There was always a range of leaders in both communities – varying from conservative oligarchs (‘the few’) to radical populists (Greek demagogues, ‘leaders of the people’; Roman populares). The essential thing was that they came, with very rare exceptions, from the aristocracy (the ‘best people’). As the Greek historian Polybius said about Rome ‘although it was a democracy, they always elected the best people’. Basically, a would-be leader turned to the people when his faction was losing in a dispute amongst the aristocrats.

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Athens had its oligarchs and demagogues, Rome had its patrician and ‘new men’ leaders contesting power. There was little different between the approaches and techniques used, and indeed there is little different in the leaders of today.

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