IMAT 2011 Q7 [Greek State]

The polis is the most important institutional expression of the classical Greek way of life. What type of state is it?

A. A city state

B. A federal state

C. A modern state

D. A monarchical state

E. A tyrannical state

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The territory of Greece is mountainous; as a result, ancient Greece consisted of many smaller regions, each with its own dialect, cultural peculiarities, and identity. Regionalism and regional conflicts were prominent features of ancient Greece. Cities tended to be located in valleys between mountains or on coastal plains and dominated the countryside around them.

This instability was the context for the emergence of Greek city-states. Without a powerful, centralized state, smaller governing bodies created political order. One such type of governing body was the city-state or polis . Initially, the term polis referred to a fortified area or citadel which offered protection during times of war. Because of the relative safety these structures afforded, people flocked to them and set up communities and commercial centers. Over time, poleis—the plural of the polis—became urban centers whose power and influence extended to the surrounding agricultural regions, which provided resources and paid taxes.

The answer can also be solved by knowing the periods and location of each political system. For example, a “tyrannical state” won’t fit the nature of classical Greece as we know it.