How Was Ancient Greece Politically Organized?

Ancient Greece is renowned as one of the most influential civilizations in history. The Greeks have made significant contributions to philosophy, art, science, and politics.

Speaking of politics, Ancient Greece is known for its unique political system that has inspired many modern-day democracies. In this article, we will delve into how Ancient Greece was politically organized.

The City-States

Ancient Greece was not a unified country but a collection of independent city-states called ‘poleis’. Each polis had its own government, laws, and way of life. The two most famous city-states were Athens and Sparta.

Athenian Democracy

Athens is known for being the birthplace of democracy. Athenians believed that every citizen should have a say in their government’s decision-making process.

However, it is important to note that not everyone was considered a citizen in Athens. Only free men born in Athens were considered citizens, while women, slaves, and foreigners were excluded from participation in government affairs.

The Athenian government consisted of three branches: the Assembly, the Council of 500, and the Courts. The Assembly was an open forum where citizens could voice their opinions on matters concerning the city-state.

The Council of 500 was responsible for proposing laws and policies to be voted on by the Assembly. Finally, the Courts were responsible for enforcing laws and settling disputes.

Spartan Oligarchy

Sparta was a military state with an oligarchic form of government. Unlike Athens where citizens could participate in decision making; only wealthy landowners could hold positions of power in Sparta’s government.

The Spartan government had two kings who ruled jointly but held limited power; they couldn’t make any decisions without the approval of the council or assembly. The council consisted of 28 members over 60 years old who served for life and had to approve all decisions made by the kings. The assembly was open only to male citizens over the age of 30 and could vote on issues presented by the council.

The Role of Citizens

Citizenship in Ancient Greece was a privilege rather than a right. Only free adult men born in Athens or who had completed military training were allowed to be citizens. Citizenship came with many responsibilities, including serving in the military and participating in government affairs.

In Athens, citizens were expected to attend Assembly meetings regularly and vote on issues that affected their city-state. Failure to participate could result in fines or even loss of citizenship.

Spartan citizens were expected to serve in the military from the age of 7 until they turned 60, with all aspects of their lives determined by their duties as soldiers.


Ancient Greece’s political organization was unique, with each city-state having its own independent government system. Athens is known for being the birthplace of democracy while Sparta had an oligarchic form of government. Citizenship was a privilege that came with significant responsibilities such as attending Assembly meetings regularly and serving in the military.

With this information, we can see how Ancient Greece’s political organization has influenced modern-day democracies worldwide.