The Greek City-States

The Greek City-States

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

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What was the structure of the polis?

Polis is the word that politics is derived from which describes what kind of place a polis was. A Greek Polis was a central location where all major political, social, and religious activities were carried out. The polis consisted of a city, town, or village and its surrounding countryside. The city, town, or village was the focus, a central point where the citizens of the polis could assemble for political, social, and religious activities(Duiker, W. J., & Spielvogel, J. J., 2013). There were many of these polis in Greek society and their sizes varied. A polis were typically a few hundred to several thousand people.

Polis, what became the central institution of Greek life, created a loyal and dedicated group of citizens to City-States. They were privileged to have rights and responsibilities but there was a negative side to what may have been considered staunch loyalty. Loyalty to their own city-state turned into aggression and distrust for other city-states which brought about a division in Greece.

This was all taking place around 700-c to 500 B.C.E. At this time a new military structure was also beginning to become implemented, based on hoplites. Hoplites were heavily armed infantry men whose formation differed from previous tactical formations. Hoplites would form a phalanx which resembled a rectangular structure and this new militaristic approach was able to challenge aristocratic control since aristocratic cavalry became outdated (Duiker, W. J., & Spielvogel, J. J., 2013).


Duiker, W. J., & Spielvogel, J. J. (2013). The Essential World History Vol I: To 1800 (Vol. 1). Boston, MA: Cengage.

Photo By Victoria from London, UK — Flickr, CC BY 2.0


Vincent Triola. Tue, Mar 02, 2021. The Greek City-States Retrieved from

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