Page "Citizenship" Paragraph 10
Slavery permitted slaveowners to have substantial free time, and enabled participation in public life.
Inequality of status was widespread ; citizens had a higher status than non-citizens, such as women, slaves or barbarians.
The first form of citizenship was based on the way people lived in the ancient Greek times, in small-scale organic communities of the polis.
Citizenship was not seen as a separate activity from the private life of the individual person, in the sense that there was not a distinction between public and private life.
These small-scale organic communities were generally seen as a new development in world history, in contrast to the established ancient civilizations of Egypt or Persia, or the hunter-gatherer bands elsewhere.
From the viewpoint of the ancient Greeks, a person's public life was not separated from their private life, and Greeks did not distinguish between the two worlds according to the modern western conception.
To be truly human, one had to be an active citizen to the community, which Aristotle famously expressed: “ To take no part in the running of the community's affairs is to be either a beast or a god !” This form of citizenship was based on obligations of citizens towards the community, rather than rights given to the citizens of the community.
This was not a problem because they all had a strong affinity with the polis ; their own destiny and the destiny of the community were strongly linked.
Also, citizens of the polis saw obligations to the community as an opportunity to be virtuous, it was a source of honour and respect.
In Athens, citizens were both ruler and ruled, important political and judicial offices were rotated and all citizens had the right to speak and vote in the political assembly.