Who Were Citizens in Ancient Greece?

Citizenship in ancient Greece was a highly complex and exclusive concept. Only a select few were considered citizens, and their status granted them unique rights and privileges.

So, who exactly were citizens in ancient Greece? Let’s dive in to explore this topic further.

What is Citizenship?

Citizenship is the status of being a member of a particular country or city-state and enjoying certain rights and responsibilities within that community. In ancient Greece, citizenship was closely tied to one’s identity as a free male.

Who Were Considered Citizens?

In ancient Greece, citizenship was limited to free-born men who were born to citizen parents. This meant that women, slaves, foreigners, and those born to non-citizen parents were excluded from citizenship.

Free-Born Men

Free-born men were those who were born free and not enslaved. They enjoyed the full privileges of citizenship, including the right to vote, hold public office, own property, and participate in government.

Citizen Parents

Having citizen parents was another requirement for citizenship. This meant that if one’s parents were not citizens at the time of their birth, they could not become citizens themselves.

What Were the Rights of Citizens?

Citizens in ancient Greece enjoyed a range of rights and privileges that set them apart from non-citizens. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Voting: Citizens had the right to vote in elections for public officials.
  • Public Office: Citizens could hold public office and participate in government.
  • Military Service: Citizens were expected to serve in the military when called upon.
  • Owning Property: Citizens could own land and other forms of property.
  • Legal Protections: Citizens were protected by the law and had access to the courts.


Citizenship in ancient Greece was a highly exclusive status that was limited to free-born men with citizen parents. While citizenship granted many rights and privileges, it also came with responsibilities such as military service and participation in government. Understanding who was considered a citizen in ancient Greece is crucial to understanding the society and politics of this fascinating civilization.