How Did You Become a Citizen in Ancient Greece?

Becoming a citizen in ancient Greece was not an easy feat. Citizenship was a highly coveted status, and only a select few were granted this privilege. In this article, we will explore the requirements and processes of becoming a citizen in ancient Greece.

Who Could Be a Citizen?

In ancient Greece, citizenship was only granted to free-born men who were born in Athens or whose parents were both Athenian citizens. Women, children, and slaves were not eligible for citizenship.

Becoming a Citizen

If someone wanted to become an Athenian citizen, they had to go through a rigorous process. The first step was to be sponsored by an existing citizen who would vouch for their character and reputation. The sponsor would then introduce the candidate to the Council of Five Hundred.

Once introduced, the candidate had to provide evidence that they were of good character and had completed their military training as required by Athenian law. They also had to prove that they were financially stable and could contribute to society.

The Oath of Citizenship

If the Council approved the candidate’s application, they would be required to take an oath of citizenship. This oath required them to swear allegiance to Athens, uphold its laws and customs, and defend it against all enemies.

After taking the oath, the new citizen would receive their own shield or piece of armor as a symbol of their new status. Citizens could then participate in various aspects of Athenian democracy such as voting in the Assembly or serving on juries.


Becoming a citizen in ancient Greece was not easy but it was highly valued. Only free-born men with good character and financial stability could apply for citizenship after being sponsored by an existing citizen.

Once approved, new citizens took an oath of allegiance and received their own shield or armor as symbols of their new status as Athenian citizens. This process ensured that only the most qualified individuals were granted citizenship and could participate in Athenian democracy.