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When Athens was created as a city that captured the eyes of people from around the world.
Built on top of a small community of the Mycenaean Civilization (early Greeks) is grew into a center
point of the ancient world. Being a major super power with their military strength and wealth, they were
also known for their development of democracy, philosophy, science, mathematics, drama and
literature, and art. It was full and rich of culture. As civilization grew so did the social structure. With the
growing population people began to show how they were more wealthy than the majority giving rise to
the class system that dominated the lives of Athenians (people who live in Athens). Some classes were
superior (better off) to other while some inferior (worse off). Higher classes enjoyed some special rights
and benefits over the lower ones.
Athenian Social Hierarchy
The Upper Class
The Slaves
The Upper Class:
The topmost class in the Ancient Greek Hierarchy (social structure) was the Upper Class. The
people of this class possessed the uppermost power and position in the society. One has to be born in
Athens to be a part of the Upper Class as the rights for this class could only be inherited on the
hereditary basis (you can only earn this spot through birth). The upper class symbolized a good civil
character, good artistic taste, and highly socialized individuals.
The people from this class handled all the government work, philosophy and literature
department, as well as the war. Athenians always got slaves to perform their materialistic works. This
would save their precious time, which they had to use for administrative purposes. The Upper Class
could have also been symbolized as the Leisure Class. They kept their time for the important activities
related with the administration of the kingdom.
Metics – The Middle Class:
This was the next class in Ancient Greece Social Hierarchy. These people were not the natives of
Athens, but came to Athens to settle down. They came to Athens to earn their livelihood. They were
free men, not slaves, but possessed very little rights as compared to the Upper Class. They were mostly
involved in trading and manufacturing jobs.
Freedmen – The Lower Class:
Freedmen were the next class in the Ancient Greek Social Hierarchy. These people were once
slaves but somehow were freed by their owner. They were the lower class people (the poor) but they
did not belong to Athens, i.e. they were not Athenians (born or immigrated) and were not granted
citizenship in their life no matter how much money they earned. These people possessed very little
privileges unlike the two classes above, but they lived better lives compared to salves who had zero
The Slaves:
This is the lowest class in Greek society, actually a level because it was never considered as a
class. These people either were rescued from war, criminals or were bought from others. They
possessed zero rights or authority. They did not even possess the rights to their own life. Very few of the
slaves were actually Greeks as the majority of the slaves were non-Greeks (people from other lands).
They had to pay a ransom amount to buy their freedom and get themselves free. (They would have to
buy back their own life from their owner to be set free.