Who Was the Ruler in Ancient Greece?

Ancient Greece is well-known for its powerful rulers who played a significant role in shaping the nation’s history. The Greeks believed that their rulers were divine, and they were considered the ultimate authority in the land. Let us take a closer look at who was the ruler in ancient Greece.


In early Greece, the ruler was a king or monarch who held absolute power over his people. The king was responsible for maintaining law and order, overseeing agriculture and trade, and leading his army into battle. The position of king was hereditary, passed down from father to son.

The Rise of Tyranny

As time went on, some kings became corrupt and selfish, leading to unrest among the people. This led to the rise of tyranny – a form of government where an individual seized power through force or cunning. Although tyrants were not always popular with their subjects, they often ruled with fairness and efficiency.

Athenian Democracy

In Athens, democracy emerged as a new form of government. The Athenian system allowed all citizens to participate in decision-making through voting. Every male citizen over 18 had the right to attend assemblies where laws were made and discussed.

The Role of Elected Officials

Elected officials called magistrates were chosen by lottery to oversee different areas such as finance or public works for one year terms. One of the most important positions was that of strategos (general), who commanded Athens’ military forces.

Spartan Oligarchy

Sparta had a different system from Athens called oligarchy, which means rule by a few people. Only Spartan men who had completed military training could participate in government affairs. A council made up of two kings and 28 other members governed Sparta.

The Importance of Military Service

The Spartan way of life was centered around military training, and its society was organized to support the army. Every Spartan male was expected to serve in the military from the age of 7 until he turned 60. This rigorous training produced some of the most disciplined and skilled soldiers in ancient Greece.


In conclusion, who was the ruler in ancient Greece depended on the region and time period. From monarchs to tyrants, democracy to oligarchy, Greek rulers had different forms of government that shaped their society. Regardless of their form of government, Greek rulers played a crucial role in building and shaping one of the most influential civilizations in history.