What are the four types of government (oligarchy, aristocracy, monarchy, democracy)?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here are the definitions of each type of government:

  • An oligarchy is a style of government in which only a few people have any power. Often, these are wealthy individuals who use their power and influence to further enhance their financial status.  
  • An aristocracy is another type of government in which power and influence are held by a minority of people. Unlike an oligarchy, however, aristocrats derive their power from their family lineage. They often have hereditary titles, for example, like duke or earl, and their families have held power for generations.
  • A monarchy is a type of government in which there is only one ruler and that is a king or a queen (a monarch). Like an aristocrat, a monarch inherits his or her title. In an absolute monarchy, the monarch exercises total control over all aspects of the government. In contrast, in a constitutional monarchy, like in the United Kingdom, the monarch's powers are curtailed and moderated by the government.
  • A democracy is a type of government in which power is held by the people. To exercise this power, many democracies use a system of voting in which the people choose a number of elected representatives to serve in government.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Your class has studied four kinds of government.  They were oligarchy, aristocracy, monarchy, and democracy.  Monarchy and democracy are easy to distinguish from one another.  Monarchy is rule by one person.  In a monarchy, a king or a queen rules and that person has all the power.  In Greece, there were only kings and no queens.  In a democracy, the people rule.  In Greece, this meant that the adult free males ruled.  These free adult men got to assemble and vote on proposed laws.  They were the ultimate source of authority. 

Oligarchy and aristocracy are less distinct from one another.  Both of these can be defined as rule of the few.  However, there is a difference in how “the few” are selected.  In an aristocracy, the few are selected on the basis of their family ties.  People of a given few families have the right to be part of the few.  In an oligarchy, the selection is generally on the basis of power or wealth.  The people who get to rule are at least people who have, in some way, proven that they deserve to rule.  Thus, these are similar, but not identical types of government.

Further Reading:
osurpless | Student

Here is my answer for question 2:

The Peloponnesian War was fought between the Greek states of Sparta and Athens ans  respective allies. The chief conflict was over the gradual encroachment of the Delian League into the whole of Greece, which while once noble following the Battle of Artemisium and the leadership of Pericles, had degenerated into authoritarianism as exemplified by the Melian Dialogue.

Sparta was no champion of democracy but conflict was inevitable due to the above violations of their sovereignty.  

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