The Dēmos in Dēmokratia


Cammack, Daniela. 2019. “The Dēmos in Dēmokratia”. Classical Quarterly.

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Dêmokratia is widely glossed ‘rule by the people’ where ‘people’ (dêmos) is defined as ‘entire citizenry’. Yet from Homer to Aeschylus, dêmos indicated not the whole citizenry but a part: those who wielded political power through their participation in a collective agent—in the first instance, an assembly—as opposed to those who enjoyed political influence as individuals. First and foremost, dêmokratia signalled that supreme power had passed to this group, away from the leading men who had previously held sway. The implications for our conceptualization of democracy are profound.


Last updated on 09/25/2019