The red rope. Athenian Democracy and James S. Fishkin’s Deliberative Polling ABSTRACT: Behind the deliberative instances that are influencing the western democracies, it is possible to find suggestions coming from the Athenian model, which has inspired several proposals. Among the most important and complex ones is the Deliberative Polling®, created by the political and social scientist James S. Fishkin, who paid great attention to Mogens H. Hansen’s studies about Athenian democracy. The Deliberative Polling® (that doesn’t aspire to become a ‘political system’, but to remain a cognitive and communicative tool) considers the historical precedent without coping with the ancient philosophical models (the Platonic and the Aristotelian one, both hostile to the power of the ‘masses’). The important results of Fishkin raise a fundamental question: how that complex, ancient reality could be communicated or even proposed again? The red wire is an ideal continuity, broken by the several limits of the practice; problems of participation, space and time reveal their presence both in the Athenian polis where a red rope stretched around the Assembly caught and contained the voters and in the models inspired by it.