The United States of America is often referred to as a democracy, and yet “democracy” is a highly contested concept within political theory, with its desirability as the “ideal” form of political rule under scrutiny since the moment of its inception in Ancient Greece. This course begins to make sense of the varied political, philosophical, and ideological perspectives on this contested concept through a close engagement with the diverse and unexpected genres of writing that defined the Ancient and Medieval period of political inquiry. From recorded debates and conversations by Plato, Herodotus and Thucydides, to polemical essays such as “The Old Oligarch,” satirical comedies such as Aristophanes’ Birds, puzzling tragedies such as Sophocles’ Antigone, and on to classic texts of political and Christian philosophy such as Aristotle’s Politics and Saint Augustine’s City of God, this course will encounter a variety of forms of argumentation, including irony, satire, rhetorical flourish and logical reasoning, all geared toward making sense of the concept of democracy and debating its desirability over other forms of political rule.


4 sh

Course Types

Advanced Studies


Fall, Spring


  • Fall
  • Spring


This course satisfies the political theory requirement for a major in political science. No pre-requisites.

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