«The fact that the Greeks knew the extremes of passion so well was precisely why they placed such a high value on self control. Knowing the dangers of excess, they struggled to restrain the impulses for unrestricted freedom that can make life in a community intolerable. Perikles said: «We are a free democracy, but we obey the laws, more especially those which protect the oppressed and the unwritten laws whose transgression brings shame.» The faith of Greeks in every person’s unique capacity to reason and to impose self control from within was a major force in creating that peculiar Athenian experiment, the world’s first democracy, which involved every farmer, shepherd, and tradesman in the government. «The individual can be trusted,» Perikles said. «Let him alone.»
From Nicholas Gage, Introduction to The Greek Miracle: Classical Sculpture from the Dawn of Democracy, the Fifth Century B.C.