From, A. Zimmern, Political Thought,
in R.W. Livingstone (ed.), The Legacy of Greece, Oxford University Press, 1921.
The first valuable contribution the Greeks made to political study was that they invented it. It is not too much to say that, before fifth-century Greece, politics did not exist. There were powers and principalities, governments and subjects, but politics no more existed than chemistry existed in the age of alchemy. An imitation of an idea, as Plato has taught us, is not the same as an idea; nor is the imitation of a science the same as a science. Rameses and Nebuchadnezzar, Croesus the Lydian and Cyrus the Persian, ruled over great empires; but within their dominions there were no politics because there were no public affairs. There were only the private affairs of the sovereign and his ruling class. Government and all that pertained to it, from military service and taxation to the supply of women for the royal harem, was simply the expression of the power and desire of the ruler. The great advance made by Greece was to have recognized that public or common interests exist and to have provided, first for their management, and secondly for their study. In other words, the Greeks were the first to rescue the body politic from charlatans and to hand it over to physicians.
How great an achievement this was we can best recognize when we consider how large a place the true study of politics, and the terms and ideas to which it has given rise, fills in the life of the modern man—especially of the modern Englishman. Justice and liberty, law and democracy, parliament and public opinion—all these and many more we owe to the peasants and craftsmen of the small Greek republics who, having felt the need for a better management of their humble concerns, set to work to provide it, with the same inventiveness, the same adaptation of means to end, which led them, in other fields, to the invention of the classic temple or of the drama. If it is going too far to say that every modern politician owes his stock-in-trade of general ideas to the Greeks, there are certainly few who do not owe them their perorations.
Cf. Ancient Greek History and the West * Greek is the higher life of man * Greek History Resources
Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome
A History of Greek Philosophy * Plato Home Page
Reference address : http://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/political-theory.asp