Greek citizenship stemmed from the fusion of two elements,
Political pressures and political theory crystallized round the questions ‘Should shares be equal?’ and ‘Who should be a citizen?’. Aspirations towards equality, opposed by oligarchs, were expressed by terms such as homoioi (‘peers’, full Spartiates), isēgoria (‘freedom to speak in assembly’), and isonomia (‘equality of political rights’), by the diffusion of power among the citizenry, and by the notion of ‘ruling and being ruled by turns’ which shaped Aristotle's functional definition of citizenship. So, the boundary between citizen and non‐citizen needed explicit definition. Some formulations admitted all free residents, as Cleisthenes' (2) reform in Athens probably did. Others required descent from a real or imagined founder or group, and therefore emphasized legitimacy of birth. Others envisaged ‘those best able to serve (the city) financially and physically’, or (as in Sparta) disfranchised those unable to contribute fully to the common table. Such formulations tended to equate citizenship with four abilities—to fight, to vote (in assembly and lawcourt), to hold office, to own land—and thereby to make citizen bodies into closed, privileged, all‐male corporations, outside which lay various inferior or adjunct statuses such as perioikoi (‘dwellers‐round’), metoikoi (metics), and apeleutheroi (freedmen). For female citizenship in Athens, see status, legal and social, Greek.
Subjects: Classical Studies.