Who Used Democracy in Ancient Greece?

Democracy, the system of government where the power lies in the hands of the citizens, is widely recognized as a Greek invention. But who exactly used democracy in Ancient Greece? Let’s delve into this topic and explore the history of democracy in Ancient Greece.

The Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece

The word “democracy” comes from the Greek words “demos” (people) and “kratos” (power). The concept of democracy was developed in Athens around 508 BCE by Cleisthenes, who created a new system of government that gave power to all citizens – not just the wealthy elite.

The Athenian Democracy

The Athenian democracy was one of the most famous and successful democracies in ancient times. In Athens, all male citizens over 18 years old had the right to vote and participate in the assembly. The assembly met regularly to discuss important issues such as war, taxation, and laws.

Fun Fact: Women, slaves, and foreigners were not allowed to participate in Athenian democracy.

The Spartan Oligarchy

In contrast to Athens, Sparta was an oligarchy. This means that power was held by a small group of people – specifically, two kings and a council of elders. While Sparta did have an assembly where some decisions were made by vote, it was not a true democracy like Athens.

The Other City-States

While Athens and Sparta are often presented as opposites, there were many other city-states (polis) in Ancient Greece that had their own unique systems of government. Some were monarchies ruled by a king or queen, while others were aristocracies where power was held by a small group of nobles.


While democracy is often associated with Ancient Greece as a whole, it’s important to remember that not all city-states were democracies. Athens was the most well-known democracy, but there were many other forms of government in Ancient Greece. Nevertheless, the influence of Athenian democracy can still be felt today – modern democracies around the world owe a debt to this ancient system of government.

  • Athenian democracy gave power to all citizens
  • Sparta was an oligarchy ruled by a small group of people
  • There were many other city-states with their own unique systems of government


– Cartledge, Paul. “Democracy.” Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, Inc., 27 Dec. 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/democracy-government.

– “Ancient Greece.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, LLC., 9 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/ancient-greece.