Ancient Greek Government


Ancient Greece witnessed a wide variety of government systems as people searched for the answers to such fundamental questions as who should rule and how? Should sovereignty lie in the rule of law, the constitution, officials, or the citizens? Not settling on a definitive answer, governments in the Greek world took extraordinarily diverse forms, from tyranny to democracy.

More about: Ancient Greek Government


  • 683 BCE - 682 BCE
    List of annual archons at Athens begins.
  • c. 660 BCE
    Pheidon is tyrant in Argos.
  • c. 657 BCE - 585 BCE
    The Kypselidai are tyrants of Corinth.
  • c. 621 BCE
    Draco produces a new law code in Athens.
  • 594 BCE - 593 BCE
    In Athens the archon Solon lays the foundations for democracy.
  • 585 BCE
    An oligarchy of 80 takes power at Corinth.
  • c. 570 BCE - c. 549 BCE
    The tyrant Phalaris rules Agrigento, expanding its territory.
  • c. 560 BCE
    Pisistratos becomes tyrant in Athens for the first time.
  • 535 BCE - 522 BCE
    Polycrates rules as tyrant of Samos.
  • c. 524 BCE - c. 460 BCE
    Life of Athenian general and statesman Themistocles.
  • 514 BCE
    Fall of the Peisistratid tyranny in Athens.
  • 514 BCE
    The tyrant of Athens Hipparchos is killed by Harmodios and Aristogeiton - the 'tyrannicides'.
  • c. 508 BCE
    According to Aristotle, the institution of ostracism is introduced in Athens under Cleisthenes.
  • c. 508 BCE
    Reforms by Cleisthenes establishes democracy in Athens.
  • 493 BCE
    Themistocles is made archon in Athens.
  • c. 489 BCE - c. 473 BCE
    The tyrant Theron rules Agrigento.
  • 487 BCE - 486 BCE
    Archons begin to be appointed by lot in Athens.
  • c. 487 BCE
    The first ostracism vote takes place in Athens and Hipparchus is exiled.
  • 482 BCE
    Aristides is voted in an ostracism in Athens and exiled from the city.
  • c. 480 BCE
    The Tyrant Kadmos permits the establishment of democratic government on Kos.
  • c. 471 BCE
    The general and statesman Themistocles is voted in an ostracism and exiled from Athens.
  • 463 BCE
    Pericles leads a prosecution of Cimon on charges of corruption but he is acquitted.
  • 462 BCE - 461 BCE
    Radicalisation of democracy in Athens; Cimon exiled, Pericles comes to exercise influence.
  • c. 462 BCE - 458 BCE
    Pericles introduces democratic institutions in Athens.
  • 461 BCE
    Cimon is voted in an ostracism in Athens and exiled from the city.
  • c. 460 BCE - c. 320 CE
    Period of full and direct citizen democracy in Athens.
  • 447 BCE - 386 BCE
    The Boeotian federation has a minimum property requirement for participation in the democratic assembly.
  • c. 417 BCE
    In the last recorded ostracism the demagogue Hyperbolos is exiled from Athens.
  • 411 BCE
    The oligarchy of the 400 take over the democracy in Athens and in a matter of months is replaced by an oligarchy of 5000.
  • 405 BCE
    Dionysius becomes tyrant in Syracuse, Sicily.
  • 404 BCE
    End of the Peloponnesian war, Athens defeated By Sparta at Aigospotamoi, Rule of the Thirty Tyrants in Athens.
  • 403 BCE
    Restoration of the democracy in Athens, death of the tyrant Critias.
  • 367 BCE
    Dionysius II becomes tyrant of Syracuse, Sicily.
  • 355 BCE
    Demosthenes begins to deliver speeches in the Athenian assembly.
  • 344 BCE
    Timoleon defeats Dionysius II of Syracuse and establishes an oligarchy government.
  • 318 BCE
    Phocion is tried for treason and sentenced to death by poisoning.