Base Camp is where visitors go to relax, unwind, and get familiar with an anthology of earlier material.

Athens: From Democracy To Hemlock – 3. Democracy Is Born

Vase depicting ancient Olympic games

Note: this post was based on ten YouTube clips, which have been taken down since then. The post corresponds to roughly one-tenth-length of the series.

Cleisthenes assembles a conspiracy to overthrow the tyrant – Heroism permeates society – Olympic games, the heroic ideal – Isagoras turns to the Spartans, seizes control of Athens – Cleisthenes is cast out of the city – The Athenians rise up – In control of the mob – A revolutionary governmental solution for a revolutionary political situation – A white pebble for Yes, a black pebble for No – Democracy is born

Cleisthenes, founder of democracy. Source:

It’s a time of heroism across the Greek world. The Olympic games, once reserved for rich aristocrats, are now open to all men. Commoners are free to emulate their heroes and fight for an olive wreath and fame.

It’s an era ripe for extraordinary feats on the part of ordinary people.

Isagoras, powerful Athenian aristocrat, seeks help from the Spartans in 510 BC to seize control of Athens. He is successful, declaring himself tyrant and casting out Cleisthenes and 700 other families.

Two years later, the common Athenians rise up in revolution and topple Isagoras. The Spartans are expelled and Cleisthenes is called back to form a government. He seizes the moment to create a new system of governance, whereby all men of Athens cast their vote on civic matters. The world’s first democracy is born.

It’s referred to as Isonomia.

From the phenomenal Atlantic Productions Documentary Series, Greeks: Crucible of Civilization

Narrator: Liam Neeson