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Ancient Greek Political Systems and Theories by Mind Map: Ancient Greek Political Systems and Theories
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Ancient Greek Political Systems and Theories

The Greeks invented political study. The great advance made by the greeks was recognizing that public, common interests exist and provide, management.It was an acomplishment that has made  the world a place of political study, justice and liberty, law and democracy, parliament and public opinion.all these terms and many more are owed to the Greek republics who felt the need for a better management of their concerns,and set to work to solve them by creating and experienting with many forms of government


Politically all the Greek city states began as monarchies. In their earliest stages they were ruled by a hereditary king with a royal family.  the power was passed down to their future generations, without the opinion of the people. Monarchy means ruled by one.


Monarchy continued through the ages because it was a hereditary form of government that originated from the first forms of civilization. The theory behind monarchy was that one person would make beneficial decisions and that the future lineage would be educated in successful politics; creating a powerful and continuos form of government.

The End of Monarchy

The Greeks soon grew tired of being rulled by a king. The kings started getting selfish and, the people began to desire change. They realized that much of their misfortune came from the fact that the kings could easily be corrupted. The aristocrats realized the dangers of giving the power to one person, and how much safer it would be for a small group of people to rule. The aristocrats used their wealth and high status to overthrow the king, and assume leadership. In other instances, a single person of power would overthrow the king and become a tyrant.


Oligarchies were govened by a few select men whose selction did not depend upon birth but upon wealth, influence, and power. Oligarcy means ruled by the few. The oligarchs were almost always drawn from the wealthiest citizens of the state the oligarchs most often ruled absolutely; they had many of the powers granted to a king. Even though these powers were diffused among a group (which could be very large), the power of the oligarchy could be surprisingly totalitarian. the oligarchs exert control through economic means. Oligarchies have been tyrannical throughout history, being completely reliant on public service to exist. oligarchy is not always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group.


The theory behind oligarchy was that by dividing power courruption would be eliminated in government because it wouldnt be basied on only one persons judgement or belifes.The idea of aristocracies was quite comforting to most ancient Greeks. Qualified people were still in power, but that power was more spread out, and this was thought to increase efficiency, and prevent corruption. With multiple leaders, there were always different ideas of doing things.

The Aristocrats

elite families who held most of the land and wealth and leaders were known as aristocrats. Aristocrats were given power in Oligarchy because their high status made positions of power more attainable due to their respect, money and education.  By breaking up the power the aristocrats were able to create systems that suited the needs of the particular polis.   An aristocratic council held long-term control of the state.

Government Change with the Emergence of the Greek Polis

As regions formed political units they also formed a sense of regional identity. They developed a sense of regional affinity. The regional forces that cooperated in forming the polis also had to organize and control the large territory and persevere and promote their own self-interest. They did this by reducing the power of royal families and increasing the power and participation of the broader aristocracy. Greek cities were controlled by aristocratic oligarchies. By breaking up the power the aristocrats were able to create magistracies that suited the needs of the particular polis.  The magistrates evolved and multiplied as states became more complex. An aristocratic council held long-term control of the state.


Democracy was a government structured to serve the people.Democracy means ruled by the people. Democracies permitted all people (free, male citizens over a certian age) some measure of participation in the government. The two principals that originated in Ancient Greece and have been carried on through the generations are, that all members of the society citizens have equal access to power and the second that all citizens enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties. The two most astounding characteristics about athenian democracy was the the extent to which it was organized to avoid the interference of wealth and bribery in civic and judicial affairs and the extent to which ordinary citizens were entrusted with managing the affairs of a city with roughly 200,000 inhabitants.


  The greeks came to a conclusion that because the outcome of political systems affected them as a people the people should be in charge of government. Democracy was built on the idea that justice and equality were some of he most important aspects of a society. Freedom is what every democracy should make its aim. There are two main aspects of freedom: being ruled and ruling in turn, since everyone is equal according to number, not merit, and to be able to live as one pleases.

Direct Democracy, Government of the People

Democracy was a government structured to serve the people. Unlike present democracy, the greeks used a system where the citizens participate in the decision-making personally, contrary to relying on intermediaries or representatives. Citizens would convine and openly discuss and vote for elections. This type of democracy is called direct democracy. As a society it benefited the majority, which were the middle and lower classes. The middle and lower classes received a voice , giving them power. The upper class, aristrocrats, lost power through a democratic government. They no longer received more power because of thier social standing.

Objective to Class

Ancient Greek Domocracy administration was in the hands, not of a few, but of the whole people. In the settling of private disputes, everyone was equal before the law. Election to public office was made on the basis of ability, not on the basis of membership to a particular class. No man was kept out of public office by the obscurity of his social standing because of his poverty. This made government objective to class; allowing participation from the community create solutions and protect agianst revoult. The action of making everyone equal was in response to aristocracy and extream difference in class that the greeks had witnessed in privious govenments

The Government for the Free

Democracy won support by premoting itself as the government system for the free people. Being free did not weaken the Greeks will, they used it as their advantage to come together and solve problems so they could live exactly as they pleased. They made it an effort to face the problems infront of them by creating a system for solving problems. They discovered that disscussion was a the mode for fixing

Structure of Democracy


An Athenian imperialist and visionary who became the foremost architect of Athenian policy and strategy. He was(metaphorically) the preeminent helmsman and captain of the Athenian ship if state during the classical period. He exercised so much influence that that some refere to him as the democratic king.

Critisism of Democracy

Ancient authors (like ariostole and plato) were almost invariably from an elite background for whom giving poor and uneducated people power over their betters seemed a reversal of the proper, rational order of society. For them the demos in democracy meant not the whole people, but the people as opposed to the elite. Instead of seeing it as a fair system under which 'everyone' has equal rights, they saw it as the numerically preponderant poor tyrannizing over the rich.


The emergence of tyrannies often arose in opposition to the aristocratic oligarchies. A tyrant was a sole ruler who seized control of the state by force. They depended on at least tacit support at home to overcome opposition and achieve long-term success. The tyrannies were by nature highly unstable, and they fell apart rapidly. But during the beginning of a new tyrant things got acomplished because a tyrant usually stepped into power with the goal of fixing a problem. Tyranny was a widespread political institution throughout the Greek-speaking world: tyrannies were experimented with not only in Greece, but Asia Minor and even as far away as the Greek cities in Sicily. The word tyranny comes from a word meaning illigitimate ruller.


Tyrants were people who seized power and control over people. they usually did this in a time of chaos or disatisfaction, which was the eastiest time to take control. Not all tyrants were bad, in fact many started out with a successful rule, but used violence and military action to stay in power.


The Greeks believed that the tyrants were illegitimate abusers of political power; they seem, however, to have had in some cases popular support. The Greek tyrants were often thrown into power by unhappiness or crisis; they were more often then not extremely popular leaders when they assumed the tyranny. Once in power, they ruled as a king would rule, and many attempted to make the tyranny hereditary, turning it into a form of monarchy. Some of them directed their attentions to the crisis that swept them into office, but most of them aimed to affirm their unstable hold on power. The tyrants maintained power only by their hold on military force and often fear. Some of the best known tyrants were Cypselus (and later his son, Periander) of Corinth, Cleisthenes of Sicyon, Pheidon of Argos, Polycrates of Samos and Pisistratus and his son Hippias of Athens.

The Tyrants and Aristocrats

The two groups disagreed and the tyrants drove out the aristocrats by catering to the other citizens.

Response from Public

Some tyrants were loved by the public. Part of the reason that they could seize power was because of their mass popularity. They were the first populists, and gave the public what they wanted. it was not until the tyrants started using armies to control rebels, that people started to become wary, and dissatisfied with tyrants. They also tended to set up new monarchies, by passing their power to the next generations in their families.

The Archaic Period, 750-490 BCE

The Archaic Period was from 750-490 BCE and was the time when city-states evolved. The clans of the dark ages slowly grew into larger political units. trade began to dramatically increase between the people of Greece. Marketplaces arose in Greek villages and communities began to gather together for defensive. These city-states were independent states and controlled a limited amount of territory surrounding the state. they had close interaction with one another during this time and learned political organization from eachother but, in many ways, each city-state developed unique and independent cultures and political organizations, creating for differnt theories and systems.

After Dark Age

The fundamentals for political systems and therories arose durring The Dark Ages. The dark ages took place after the fall of the Mycenaeans and before the archaic period. It was a culturally creative period and gave Greece the fundamentals for developing government. This period gave the Greeks their religion, mythology, and foundational history. the close of the Dark Ages also gave the Greeks the essentials of their greatest political achievement: the polis, or "city-state." The word politics is derived from the greek word polis.  

Political Philosophers

during a time of politcal development, political philosophers analyzed and critiqued the way socioty was existing. To process their ideas, thoughts and views they wrote books that today are very helpful to understanding greek political systems and theories. Two famous politcal philosophers are Plato and Aristotle.