How did having the polis as the central political institution of classical Greece shape history of Greece during this period?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The notion of the polis shaped and changed the history of Greece because it firmly established the idea that the political life was the only one worth living.  The Greeks were very much animated by the spirit of the polis and the idea of a political state of being as controlling and dominating all aspects of existence.  The presence of the polis ensured that the political form of expressing one's freedom had to remain as the central notion in Greek identity.  We can see this in treatment of political exclusion.  Women and slaves were denied representation and access to the polis.  This meant that the Greeks believed that when one lacks political autonomy or a civic expression of freedom, they were less of a human being, less in control of their own world.  It was through the polis that the Greeks believed this control to be present, reason being why the Greeks saw it as formative in Greek society and history.

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