Home » » The Urban/Rural Divide in Athenian Political Thought
Contemporary analyses of Athenian democracy have focused on binaries such as mass/elite, free/slave, and male/female, overlooking the urban/rural divide. In this article, I argue that urban/rural was a central cleavage in the Athenian demos. Ancient thinkers including Thucydides, Aristophanes, Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle paid close attention to urban/rural differences and their consequences during the fifth century. Plato and Aristotle in particular developed sophisticated institutions and strategies to mitigate urban/rural divisions. Attending to the Athenian urban/rural divide deepens our understanding of the demos and highlights the importance of attachments to place, home, and customary ways of life for democratic stability.