Some sources trace the origin of the word “idiot” to politics. No, seriously. Some scholars maintain that the ancient Greeks took the ideals of democracy pretty seriously, and imposed upon citizens both the right and the obligation to vote in all elections and referenda. A citizen who did not vote or who was not a regular orator in the citizen assemblies was publicly “marked” and labeled idiotai: A person who put his own interests over those of society as a whole. Over time, the word idiot evolved to mean something different, a half-with or an utterly senseless, foolish individual.
Understandably, being “publicly marked and labeled as idiotai, ”was not an ideal development for an upstanding, status-conscious and propertied citizen of Athens or one of the other city-states. Sometimes, however, it was unavoidable. There were no planes, trains or automobiles in ancient Greece, and when a citizen found himself away from his home city when it was time to vote, he was looking idiotai square in the eye. To avoid becoming labeled the village idiotai of his hometown, the citizen had to find a way to vote when he was away. The solution was to commission someone to vote on his behalf. Thus, was the proxy born.