What Does It Mean to Be a Citizen in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, being a citizen was a highly esteemed status that came with several privileges and responsibilities. It was an exclusive club that only a select few could enter, based on their birth and gender. Let’s take a closer look at what it meant to be a citizen in ancient Greece.

Citizenship Criteria

To be considered a citizen in ancient Greece, one had to be born male and to Athenian parents. Women, slaves, and foreigners were not considered citizens. Citizenship was also limited to those who were free-born; children of slaves or non-Athenian parents were not eligible for citizenship.

Privileges of Citizenship

Being an Athenian citizen came with many benefits. Citizens had the right to vote in the Assembly, which was the governing body of Athens. They also had access to courts of law and could serve on juries or hold public office.

Another significant benefit of citizenship was military service. All male citizens were expected to serve in the army when needed. This was seen as a duty and an honor for citizens.

Responsibilities of Citizenship

Citizenship also came with certain responsibilities. Citizens were expected to contribute financially through taxes and property ownership towards the running of the city-state.

They were also expected to participate actively in civic life by attending meetings of the Assembly and serving on juries or other public offices when called upon.


In ancient Greece, being a citizen was more than just a legal status; it was an identity that carried with it both benefits and responsibilities. Citizenship conferred rights such as voting, military service, and access to courts but required active participation in civic life through taxes, public service, and attendance at meetings.

If you have any questions or comments about citizenship in ancient Greece or anything related to this topic, feel free to leave them below!