Roman or Athenian?
Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-07-22
In response to the stimulating post and discussion over at Skepticlawyer ("Roman or Celt" 2009-07-20 by LE), I’ll ask the question "Roman or Athenian?".
It’s hard to say "Greek" when so much of that civilization happened outside the bounds of what we call Greece – and even outside Europe. It’s doubly hard if you imagine yourself in Alexandria under Roman occupation. It’s triply hard if you want to decide whether "Greek" means Spartan or Athenian (although I’m sure some readers might prefer to have lived Sybaris at the height of it’s wealth!)
So… 5th/4th century BCE Athens (except for the rule of 500) or Rome (last century of the Republic)?
Me, I’d probably go for Athens. So many people I’d like to meet there, so many plays I’d like to see, whereas in the nominated period of Rome, I’d only really want to talk with Cicero. Besides, I’d just love the chance to participate in an ostracism election (see here and here). Those folk were into participatory democracy – something we desperately need these days.
The only huge downsides are the lack of water and sewerage, and that I’d probably be forced to be a rower rather than in the infantry… and I don’t think my bum would like the blisters.