Over the years in ancient times, Greece saw many Greek rulers and governance of different kinds ranging from tyranny to oligarchy to democracy. From the early Macedonian era, there have been some really influential Greek rulers to have ruled Greece.
Some decided to spread their kingdom across the globe and achieved success as well. Here is a list of some of the most important Ancient Greek Rulers.
Ancient Greek Rulers
Draco is one of the earliest statesmen and politician of ancient Greece. He is famously known for his codification of Ancient Greece laws. He wrote the first laws of ancient Greece and it was considered harsh and inhuman. Draco wrote these laws in 632 BC and though these laws were later changed by Solon, Draco became synonymous to harsh punishments.
Although his laws were harsh, especially towards the lower classes but it is still a revolutionary attempt because it was the first attempt to codify laws in history. It was also kept on full display to be viewed by the masses. This has been the inspiration for the later ages to adopt a written constitution. His name has also been immortalized due to his harsh laws. Any discriminatory or authoritarian law is still known as draconian law.
Pisistratus the son of Hippocrates and a distant relative of Solon was a Greek statesman who came into the power of Athens as a tyrant. Pisistratus, during his ruling period, did a lot to support and spread the Greek culture. He is credited with the unification of the Attican peninsula which brought the cultural and economic development for Athens. He also started the Panathenic Games and also tried to publish a definitive version of the Homeric epics.
He also beautified the city-state of Greece by constructing many fountains and temples like the great temple of Zeus. He was exiled twice by his rivals and enemies the aristocrats but in his last years he came to power again and left Athens in the hands of his two sons, Hippias and Hipparchus.
Pisistratus died in 527 BC. After his death, his elder son Hippias came to power. Hippias ruled Athens from 527 BC until 510 BC. His brother Hipparchus worked closely with him. Hippias tried to work with his rivals the Alcmaeonidae, a move which never worked out well. In 510 BC, he was defeated by the Spartans and the Alcmaeonidae and went into exile.
Solon is known as one of the architects of Athenian democracy. Being a lawyer himself, he reformed the laws of Athens making them more equal. He changed the oppressive laws of Draco and gave rights to the common citizens and certain freedom of expression. He was one of the architects of Athenian prosperity laying the foundation of its cultural and military development.
Leonidas is one of the legendary rulers of Sparta. His battle with the Persians during the Greco-Persian wars is still celebrated even today. He is said to have a small contingent of about 4000 spartan soldiers to defend a narrow hill against a million Persian soldiers. They could not win the battle but they could hold them long enough to change the tide of the war in favor of the Greeks. His statue still stands in the modern city of Sparta to mark his fight to the death which saved Greece from an invader.
Pericles, a member of the Alcmaeonidae family through his mother, was an Athenian statesman born in 495 BC. One of the most prominent and major events of which Pericles was a part of was the Peloponnesian War which began in 431 BC. Pericles first came into prominence as one of the prosecutors of Cimon and as an opponent of the Areopagus. After this incident, he became a prominent leader and an influential speaker in Athens.
He was known to be one of the famous leaders of Athens. He was known to be quite populist giving many concessions and subsidies to the poor making him extremely popular among the masses which many even consider dictatorial.
He is lauded for his efforts and steps for making democracy prevalent in Athens and it was under his rule that the government was made open to most citizens and they were paid by the state.
He led Athens into its golden age and extreme prosperity. They became extremely powerful with the largest navy. But it also led to a war with the spartans known as the Peloponnesian war which Athens dominated till Pericles was in power. He ultimately succumbed to the deadly plague in Athens. Pericles encouraged arts and architecture and under his rule, Athens saw some of the better works done. He lost his power in the Peloponnesian war but was later re-elected strategist in 429 BC but he died 6 months later.
Philip II, the king of Macedon was the son of Amyntas II. He learned many things about Greece when he was a hostage in Thebes. After he came to power, he trained his army in the Theban phalanx formation. He was ruthless and hungry. He started expanding his kingdom by taking over Amphipolis and Thrace in his first couple of years. He was then involved in a war over Delphi between Phocis and its neighbors. Philip II became a part of the Delphic Council and had a recognized position in Greece. He was the first Macedonian king to conquer many parts of the Greek mainland destroying their power.
Demosthenes was one of the biggest rivals of Philip II and later his son Alexander the Great. Philip II went into a war with Athens and Thebes and he defeated them both. It was his work which had actually laid the foundation for his son.
Alexander was the son of, the Macedonian king Philip II and after his father’s death, he took it into his own hands to expand his kingdom. He was fearless and would crush his opponents without mercy. He trained his army and conquered the entire Greece region ,Northern Egypt, entire Central Asia and majority Asia till the Indus River.
It was his dream to conquer the entire world but he had to stop when his troops reached the Indus River, to the borders of the Indian subcontinent but his soldiers were reluctant to cross the holy river and hence Alexander had to return without fulfilling his wish to conquer the Indian subcontinent. He built the largest empire the world has ever seen. His legacy still remains worldwide and he is profoundly known as Alexander the Great. The era of his demise is known as the Hellenistic age.
His battles with the Persian king, Darius have been immortalized with great focus even today in popular culture. He was known to be a master tactician but also a great risk-taker which led to the brink of defeat a number of times. His success in battles is associated with his natural quality of leading and arousing his troops.