Ancient Greece Government

903 Words4 Pages
Introduction
Monarchy, aristocracy, tyranny, oligarchy and democracy were all forms of government found at different times and in different city-states in Ancient Greece. Elements of more than one of these forms also co-existed, however, and the modern connotations of labels such as these are not necessarily the same as those that prevailed in Ancient Greece.
In this paper I firstly describe these various forms of government and provide examples of their use in Ancient Greece. I then compare and contrast the models.
Monarchy
Monarchy may be defined as: “a government having a hereditary chief of state with life tenure and powers varying from nominal to absolute” (Merriam Webster, n.d.).
Monarchy was common amongst Greek city-states in Greece
…show more content…
The modern connotation of the word tends to involve oppression, but this was not necessarily the case in Ancient Greece – some tyrants were seen as benevolent (Cartwright, 2013).
The fundamental difference between monarchy and tyranny was heredity. Monarchs were rulers by birthright, whereas tyrants assumed power by other means, often including
…show more content…
Dionysius I and II in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC were tyrants of Syracuse (Encyclopædia Britannica, n.d.).
Oligarchy
Oligarchy may be defined as: “a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes” (Merriam Webster, n.d.).
The difference between aristocracy and oligarchy is that the former implies rule by the best or the privileged few, whereas oligarchy implies rule by those who are able to take power. Oligarchy is therefore perhaps closer to tyranny than aristocracy in nature.
Examples include an oligarchy of a few powerful families who ruled the city-state of Corinth in the 4th and 5th centuries BC (History Files, n.d.); oligarchic rule in Thebes in the same era (Arnush, n.d.); and periods of oligarchy in Athens such as in 411 BC (Cartwright, 2013).
Democracy
Democracy may be defined as: “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them [either] directly, or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections” (Merriam Webster,
Open Document