What Were Citizens Expected to Do in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, citizens were expected to fulfill certain duties and responsibilities to contribute to the well-being of their city-state. These expectations varied depending on the city-state and its political system, but there were some common roles that citizens were expected to perform.

Civic Duties

One of the most important responsibilities of a citizen in ancient Greece was participation in the political life of the city-state. Citizens had the right and duty to participate in decision-making processes, attend public assemblies, and vote on important issues. This direct democracy allowed citizens to have a say in shaping the laws and policies that governed their society.

Military Service

Ancient Greek citizens were also expected to serve in the military when called upon. The city-states relied heavily on citizen-soldiers to defend their territories and maintain security. Men who were physically able had to undergo military training from an early age and be prepared to fight for their city-state during times of war.


Citizens were responsible for paying taxes necessary for the functioning of the city-state. These taxes funded public services such as infrastructure development, defense, and welfare programs. Failure to pay taxes could result in penalties or loss of certain rights.

Economic Contributions

Citizens were also expected to contribute economically by engaging in productive activities such as farming, trading, or craftsmanship. This helped sustain the economy of their city-state and ensured its prosperity.

Participation in Public Life

Active participation in public life was highly encouraged among citizens. They were expected to attend public gatherings, engage in discussions about civic matters, and voice their opinions on various issues impacting society.

Adherence to Laws

Citizens had to abide by the laws and regulations of their city-state. They were expected to follow the established legal system, participate in judicial proceedings when required, and respect the authority of the courts. Failure to comply with the laws could result in penalties or loss of citizenship rights.


In ancient Greece, being a citizen meant more than just enjoying rights; it also entailed fulfilling certain duties and responsibilities. Citizens actively participated in political processes, served in the military, paid taxes, contributed economically, and adhered to laws. These expectations ensured the stability and functioning of city-states while promoting active citizenship.