Paul Veyne om stat och medborgare i antikens Aten

The fact that the citizen was an activist also means that, as Rehm puts it (1896: 78), he was not the object of government but its instrument; one did not govern the citizen but made use of him in order to govern. This State was a strange ship without passengers: apart from the captain (or rather, as one said, the pilot), it carried only members of the crew; when Plato and Aristotle speak of the ship of State, they only ever mention seamen (Plato [a]: 488 a; Aristotle [a]: 1276 B 20). Whoever belongs to the ship was supposed to be involved in handling it. With a slip that reveals his modernity, a recent and otherwise excellent translator wrongly speaks of a crew and passengers. […]

Bourgeois liberalism will organise cruises in which all the passengers fend for themselves as best they can, the crew providing them only with collective goods and services. The Greek city-state, however, was a ship whose passengers were the crew; individuals, with their different abilities and wealth, find themselves having to cross historical time and its reefs; they organise themselves into a group for survival and each contributes the best of himself for their common salvation.

Veyne, Paul. 2005. “Did the Greeks Know Democracy?.” Economy and Society 34 (2). s 326.