The Greeks of the fifth and fourth centuries bce in Athens took pride in a form of government that they had invented: democracy (from demos, meaning “people” or “common people,” and kratein, meaning “rule”). While other peoples chafed under the rule of despots, the Athenians ruled themselves. In his play The Suppliants, first performed in 422 bce, Euripides (c. 485–407 bce) contrasts democratic and despotic government, celebrating the former while condemning the latter. The occasion of the following exchange is the arrival in Athens of an envoy from Thebes, which was then ruled by the tyrant Creon. The envoy cannot quite believe that the people are capable of ruling themselves. The Athenian leader Theseus replies with a resounding defense of democracy.