Period 2 Time of Greeks and Romans

Citizenship and scientific thinking in the Greek city-state

Did you know that democracy is not modern at all? The ancient Greeks gave the people the chance to talk about important decisions 2,500 years ago.

The Dutch word democracy comes from the Greek words dèmos and krateo. Dèmos means 'the people' and krateo means 'rule' or 'rule'. So, literally, democracy means that the people rule. It is not coincidental that the word democracy comes from Greek. The ancient Greeks were the first people in Western history to have a democracy. Democracy was introduced here in 507 BC. This is about 300 years before the Greek empire was taken over by the Romans.

Nevertheless, democracy in ancient Greece was very different from what is now. In ancient Greece, only citizens were allowed to vote. But not every city dweller was also a citizen. A citizen had to have enough money to buy an armor. Only if he could join the fight to protect the city-state could he call himself a citizen. In this era, only men could really become citizens. If important political decisions were to be taken, a people's assembly was held. We call a people's assembly like a ekklesia. As many as 6,000 civilians were present.

If a decision was taken in the ekklesia, it did not apply to the whole of Greece. He only applied to the city-state. We call a city-state a policy. The word politics comes from the word policy. It refers to the role that citizens had in governing the policy. Not all poleis (plural of policy) were democratic.

We have not only lost democracy to the Greeks. The Greeks have also laid the foundations for our science. All science began through philosophy. Philosophy means "loving wisdom." Philosophers thought critically about different things and wanted to become wiser. The first philosophers are called sophists.

The first important Greek philosopher comes from the epoch of the Greek empire. This was Socrates. Socrates was critical of Athenian democracy and its rulers. The rulers felt that he was asking too many questions about things they thought were perfectly normal. They were afraid that Socrates was having a bad influence on the youth, and therefore he was sentenced to death. Socrates' most important pupil was Plato. He disapproved of democracy. Plato wanted the city-states to be ruled by philosophers.

The ancient Greek philosophers wrote about everything. About religion as well as about economics, politics, nature or medicine. But around 600 BC, natural philosophy began to become a separate category. In nature philosophy, the philosophers focused on the earth and the universe. They also examined the human body and learned a lot about various diseases. Before they did this research, many people thought that a disease was caused by the gods.

The most important doctor of history was Hippocrates. He lived from 460 – 380 BC on the island of Kos. He thought that the human body consisted of a balance of four different juices: Blood, mucus, yellow bile and black bile.


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