Who Was Excluded From Citizenship in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, citizenship was a privilege that was not extended to everyone. Only a select group of individuals were granted the rights and protections associated with being a citizen. This exclusion from citizenship was based on several factors, including gender, social status, and in some cases, even place of birth.


One of the most significant factors that determined who was excluded from citizenship in ancient Greece was gender. Women were not considered citizens and were therefore denied the rights and privileges that came with citizenship. They were confined to the private sphere of the household and had limited political participation.

However, it’s worth noting that there were some exceptions to this rule. In Sparta, for example, women had more freedom and played a more active role in society compared to other city-states. They had more rights and could own property, inherit land, and participate in certain religious festivals.

Social Status

Social status also played a significant role in determining who was excluded from citizenship. Only free-born men who belonged to the upper classes were eligible for citizenship. Slaves, foreigners (known as metics), and those who did not meet the property requirements were excluded from enjoying the benefits of citizenship.

Slaves were considered property rather than citizens themselves. They had no political rights or legal protections. They were owned by citizens and served their owners in various capacities.

Metics, on the other hand, were free individuals who lived in a city-state but did not have full citizen status. They could engage in trade or skilled labor but lacked political rights like voting or holding public office.

Place of Birth

In addition to gender and social status, place of birth also determined who could be a citizen in ancient Greece. Only individuals born to citizen parents were considered citizens themselves. This meant that children born to foreign parents were excluded from citizenship, regardless of their residency or personal achievements.


In ancient Greece, citizenship was a privilege reserved for a select few. Women, slaves, metics, and foreigners were excluded from enjoying the rights and protections associated with being a citizen.

Citizenship was primarily granted to free-born men who belonged to the upper classes and met the property requirements. The exclusion of certain groups from citizenship highlights the hierarchical nature of ancient Greek society and the limitations placed on political participation.