Interesting Facts: Ancient Greece and Its Government

Ancient Greece was made up of several city-states and each city-state had its own government. The two most powerful city-states were Sparta and Athens. The government of Sparta and that of Athens were very different from each other; Sparta was a warrior city-state and its government was mostly aristocratic and run by two kings while the government of Athens was democratic and run by all of its citizens. In all city-states in Ancient Greece, citizenship was limited to free males and a great number of people in Ancient Greece were slaves.

Sparta had Two Kings

Leonidas_statue1 by Selre4ok under CC BY 2.0

An interesting fact of Ancient Greece government is that Sparta was ruled by two kings. Sparta was originally founded in the interest of aristocrats and the two kings of Sparta always came from the two great aristocratic houses of Sparta. Although the kings could declare war, the kings held little rule over Sparta. The government of Sparta had a council of 28 elder nobles who made most of the political decisions of Sparta. There was also an assembly of the Spartiate which consisted of Spartan males, was run democratically, and could veto or approve the decisions made by the Council. There was also the Ephorate which consisted of 5 males, guided many aspects of Spartan life, and could veto the Council and the Assembly.

Athens was the First Democracy

Another interesting fact about Ancient Greece government is that Athens had the first democratic government. In 608 BC Clesthenes, an aristocrat, won power by popular vote and introduced democracy into the government of Athens. This happened as Sparta tried to take over Athens. The democratically run Athens fought and defeated the aristocratically run Sparta.

Spartan Boys Joined the Army at 7

Sparta was a very militaristic city that was closed off to outsiders and they prided themselves on fighting. The military training of Spartan boys began at a very young age. At age 7 Spartan Boys were sent off to live with other boys in military camps where they received their education on how to become a soldier; they walked bare foot and learned how to live the rough life of a soldier.

There were slaves in Ancient Greece

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Slaves in the Ancient world were quite common. There were many slaves in Ancient Greece. Some were born slaves and others were made slaves either through being sold or being captured as prisoners of war. Slaves were very important and they did many different jobs in Ancient Greek society; some were house servants, nannies, police officers, mine workers, or ship's crew members.

Women and Slaves were not Citizens

Ancient Greece was a paternalistic society. Women were not considered full citizens and were not allowed to participate in politics or to take part in the assembly. Women usually could not leave the house without a guardian and they had very few legal rights. Slaves had no rights, they could not use their own names, and slaves were named by their master. Only Greek males who were not slaves could be citizens in Ancient Greece

There are many interesting facts of Ancient Greece government. Athens had the first democratic government that the world had ever known. The city-state of Sparta was run by two kings who shared power equally. Spartan boys were forced to leave their families and join military school at the age of 7 and unlike today, slaves existed in Ancient Greece. The women and slaves of Ancient Greece were not considered citizens and had little to no rights.