Ancient History: Greece : Governmental Structures

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Ancient History: Greece

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Governmental Structures

Most Greek city-states were governed as __________.

Possible Answers:

a theocracy

a representative republic

a limited republic

an autocracy

an oligarchy

Correct answer:

an oligarchy

Explanation:

Most Greek city-states were governed as an oligarchy. An oligarchy is a system of government in which a small group of wealthy elites control and administer society. Although we tend to associate the ancient Greeks with the invention of democracy, only a few societies were ruled by representative governments, and even those societies were only ruled by democracy for a short period of time. Throughout the majority of Greek history, in the vast majority of places, oligarchies prevailed.

Example Question #2 : Governmental Structures

Which of these best describes an archon in ancient Athenian society?

Possible Answers:

An urban slave

The leader of the council of elders

An agricultural slave

A citizen

The chief magistrate

Correct answer:

The chief magistrate

Explanation:

In ancient Athenian society (and in some other Greek city-states) the archon was the chief magistrate. The powers, responsibilities, and authority of archons varied at different times and in different places. Rulers and reformers like Draco, Solon, and Cleisthenes were all archons.

Example Question #3 : Governmental Structures

Which of the following ancient Greek city-states is famous for inventing democracy?

Possible Answers:

Sparta

Macedon

Athens

Corinth

Argos

Correct answer:

Athens

Explanation:

Athens is best known for practicing democracy in the Classic Period, so they would be the best choice. Sparta was ruled by two kings for most of its history, so it would not be a good answer. Macedon was the kingdom that produced Alexander the Great and they were not known for democracy, so that would not be a good choice. Lastly, both Argos and Corinth were Greek city-states, however neither of them were known for democracy, so they would not be good answers either. 

Example Question #4 : Governmental Structures

Cylon is most notable for __________.

Possible Answers:

leading the Spartan forces in the First Messenian War

ruling as a tyrant in Samos during the sixth century

establishing a set of legal codes in Athens

ruling as a tyrant in Corinth during the seventh century

leading a failed coup against the Athenian government

Correct answer:

leading a failed coup against the Athenian government

Explanation:

Cylon is most notable for leading a failed coup against the Athenian government in the seventh century BCE. This event is particularly notable because it is the first reliable recorded and dated event in Athenian history, and because it demonstrates the nature of Athenian power struggles during the Archaic Era.

Example Question #5 : Governmental Structures

Which of these best reflects who could vote in ancient Athenian society?

Possible Answers:

free, adult, male citizens

free, adult, native, male citizens

free, adult citizens

adult citizens

all citizens

Correct answer:

free, adult, native, male citizens

Explanation:

In modern times, we remember ancient Athenian society as the birthplace of democracy, and in many ways, this is not an incorrect association. It is worth noting, however, that in Athenian society only free, adult, native, male citizens of the city could vote. This meant that the vast majority of the population remained completely excluded from the political process.

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