What Was the Government of Megara in Ancient Greece?

The ancient Greek city of Megara had a tyrannical government. Megara began its existence as a protectorate of Corinth, which directly ruled the city as one of its territories. In the 7th century B.C., the city staged a successful revolt against Corinthian rule and became a tyranny under its king, Theagenes.

Despite being a tyrant, Theagenes depended heavily on popular support. Early in his rise to power, Theagenes courted this support from the poor of Megara by slaughtering the cattle of the city’s wealthiest citizens.

In time, Megara fell into the orbit of Sparta, though it remained independent with regard to its internal policies. Megara’s secession from the Peloponnesian League was the proximate cause of the first Peloponnesian War, and Athens’ attempt to break the city economically was the proximate cause of the second Peloponnesian War. These wars left Megara’s government increasingly dependent on the oligarchy of Sparta for political, economic and military support.

In 338 B.C., the Macedonian army, commanded by the 18-year-old Alexander the Great, crushed the southern Greek forces and completed the conquest of Attica, including Megara. For the rest of its history, Megara was directly ruled by a remote government, first that of the Macedonians, then the Romans and, eventually, the Byzantines.