Man is a political animal. The saying has been around for centuries ever since Socrates said that about mankind. Except, what most historians have urged the public masses to realize is that Socrates lived a long time ago. Not like when people say an old movie came out a long time ago, but he lived a REALLY long time ago. So, it’s not hard for a simple idea to get miscommunicated in the generational divide. Not to mention the fact that he spoke Greek.
So, forgive me if I break in here and say that your idea of animalistic behavior is a lot different to the peoples of Ancient Greece. To understand at all what it means to be a citizen of Ancient Greece, you must first and foremost forget everything that you know. Forget about technology; clay pots and textile looms are about as exciting as it gets. Forget about cutting-edge science; arithmetic is considered futuristic. Forget about religion; Jesus Christ hasn’t been born, the Prophet Muhammed hasn’t walked the deserts of Arabia, and nobody here has even heard of Tibet. The majority of the population lives without water in their house, and deification is much more natural here. To put it bluntly, the people of Ancient Greece, as compared to today, live “like animals”. So, in seeing a lot less of a difference between animals and humans then we do today, the way animals lived seemed a lot less violent to the average citizen or serf.
Here’s another way to say it, which conveys a more simplistic translation of the idea of Zoon Politikon. “Man is political by his very nature.” Man thinks politically. This message conveys neither brute strength or violence, as animals were not thought of as so cruel creatures back then. Plus, it was all written in Greek, which might have something to do with it.