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An oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία, oligarkhía) is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, or military control. The word oligarchy is from the Greek words "ὀλίγος" (olígos), "a few" and the verb "ἄρχω" (archo), "to rule, to govern, to command". Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who pass their influence from one generation to the next.
Oligarchies have been tyrannical throughout history, being completely reliant on public servitude to exist. Although Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy, oligarchy is not always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group, and do not have to be connected by bloodlines as in a monarchy. Some city-states from ancient Greece were oligarchies.
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