A tale of 3 cities (evolving government much simplified)


Athens  (Ionian)

Corinth  (Dorian)

Sparta  (Dorian)

Tribal aristocracy with council on the Areopagus.  Ancient kings become chosen officers = archons


Draco (ca. 622/1) codifies customary law, recognizing self-help (forcible seizure or payment) for crimes against person and property


Solon (ca. 594), recasts the law code (prescribing some monetary limits); installs courts of the people; ends debt slavery; archons elected by popular assembly; new council (?) of the 4 tribes.


Peisistratus and sons (560-511)

Oligarchy of Bacchiadae, descended from Heraclids:

tribal council of  200 families, chooses officers.


Tyranny of Cypselus and son Periander





(Oligarchy restored)

Kings descended from Heraclids

Lycurgus legendary lawgiver (775) supposedly establishes militaristic society, balance of power:

gerousia council of elders (28);

ephors  (5) elected by Spartan soldier assembly to oversee even decisions of the kings.


Wars of conquest yield system of apartheid: serfs (helots) and ‘neighboring subjects’ (perioikoi)

Hippias in exile joins Darius.

Alcmeonid Clisthenes (508) (re)invents democracy: ten new tribes without geographic or family ties  (each composed of a third from each region); the council is manned by 50 from each tribe.

[ostracism is thought to date from this period]

Miltiades returns from tyranny in the Chersonese, to face trial (493)


Cleomenes drives out the Pisistratids at Athens, failing to install oligarchy


Cleomenes succeeds in ousting Demaratus from the other kingship, replaced by Leotychidas