Ancient Greece City States

The word politics comes from the Greek word for city-states called poleis. We know that ancient Greece did not have a centralized government or authority. Greece was not a single country, but a collection of numerous Greek city-states.

After the Dark Age in Greece, villages started to band together which gradually became the independent Greece City-States. Although the Greek were one people who practiced the same culture and religion, each city-state had its own government, laws, and customs.

Ancient Greek city states

Fight of Greek City-States

The Greek City-States united to fight against a common enemy. During the second Persian invasion of Greece, the unity of these city-states was largely visible. But this unity was of a temporary nature because they often fought among themselves.

Each city-state had its own system of government. Some states were monarchical in form whereas in some other states business was conducted on democratic lines. Between 2000 and 1200 BC, almost all Greek city-states had a monarchical form of government.


Although ancient Greece consisted of hundreds of city-states, the most important among them were Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Megara, and Argos.

Democracy of Greek

Athens is renowned for its contribution to the idea of democracy to the world. It created the worlds first democratic government. It was the birthplace not only of democracy but of great philosophers like Plato. Athens, as an independent city-state grew rapidly after the Greek dark ages. Athena was the patron goddess of the Athenians.


By 753 BC, Athens fell from hereditary magistracy to elected archonship and later under tyranny. It was after this tyranny that Athenians experimented with the democratic system of government. Moreover, it was a direct democracy characterized by the men meeting to discuss problems and reach solutions.

Although citizens had political rights in Athens, slaves and foreigners did not have any such rights. The concept of citizenship was important in ancient Greece. Education was also important to the Athenians although differentiation between males and females was clearly visible in all areas.

The city-state of Sparta

The city-state of Sparta had an oligarchic system of government. The state was ruled by a small group of warriors. Sparta was famous for its military strength. Spartans were brave, capable warriors. It was not a center of art and philosophy, unlike Athens.

The most important feature of Sparta is the importance given to warfare and military training. Boys were given training from the age of 7. Children were whipped and small fights were encouraged in order to make them capable warriors. Even the women were warriors. Spartan women were comparatively more independent.

greek city states

Corinth was characterized by the monarchical of government. It was a cultural and trade center. The city-state of Corinth undertook public works programs, built large aqueducts and created its own coinage.Megara was a coastal city-state.

They had fine schools and a well-developed education system. Megara had beautiful temples, gorgeous statues, and open-air theatres. They also established new towns. Argos, a monarchy was the center of trade and commerce. They also had great sculptures.