Massey Lecture 2 – Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship

Massey Lecture 2 – Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship

Tuesday,  October 14 – Halifax, Nova Scotia
Rebecca Cohn Auditorium – Dalhousie Arts Centre, 7 pm

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The term dêmokratia means, literally, people power.  As such, Athenian democracy, as articulated by figures such as Pericles, seemed to be free, tolerant, liberal, and engaging. The Greek word for virtue was ‘arete’, and this quality was popularized together with loyalty, courage, honesty, eagerness to serve the state, poverty, and self-restraint. As Aristotle put it, democracy was ‘to live as one wants. For this is, they assert, the work of freedom.'”

Adrienne Clarkson

In ancient Greece, the great general Pericles set the stage for a new idea in the world: democracy, and its necessary inhabitant, the citizen. Greek society was far from the democratic ideals of today — there were profound class restrictions around who could be a citizen — but many of the ideals of that time do hold true today.  Perhaps not coincidentally, as an offshoot of the democratic idea, Pericles female companion Aspasia seems to have been readily accepted as an equal to the men in her social class.