Athens is known as the birthplace of democracy. But it was a long path to get there. And this democracy didn't exactly function like any nation you think of today.
Most people today think of democracy as an inherently good thing. If you're one of those people, it's remove that silly notion from your brain. A democracy can be just as tyrannical as a ... well ... tyranny. Sometimes more so. Just ask the other Greek states under the thumb of the Athenian Empire.