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Democracy's BeginningThe Athenian Story$
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Thomas N. Mitchell

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300215038

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300215038.001.0001

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The Democracy Falters

The Democracy Falters

(p.134) Chapter 5 The Democracy Falters
Democracy's Beginning

Thomas N. Mitchell

Yale University Press

This chapter shows the negative side of demotic rule, especially when driven by overconfidence and hegemonic ambition, and guided by leaders who, in differing degrees, were intent on imperial dominance. It chronicles how the breakdown of the stability of a well-hedged constitution began, beginning in the early fifth century. The hardships of war and plague helped create the conditions for it, but the greatest destabilizing factors were the emergence of two new political forces, represented by the demagogues and the radical elements of the younger nobility. The political methods and behavior of both were highly divisive, generating suspicion and apprehension among the body politic. In addition, the chapter goes on to describe other cracks in the early democratic system.

Keywords:   fifth century, destabilizing factors, demagogues, young radicals, war, plague, imperial dominance, demotic rule, flaws of democracy

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