Politics of Ancient Greece

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The term 'ancient Greece' normally refers to the time period from the middle of 8th century to the Roman conquest in 146 BC (Konstam, 2003). Political life of the region during that period was rather intensive and versatile. The growth of nomadic tribes led to their settlement in different areas of Greece, normally along the coastal line.


Such situation was highly untypical for the rest of contemporary societies that mostly relied on the tribal principle. The core factor that could be held responsible for the fragmentation of ancient Greece into numerous city-states was the country's geography, namely numerous mountains, hills and rivers that served as natural barriers between the regions. Despite self-identification as 'one people' the poleis fiercely defended their independent status and almost never considered the option of unification. Therefore, the political system of Ancient Greece had at least two specific characteristics that distinguished it from the rest of contemporary political systems:
Furthermore, even small city-states that could not compete with their larger neighbors were rarely conquered or ruled directly another polis. Instead the common practice in Ancient Greece was grouping of poleis into confederations or leagues, members of which constantly changed. In the Classical Period (5th and 4th centuries BC), these leagues became larger and fewer with one powerful polis being the dominant member. Athens, Sparta and Thebes were the three poleis that played the key roles in respective leagues.
Prior to the birth of democracy in Athens, the poleis we ...
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