examples of democratic assembly.
Why Athenian Democracy Matters
1. Why Athenian Democracy Matters
May 25, 2018
Begin the course by considering the nature of Athenian democracy and how it functioned in practice. After surveying some of its key tenets, Professor Garland compares the Athenian governmental system to western democracy today, showing both the similarities and crucial differences. #History
Description

Explore the Athenians’ view of their great political experiment: democracy. In 24 history-rich episodes, Professor Robert Garland takes you into the world of leaders like Solon, Cleisthenes, and Pericles, as well as the judgments of contemporary historians such as Herodotus and Thucydides. The result is a fascinating story of what is arguably the boldest political initiative in history.

Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (23 episodes). The series first aired on May 25, 2018.

Where to Watch Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages

Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages on demand at Amazon Prime and Amazon.

  • Premiere Date
    May 25, 2018
Ad Info