Athenian Democracy and the Roman Republic
August 2-3, 2013
This weekend workshop will introduce students with an interest in civic participation and leadership to the basic features of one of the ancient world’s most lasting legacies, Athenian democracy as it was conceived and practiced in the fifth and fourth century BCE. All interns will participate in this workshop. As “ephebes”, or Greek youths on the cusp of becoming full citizens, participants will explore the historical, cultural, and economic forces that gave rise to Athenian democracy and also consider the attitudes that thinkers of the time had toward it and other competing forms of government. They will look at the most salient architectural remains of Athenian democracy, namely, the theater, the acropolis, and the marketplace. Participants will also examine the various modes of education that equipped Athenians to become citizens and leaders of their communities.
No prior knowledge of the ancient world is required and no preparation is necessary other than to read Sophocles’ Philoctetes, produced in 409 BCE. A free online copy will be provided by the Hellenic Center. This is a coming of age story of the Greek Neoptolemus, who wrestles with ethical and political questions about how best to serve his community’s cause in the Trojan War. The play has seen new attention in recent years because it treats such civic questions as “What is a young person’s role in a political community?” “How do democracies use information?” and “How do we reconcile the needs of the community with self-interest?” Students will also take a brief survey about the nature of democracy and citizenship.
Schedule of Sessions