Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/political-theory.asp?pg=3

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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

A. Zimmern 
Ancient Greek Political Theory

From, A. Zimmern, Political Thought,
in R.W. Livingstone (ed.), The Legacy of Greece, Oxford University Press, 1921.

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Page 3

The modern voter who is too idle to cast his ballot, will give up to business or to pleasure, to motor-car and music-hall, the time and the trouble that he owes to humanity. When the Athenian spent a hot and exhausting day (for why should we think their nerves less susceptible to glare than ours?) listening to a parliamentary debate or to a lawsuit on a hard stone seat in the open air, he was postponing till to-morrow, or till his crops and fruit-trees permitted him the leisure, the discussion of some masterpiece of drama or some new issue of human thought which had leapt during the last few days or months from the brain of a fellow citizen into immortality. If it is hard for the citizen of New York to spare the time to dethrone Tammany, or for the electors of Great Britain to uproot its more outwardly respectable analogue on this side of the Atlantic, when his life, and his newspapers, are full of vulgar and ephemeral distractions, how much harder must it have been for a Euripidean enthusiast, or a student of Socrates or Protagoras, to descend for long days to solid earth in order to strike a bargain with a Thracian chieftain or to assess some poor devil's damages in drachmae!

Let us honour, not pity or despise them, for having thought it right to do so, for having deliberately determined to infuse into public affairs, in themselves so drab and dull, so deficient in the fineness and subtlety which characterize men's more intimate concerns, the interest derived from the very fact that honest, sincere, and able minds devoted themselves to their study. As Huxley could make the geological procession of the ages revolve round a piece of chalk, and Sir Richard Owen reconstruct primitive man from the bone of his great toe, so the citizen of Athens, as we see him depicted for us in the pages of Thucydides, could raise the great permanent issues of politics, and cause them to remain living for us two thousand years later, in debates which were ostensibly concerned with mere provincial trivialities. When such was the atmosphere created, no wonder that those who stayed away were held up to obloquy in an expression (ιδιωτης {idiôtês}) of which our English 'idiot' is the exact transcription.


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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/political-theory.asp?pg=3