Alexander, fake news and the end of ancient Athenian democracy

On January 25, 2019 the Greek Parliament narrowly approved the Prespes agreement, establishing closer relations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), now North Macedonia. The vote was preceded and followed by multitudinous demonstrations at Syntagma Square, where orators roused the crowds to a frenzy of nationalistic fervor.

Similar demonstrations took place in 323-322 BCE not far from where the modern Parliament stands today. To the ancient Macedonia idealists in particular, this obscure story offers some big lessons.

Philip II, a Trump-level warlord, conquered Athens in 338 BCE. When Alexander died in 323 BCE, the Athenian parliament decided to expel the Macedonian garrison. Prudent people advised against a rebellion; after 100 years of wars against other Greek states, the Athenians had neither the population nor the resources. But orators like...

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