Ancient Greek Political System

Ancient Greece had several city-states and each city-state had its own Ancient Greek Political System of government. The Greeks were politically a well-advanced society. Political thinkers and philosophers flourished. The concept of the ideal state by the Greek philosopher Plato is a relevant topic of study for the students of political science today.

Ancient Greek Political System

Ancient Greek Political System

It was Aristotle who made a significant division of Greek governments into monarchies, oligarchies, tyrannies, and democracies. Monarchy was the earliest system of government in Greece. This was followed by oligarchy, tyranny and then democracy. However, the pattern was not uniform. Different city-states had different systems.

Ancient Greece government democracy

About 2000 and 1200 BC, all Greek city-states seem to have been monarchies, ruled by kings. After the dark ages in Greece, kingship gradually began to decline. In the archaic period, most city-states were ruled by oligarchies.

In around 600 and 500 BC, a lot of city-states were taken over by tyranny.In around 510 BC, Athenian democracy developed the most revolutionary of all political systems. In the city-state of Athens was sowed the seeds of democracy. It was a system of direct democracy where the people do not elect representatives to vote on their behalf but vote on legislation and executive bills in their own right.

Ancient Greek Political System

Ancient Greece Government Facts

Although many other city-states imitated Greece, none was as powerful and as efficient as the Athenian system. Pericles was a powerful democratic leader. In course of time, Athenian democracy was twice briefly interrupted by oligarchic revolution towards the end of the Peloponnesian War.

There were three political bodies in Greece which constitute the ancient Greek political system. They were the assembly, the council, and the courts. Ecclesia, the principal assembly existed in the golden age of Greece, i.e. from 480 BC to 404 BC. Ecclesia literally meant a gathering of those summoned. It assembled at the Pnyx which was an open-air auditorium west of the Acropolis. Insolvents and convicts were denied the membership of the assembly.

Ancient Greek Political System

The peculiarity of the assembly was that all adults were allowed to participate in the events of the assembly. Adults meant those who were above 18 years of age. Ecclesia was open to all regardless of class or status.

Everyone had the right to nominate and vote for magistrates who take decisions on important national matters like war and peace.By the 5th century BC, the number of citizens who participated in the affairs of the assembly rose to about 43,000 people. The quorum required to conduct the business of the assembly was 6,000.

Ancient Greek Political System

The council of 500 was called boule. The presidency of the boule rotated monthly amongst the ten prytanies, or delegations from the ten Cleisthenic tribes, of the Boule. The boule also served as an executive committee for the assembly.

The elaborate legal system of Athens deserves mention. The authority exercised by the courts had the same basis as that of the assembly. The adjudication of a case did not last more than a day.