Democracy in Athens was very influential to the rest of the world simply because it is known as the first ever democracy with a sense of competitiveness and community.
Competitiveness and community were two of the most valued things in Ancient Athens. Pericles, a notorious statesmen, was a leader and influencer of Athenian democracy. He used the strategy of oratory to discuss democracy to citizens of Athens to make them believe in him and democracy. One reform of Pericles that altered democracy in today’s world, was the democratic vote. The first democratic vote allowed only male citizens to vote for on decisions that affected the city, as a community. Men who wanted to introduce their ideas on topics, would go onto The Pnyx and talk about their idea.
These topics would include things such as war, alliances, taxes, religions and much more. To vote on these idea, Athenian men would drop a pebble into a vase. White meaning yes, and black meaning no. This idea of democratic vote truly did alter democracy nowadays and helped Athenian citizens come together as a community to vote on important topics. Competitiveness was another value that was exemplified through the Olympic Games. The Ancient Olympic Games were originally intended to be a celebration of Zeus, the king of gods. There would be competitions such as: running, discus, wrestling, and horse racing. Winners were given a wreath of leaves and a hero’s welcome back home. It was very competitive, because they would compete for the glory of their city and they would be seen as touched by the gods.
In Ancient Greece, competitiveness was exemplified through many ways, including the Olympics. The Olympic Games were a very important event for all citizens of Greece. The entirety of the games were dedicated to Zeus, the king of gods. The Greeks loved sports and the Olympic Games were the biggest sporting event in the ancient calendar. Competitiveness was very important to Oedipus. He loved having attention and power. When Oedipus traveled to Thebes, he was confronted by the Sphinx who eventually gave him a riddle to solve. No one before Oedipus had solved this riddle, and he aspired to be the first. The riddle asked, what walks on fours in early life, two as a adult, and with a walking stick in old age? Oedipus figured that it was a human being, and was correct. After this, he was appointed the King of Thebes and ruled over his people with power.
In Athenian democracy, it was primarily based on community and everyone having a part in the government. Oedipus was a very harsh leader that had a difficult time making decisions. The idea of community never crossed Oedipus’s mind. At some points, he simply did not care about his followers; he chose to be on his own and using his power with anger. At one point, the father of Oedipus, Laius, dies and Oedipus accuses one of his followers Teiresias of killing him. Teiresias initially refuses and tries to leave but Oedipus doesn’t let him. They exchange words, and Teiresias becomes mad, calling Oedipus a complotter of the deed. As the scene progresses, they both continue to insult each other, and become defensive. In this scene, Oedipus becomes furious at his follower Teiresias, which is one example of him not respecting the idea of community.
In Oedipus the King, Sophocles tries to show how the well-being of the state replaces any one individual. Oedipus shows that he is a fair and just ruler when he states, “But my spirit grieves for the city, for myself and all of you to learn what I might do or say to save our city” (75-84). Even though Oedipus was a fair and great ruler, revealing the true identity of his past is what will save the city. Once Oedipus realizes he is the plague upon the city, he accepts his own declaration and forces Creon to drive him from the city. Sophocles wants to show that even the greatest rulers have done horrible things in the past that will come back to haunt them. One little mistake can be the demise of any man and that is why no one man should be the loner ruler of any country.
Athenians valued competitiveness and community in their democracy, and these values altered the way some people thought, including Oedipus.
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