government , the political system by which a country or community is administered and regulated.
Elizabeth I: presiding over Parliament The Granger Collection, New York Most of the key words commonly used to describe governments—words such as monarchy . oligarchy . and democracy —are of Greek or Roman origin. They have been current for more than 2,000 years and have not yet exhausted their usefulness. This suggests that humankind has not altered very much since they were coined; however, such verbal and psychological uniformity must not be allowed to hide the enormous changes in society and politics that have occurred. The earliest analytical use of the term
monarchy occurred in ancient Athens, in the dialogues of Plato (c. 428–c. 348 bce ), but even in Plato’s time the term was not self-explanatory. There was a king in Macedonia and a king in Persia, but the two societies, and therefore their institutions, were radically different. To give real meaning to the word monarchy in those two instances, it would be necessary to investigate their actual political and historical contexts. Any general account of monarchy required then, and requires today, an inquiry as to what circumstances have predisposed societies to adopt monarchy and what have led them to reject it. So it is with all political terms.