The political systems known as "democracy" and "republic" were created and named around 3,000 years ago in Ancient Greece. The word democracy stems from the Greek word demos, meaning "the people". A democracy is a political system in which the people of a country rule. The word republic stems from the Latin res publica, which literally means "the public thing". A republic is a form of government that is based on the concept that sovereignty resides in the people, who delegate power to elected representatives and officials to rule in their behalf. Although at first glance a true republic seems to be very similar to a true democracy, indeed the main point of both systems of government is self rule, in fact, there are many differences between them. This paper will examine the governments of Ancient Athens and Ancient Rome, and specifically the differences between the two forms of government in these countries. An understanding of these differences can help explain why Athens developed into a democracy, and Rome developed into a Republic.
The best example of a country that used a direct democracy as a system of government was Ancient Athens. In the seventh century B.C.E., Athens was a typical aristocratic polis (an ancient Greek city-state).The aristocrats held the best land, and dominated political life. The state was governed by the Areopagus, which was a council of nobles. The Areopagus would elect nine magistrates called archons. However they did not really control the politics of the state, because they served for a year, and became part of the Areopagus after completing their term. As historians Kagan, Ozment, and Turner say, "Because the archons served for only a year, were checked by their colleagues, and looked forward to a lifetime as members of the Areopagus, it is plain that the aristocratic Areopagus, not the archons, was the true master of the state." In the seventh century B.