The word "democracy," as well as the concept it represents, can be traced back to the area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The beginnings of democracy can be credited to the Greeks of the sixth century BC. The word comes from two Greek words: demos, meaning "the people," and kratein, meaning "to rule." These two words are joined together to form democracy, literally meaning, "rule by the people" (Pious). The Greek system of government was perhaps closer to a true democracy or rule by the people than any other in history. .
Democracy nowadays is a word much used and even more misused. It has many meanings and has turned up in surprising places--the Spain of General Franco, the Greece of the colonels, the Pakistan of the generals, the Eastern Europe of the commissars--usually prefaced by some qualifying adjective such as "guided," "basic," "organic," "popular," or the like, which serves to dilute, deflect, or even to reverse the meaning of the word.
Chapter 2 .
Origins of Democracy.
The Greeks viewed dictatorship as the worst possible form of government, so their government evolved as the exact opposite. Their civilization was broken down into small city-states (never more than 10,000 citizens), and all the men voted on all issues of government. There were no representatives in the Greek system of government. Instead, they ruled themselves directly; each man was a life long member of the decision making body. This was almost a total democracy except for the fact that women and slaves (over 50% of the population) were not considered citizens and were not allowed to vote. Despite this, no other civilization has come as close to democracy as its creators, the Greeks, and many later civilizations have incorporated this Greek idea as part of the foundation for their government (Lee; Lefebvre).
The Romans used ideas of democracy similar to that of the Greeks, though not to the same extent. The Roman Empire (509-27 BC) took some of their governmental ideals from the Greeks.