(Archaic Period). A polis in which a monopoly of power is held by the a small ruling class, the eupatridai or some other group. In most states the eupatridai indeed have a practical monopoly on public office, but their exercise of office is constrainted if they must seek appointment by a monarch or election by the politēs. Where the votes is strictly limited or a gerusia holds great power, the eupatridai can rule without reference to the wishes of the masses. If revolution is not averted by voluntary reform or harsh oppression, oligarchies are inclined to be replaced either by democracies or tyrants.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.