CLA 3433: The Athenian Democracy (Fall 2016)


Class Time and Location

  • Tuesday Period 4 (10:40–11:40 am) and Thursday Periods 4–5 (10:40 am–12:35 pm) in Dauer 342

Instructor Information

  • Andrew Wolpert, PhD, Associate Professor of Classics
  • Email and Office Phone:, 352-273-3702
  • Office Hours: Tuesday 12:00–1:00 pm, Thursday 1:00–2:00 pm
  • Office: Dauer 138

Course Description

Participatory democracies first appeared in Greece some 2,500 years ago, flourishing for centuries, until they were replaced by monarchies and empires.  Although democracy was reinvented in the modern period, representative democracies were chosen instead because direct democracy was considered too radical and too impractical for the modern world. This course offers students the opportunity to reconsider our assumptions about participatory democracy.  Through a study of the political, social, and cultural institutions of the democracy of ancient Athens, we will consider the strengths and weaknesses of this unique form of government. Topics include the origin and development of the Athenian democracy; political organizations and social and economic structures; war and imperialism; freedom of speech and intellectual dissent; gender, sexuality, and citizenship; democratic discourse and ideology; and democracy and the arts.

Required Texts

  • Aeschylus, The Oresteia, tr. by R. Lattimore (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969). [You may substitute this edition with any other translation of the Oresteia.]
  •  Arthur W.H. Adkins and Peter White, eds., The Greek Polis: University of Chicago Readings in Western Civilization, Volume 1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986).
  • Mogens H. Hansen, The Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).
  • Andrew Wolpert and Kostantinos Kapparis, Legal Speeches of Democratic Athens: Sources for Athenian History (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011).


  • All other readings are available on the course’s Canvas page in e-Learning.

Course Requirements

  • Attendance: 100 points. Attendance will be taken at class meetings. There will be a 50% deduction for arriving late or leaving early.
  • Participation: 100 points.
  • Online Discussion Posts: 100 points (lowest 4 scores are dropped).
  • One Oral Presentation: 100 points.
  • Three Exams on September 29, November 3, and December 5: 200 points (each).
  • This course has no pre-requisites and is intended for students interested in classics, history, political science, or political philosophy.
  • Study aids are not permitted during exams.

Grading Scale

A = 92.5–100%
A- = 89.5–92.4%
B+ = 86.5–89.4%
B = 82.5–86.4%
B- = 79.5–82.4%
C+ = 76.5–79.4%
C = 72.5–76.4%
C- = 69.5–72.4%
D+ = 66.5–69.4%
D = 62.5–65.4%
D- = 59.5–62.4%
E < 59.4%

Weekly Schedule

Part 1: History of Athens

Tuesday, August 23: Introduction

  • Course Overview

Thursday, August 25: From Cylon to Peisistratus

  • Hansen, Athenian Democracy, 27–33, 43–46, 55–64.
  • Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, sections 1–19 (in Adkins & White, Greek Polis #16, pages 228–43).

Tuesday, August 30: Cleisthenes

  • Hansen, Athenian Democracy 34-36, 46-49.
  • Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, sections 20–21 (in Adkins & White, Greek Polis #16, pages 243–45).
  • Herodotus 5.66-73 (in Adkins & White, Greek Polis #7, pages 41-43).

Thursday, September 1: Later Reforms

  • Hansen, Athenian Democracy, 36-43, 49-54.

Tuesday, September 6: Origins of the Democracy

  • Josiah Ober, “Athenian Revolution of 508/7 B.C.: Violence, Authority, and the Origins of Democracy,” in Cultural Poetics in Archaic Greece, edited by Carol Dougherty and Leslie Kurke (Oxford 1993) 21–32.
  • Kurt Raaflaub, “Power in the Hands of the People: Foundations of Athenian Democracy,” in Democracy 2500?, edited by Ian Morris and Kurt Raaflaub (Dubuque, IA 1997) 33–62.

Part 2: Politics

Thursday, September 8: The Courts

  • Hansen, Athenian Democracy, 178–224.

Tuesday, September 13: The Assembly and the Council

  • Hansen, Athenian Democracy, 125–60, 247–65.

Thursday, September 15: Leaders of the People

  • Josiah Ober, Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens: Rhetoric, Ideology, and the Power of the People (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989) 156–87.
  • Edward, Harris, “How to Address the Athenian Assembly: Rhetoric and Political Tactics in the Debate about Mytilene (Thuc. 3.37–50),” Classical Quarterly 63 (2013) 94–109.

Tuesday, September 20: Locus of Power

  • Josiah Ober, “Classical Athenian Democracy and Democracy Today,” in The Promotion of Knowledge: Lectures to Mark the Centenary of the British Academy 1902-2002, edited by John Morrill (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) 145–61.
  • Mogens H. Hansen “The Political Powers of the People’s Court in Fourth-Century Athens,” in The Greek City from Homer to Alexander, edited by O. Murray and S. Price (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990) 215–43.

Thursday, September 22: Political Offices and Political Rights

  • Lysias 16 (in Wolpert & Kapparis).
  • Lysias 24 (in Wolpert & Kapparis).

Tuesday, September 27: Imperialism

  • M.I. Finley, “The Fifth-Century Athenian Empire: A Balance Sheet,” in Imperialism in the Ancient World, edited by P.D.A. Garnsey, and C.R. Whittaker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978) 103–26.
  • Paul Millett,  “Patronage and Its Avoidance in Classical Athens,” in Patronage in Ancient Society, edited by Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (London: Routledge, 1989) 15–47.

Thursday, September 29: Exam 1

  • Part 1: Short Answer Questions (20 minutes)
  • Part 2: Essay Question (30 minutes)

Part 3: Society

Tuesday, October 4: Trade and the Economy

  • C.M. Reed, Maritime Traders in the Greek World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 15–26.
  • Demosthenes 32 (in Wolpert & Kapparis).

Thursday, October 6: Free and Slave

  • Robin Osborne, “The Economics and Politics of Slavery at Athens,” in The Greek World, edited by Anton Powell (London: Routledge, 1995) 27–43.
  • Michael Gagarin, “The Torture of Slaves in Athenian Law,” Classical Philology 91 (1996) 1–18.

Tuesday, October 11: Young and Old

  • Demosthenes 54 (in Wolpert & Kapparis).

 Thursday, October 13: Rich and Poor

  • Demosthenes 21 (in Wolpert & Kapparis).

Tuesday, October 18: The Home

  • Douglas M. MacDowell, The Law in Classical Athens (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974), 84-108.
  • Demosthenes 41 (in Wolpert & Kapparis).

Thursday, October 20: Husbands and Wives

  • Lysias 1 (in Wolpert & Kapparis).
  • David Cohen, “Seclusion, Separation, and the Status of Women in Classical Athens,” Greece and Rome 36 (1989) 3–15.
  • Andrew Wolpert, “Lysias 1 and the Politics of the Oikos,” Classical Journal 96 (2001) 416–24.

Tuesday, October 25: Mistresses and Prostitutes

  • [Demosthenes] 59 (in Wolpert & Kapparis).

Thursday, October 27: Masculinity 1

  • Aeschines 1 (in Wolpert & Kapparis), first half of the speech.

Tuesday, November 1: Masculinity 2

  • Aeschines 1 (in Wolpert & Kapparis), second half of the speech.

Thursday, November 3: Exam 2

  • Part 1: Historical Passage (25 minutes)
  • Part 2: Essay Question (25 minutes)

Part 4: Culture

Tuesday, November 8: Democratic Ideology 1

  • Herodotus 3.80-84 (in Adkins & White, Greek Polis #7, pp. 44-46).
  • Plato, Protagoras (Greek Polis #14, pp. 217-224).

Thursday, November 10: Democratic Ideology 2

  • Logos Epitaphios (Funeral Oration): Thucydides 2.34-46 (click here for online text).

Tuesday, November 15: Elite Opposition

  • The Old Oligarch (Greek Polis #8, pages 48-56).
  • Plato, ApologyCrito, Republic (Greek Polis #12, #13, #15, pages 183-217, 224-227).

Thursday, November 17: Tragedy 1

  • Aeschylus, Oresteia, read AgamemnonLibation Bearers, and Eumenides.

Thursday, November 24: Thanksgiving

  • No Class

Tuesday, November 29: Comedy 1

  • Aristophanes, Wasps (Greek Polis #9, pages 57-103).

Thursday, December 1: Comedy 2

  • Aristophanes, Wasps (Greek Polis #9, pages 103-157).

Tuesday, December 6: Exam 3

  • Part 1: Historical Passage (25 minutes)
  • Part 2: Essay Question (25 minutes)

Course Policies

  • Academic Honesty: UF students are bound by The Honor Pledge which states, “We, the members of the University of Florida community, pledge to hold ourselves and our peers to the highest standards of honor and integrity by abiding by the Honor Code. On all work submitted for credit by students at the University of Florida, the following pledge is either required or implied: “On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid in doing this assignment.” The Honor Code. On all work submitted for credit by students at the University of Florida, the following pledge is either required or implied: “On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid in doing this assignment.” The Honor Code specifies a number of behaviors that are in violation of this code and the possible sanctions. Furthermore, you are obligated to report any condition that facilitates academic misconduct to appropriate personnel. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with the instructor or TAs in this class.
  • Students with Disabilities: Please do not hesitate to ask for accommodation for a documented disability. Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office ( The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student, who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor when requesting accommodation. Please ask the instructor if you would like any assistance in this process.
  • Attendance and Make-up Policy: Requirements for class attendance and make-up exams, assignments, and other work in this course are consistent with university policies:
  • Course Evaluation: Students are expected to provide feedback on the quality of instruction in this course by completing online evaluations at Evaluations are typically open during the last two or three weeks of the semester, but students will be given specific times when they are open. Summary results of these assessments are available to students at

Counseling Resource

Students experiencing either health or personal problems that interfere with their general well-being are encouraged to seek assistance through the university’s health care and counseling centers. Resources are also available on campus for students who wish to explore their career options.