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How was citizenship connected to the Greek polis?

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myangelkat13 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 6, 2010 at 11:31 AM via web

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How was citizenship connected to the Greek polis?

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martinjmurphy | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted September 7, 2010 at 5:53 AM (Answer #1)

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Citizenship was extremely important in the Greek polis.  The bond between citizen and polis was very strong and the polis was the center of a citizen’s life.  Citizenship was usually bestowed only on adult men, on landowners and was descendant.  Most city-states required that citizens show descent from at least one parent who was a citizen, and in some cases, both parents.  Citizens had more rights than any other resident of a polis.  They could include owning property, holding public office, voting, and speaking for themselves in court.  With citizenship came obligations to the polis.   Citizens were expected to participate in government and defend the polis in times of war or conflict.

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

Posted September 7, 2010 at 7:59 PM (Answer #2)

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This is a very interesting topic.  The previous thoughts were quite stellar.  I think that political activity through the idea of citizenship was connected to the Greek polis and the social setting of the time as a reflection of freedom.  For the Greeks, participation in the polis helped to determine the collective sovereignty of a social order.  At the same time, participation in the polis was seen as a reflection of the highest notion of the good, a setting where political participation was not merely encouraged, but demanded.  Those who lacked political voice such as women or slaves did not have their voice or experiences validated.  Hence, only those who participated in the polis were able to create legislation that was able to reflect their own experience or consciousness.  Hence, citizenship and participation in the polis became linked as reflections of one another.  Those who did not or could not participate in the polis did not do so because they were denied the chance to do so.  Hence, citizenship and the political activity prerequisite were the defining elements of one’s freedom.  If one did not possess political autonomy, they were not allowed to partake in the polis, suggesting that it represented the highest notion of individuals being able to create legislation or discourse that represented their own background and narratives.

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