Rise & Fall of Athens and Rome

Rise & Fall of Athens and Rome - Rise and Fall of...

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Rise and Fall of Athenian Greatness Athens was the largest polis in the Greek world . Its population rose to about 300,000 at its height about 440 BCE . About half of these were citizens and their families. At least 100,000 were slaves. The rest were foreigners--traders who had to be registered with citizen sponsor. Rise of Athens The economy of Athens was based upon farming, manufacturing and trade. Athens and other cities derived much of their wealth in the trade of woolen goods, wheat, olive oil, grapes and wine throughout the Greek Mediterranean world . Athenians also manufactured metal goods, including weapons, and also pottery which used for the home or to transport olive oil and other goods from city to city. Where there is trade, there is the need for shipbuilding and finances. Athens became a center for financial business--loans and investment, etc . Athens was also enriched by large silver mines in its territory which was worked by huge slave-gangs. By the 400s BCE, the rising wealth from trade transformed the structure of Athenian society and politics. A primary use for wealth was the procurement of slaves, who were usually non-Greek foreigners captured in war. Slaves were found everywhere, from household assistants to agricultural workers to potters to galley rowers and miners. For wealth Athenians they were valuable status symbols, like a car today. Every soldier had a slave on campaign, and a wealthy man might own fifty or more, especially for manufacturing. Slaves often worked side by side with free laborers, and sometimes earned the same wage. One was not allowed in the streets or markets of Athens to strike a slave, because one may accidentally hit an Athenian, because in dress and appearance, slaves look just like common Athenian. The concentration of wealth in the hands of a few very rich people led to the buying up of small farms and the creation of large estates worked by slave labor. Wealth did have the effect of undermining traditional aristocracy, which is to say social privilege by birth and family. One could now become a powerful person through wealth. Yet this change seemed to favor oligarchy (the rule of the few), not democracy in politics. Nevertheless, we have already mentioned the importance of the Phalanx and Hoplites.
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This note was uploaded on 04/24/2008 for the course HST 101 taught by Professor Thiery during the Fall '08 term at Iona.

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Rise & Fall of Athens and Rome - Rise and Fall of...

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