Polis In Ancient Greek Life

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The Polis and Ancient Greek Life To the Ancient Greeks, the Polis was the center of their way of life. From socializing to conducting business to even deciding whether to go to war, the Polis was a very important aspect of the Greek’s lives. In the essay, the functions of the Polis will be discussed along with how the Polis managed to bring about the formation of Democracy, with the Polis of the city of Athens being the main example. The importance of the Polis will be explored through this essay because without the Polis, Democracy as we know it may not have ever formed. In ancient Greece, the Polis was the center of everything, consisting of the main town, but also farms and villages surrounding the polis. The polis began to form during…show more content…
in the more advanced areas of Greece, economically and socially speaking” (“Greek Administration”, 1988). The polis was a way of the Greeks finding a way to organize themselves into a society, becoming more civilized. According to Greek Administration, “In its fundamental essence it was never conceived as an extent of territory, although its boundaries could be drawn on a map, but rather as a group of citizens feeling themselves bound together under the rule of law” (“Greek Administration, 1988). In terms that are more familiar to the way we teach history today in our society, the polis is what we would call a city-state, each individual polis being its own city-state, acting almost like a small country. According to Nardo, “Although all Greeks, the residents of the various poleis developed differing local governments and customs as well as different forms of currency” (Nardo, 2007). Viewing each polis as a separate country from the others would eventually lead to conflict, seeing as some poleis were bound to eventually begin to view themselves as superior to the other poleis. According to Nardo, “Indeed, they thought of…show more content…
Each Polis had a patron deity and was named after their patron deity, Athens’s deity being the Goddess of Wisdom and of War, Athena. Athens was one of the largest city-states in Greece, the city-state that came second to Athens being Sparta, but it is one of the most well-known city-states due to having features of its own that were not seen in any other city-states and one other feature that it gave us that is still present today, known as Democracy. An example of one of these distinctive features, according to Polis, was introduced during the classical period, “In about 508-507 B.C., Cleisthenes prevented Athenian aristocrats from controlling the assembly by limiting citizenship” (“Polis”, 1998). By doing this, citizenship was no longer controlled by the rich, making it easier to become a part of Athenian society. But Cleisthenes did not stop there, proposing even more reforms, as according to Polis, “He also instituted the Council of 500, whose members were chosen by lot from male citizens 30 years of age or older” (“Polis”, 1998). By doing this, Cleisthenes introduced electing officials, which would become a core part of Democracy, and even made the officials take an oath swearing to act in accordance to the laws and to also act in the best interests of the Polis. According to Polis, “They also swore not to imprison any citizen except those charged with treason, revolution, or breaking their tax contracts”
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