Democracy and Classical Thinkers Essay

Submitted By linsdey
Words: 621
Pages: 3

Lindsey Stoetzer
AP World History Period 3

While classical thinkers had many different perspectives on the way sources of authority should rule and on the role that non-elites should play in society, there was always an underlying theme of the goal of peace and prosperity in a nation, no matter what the political and social setup. Whether a monarchy or democracy, the vision of an ideal rule was one focused on the well-being and advancement of the country. These themes were prevalent throughout major civilizations in the classical period, and were approached in different ways, from the monarchy of China to the Athenian democracy. Starting in the 5th century B.C.E., with the teachings of Confucius, monarchy was the form of government instituted in China. Just as early in history, the Persian Empire shared these ideals. The main point made by supporters of monarchy was that with a good, fair ruler, the people would stay loyal and devoted. Confucius envisioned that sources of authority to rule should "govern them by moral forces" (1), for forcing people to live in controlled fear will never create a solid foundation for a strong nation. Two hundred years later, the Chinese political policies had not changed. The ruler "never tolerates wicked desires, but seeks only for the people's benefit" (2). Non-elites were unimportant in politics. Around the time of Confucius, the Persian Empire also rejected democracy. The King of Persia claimed monarchy was absolutely the best form of government, for what rule "can possibly be better than that of the very best man in the whole state?" (4). Classical thinkers in China and Persia envisioned the most effective government to be one with a single source of authority, one king or emperor who is overall in charge. In other parts of the world, however, a different form of government was preferred. This was democracy, supported most strongly by Athenians in the classical era. The idea of democracies was that the people have the right to govern themselves, and to not be controlled by one single power, such as a king. Democracies believed in administration to be "in the hands, not of the few, but of the many" (3). The Athenian vision of democracy in particular very much promoted the idea of earning your honor. In other words, social standing neither guaranteed nor blocked an individual from a public career "if he but has it in him to do the state a service" (3). In 200 B.C.E.,…