Government in ancient Greek

By E Forster

What was the government structure

In ancient Greece there were four main types of government: monarchy, oligarchy, tyranny, and democracy.


*Monarchy was the first form of government in many city-states. It was a form where one king or queen with lots of power ruled. In some city-states the ruler was not an actual king. The rulers could be upper class nobilities who believed their ancestors were heroes centuries before.


*Oligarchy was the second form of government. The government was run by a couple of wealthy individuals. They got the right to rule because they had the most money in their city-state and they owned lots of land. The group often ran it for their own purposes.


* Tyranny was the third form of government. It was ruled by illegal leaders called tyrants. Tyrants were people who wanted to rule and asked poor people to support them. These people helped overthrow oligarchy.


* Democracy was the fourth form of government. In this system all citizens could make political decisions. In a direct democracy citizens decide on all laws. In an indirect democracy citizens choose representatives to decide on laws.

Where did these governments take place?

Sparta was one of the larger city-states in ancient Greece. The government in Sparta was part monarchy, part oligarchy, and part democracy. It was ruled by two kings, five elected superiors, the council of elders and all citizens were part of the assembly. Sparta had an extremely military-centered life; all male citizens were part of the military. Free non-citizens that lived in near-by villages had no political rights. The lowest group with no political rights were the Helots.

Athens was another large city-state in Ancient Greece. They had a direct Democracy form of government with two governing bodies. The Council of 400 took care of everyday problems while the Assembly voted on policies proposed by the Council. In Athens all citizens were equal in court; there was no professional jury. Citizens worked for various jobs when they were needed. Only free men were citizens.

When was each form of government populary used?

How similar was Ancient Greece's Democracy to America's Democracy today?

Some of the similarities between democracy in ancient Greece and today's government are the time devoted to discussing important issues (e.g., war) and citizens are paid to participate in jury duty. Although there are many similarities, there are also numerous differences. One of the differences was that in Athens only free men were allowed to vote, where as in today's democracy all citizens, including women and immigrants, can vote. Another difference was in Athens citizens made the decisions, unlike representatives as we have today.
Greece Government, Part One: Monarchy
Greece Government, Part Two: Oligarchy
Greece Government, Part Three: Tyranny
Greek Government, Part Four: Democracy

Video information

On the fist video please start at 50 seconds and end at 1minute and 5 seconds.

On the second video please start at 4 seconds and end at 35 seconds.

On the third video please start at 5 seconds and end at 28 seconds.

On the last video please start at 7 seconds and end at 24 seconds.