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Athenian Empire

Freedom (ancient Greece).


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A large amount of territory controlled by the Athenian democracy over which it enforced its will overtly and at times brutally. This led some to question the extent to which a democracy is able to (or should) govern other states without itself becoming tyrannical.

This method of analysis is sometimes called the Socratic method, and it stems from Socrates’ conviction that he knew nothing, and so needed to engage in conversation so that both he and those with whom he was engaged in discussion could learn the truth together. Socrates attempted to find the truth through inquiry and conversation, rather than trying to impart the truth through lectures.

Both Athens and Sparta used the rhetoric of freedom in their conflicts in the 5th Century BCE, but both thought about freedom as a positive value, which comes at the expense of those who are not free. This is in contrast to a more modern notion of freedom from oppression, rather than freedom to dominate others.

A form of government in which all citizens have a say in how their society is run. Athens in the 5th Century BCE had this form of government (where all citizens actively participated in running society), but the benefits of citizenship were not available to a large proportion of Athenian society, including women, slaves, and non-citizen residents (metics).

A political system in which a few people share power among themselves. In the 5th Century BCE Sparta had this form of government and much of the conflict in this period can be seen as political: between two competing ideas of how society should be run.