Ancient Greek -States

Ancient Greece wasn't a single country or empire united under a single government, it was made up of a number of city-states. At the center of each city-state was a powerful city. The city ruled the lands and area around it. Sometimes it also ruled smaller less-powerful . The Greek name for a city-state was "".

Each city-state, or polis, had its own government. Some city states were ruled by kings or . Others were ruled by a few powerful men on councils. The city of invented the government of and was ruled by the people for many years.

The two most powerful and famous city-states were Athens and , but there were other important and influential city-states in the history of . Here are a few examples:


Corinth was a trade city in an ideal location that allowed it to have two seaports, one on the Saronic Gulf and one on the Corinthian Gulf. As a result, the city was one of the wealthiest cities in Ancient Greece. The Corinthians developed their own coins and required that traders use them when in their city.

Corinth is perhaps most famous for its architecture. The Corinthians developed the Corinthian order of Greek architecture which is the third major form of classical Greek architecture along with the Doric and Ionic.

The government of Corinth was a ruled by a king. Corinth provided soldiers to the during the Persian Wars. They also allied with Sparta against Athens in the .


Thebes was a powerful city-state to the north of Corinth and Athens that was constantly switching sides in the various Greek wars. During the Persian Wars they originally sent men to to fight the Persians, but later, they allied with King of Persia to fight against Sparta and Athens. During different times in history they allied with Athens against Sparta and then switched sides to ally with Sparta against Athens.

In 371 BC, Thebes marched against Sparta and defeated the Spartans at the Battle of . This put an end to the power of the Spartan city-state and set many of the Spartan slaves free.

Thebes was famous in Greek legend and literature as well. It is known as the birthplace of the Greek hero and played a major role in the stories of and . Also, perhaps the most famous Greek poet of the time, , lived in Thebes.


Argos was one of the oldest city-states in Ancient Greece, but it first became a major power under the during the 7th century BC. During Pheidon's reign, Argos introduced silver coins as well as a standard system of weights and measures that later became known as the Pheidonian measures.

According to , Argos was founded by Argos, the son of the god . The land became dry and arid after the gods and had an argument over the city. Hera won and became the patron of the city, but Poseidon got his revenge by drying out the land.


Delphi was the religious center of the Greek city-states. People from all over Ancient Greece visited the city to receive guidance from the famous Delphic . During the classical Greek period the city became the shrine to the god after he slew the .

Delphi was also a center of the arts, education, literature, and trade. Located in the center of Greece, it was often called the "navel (center) of the world". Delphi was also home to the , one of the most famous athletic competitions in early Greece.


The city-state of was formed in 408 BC on a Greek island when three smaller cities (Ialyssos, Kamiros, and ) decided to unite and make one large city. The city was prosperous for hundreds of years due to its prime location as a trade port. The city was famous for its shipbuilders as well as its giant called the Colossus of Rhodes. The Colossus of Rhodes was considered one of the Seven Ancient . It was a statue of the Greek Titan and it stood over 100 feet high.

Interesting Facts about the Greek City-State

● People living in Ancient Greece did not think of themselves as "Greek", but as citizens of their city- state. For example, people from Corinth considered themselves Corinthians and people from Sparta considered themselves Spartans. ● The State University mascot is the Spartan. ● Many of these cities, such as Rhodes, Thebes, and Corinth were also important cities during the .

Class Period:______Name:______Ancient Greece - City State

1) Which were the two most powerful city-states of Ancient Greece?

A Corinth and Argos

B Thebes and Sparta

C Athens and Thebes

D Sparta and Athens

E Rhodes and Delphi

2) Which of the below statements best describes a city-state?

A A division of a large country similar to a province

B A city that independently rules the lands around it

C A small section of a larger city

D A region that is part of an empire

E The capital city of a state

3) Which type of government ruled the Greek city-states?

A Monarchy

B Democracy


D All of the above

E None of the above

4) Which city-state was famous for defeating the Spartans at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC?

A Corinth

B Argos

C Rhodes

D Athens

E Thebes

5) For which of the following achievements was the city of Argos famous for?

A The birthplace of democracy

B The home of the famous poet Pindar

C A standard system of weights and measures called the Pheidonian measures

D Having the strongest army and warriors

E The center of the Greek religion including the oracle Pythia

6) Which city-state was often called the center or navel of the world?

A Delphi

B Rhodes

C Athens

D Thebes

E Sparta

7) What two things was the city of Rhodes famous for?

A and poetry

B Shipbuilders and a giant statue called the Colossus

C A mysterious religious oracle and standard weights and measures

D The first silver coins and the home of the poet Pindar E Democracy and a powerful army

8) Which city-state allied with the Persians against Sparta and Athens?

A Corinth

B Thebes

C Argos

D Delphi

E Rhodes

9) True or False: Most people living in the region of Ancient Greece considered themselves to be Greek first and a member of a city-state second.



10) What was the city of Delphi famous for?

A It was the religious center of the world

B It was home to the oracle Pythia

C It was home to the athletic competition called the Pythian Games

D It was a center of the arts, literature, and education

E All of the above