The ideal size of a Polis was about 5,000 male citizens, the only gender counted in official records
Develops around forts
The Greek city-states were small; the largest, Sparta, covered about 3,200 sq. miles
Many city-states were smaller, and a few were larger. Athens, the largest in population, had about 35,000 male citizens in the middle of 500 BC. The rest of the population of 350,000 consisted of women, children, foreign residents and slaves
Settled by Dorians who occupied part of the Southern Peninsula of Greece, the Peloponnesus.
800 BC- Spartans conquered nearby regions and forced many of the people to work as farm-laborers, or Helots. Helots worked on for the Polis on the farms of Sparta. Helots out numbered the Spartans by 10 to 1. The Spartans lived in constant fear of revolt so they established a strong military government to maintain order.
Spartans were expected to marry, but the family was regarded as less important than the polis
The polis gave each family land and helots to farm it
Women had the responsibility of managing their farms and households
Men of Sparta spent more time fighting or practicing military skills. They spent leisure time at a soldier’s club. Even after retiring at age of 60, Spartan men served the government or military schools of the polis
Cleisthenes started a new practice, that recquired Athenians to point out and vote anyone they believed was a threat to Athens. If 6,000 votes were cast against a particular person, he was forced to leave Athens for 10 years
They wrote the votes on a piece of broken pottery known as ostralum, this practice became known as ostracism
Few people were actually ostracized, but the custom gave citizens more power
Solon an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and Lyric poet, renowned as a founding father of the Athenian polis. The travel writer, Pausanias, listed Solon among the Seven Sages of the ancient world. BACK
Pisistratus Pisistratus did a good job as tyrant, even though the other rich men kept trying to get rid of him so they could have their oligarchy back again. Pisistratus taxed everybody equally (instead of taxing the rich less than everyone else), and he organized ways for the government to lend money at fair rates to farmers so they wouldn't have to borrow money from rich people. Pisistratus (pie-SISS-trat-uss) used the tax money to build roads and new public water fountains and new temples for the gods and many other useful things. www.historyforkids.org BACK
Cleisthenes Credited with having established democracy in Athens, Cleisthenes' reforms at the end of the 6th Century BC made possible the Golden Age of Athenian civilization that would follow in the 5th Century BC. Born into one of the city's foremost political dynasties, he became the unlikely champion of the people when they rebelled against tyranny. BACK