Ancient Greek City-States
Ancient Greece was composed of city-states also known as a polis.
The country was not controlled by a central government or by a king.
The only time Ancient Greece was one country was during the reign of Alexander the Great.
Each city-state operated independently of the other.
In the middle of each city-state was a dominant city.
The dominant city controlled all the lands around the city.
There were some instances of a city-state controlling a nearby smaller city.
Ancient Greek City States Facts for Kids
- Greece had many city-states.
- Athens was known for its democracy.
- Sparta was known for its military strength.
- Corinth was a major trading hub.
- Thebes was known for its skilled army.
- Delphi was home to the famous oracle.
- Olympia hosted the ancient Olympic Games.
What is a City State in Ancient Greece
A city-state was like a tiny country. It was made up of a city, along with the surrounding area and smaller towns and villages.
Each city-state had its own government, laws, and army, and they were often rivals with one another.
Some of the most famous city-states in ancient Greece were Athens, Sparta, and Corinth. They all had their own unique cultures, beliefs, and ways of doing things.
People who lived in the city-state were called citizens, and they were expected to participate in government and defend their city-state if it was attacked.
How Many City States Were in Ancient Greece
There were many city-states in ancient Greece! It’s hard to say exactly how many there were, but historians think there were probably hundreds of them.
Some of the most famous Greek city states were Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes, and Delphi. Each city-state had its own government, laws, and army, and they were often rivals with one another.
Despite being separate entities, the city-states shared some things in common, like the Greek language and certain religious beliefs.
They also came together to compete in events like the Olympic Games and to fight against outside invaders.
City-states or the polis were controlled by various forms of government.
There were several different ways that city-states were ruled.
In some city-states, monarchies controlled the polis with one powerful king or tyrant.
Other city-states depended on a council of oligarchies comprised of rich or powerful men to rule.
Some used a combination such as Sparta which had two kings and a council of oligarchs.
One city-state, Athens, developed a form of government called democracy which allowed the people to rule the polis.
Different but the same
City-states in Ancient Greece had many things in common.
For instance, the people of each city-state had similar gods and prayed alike. The city-states spoke the same language.
The culture of each city-state was similar too. City-states liked competing against one another and each city-state would send a team of athletes to compete in the Olympic Games.
City-states were also proud and each proclaimed to have the best of everything like athletes, fabrics, artwork, and theater. They traded goods with each other.
City-states also created different currencies which forced traders to use specific currencies in each city-state.
There were numerous city-states within Ancient Greece.
The most powerful or influential city-states were Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Corinth, and Delphi. The people of each city-state did not refer to themselves as Greeks.
Instead, they would refer to themselves as Athenian, Spartan, or Corinthian.
Ancient Greek city-states were known for something specific too.
For instance, Corinth was a wealthy city because of trade. It also was known for its architecture.
Delphi was known as the spiritual center of all city-states and Sparta was known for its militaristic attitude.
They also fought against each other like during the Peloponnesian Wars between Athens and Sparta. City-states look out for their own interests at times of war.
For instance, Thebes was known to switch sides during the war and fight against Athens with Sparta as well as fight with Athens against Sparta.
At times city-states would band together to fight off an invasion from a common enemy like Persia.
More Fun Facts about Greek City-States
- Ancient Greek city-states are known as polis.
- Although there were numerous city-states, the five most influential were Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes, and Delphi.
- Thebes was known to switch sides during times of war.
- Ancient Greek city-states were controlled by monarchies, councils of oligarchies, or through democracy.
- Athens invented democracy which allowed the people to rule the city-state.
- The only time Ancient Greek was unified under one ruler was during the reign of Alexander the Great.
- People could move freely between Ancient Greek city-states.
- Sparta was ruled by two kings and a council of oligarchs.
What were the five most powerful or influential city-states in Ancient Greece?
Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes, and Delphi
What is an Ancient Greek city-state called?
Which Ancient Greek city-states invented democracy?
What type of governments ruled Ancient Greek city-states?
A Monarchy, a council of oligarchs, or a democracy
Did Ancient Greek city-states speak the same language?
Yes. Each ancient Greek city-state spoke Greek and shared much of the same culture.
What did you learn?
When was the only time Ancient Greece was controlled by one government?
Under Alexander the Great
Which Ancient Greek city-state was ruled by two kings and a council of oligarchs?
Ancient Greek city-states would send a team of athletes to compete in what games?
What language did the ancient Greek city-states speak?
What two ancient Greek city-states were considered to be the most powerful?
Athens and Sparta