Social Structure and GovernmentSocial Structure
Greece in the Archaic Period was made up from independent states, called Polis, or city state. The polis of Athens included about 2,500 sq kilometres of territory, but other Polis with smaller areas of 250 sq kilometres.
Greek Society was mainly broken up between Free people and Slaves, who were owned by the free people. Slaves were used as servants and labourers, without any legal rights. Sometimes the slaves were prisoners of war or bought from foreign slave traders. Although many slaves lived closely with their owners, few were skilled craftsmen and even fewer were paid.
As Athenian society evolved, free men were divided between Citizens and Metics. A citizen was born with Athenian parents and were the most powerful group, that could take part in the government of the Polis. After compulsory service in the army they were expected to be government officials and take part in Jury Service. A metic was of foreign birth that had migrated to Athens, to either trade or practice a craft. A metic had to pay taxes and sometimes required to serve in the army. However, they could never achieve full right s of a Citizen, neither could they own houses or land and were not allowed to speak in law courts.
The social classes applied to men only, as women all took their social and legal status from their husband or their male partner. Women in ancient Greece were not permitted to take part in public life.Government
The majority of Greek states were governed by groups of rich landowners, called aristocrats; this word is derived from 'aristoi', meaning best people. This was a system known as 'oligarchy' the rule by the few.
Athenian power in the Archaic Period was controlled by Aeropagus, or council. Their policies were delivered through three magistrates called Archons.
Democracy was introduced by an aristocrat, Cleisthenes. Who was from family of the Alcmaeonids in 508 BC, after 2 years of civil war, they used the help of Spartans to secure power.
Men if they were not training in military, or discussing politics went to the Theatre for entertainment. To watch dramas that they could relate to, including tragedies and comedies. These often involved current politics and gods in some form. It is thought that women were not allowed to watch theatre or perform at the theatre, although male actors did play women roles... more