How Were Human Rights Handled in Ancient Greece?

Human rights are a fundamental aspect of any society, and they have been a matter of discussion for centuries. Ancient Greece is known for its remarkable contributions to philosophy, art, and architecture, but how did they handle human rights? In this article, we will explore the topic of human rights in ancient Greece.

The Concept of Human Rights in Ancient Greece

The concept of human rights as we know it today did not exist in ancient Greece. However, the Greeks did have an understanding of what it meant to be a free individual.

The city-states of ancient Greece were independent entities that had their own laws and customs. Citizens were expected to abide by these laws and respect the authority of their city-state.

Slavery in Ancient Greece

One of the most significant aspects of human rights in ancient Greece was slavery. Slavery was an integral part of Greek society, and it was not uncommon for people to own slaves. Slaves were considered property rather than people with individual rights.

Women’s Rights in Ancient Greece

Women’s rights were also limited in ancient Greece. Women were not allowed to participate in politics or hold public office. They were expected to stay at home and take care of their families.

The Role of Democracy

Despite these limitations on human rights, ancient Greece is also known for its contributions to democracy. The city-state of Athens is often credited with being the birthplace of democracy. In Athens, citizens had the right to participate in government through voting and holding public office.

Citizen vs Non-Citizen

However, it’s important to note that not everyone was considered a citizen in Athens. Only free adult males who had completed military training were considered citizens and had the right to vote and participate in government.


In conclusion, human rights were handled differently in ancient Greece than they are today. Slavery was an accepted part of society, and women did not have the same rights as men.

However, the concept of democracy and citizen participation in government was a significant step forward for the time. Understanding how human rights were handled in ancient Greece helps us appreciate the progress we have made over time towards creating a more just and equitable society.