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As Polis ( which , from ancient Greek πόλις pólis , City ',' State ', originally,' Burg '; plural poleis to πόλεις póleis ), the typical is usually federation in ancient Greece called, which is tangible usually as a urban settlement core (→ (core) city ; Greek ἄστυ asty ) with the associated surrounding area ( χώρα chōra , [the] ' Chora '). Its residents were not legally distinguished from the residents of the urban center. The typical polis was a citizen community or an association of persons and not defined itself primarily through its territory , but about their members (→  Citizens # Greece ). It became the classic term for the city-state in ancient times ; whether it can actually be considered as such has long been disputed in research.

Since the emergence of the polis in the archaic period (approx. 700–500  BC ) and because of the large number of new foundations in Hellenism (323–30 BC), the Mediterranean world remained urban for centuries, although the majority of the People lived in the countryside; for as a rule most of the rural residents in the Greek-influenced areas were either full citizens , dependents (e.g. women and metics ) or slaves of a polis.

In the east, the Roman Empire later relied heavily on the now only semi-autonomous poleis, which in late antiquity (284–641 AD) experienced a slow decline in many places. In the 6th century , the last attempts under Emperor Justinian to strengthen the position of the cities and to revitalize the polis failed . The Islamic expansion in the 7th century ultimately led to the demise of most of the poleis. During this time of the (flowing) transition from the Eastern Roman to the Byzantine Empire , most of the cities finally changed from the polis into a fortified, comparatively often very small castron , a typical Byzantine type of fortress town.

Origin and character of the polis

In research it is controversial whether the roots of the polis lie in the Mycenaean culture of the late Bronze Age, whether they were during the " Dark Age " around 900 BC. BC or only at the beginning of the archaic era . How this question is answered depends not least on which definition of polis is used. Accordingly, there is also no consensus as to when the political culture went under. The vast majority of today's researchers assume that the polis was in the 8th century BC. BC in its “classical” form and that Poleis existed until the end of late antiquity . A possible influence of the oriental, especially Phoenician, city-state on the genesis of the polis is discussed again and again.

Polis (related to the words politics , metropolis or metropolis and cosmopolis, cosmopolitan ) originally referred to a fortified hilltop settlement (also: Akropolis : "upper town", city fortress), under whose protection at the latest in the 8th century BC. Settlements of an urban, but also pre-urban character developed. Polis was still used in Athens in the 5th century BC. Used synonymously with Acropolis. (In Athens, too, the Acropolis was originally a citadel.) The background to this was probably that in the Greek area since the early 8th century BC. Beginning of population growth; Oriental influence may also have played a certain but difficult to determine role. At that time the Greeks maintained close contacts with the city-states of the Phoenicians . The term, which we are familiar with as “community of a citizen's association”, was only given in the further course of the archaic epoch, when the polis developed into the form of political organization that was so characteristic of Greece and regions populated by Greeks in the 2nd half of the 1st century AD Millennium BC Should be.

With the great Greek colonization (around 750 to 550 BC) the type of polis spread from the Greek motherland (the mainland and the Aegean region ) over the coasts of almost the entire Mediterranean and the Black Sea. As a result, the communication space in which Greeks shared their experiences and developed specific identities in their local communities expanded significantly. At the same time, the Greek colonization presumably gave a strong impulse to establish institutions for decision-making, administration of justice and constant readiness for military service in the polis; possibly the development in the Greek colonies (more correctly: Apoikien) also influenced the constitution of the cities in the motherland. Later, in the Hellenistic Age, the founding of cities by Alexander the Great and his successors, the Diadochi , were an important means of " Hellenizing " the ancient Orient. In the Hellenistic, Roman and Late Antique times, most of the Poleis lost their political independence, but remained semi-autonomous communities for a very long time and formed the economic and administrative backbone of the Diadochian empires such as the Roman Empire.

"In total, there were at least 1,500 polis-type settlements in the Greek motherland and in the 'colonial' areas of the Hellenes on the coasts of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea and later in the Hellenistic empires."

In current research, the character of the polis in Hellenism in particular is very controversial, with the discussion revolving around the question of when the principally “democratic” order of most communities was replaced by an oligarchy . While in the past it was generally believed that this process began among the first diadochi, there are now increasing voices that assume that this only took place in the course of the 2nd and 1st centuries BC under the increasing Roman dominance. It is undisputed that in the principate at the latest, the city councils, whose members now, unlike in the past, formed their own stand, dominated the poleis.

The Greeks did not restrict the term polis to those areas in which they themselves settled, but also referred to communities such as Carthage in North Africa and Rome in Italy as a poleis. The geographical peculiarities of Greece - small-scale fertile plains surrounded by mountains and flowed through by rivers - encouraged the emergence of small-scale political units that soon saw themselves as autonomous and independent. The polis is primarily defined as the “community of citizens” ( koinônía tôn politôn ). The character of an association of persons is shown very clearly in the usual designation of a state after its citizens ( hoi Athênaíoi , hoi Korínthioi , hoi Lakedaimónioi etc.), not according to its national territory ( e.g. Athénai , Thébai ). Most Poleis approached the ideal of a small, manageable community where people knew each other and where they could easily meet. Plato assumes an ideal number of 5040 citizens as landowners and defenders of their land.

In total, an estimated 700 pole ice with an average size of 50 to 100 km² can be assumed for the classical period. They were inhabited by mostly 2000 to 4000 people. In comparison, Argos had about 1,400 km². 626 city-states are known from classical times through coins, literary sources and tribute lists. Our current image of a polis, in contrast to the reality that prevailed at the time, is determined by a small number of politically particularly important city-states, which - like Athens and Sparta  - could, however, themselves be extremely contradictory in character and political organizational form. In Hellenism, as I said, the number of poleis rose again sharply. In later times individual cities such as Antioch or Alexandria could also have several hundred thousand inhabitants, but these remained exceptions.

Comparable municipalities were founded in the Mediterranean area by Phoenicians (e.g. Carthage ) and Etruscans (e.g. Veii , but also Rome ). The Celtic oppida evidently formed a more primitive form of settlement, which the Romans were then able to convert into civitates .

The alternative to Pólis was the " Éthnos ", the ancient Greek " tribal state ". In regions with few settlement centers, such as in western and north-western Greece, it was the main form of organization in which the individual village settlements could only exercise subordinate competencies and functions and the elaborate state organization of the polis was not achieved. A tribal state only attained world-historical importance in the 2nd half of the 4th century BC. With the tribal kingdom of Macedonia, when Philip II formed the strongest military power in Europe and his son and successor Alexander the Great expanded the tribal kingdom over Asia and North Africa (Egypt) into a Greek-influenced world empire - which quickly fell apart. However, in ancient times Macedonia was usually not considered a regular part of Hellas (only the members of the ruling family were considered Greeks), so it can only be called Greek ethnos with reservation .

For a long time, older research assumed that at the latest with Alexander and the beginning of the Hellenistic epoch, the great days of the Poleis, which were soon all under direct or indirect rule, first of the Diadochian empires, and later of the Romans, would be over. For some years now, however, it has been emphasized that the opposite was the case. In number, size, geographical distribution and economic importance, the Greek cities of the time after Alexander far exceeded those of the classical epoch, and democracy was by no means lost. Euergetism , that is, the assumption of public tasks and buildings by rich benefactors ("Euergeten"), was of growing importance . Of course, the poleis' room for maneuver in foreign policy was now limited, even if a skilful maneuvering between the different power blocs could create considerable leeway.

This basically only changed when Rome began in the 2nd century BC. Became the dominant and ultimately the only power in the eastern Mediterranean. But since the Romans, as mentioned, had to rely on the poleis in order to be able to rule their empire in the area, the poleis, whose city councils were mostly responsible for collecting taxes, continued to exist for a long time. Membership in the city council had become hereditary, unlike before, presumably under Roman influence. It was only with the Christianization of the 4th century that the cities were plunged into a crisis, as the richest members of the city councils evaded their duties by joining the clergy or the imperial administration. Despite these structural changes, many Eastern Roman and Greek poles in the 5th and 6th centuries (when the Roman cities in the west were already experiencing an obvious decline) still enjoyed considerable prosperity. However, informal forms of rule by the local “powerful” in the cities of late antiquity now increasingly prevailed over the traditional forms of organization of the polis. The actual end of the Greek poleis did not come until the 7th century in the course of the Islamic expansion.

Political and social development of the city-states

Basically, the discussion about the character of the polis is made more difficult by the fact that the city we know most about by far with regard to the Classical Age (approx. 500 to 330 BC), Athens, is an exception in many ways seems to have depicted. Only in the last few years has our knowledge of other poleis, ie the “third Greece” beyond Athens and Sparta , increased, thanks in particular to epigraphy . However, the political development of many poleis often seems to have followed a common pattern: since the Homeric epics and the beginning of the archaic epoch of Greece, the poleis have often been ruled by a large landowner aristocracy. This soon met with resistance from the non-aristocratic classes of the demos , especially since the gap between rich and poor apparently widened after the rise of the money economy and the possible retention of profits. The acute crisis of the Adelspolis, which often erupted in civil wars ( stasis ), has been exploited by individual aristocrats since the middle of the 7th century. v. As tyrants at the head of various poleis. Initially, " Tyrannis " was a largely neutral term for individual rule; but, as Solon's criticism in Athens around 570 BC, it got BC shows, at that time already slowly, the same negative meaning that we can still grasp today in the modern concept of tyranny and which became generally accepted from the 5th century.

Regardless of the appearance of tyrants, the institutionalization of the polis was no later than 600 BC. At least in Athens so far advanced that they were thought of as a politically acting subject or the citizenry as a unit. The three state organs developed, which were ultimately typical for all Poleis, albeit in very different ways: the People's Assembly, Council and Magistrates.

At the end of this process there was usually a constitution in which all wealthy citizens capable of serving as heavily armed ( hoplites ) as politically entitled citizens with the same active and passive voting rights (the latter graded according to the amount of agricultural income, but no longer tied to noble birth) were recognized and political tasks in council committees ( bulé ), decided in a popular assembly ( ekklesía ) with a majority of votes and carried out by officials who change every year. Was the mass of poorer small farmers and the landless ( thetes ) who performed military service as lightly armed men at least actively involved in the votes in the people's assembly and in the people's court, as in Athens after the reforms of Solon in 594/93 BC. According to the criteria of Aristotle, this constitution is defined as a “moderate”, “traditional” “ democracy ” through oligarchic and aristocratic elements . The most important feature of a truly democratic order was the raffle for most offices; if, on the other hand, was chosen, this was considered an indication of an oligarchic constitution.

Due to the extraordinary circumstances of the Persian Wars , Athens developed from a land power to a sea power, in which the Thetes provided the bulk of the rowers and with their military qualifications in the sea battle of Salamis in 480 BC. BC and the expeditions of the Delisch-Attic League, founded in 478/77, increased political awareness to such an extent that from 462/61 with the reforms of Ephialtes and Pericles in Athens, moderate democracy with the disempowerment of the Areopagus and the granting of passive suffrage changed to the so-called radical democracy.

With the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War , the world of the Greek polis increasingly found itself in an existential crisis. The hegemony of the larger city-states resulted in a century of almost permanent war. Attempts on the basis of a koiné eiréne , a general peace , to achieve a lasting peace solution while preserving the respective autonomy failed in the first half of the fourth century BC. Several times. In the end, all poleis had to bow first to Macedonian and then Roman supremacy. However, the Poleis continued to exist in the Hellenistic and Roman times with their characteristic institutions and could, of course, enjoy a certain local autonomy and freedom under the direct or indirect control of a king or the Roman governor and later the princeps . In particular, the early Hellenism is considered to be the heyday of the polis in recent research. An indication of the continued relevance of cities for the everyday life of their citizens is the fact that stasis continued to occur frequently between Alexander and Augustus , i.e. civil wars over control of the polis.

In the eastern Roman Empire, emerging Christianity found its first mission centers in these ancient urban centers. However, membership of the most important committees, especially the city council, had become hereditary at the latest in the 2nd century AD, with which the old democratic tradition in the poleis had definitely come to an end.

The characteristics of the polis

Similar to Rome or the cities of the Carthaginians and Etruscans , each polis had a popular assembly (s), council and magistrates. The form of political organization that was established in the 1st half of the 1st millennium BC Was typical for Greece and the regions populated by Greeks, shows it from approx. 600 BC. BC developed the following essential ideals, which were striven for in many poleis:

  1. Political self-government and self-government by the free male citizens. While at the beginning supporters of an oligarchy appeared openly in many cities, from the Hellenism onwards, democracy (at least in political theory) was considered indispensable for a polis.
  2. Equality of all citizens before the law ( Isonomia ).
  3. Striving for internal independence through own laws ( Autonomía ) and political institutions. The offices were awarded by election or by lot, only the latter was considered to be really democratic. There were no enforcement bodies such as a police force, which is one of the main arguments of those researchers who deny that the polis can be considered a state.
  4. The fundamental striving for external independence through military capacity on the basis of general conscription and self-equipment ( Eleuthería = freedom ).
  5. As far as possible economic independence of the households of the individual citizens ( Autarkia ) through ownership of a parcel of land ( Kléros ), which could be worked agriculturally and with its income should ensure the existence of the farming families. The ownership of land was in principle freely alienable, lendable and inheritable. This fundamentally distinguished the land law of the ancient and medieval city of the Occident from the city of the Orient. For the ancient city, the unity of the urban center and the surrounding rural area ( Chóra ), in contrast to the medieval city, was also constitutive. It must be remembered here that the ancient societies were agrarian societies in which more than two thirds of the population worked in the countryside. They produced food for themselves and for the urban population, but also raw materials such as wool. The farming families primarily covered their own needs ( subsistence production ) from the yields of their fields and herds . This also applies to the household of rich upper-class families. Markets therefore only had a limited function. Only in larger cities, whose inhabitants had no direct connection to agricultural production, was it no longer possible to self-suffice, so that many were forced to buy everything they needed on the market. Accordingly, the term Oikonomía comes from Oíkos  = house and originally means "housekeeping" in contrast to modern "national economy". The current economic system only emerged in the course of industrialization, so that its structures cannot simply be projected onto antiquity.
  6. The Poleis had public buildings (e.g. council buildings) and a central meeting place ( agora ) .
  7. They had a specific calendar.
  8. Own festivals and sanctuaries; because every polis was also a religious community with a protective deity (e.g. Athena Polias for Athens).
  9. Own means of payment (coins) as well as an own army and sometimes a fleet.
  10. In the political decision-making process of a polis, only the male, adult, part of the population, descended from citizens and sometimes capable of office due to a certain asset qualification (positions were mostly unpaid honorary positions), participated. As was customary in the pre-modern era, women were not entitled to vote in elections or to hold offices, but in most of the Poles they were definitely considered citizens.

The structure of the polis

Already in the Iliad the army is arranged according to phyls and phratries . Homer is alluding to a new principle of structuring the polis of his time (mid-8th century BC). But the beginnings of the phyls and phratries are certainly to be set earlier. Originally apparently only used by the Ionians and Dorians, the phyls have been used since the 8th century BC. The most widespread structural element of the Poleis. The number and names of the phyls (“tribes”) are correct in the various cities of the Ionians such as the four phyls in Athens (Geleontes, Aigikoreis, Argadeis and Hopletes) and in the cities of the Dorians such as in Sparta the three phyls (Hylleis, Dymanes, Pamphyloi) ) initially largely matched. This indicates that the Phyls had already established themselves as components of these ethnic groups before their migration and expansion and then, in the process of the formation of the polis, changed to the uppermost divisions of the polis.

Recent research has refuted that the four pre-cleisthenian phyls of Athens emerged from a union of phratria ("brotherhoods"). In the classic polis, the individual citizen belonged to the most varied of corporations. It will not have been any different in the pre- and early phase of the pole ice. Regional ties took a back seat to the principle of personal cohesion in these associations. Phylene members ("Phyletes"), who changed their place of residence within Attica, remained members of their old Phylene Association. The pre-Kleisthenischen Phylen did not claim any special regional rights. Rather, their chiefs, the so-called Phylobasileis ("Phylenkönige"), did not act as representatives of different regions of Attica, but carried out their functions on behalf of the entire polis. The fact that the phratries and phyls were composed of different strata of the free, nobles and non-nobles, proves that the archaic polis was not a “city of the sexes”.

Hereditary Phylen membership was usually the prerequisite for participation in full citizenship. Based on a roughly equal number of citizens and heavily armed people ("hoplites"), the Phyls made an important contribution to the political, military, religious and cultural self-organization of the polis. Phylen and phratrien had an integrative effect in the process of polis formation. The “public” tasks that these associations of persons took on as part of the organization of community life as the “small society” of the polis supplemented those of the central polis authorities, so that a perfected administrative apparatus was superfluous. Thus the phyls (with the original further subdivision into three treads = "thirds" for Athens, attested by Aristotle (?) ) And phratries as a whole formed a basic framework for the participation of citizens in community life, administration and government: they channeled their rights and Obligations by creating distribution mechanisms for offices and functions or for participation in administration and government as well as for military service. By centering on the overall polis, the phyls and phratries worked in the sense of centralization and strengthened the institutionalized statehood of the polis. This is especially true in Athens after the Phylen and Demen reform of Kleisthenes in 508/507 BC. Chr .: In place of the four old, according to personal associations, d. H. Gentilically structured phylums with three treads each, ten new local phyls with three local treads each came from the three large districts of Attica, namely “urban area”, “inland” and “coastal areas”.

The demes (“local communities”) with the respective place of residence of the citizens as the smallest naturally grown units took over the “public” tasks in the context of extensive local self-government with an annually elected mayor at the top and the community assembly as the last decision-maker in all matters relating to the community der Phratrien: You now administered the civil status register, namely birth, marriage and death lists, the military register and the list of full citizens.

Kleisthenes allowed the old system of associations of persons to exist, but only left him with religious functions. Regardless of the new “political” role of the largely self-governing local congregations (“Demoi”), membership in the phratry remained the prerequisite for acceptance into the citizenry, which is required under sacred law.

Social groups and the concept of citizens in the polis

The inhabitants of the Poleis were men, women and children with civil rights, Metöken or xenoi (= local free strangers without local citizenship), Periöken (= people living around the Polis Sparta) and slaves . As a union state, each polis comprised only the fully entitled, adult male citizens (politicians) as part of the "rule". Women, children, metics, foreigners and unfree people temporarily staying in the city as “tourists” were excluded from full citizenship and thus from any participation in self-government. When Kleisthenes 508/507 in Athens set up the ten new local “phyls and created democracy” ( Herodotus , 6,131), he formally excluded from the phyls those who lacked the required family origin and / or permanent residence and who did not could be registered as a member of a deme. This is how the story of the group of people identified by the term Métoikos begins .

The Metöks were not allowed to acquire real estate and had to pay a poll tax ( Metoíkion ) on a regular basis, presumably monthly : 1 drachma for an adult man, half a drachma for an independent adult woman. Wealthy metics were also obliged to do military service as hoplites. At the beginning of the Peloponnesian War , the Metoks invaded the area of ​​the Polis Megara (according to Thucydides , 2,31,2) 3,000 hoplites. It was not so much the poll tax, but above all the military service, which the Metöks perceived as a burden. Since most of the metics had to forego agricultural activities due to the fact that they could not acquire land, they were mainly active in the fields of handicrafts, trade and money lending. Classical Athens, the largest polis in the Greek world, attracted the most foreigners. Around 313 BC The number of Metoks who were officially registered reached supposedly almost half of the total full citizens, although their number had shrunk sharply shortly before. It is said to have been 10,000 metics and 21,000 politicians.

A century later, the proportion of the metics in the free population was perhaps even higher. Even if the status of the metec is best attested for Athens, it was by no means confined to this polis. Their existence is attested in about 70 cities during the Classical and Hellenistic epochs, albeit under different names. In all Greek cities, the “citizens” made up only a fraction of the total population of a polis. Not the community of the place, but the participation in the “rulership” and “jurisdiction” made the city dweller into a “citizen” according to the most important literary theory of the polite in Aristotle. Only this was allowed to lead a "civil life" ( Bíos politikós ). By this one understood the way of life of the citizen, in which his "freedom" (Eleuthería) existed (see also Axial Age ).

With reference to the old days, when only servants and strangers were craftsmen, Aristotle, the most famous metic in Athens, decided that only the free ( eleútheros ) - and that means for Greek thought: those free from the acquisition of the essentials of life, over a House ruling man - "citizen" could be called.

The common European concept of citizen was formed from the ancient city-state. The association character of the polis and the freedom of the autonomously governing politicians differentiated the Occidental city fundamentally from the non-European (Oriental-Asian) city. The European citizen status was brought to the concept by the classical Greek philosophy (Plato, Aristotle) ​​and remained formative for the further development of the European concept of citizen in the Middle Ages and modern times .


Women had no place in the political public, at least in Athens, about which we are by far the best informed. Only priestesses could get into important positions. Otherwise, the women were under the guardianship of their husbands or, if he was not present or died, under that of their father or eldest brother. Women were not able to testify and usually could not choose their spouse. Material dependency resulted from the fact that women very rarely owned property. Protection against the man could only be offered by one's own family. In the Polis Sparta the women were much better off than in Athens, which the Athenian authors found offensive and immoral.

Within the oikos, the administration of the household, and in the upbringing of the children, however, women were also relatively free in Athens and could enjoy great importance and high esteem. Depending on her personality and status, she might be able to create her own area of ​​life.

Towards the end of the 5th century BC A philosophical discourse on the position of women began in Athens. Plato then demanded around 350 in his unfinished old work on the "Laws" (Gr. Nomoi ) that women should be given equal rights in principle and should participate in the training of young citizens (Ephebe) as well as the symposia (Plat. Nom. 781 A ff.). The minimum age for the right to testify in court and for attending state offices should be 40 for women and 30 for men (Plat. Nom. 937 A). Men are required to military service from the age of 20 to 60, women from the birth of their last child up to the age of 50, but they should not be overburdened in military service (Plat. Nom. 785 B).

Plato's ideas are unlikely to have had too much of an impact, but they are probably an expression of the fact that the widespread misogyny lost some of its influence in philosophical discourse - without changing the basic position of Athenian women. Much more important is the fact that since Pericles every full citizen of Athens had to prove that both parents had been a citizen; henceforth it became important to publicize the mother's status.


The lowest social group were the slaves. One usually became such a prisoner of war or bondage. Slaves had no rights, because they belonged to the property of their masters, who could dispose of them at will. In some poleis, slaves were central to the economy. In many cases, they only made the time-consuming political participation of full citizens possible and their absence from the domestic economy during the campaigns. The Attic Polis slaves in the silver mines of Laurion, who had to vegetate under devastating conditions, contributed significantly through their work to the naval building program of Themistocles in 483 BC. To help finance. Releases from the slavery were extremely rare. Freed slaves rose to the status of a metoe . This reinforced the marginal social status of the metics in Athens.

City construction

The ancient Greek city was mainly characterized by a central square, the agora . This represented the center of social, cultural and economic life. A city wall to protect the polis was fortified differently depending on the location and importance of the city.

Through the colonization of the Greeks, the Greek city type was carried to Egypt , to today's Black Sea, as well as to Sicily , Italy and southern France. Most of the new colonies showed from 450 BC onwards. A very strict rectangular street plan. Based on the Greek master builder Hippodamos , this floor plan is also called the Hippodamian scheme . An ancient Greek city where Hippodamos particularly applied this scheme is Miletus .

Examples of ancient poleis


  • Heinz Bellen : Polis. In: The Little Pauly (KlP). Volume 4, Stuttgart 1972, Col. 976 f.
  • Henning Börm , Nino Luraghi (Ed.): The Polis in the Hellenistic World . Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 978-3-515-12020-3 (essays by leading experts on the Hellenistic polis).
  • Victor Ehrenberg : The State of the Greeks. 2nd, expanded edition. Artemis-Verlag, Zurich et al. 1965.
  • Peter Funke : Polis and Asty. Some thoughts on the city in ancient Greece. In: Gerhard Fouquet , Gabriel Zeilinger (Hrsg.): The urbanization of Europe from antiquity to the modern age (= Kiel work pieces. Series E: Contributions to social and economic history. Vol. 7). Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2009, ISBN 978-3-631-57881-0 , pp. 63-79.
  • Mogens Herman Hansen : Polis. An introduction to the Ancient Greek City State. Oxford University Press, Oxford et al. 2006, ISBN 0-19-920850-6 (Excellent introduction from one of the world's leading experts).
  • Frank Kolb (ed.): Chora and Polis (= writings of the historical college . Colloquia. Vol. 54) . Oldenbourg, Munich 2004, ISBN 978-3-486-56730-4 ( full text as PDF ).
  • Kurt Raaflaub : Political Thought and Crisis of the Polis. Athens in the Constitutional Conflict of the late 5th century BC Chr. (= Writings of the Historical College. Lectures. Vol. 27). Historisches Kolleg Foundation, Munich 1992 ( digitized version ).
  • Denis Roussel: Tribu et cité. (Études sur les groupes sociaux dans les cités Grecques aux époques archaique et classique) (= Annales littéraires de l'Universite de Franche-Comté. Vol. 193, ISSN  0523-0535 = Center de Recherches d'Histoire Ancienne. Vol. 23) . Les Belles Lettres, Paris 1976.
  • Raphael Sealey: A history of the Greek city states ca.700 - 338 BC , University of California Press, Berkeley 1976.
  • Kostas Vlassopoulos: Unthinking the Greek Polis. Ancient Greek History beyond Eurocentrism. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge et al. 2007, ISBN 978-0-521-87744-2 (also: Cambridge, University, Dissertation, 2005).
  • Edward van der Vliet: Polis. The Problem of Statehood. In: Social Evolution & History. Vol. 4, 2005, ISSN  1681-4363 , pp. 120-150.
  • Karl-Wilhelm Welwei , Peter J. Rhodes: Polis. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 10, Metzler, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-476-01480-0 , Sp. 22-26.
  • Karl-Wilhelm Welwei: The Greek Polis. Constitution and society in archaic and classical times. 2nd, revised and expanded edition. Steiner, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-515-07174-1 .
  • Karl-Wilhelm Welwei: Polis and Arché. Small writings on the structures of society and rule in the Greek world (= Historia . Individual writings. Vol. 146). Edited by Mischa Meier . Steiner, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-515-07759-6 (collection of important essays by Welwei on the polis and its relationship to the territorial state in the course of the three epochs of ancient Greece).
  • Josef Wiesehöfer : The ancient oriental city - a model for the Greek community (polis)? In: Gerhard Fouquet, Gabriel Zeilinger (Hrsg.): The urbanization of Europe from antiquity to the modern age (= Kiel work pieces. Series E: Contributions to social and economic history. Vol. 7). Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2009, ISBN 978-3-631-57881-0 , pp. 43-61.

Web links

Wiktionary: Polis  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. See the current summary in Arjan Zuiderhoek: The Ancient City . Cambridge 2017, p. 149 ff. For a general discussion about the state in antiquity and antiquity, see also the research overview by Michael Gal: The state in a historical perspective. On the problem of statehood in the early modern period. In: The State. Journal for State Theory and Constitutional History , German and European Public Law , Volume 54 (2015), pp. 241–266 ( Link ).
  2. See the overview in Mogens H. Hansen: Polis . Oxford 2006, pp. 39-50.
  3. Cf. Josef Wiesehöfer : The ancient oriental city - a model for the Greek community (Polis)? In: Gerhard Fouquet et al. (Hrsg.), The urbanization of Europe from antiquity to modernity . Frankfurt 2009, pp. 43-61.
  4. Cf. Homer : Iliad ; 6.88; 20.52.
  5. Thucydides , 2, 15, 3-6.
  6. ^ Karl-Wilhelm Welwei : Polis ; in: Der Neue Pauly 10, 2001, col. 22.
  7. For the discussion, cf. Hans-Ulrich Wiemer : Hellenistic Cities: The End of Greek Democracy? In: Hans Beck (ed.): A Companion to Ancient Greek Government . Malden 2013, pp. 54-69.
  8. Aristotle: Politics ; 7, 1326 a 35 to 1326 b 25.
  9. ^ Plato: Laws, 5 737 d to 738 a
  10. See for example Richard Billows: Cities . In: Andrew Erskine (ed.): A companion to the Hellenistic World . Oxford 2003, p. 196 ff.
  11. See Chris Wickham : Framing the Early Middle Ages . Oxford 2005, p. 591ff.
  12. See Hans-Joachim Gehrke : Beyond Athens and Sparta . Munich 1986.
  13. ^ Inscription from Dreros in R. Meiggs, D. Lewis (ed.): A Selection of Greek Historical Inscriptions to the End of the Fifth Century BC ; 1988 2 , No. 2: "decided by the polis"
  14. See the “Staatselegie” Solons
  15. Aristotle: Politics , 2,9,1273 b, 2,36 - 1274 a, 4–5
  16. Henning Börm : Murderous fellow citizens. Stasis and civil war in the Greek poleis of Hellenism. Stuttgart 2019.
  17. Peter J. Rhodes: Polis II. As a political term . In: Der Neue Pauly 10, 2001, col. 25.
  18. The long-undisputed view of older research that external independence is a constitutive characteristic of the Greek polis has been increasingly doubted for several years: Cf. Mogens H. Hansen: The “Autonomous City-State”. Ancient Fact or Modern Fiction? In: Papers from the Copenhagen Polis Center 2, 1995, pp. 21-43.
  19. Also Peter J. Rhodes: Polis II. As a political term . In: Der Neue Pauly 10, 2001, col. 23.
  20. Iliad, 2,362 f. and 9.63
  21. ^ Bernhard Smarczyk: Phyle . In: Der Neue Pauly 9, 2000, col. 983, against Denis Roussel: Tribu et cité . Paris 1976.
  22. Denis Roussel: Tribu et cité . Paris 1976, p. 193 ff.
  23. ^ Karl-Wilhelm Welwei: The Greek Polis , p. 56.
  24. Max Weber : Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft , p. 766 ff. Weber characterized the ancient aristocratic palace in a comparative typology of cities.
  25. Aristotle: Athenaion Politeia , frg. 3
  26. Ps.-Aristotle: Athenaion Politeia , 21.6.
  27. ^ Athenaios: Deipnosophistai , 272 c.
  28. Aristotle: Politics , 3.1, 1275 a, 3.7 ff.
  29. Aristotle: Politics , 1277 a 21 ff.
  30. Max Weber: Economy and Society , p. 741 ff.