The Roman concept of citizenship represents both a measure of their capacity to govern and one of their key contributions to Western culture. In the Greek city-state, citizenship was something which could not be separated from the intimate and varied life of the polis. It enabled a man to live the good life because it entitled him to participate in all the activities which the polis sponsored. Justice, Plato wrote, meant that every man in this society was doing that for which he was best suited and was receiving in return what was his due. It was the result of a harmony and a balance among the classes. There was little tendency here to picture the state as a legal creature called into existence in large part to protect individual rights. The Greek made no distinction between the state, which commands obedience, and society, which enlists cooperation . There was no hint that an Athenian citizen could retain his status as a citizen if he left Athens; if he left the city, he would become in this respect a fish out of water. Finally, there was no thought that citizenship could ever really become universal. Greek thinkers frankly believed that men were so unequal that only a few of them could ever hope to enjoy the good life and therefore only a few could be admitted into the ranks of citizen. [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "3. Rome: Roman Citizenship. Pt. I: Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem: Background of Western Civilization." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 59-61.