Classics Review - Final Exam
Apollo was the patron god of Delphi, a site made famous by the oracular predictions given there
by the Pythia (the female oracle).
She would make predictions in gibberish, and priests would
interpret them, often ambiguously so that several possible outcomes could fit with the prediction.
The priests also based their “interpretations” on their knowledge of current events.
oracle had a lot of political clout, and was heavily involved in current events.
The Greek Polis
The ancient Greeks believed that living in a
(city-state), as part of a community, gave us
To them, the polis was cultural, social, economic, military, religious - everything.
is derived from polis, and is best translated as “constitution;” however, its
definition is broader than that, and can be extended to describe a way of life.
The Spartan people were free from the majority of manual labor, as publicly owned slaves called
performed chores for them; in particular, they took care of the city-state’s agricultural
They outnumbered the Spartans by a lot, and the city-state lived in constant danger of a
However, because the helots took care of things like agriculture, the Spartans
were free to pursue a military lifestyle, and they counted on this to keep their enemies as well as
the helots in check.
The Spartan constitution (or politeia) was set in place by Lycurgus, and combines elements of
monarchic, oligarchic, and democratic governments.
Monarchic: two kings ruled
simultaneously, and held office for life.
Oligarchic: council of elders from noble families,
Democratic: the Assembly, a reactive body of Spartan citizens who voted
(but could not take the initiative in anything).
Their constitution also featured a redistribution of property (both land and movable property) and
an ascetic lifestyle, as the Spartans were opposed to luxury on principle.
Sparta as a community
was very isolated, and it was difficult for a Spartan to leave the city or trade with foreigners.
This Spartan constitution (known as a “mixed” constitution, because it combined different forms
of government) would be a great inspiration to later thinkers.
Women in the polis held a unique place compared to women in other Greek city-states.
ultimate goal for the Spartan city-state was to produce strong children, children who were
considered the property of the state and not of their parents.
To this end, women were allowed to
exercise and be athletic, in the hopes that they would produce better children.
also not exclusive, and extramarital sex was permitted if all parties involved agreed and the
match would supposedly lead to good children.