«Long before the Greeks, mankind realized that order was necessary for society to function, but it was always believed that order was impossible without autocratic rule. The great empires of the ancient world Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia were all tyrannies. It took the small and unimpressive city state of Athens to produce the idea that individual freedom and order are not incompatible.
«The Greeks did not come up with that concept because they were naive optimists. They were, in fact, realists who understood very well that unlimited freedom can produce chaos. The principles they most revered were moderation, balance, self control, all summarized by the words attributed to Solon carved in the stones of their holiest shrine, Delphi: «Nothing in Excess.» The Greeks embraced this golden mean because they were a passionate, individualistic people, quick to vent their emotions, and they realized how difficult moderation is to achieve. Every Greek considered himself a battlefield where Apollo’s reason and Dionysos’ passions struggled for control.
From Nicholas Gage, Introduction to The Greek Miracle: Classical Sculpture from the Dawn of Democracy, the Fifth Century B.C.