Chapter 3 - The Legacy of Greece

    Hellas: the land

    1. Greece proper and the Greek islands of the Aegean formed a geographic realm for a common Greek culture.
      1. The major geographic regions are the fertile plains of Thessaly, Boeotia, the wine and olive growing area of Attica, and the mountains and plains of the Peloponnesos.
      2. These geographic areas divided Greece into several regions: Argos in the northwest, Arcadia in the center, and Laconia and Messenia in the south.
    2. The mountains both inspired the Greeks and isolated them from one another, hindering unity.

    The Minoans and Mycenaeans (ca. 1650-ca. 1100 B.C.)

    1. The Greeks had established themselves in Greece by ca. 1650 B.C.
      1. An early culture evolved on the island of Crete with an economy based on fishing and farming.
        1. These Cretans became voyagers to Egypt and elsewhere, and created a culture called Minoan, named after their mythical king Minos.
      2. This important early Greekspeaking culture was centered at the Minoan palace at Cnossus in Crete.
        1. Minoans developed an untranslated written language called "Linear A."
        2. Other Cretan palaces were located on the island but how they related to one another is unknown.
      3. By 2000 B.C. Greek-speaking peoples had established kingdoms in Thessaly, Boeotia, Argos, Laconia, and Messenia.
        1. By about 1650 B.C. most of these people were united as the powerful kingdom at Myceanae--a culture called Mycenaean.
        2. They established cities at Thebes, Athens, Tiryns, and Pylos.
        3. The king and his warrioraristocracy exercised political and economic control.
        4. Scribes kept records, but little is known of the ordinary people except that an extensive division of labor existed.
        5. "Linear B" tablets tell us about Greek religion.
      4. MinoanMycenaean contacts were originally peaceful but turned to war ca. 1450 B.C.
        1. The Minoan capital of Cnossus was destroyed by the Mycenaeans -who then ruled Crete for about 50 years.
        2. The Mycenaeans grew rich, but eventually were destroyed, probably by civil wars.
      5. The fall of the Mycenaean kingdoms led to a "Dark Age" in Greece from 1100 to 800 B.C.--although religion and social organization remained unchanged.
        1. Some Greeks left to settle in Crete or Asia Minor--and thus spread Greek culture.

    Homer, Hesiod, and the heroic past (1100-800 B.C.)

    1. The poems of Homer and Hesiod idealized the past.
      1. The Iliad recounts an expedition of Mycenaeans to besiege the city of Troy.
      2. The Odyssey narrates the adventures of Odysseus during his voyage home from Troy.
      3. Hesiod's Theogony traces the descent of Zeus.

    The polis

    1. During the Dark Age, the polis, or citystate, evolved throughout Greece.
      1. The polis was a town that grew up around a palace. Each had a political, religious, and economic function.
      2. The Dorian Greek conquest strengthened the sense of identity within each polis.
      3. The polis was walled, with an "agora" (marketplace and political center), and had an elevated point, the acropolis, for a temple.
      4. The polis had important links to the countryside from which polis religious practices evolved.
      5. The average polis relied on its citizens for protection; the backbone of the army was the hoplites, who were wealthy landowners who were equipped with metal helmets, body armor, and shields.
      6. The polis was an intimate community of citizens.
      7. The polis could be governed as a monarchy, aristocracy (meaning power in the hands of the best), oligarchy, democracy, or tyranny.
        1. The most popular of these were democracy, whereby citizens rule, and oligarchy.
        2. Athens is the best example of democracy in action, but here and elsewhere not all members of the polis were regarded as citizens.
        3. Many regarded democracy as a form of mob rule, but democracies were best at providing for the common good.
        4. Oligarchies were governments by the prosperous, but usually allowed for advancement by way of wealth or knowledge.
      8. Some Greeks banded together to form leagues of city-states.
      9. At Corinth, the political form was by isonomia, meaning limited political equality under law.

    The Archaic Age (800-500 B.C.)

    1. Overseas expansion
      1. The expansion of Greeks throughout the Mediterranean was due to land shortage and the desire for adventure.
      2. Greek colonies extended from the Black Sea to North Africa and into Spain and the Atlantic.
        1. In Sicily the Greeks shared land with the native Sicels.
        2. They established port towns in Sardinia and then founded Marseilles in France.
      3. They created a large new market for agricultural and manufactured goods and imported wheat and other goods.
      4. Greek colonization led to greater power for the colonizing polis (called Metropolis) and spread its values far beyond the shores of Greece.
        1. Colonists were under leadership of the oikist, who surrendered power to the colonists once the colony was established.
        2. This colonization spread the polis system and its values throughout the Mediterranean basin.
        3. Archilochus was the first of the lyric poets. He typifies the restlessness and selfreliance of the era.
    2. The lyric poets
      1. The lyric poets encouraged individualism, energy, and adventure.
      2. Erotic, bisexual love is portrayed in the work of Sappho.
    3. The growth of Sparta into a powerful polis
      1. Sparta's victories in the Messenian wars extended its boundaries and enslaved the Messenians.
      2. The warriors demanded and received political rights.
      3. The Lycurgan regime was a new political, economic, and social system.
        1. All citizens became legally equal, and oligarchy replaced aristocracy.
        2. Executive power rested in five elected ephors, or overseers.
        3. Land was divided among all citizens and worked by helots, or state serfs.
        4. Spartan women were more emancipated than women in other Greek states.
        5. Spartan men disdained wealth and luxury, glorified war and patriotism, and suppressed individualism.
    4. The evolution of Athens
      1. Athens moved from aristocracy to democracy.
        1. Poor peasants demanded legal reforms.
        2. Draco's code--Athens's first law code--established that the law belonged to all citizens.
      2. Solon became archon in ca. 594 B.C. and enacted sweeping reforms.
      3. Pisistratus became tyrant in 546 B.C. and reduced the power of the aristocracy.
      4. Beginning in 508 B.C., Cleisthenes reorganized the state and created the Athenian democracy.
        1. Demes were the basis of the political system.
        2. The demes were grouped into tribes.
        3. The central government included an assembly of all citizens and a council of five hundred members.
        4. Ostracism was used to rid the state peacefully of potentially dangerous politicians.
      5. "Democracy" was based on the idea of rule by all--although practicality dictated that power be delegated to representatives, called archons, and a council called the Areopagos.
        1. Legislation was in the hands of two bodies, the boule (council) and the ecclesia (assembly); the boule administered government while the ecclesia voted on bills and reflected public opinion.
        2. Athenian democracy proved that a large group of people could rule--although the rich and well-born still had greater influence.

    The Classical period (500-338 B.C.)

    1. The "father of history" is Herodotus who, with another historian named Thucydides, wrote about Greek history.
      1. They wrote about the years 500 to 338 B.C. when Greek civilization reached its height.
      2. This age is known as the "Classical period," and is one of the most important periods in Western civilization.
    2. The Persian wars (499-479 B.C.)
      1. The struggle began when the Ionian Greeks rebelled against the Persians--causing the Persians to strike at Athens.
      2. The Greeks won at Marathon (490 B.C.), but the Persian king Xerxes invaded Greece in 480 B.C.
      3. The Persians were defeated at Salamis (480 B.C.) and Plataea (479 B.C.)--and the Greeks formed a united pan-hellenic alliance.
    3. The growth of the Athenian Empire (478-431 B.C.)
      1. The Athenians and others established the Delian League (478 B.C.) as a naval alliance to continue the fight against Persia.
        1. Led by Cimon, the Athenians drove the Persians out of the Aegean.
        2. Cimon and the Athenians turned the league into a tool of their own empire.
        3. Cimon defeated the Persians again (Battle of Eurymedon River) in about 467 B.C., but the Athenians then turned against its allies.
        4. Athenian aggressiveness alarmed Sparta and its allies.
      2. Athens's conflict with Corinth led to war with Sparta from 459 to 445 B.C.--dividing the Greek world between the two powers.
      3. A second war broke out between Athens and Sparta's leading partner, Cornith, when Athens issued the Megarian Decree that limited the trading rights of their opponents.
        1. But the Athenian historian Thucydides claimed that the cause of war was fear of Athenian power.
    4. The Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.)
      1. The long war brought death, destruction, plagues, and civil wars.
      2. After attacking Athens five times, Sparta agreed to the treaty of Nicias in 421 B.C.
      3. This led to a cold war--but even this included brutal imperialistic action by Athens against the Melians.
      4. The opportunist Alcibiades led Athens in an invasion of Sicily, which led to war again between Athens and Sparta.
      5. With help from Alcibiades and Persia, Sparta defeated Athens in 405 B.C.
    5. Athenian arts in the age of Pericles
      1. In the last half of the fifth century B.C., Pericles turned Athens into the showplace of Greece.
      2. The Athenian Acropolis became the center of Greek religion and art.
        1. The entrance building (the Propylaea) led to small temples that honored the goddess Athena and Athenian victories.
        2. The Parthenon, a Doric temple, was an architectural masterpiece and the epitome of Greek art and its spirit.
      3. The development of drama was tied to the religious festivals of the city.
      4. Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides were the three greatest dramatists of Athens.
        1. Aeschylus wrote a trilogy of plays about humans in conflict, stressing the themes of betrayal, reconciliation, reason, and justice.
        2. Sophocles' masterpieces (the three Oedipus plays) deal with the interplay of human actions, justice, and the will of the gods.
        3. Euripides' plays focus on humans who face disaster because they allow their passions to overwhelm them.
    6. Daily life in Periclean Athens
      1. Material life was simple, and most goods were produced at home.
      2. Houses were a series of rooms built around a central courtyard--some with bedrooms on the upper floor.
        1. The two main rooms were a dining room for men and a workroom for women.
        2. Food was from grains, fruits, garlic, and wine--but not much meat.
      3. Slavery was common.
      4. Agriculture and small crafts were the major types of labor.
      5. Women were protected by law but did not have equal rights with men.
        1. Because the historical evidence is largely military or political, women's role is often underestimated.
        2. Women held a liminal position--that is, one of considerable unofficial power.
        3. Courtesan women were the most free--some gained intellectual status.
        4. Women's main functions were to raise the children, oversee the slaves, and work wool into cloth.
      6. Acceptance of homosexuality was a distinctive feature of Athenian life.
        1. Homosexuality was probably more common among the aristocracy than among the lower classes.
        2. Many believed that warriors who were lovers would fight harder.
    7. Greek religion was lacked a priesthood, organized creeds, and sacred books.
      1. Religion was a matter of the individual bonding with the gods--in temples or in festivals.
      2. Each polis had its own minor gods with his or her local cult.
      3. The most important gods were those who lived on Mt. Olympus--the king of whom was the god Zeus. Apollo was the god of youth and beauty and his sister, Athena, was the goddess of both warriors and women's work.
      4. Some gods, like Hercules, were intermediates between the divine and the human.
      5. Some Greeks turned to mystery religions, which united individuals within exclusive societies with secret cults and ritual.
        1. For most Greeks, religion was simple and close to nature--a world of gods and goddesses such as Hestia, Pan, Zeus, Europa, and others.
        2. The Olympic games were held for the glory of Zeus and were a unifying factor in Greek life.
      6. The farmerpoet Hesiod reminds us how Greek religion linked people with nature.
    8. The flowering of philosophy
      1. The Greeks of the Classical period viewed the universe in terms of natural law, not mythology.
      2. Thales, Anaximander, and Heraclitus made important contributions to the sciences.
      3. Aesop used fables to teach ethics (moral behavior),often using animals as the main characters--such as the fox in the vineyard.
      4. Hippocrates was the founder of modern medicine.
      5. The Sophists taught excellence and believed that nothing is absolute.
      6. Socrates attempted to discover truth and happiness by continuous questioning; he believed that true happiness could be found in the pursuit of excellence.
      7. Plato's philosophy was based on the idea that reality exists only in the immaterial world.
        1. He founded a philosophical school, the Academy, to ask how to create the ideal polis.
        2. In The Republic, Plato sought to define the ideal polis.
      8. Aristotle's range of philosophical inquiry was staggering.
        1. He wrote about the ideal polis in his book Politics and criticized Plato.
        2. He developed a new school of scientific discussion based on the syllogism; he often discussed topics with students in the "peripatos" manner (discussing while walking).
        3. In his books Physics and Metaphysics he developed a theory of nature based on the four principles of matter, form, movement, and goal.
        4. His book On the Heaven wrongly asserted that the earth is the center of the universe.
    9. The final act (404-338 B.C.)
      1. The period of turbulent politics and war from 404 to 338 B.C. was a period of impressive accomplishments in literature, architecture, oratory, and historical writing.
      2. During this period the Greeks experimented with the political concepts of "Common Peace" and Federalism.
    10. The struggle for Hegemony
      1. After 404 B.C., Sparta, Athens, and Thebes each tried to establish hegemony (political dominance) over other states.
      2. Sparta succeeded in achieving hegemony in Greece, which led to a long war with Persia and years of stalemate.
      3. But Thebes and Athens, led by the Thebian general Epaminondas, joined to defeat Sparta in 371 B.C.
      4. Epaminondas led the Common Peace from 371 to 362 B.C.
    11. Philip and the Macedonian Ascendancy
      1. Philip II, king of Macedonia, was a brilliant leader who won control of the northwestern Aegean and then took advantage of Greek war and defeated a combined ThebanAthenian army at Chaeronea in 338 B.C.
      2. This marked the end of Greece's Classical age.


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