World History

“Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. Its administration favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if no social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition. The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends also to our ordinary life. There, far from exercising a jealous surveillance over each other, we do not feel called upon to be angry with our neighbor for doing what he likes, or even to indulge in those injurious looks which cannot fail to be offensive, although they inflict no positive penalty. But all this ease in our private relations does not make us lawless as citizens. Against this fear is our chief safeguard, teaching us to obey the magistrates and the laws, particularly such as regard the protection of the injured, whether they are actually on the statute book, or belong to that code which, although unwritten, yet cannot be broken without acknowledged disgrace.”

Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, ca. 415 B.C.E.

According to the passage, which of the following is a characteristic of classical Greek democracy?

(A) The weighing of individual accomplishment above financial status
(B) The imitation of neighboring states’ laws and principles
(C) The ability of average people to overthrow leaders with whom they disagree
(D) The justice system’s protection of the injured only through explicitly written legal codes
  1. Correct Answer: A

    Explanation:

    The text states that “class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state.” In plain English, this means that a citizen’s ability was more important than his wealth or status in classical Greek democracy, making (A) the best answer. Choice (B) is incorrect because the first sentence of the text contradicts the idea that the Greeks were imitating their neighbors. Choice (C) is incorrect because the last portion of the text describes people fearing, and thus obeying, the magistrates. Choice (D) is incorrect because the last portion of the text states that not all laws or codes are actually written down.

Test ID: 1114
Source: AP World History Practice Tests