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


A Democracy is a rule by the people, but the Greek democracies were much different from the modern day American ones. Greek democracy was a rule by male citizens, and they all voted on laws and rulers, which swtiched every year.

Famous Democracies

Theory Behind Democracy

The people of a Democracy believed that since all laws affected them, that they should be the ones choosing the laws. Democracy was built on the idea that justice and equality were some of he most important aspects of a society. They believed in each citizen, male and over a certain age, could rule, and should get a say in the government.

Structure of Athenian Democracy

Aristocracy (Oligarchy)

An Aristocracy or an Oligarchy is a rule by the few. These organizations were sharing the power, but only within a small amount of usually wealthier individuals.

Famous Aristocracies

Theory Behind Aristocracy

Aristocracy was created to solve the problems of monarchy. The larger number of people in power was supposed to prevent corruption, and each leader was a check for the others. The people in these powerful postitions tended to be only wealthy, so occasionally there would come an aristocracy that did not satisfy the masses, and their needs.

Response from Public

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.

Transition to Next Form of Government

The aristocrats were successful in many cases, but with their success, the lower people started to realize that power could be stretched even thinner. If they were the class most affected by poltical decisions, shouldn't they have a say? Aristocracy brought along the first politics. With multiple people in charge, there were always different ideas of ruling, and this brought power to the lower people.


Tyranny is the rule of one person, and this person usually aquires power by force, or after some kind of disaster. He is able to do this because of the chaos at the time.

Famous Tyrannts

Theory Behind Tyranny

Tyrants were created to overthrow kings or aristocracies that had gone bad, as well as pick up the city in a time of need. Tyrants were people that were quite popular with the public, so they were believed to be successful leaders who knew what the people wanted.

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, which the pubic had already decided they didn’t like. Tyrants that used lots of military violence also tended to scare the public.

Transition to Next Form of Government

The transition into democracy happened when two tyrants tried to take control of Athens. One of them, named Isagoras, turned to the spartans for help. He believed that their power would help him win leadership of Athens. The other, whose name was Clesthenes, turned to appeal to the people, by offering them power. Of course the people chose Clesthenes as their tyrant, but really his offering of power turned this into a democracy.


Monarchy is the rule by one person, most oftenly a royal family. These people passed down the power to their future generations, without the opinion of the people.

Transition to Next Form of Government

After the kings started getting selfish, 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. This is called a tyrant.

Major Monarchies

Theory Behind Monarchy

The theory of monarchy was based on the idea that giving the power to one individual would help lead a people. If that person was skilled at leading, then the people believed that they should pass on the power to the son, because he was likely to be a skilled leader as well. Good leadership was thought to be passed down throughout generations.

Response from Public

At first, the monarchies worked out well. There were no debates about who should lead, and the first couple of kings in societies were probably successful. Eventually the communities ran into kings with alterior motives, and these kings made life for the lower very harsh. These kings started to rule selfishly, and the public began to want change, and more power for themselves.

Philosophers of Politics

Politics, Aristotle

The Republic, Book 8 (Plato)

The Republic is a commentary, written around 380 BCE, by Plato. Plato creates different fictional dialogues using literary characters to discuss which man is happier in life, the just or unjust one. He creates an imaginary city ruled by philosophers who keep everyone in check. The commentary also discusses the soul, and its immortality, along with the characteristics of philosophers. In Plato's ideal world, all people were ruled by philosopher kings and queens, and each person lived according to their mental and physical capabilities.  People learned things by drawing knowledge out of their soul using education, reflection and speculation, and only people who had learnedd enough could understand a society and therefore eventaully rule it.