Classical Greece: the Age of the City-StateDuring the Dark and Archaic Ages, which lasted from roughly 1100 to 500 BCE, the Greeks recovered from the decline and fall of the Mycenaean civilization to create an even more complex and sophisticated civilization based on the political institution known as the polis or city-state.Polis or city-state:As the years went by, population expanded and through a process of sharedcitizenship, groups of neighboring villages tended to coalesce into a polis or city-state.Each Polis was completely independent, with its own government and laws.A polis often was centered on a fortified high point called an “acropolis” that served as a place of refuge and overlooked a centralized city marketplace called an “agora”.At Athens, neighboring villages were incorporated into a single city by about1000 BCE, supposedly by a Greek hero Theseus.At some point before 800 BCE, five villages were joined to form Sparta.
By 750 BCE, eight villages were combined to create Corinth.Eventually, all of Greece was divided into city-states, the poleis tended to develop in isolation from each other and had little direct contact.The polis became the center of Greek people’s life, citizens’ allegiance increasingly focused on the polis. Greeks were very proud of their cities.Unity and Hellenism-“Hellene” or “Hellenic”- Greek“Panhellenic”- All GreekIf the Greeks were politically and socially disunited, when it came to culture,they were very unified and aware of being Greek.Collectively, they thought of themselves as Hellenes, that is, those who come from Hellas(Greece).Panhellenic and sacred sites- Delphi and Olympia.Delphi and the Oracle of Apollo-By the eighth century BCE, Greek cities were becoming less isolated and began to engage in shared activities. By 800 BCE, the oracle of Apollo at Delphi had acquired international renown.Not only Greeks, but also foreigners sent ambassadors to seek the oracle’s advice.The Greeks and the Outside World-In the minds of chauvinistic Greeks, the people of other kingdoms or placeswould always be barbarians because they did not speak Greek and thus never could engage in Greek culture.The first Persian invasion of Greece (Darius)As the Persian Empire extended westward, it incorporated more and more Greeks and the relations between the Persians and their Greek subjects soon turned sour as the Greek considered all foreigners barbarian and could not tolerate being governed by any non-Greek for long.Many Greeks feared a Persian attack on the Greek mainland and public opinion was turning towards resisting the Persians.
Darius had a justifiable pretext for attacking mainland Greece and in an attempt to exploit Greek stasis, he sent ambassadors to the Greek cities, demanding them to surrender.Some cities and some didn’t, making the Persian frustrated and this led to the first Persian invasion of Greece in 490 BCE. A Persian force of 200 ships and 25000 soldiers sailed across the Aegean Sea and captured several Greek islands.
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- Fall '16
- Craig Hardiman
- Minoan civilization, Mycenaean Greece, Aegean civilization