We built ancient societies in China, India, Egypt, Persia and through the steppes of Mongolia. But in Classical Greece (800 – 200 BCE), Homo sapiens built a mythology of Gods and heroes that led the Athenian society to develop the idea of a Democracy. Athens was a polis or a city. It had about 33,000 Greek foreigners and 100,000 slaves living together with about 100,000 citizens. Of these citizens, all men over the age of 18, about 30,000, were voting members of the government. The people were the demos and they had the kratia or the power. It was a government of the people and ruled by the people. In my opinion, Democracy has been the best government Homo sapiens has ever created.
By 500 BCE, the Ancient Greeks knew that the Earth was a sphere. In 296 BCE, Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth to be about 250,000 stadia. Eratosthenes’ circumference was between 24,000 miles and 29,000 miles. The Earth is, now known, to measure about 24,900 miles around the equator, slightly less around the poles.
Much has been written through out the centuries about the wars that were fought by the Ancient Greeks. Homer, a minstrel poet, born between 1200 BCE and 800 BCE wrote “the Iliad” and the “the Odyssey”. This written work came about 700 years after the war with Troy. In all those years, the tales was told by minstrel singers. These works have been read by generations of Homo sapiens, all around the world. Should you read them? I would say: “Yes!” But it’s your call ……. So it goes.
Persia, an ancient society that was led by a strong man, had problems with ancient Athens. You can read all about these wars with Persia, but the final sea battle, in 480 BC, occurred in the waters between Salamis and the mainland just to the west of Athens.
Overcoming superior numbers with daring tactics and sheer determination, the allied Greek forces won a freedom that allowed for artistic and cultural endeavor which would form the foundations of Western culture for millennia. Xerxes, the leader of the Persian empire, was camped on the shore. He watched the Athenian led ships route his fleet and then, he left and went back to Persia. The Strong Man government was unable to defeat the democracy.
The world has been full of other kinds of governments. There have been religious governments that fought tooth and nail against other religious governments. They physically tortured other people who held a different religious opinion. This still goes on in our world in 2020. Think about the Middle East. There have been Aristocratic governments, where there were Princes and Dukes and Kings. Princes fought against other Princes and Kings fought against other Kings. In the end, common people died in great numbers.
In all of these governments, STRONG MEN ruled the world around them. Aristocratic and religious governments evolved into nations and empires. The history of building nations and empires is complex and local. You are invited to examine it, at will. Today, much of the world is ruled by strong men, even when they call themselves “democracies”. You can spend as much time as you like, looking up how all that happened, but I will move on to tell you more about what happened in the United States and Europe in the hundred years before 1938.