CS 1000 - Week 7
Lecture 1 October 21, 2013
• Athens was not a major center in the BronzeAge.
o Mainland Greece was ruled from Mycenae at this time andAthens was not
o The name ofAthens suggests a BronzeAge place name so there might
have been people living there.
• Continuous habitation has largely effaced any archaeological record of prehistoric
• Athens seemed to gain significance in theArchaic Period – Why?
o Theory that when things unraveled with the fall of Mycenaean society,
people were displaced and moved around looking for a place to live.
o Athens attracted ‘refugee’groups after the collapse of Mycenaean society.
• TheAthenians perpetuated the myth of authochthony (this word comes from the
Greek autos ‘self’, and cthonos ‘earth’) which means that theAthenian people
sprung from the earth.
o This gave theAthenians the right to inhabit and rule this land.
• TheAthenian myth: In primordial time when two gods, Poseidon andAthena,
were laying claim to the city. There was a fight between them. Each wanted to
give the city a gift. Poseidon gave the city a salt-water spring andAthena gave
them the olive. Poseidon’s gift was essentially useless while the olive became the
basis of theAthenian economy. TheAthenians choseAthens.
• There was then a dispute between Hephaestus andAthena. Hephaestus wanted to
sleep with Athena (who is a virgin goddess). Hephaestus (the lame smith god)
went after her but he ejaculated on her leg. Athena took some wool and scraped
the seed from her leg and threw it onto the ground. On that spot, the primordial
king ofAthens, Erechthonius, was born.
o This myth shows thatAthena was the divine tutelary divinity of the city
and the inhabitants believed that they descended from a child of the
tutelary deity (many cities in Greece believed this of the different gods).
This myth makesAthena like a mother figure for the primordial king (even
though she is a virgin).
o Erechthonius – name probably literally means ‘he who is very much of the
earth’while the Greeks probably looked at the name and saw the root of
their word for wool (Ereon). In some myths he has the top of a man and
the bottom of a snake (reinforcing the fact that he came from the earth).
• These myths connect the people ofAthens with the physical locality. This gives
them claim to authority to this land and it gives them the right to inhabit it.
• Athens was a very important center in theArchaic Period and became a central
power into the Classical Period. 2
• In the Persian Wars, Sparta allied withAthens. Later, in the Peloponnesian War
they became enemies.
• Herodotus is our greatest source for information concerning the Persian Wars.
• For the Greeks, there is poetry and prose. Prose does not have rhyme or rhythm
but it is a formalized and elevated version of the way we speak.
• Herodotus is called ‘the father of history’.
o Herodotus is at the beginning of the writing of history (before him, there
were some who recorded myths)
o His work survives in tact
o He is the first person who can seriously be called a historian
• His account of the Persian Wars is the first real work of historiography, and
remained a central masterpiece of Greek literature.
o It was discussed and imitated in antiquity
• Herodotus seems to be the first writer who thought seriously about the reliability
of evidence, witnesses, and how to approach the truth when writing. Historians
write to record what happened as truthfully as possible.
• What separates his work from others who talk about myth or stories that aren’t
real is that Herodotus focuses on writing the truth (even though some of what he
says cannot be true).
o After him, Thucydides made an account for the Peloponnesian War.
• Little is known of Herodotus’life or precise chronology
o We are told that he was born a little before the Persian Wars, he was from
Halicarnassus (coast ofAsia Minor, modern Bodrum in Turkey) and at the
time of his birth this city was under Persian control.
• He seems to have had strong ties withAthens
o His Histories was well known inAthens by 525 BCE
o His language, however, is that of the Ionian coast
• He seems to have participated in a struggle against the Persians in his native area
o This resulted in exile
o People did not travel in the ancient world (except if one was a merchant)
Herodotus’exile was somewhat fortunate because it forced him to move
around. He seems to have travelled even to Egypt (the second book of the
Histories is about Egypt where he spoke with tour guides and gained
information about this place).
o He spent time inAthens
o He was friends with the poet Sophocles
o He died in the 420s BCE (?)
• The opening sentences of the Histories tell exactly what Herodotus’goal is in
writing his history.
o He records everything he has learned by inquiry (historia) – he calls this
inquiry ‘history’(the word history means an account of what you have
seen, and therefore you know it because you have seen it).
o He writes so that the memory of the past will not be forgotten over time
here he realizes that the passage of time causes people to forget.
o Records deeds of Greeks and non-Greeks (barbaroi means someone who
is not a Greek speaker) and the reason why they made war with each other.
o He is writing this so that the deeds will not lack renown (aklea) – this
recalls the ideals of Homer’s Iliad which preserves the glorious deeds of
• This text survives in its entirety and it is a big text.
• It contains a series of detailed, interconnected narratives focused around the
o This is not just about the conflict but situates it in a long setting.
o The first section is about the rise of Persian power, the second is about
Egypt, the third is about people in many areas, and the fourth to ninth
books focuses on the conflict.
• Begins with the fall of Lydia in 545 BCE and looks forward to the 420s BCE after
the war is over.
• There is a rich variety of style and a ‘joy at story-telling’.
• Herodotus is very different from Thucydides, the great historian who chronicles
the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides is focused on objectivity.
Persian Wars: The Conflict
• Herodotus is central in this knowledge but there are other sources that don’t
survive (we only know about them though references by later authors).
o There was an account of this period written by the court physician of the
court of Persia for the king who led the attack against the Greeks.
• The conflict has two phases:
o (1) 490 BCE (under Darius)
o (2) 480/79 BCE (under Xerxes)
• The origins go back to a revolt ofAsiatic Greeks at the beginning of the 5th
o Herodotus says that they wanted revenge but in reality it is about securing
• The first attack was by sea and many islands were subjugated
• The Battle of Marathon: a crucial event in the war. TheAthenians and their allies
from Plataea had 10,000 men (Herodotus tells us this number but numbers in
ancient historical text usually weren’t accurate) while the Persian force was twice
this size. This is a dominant theme that the Greeks were always outnumbered. 4
o TheAthenians defeated the Persians by focusing on the center of the
Persian line but having an augmented force at the end of the Greek line so
that they could break through the center this is the first time the Greeks
thought in terms of large-scale military tactics.
o They pursued the defeated Persians to their ships and they captured 7
• Darius withdrew and died. There was a revolt in Egypt which turned the attention
away from the Greeks for 10 years.
The Campaign of 480/79 BCE
• The king is now Darius’son Xerxes who wanted to finish the job his father had
started before him.
• The first attempt had taught the Persians a lesson: if they wanted to subjugate
mainland Greece, they needed a significant force.
o Because of this, there is a lot of emphasis of the huge numbers of Persians
in our sources.
o There may have been a fleet of 1207 triremes and an army of 100,000
• Many Greeks felt that any resistance against the Persians would not have an
effect. The oracle at Delphi predicted a Persian victory (oracles are places where
the gods speak to humans and their voice is mediated through a human.At Delphi,
this person is the Pythia who turns the god’s word into poetry).
o The oracle told theAthenians to flee and later to rely on a wooden wall.
o Themistocles said that this wooden wall should be ships and theAthenians
build a large navy.
This transforms the Greek capability in war.
• TheAthenians resolved to resist against the Persians
• An alliance emerges with the Spartans in command – Battle of Thermopylae
(Thermopylae means ‘hot gates’)
o There was a small contingent of Spartans led by one (of the two kings)
Leonidas, held this position for two days until they were betrayed by the
locals and every one of them died.
o Their effort convinced the rest of the Greeks that they could go against the
o Simonides: “O stranger, tell the Lacedaemonians [i.e. Spartans] that we lie
here obeying their orders”
• Slide: Simonides also celebrates the Spartans in a way that is almost shocking in
Greek as it almost elevates these Spartans to the level of gods.
Lecture 2 October 23, 2013
• The Spartan heroic defeat at Thermopylae made many Greeks realize that they
could beat the Persians and, despite many people Medizing, many decided to
• TheAthenians evacuated Athens and retreated to the island of Salamis andAttica
was occupied by the Persians (along with most of central Greece). Because of
this, the Persians sackedAthens.
• Themistocles orchestrated a naval victory near Salamis and he defeated the
Persian force. Because of this, Xerxes withdrew toAsia and leaves his general
Mardonius in charge of the campaign.
• Rather than be entrenched in mainland Greece, the Persians withdrew to Thessaly.
• Mardonius tried to negotiate with theAthenians. This did not work and hostility
• Mardonius was killed in battle and the Persians withdrew from central Greece.
• Within a few years a treaty was made (449/8) that secures the independence of the
• Slide: Trireme. The principle naval ship, mastered by theAthenians; this is a
o Tri ‘three’because there are three banks of oars arranged in levels of
rowers (requires training and precision).
Results of the Wars
• 472: the tragic poetAeschylus wrote a play called the “Persians”. This is
important because tragedy is usually about myth but this was about a historical
event. His play makes it seem like the Persian Empire completely collapsed
because they were defeated in Greece. This isn’t necessarily the case.
• Persia had learned to respect Greek military strength.
• The Persian Empire still remained a powerful force (later in the 4 century they
are defeated byAlexander the Great).
• The Persians continued to take an interest in Greek affairs (ex. Later they help
some Greek states as allies).
• Themistocles himself fell into disfavor after his triumph and he was forced into
exile. Themistocles went to Persia to the court of the Great King as an honored
• The Greeks themselves gained an enhanced sense of their ‘Greekness’ this is a
world that is remarkably divided. City-states are independent worlds and are
interested in competing with each other. Facing a common enemy, however, the
notion of ‘Greekness’was reinforced.
o The Greeks became more confident in who they were (Ex. There was a
building campaign inAthens, such as the acropolis inAthens, which
reflected confidence andAthens’sense of power and authority).
The Peloponnesian War(s)
• This is a war that dragged on with certain interruptions in the latter half of the 5
century BCE 6
• This is primarily the conflict betweenAthens and the Spartans (Sparta is in the
• The conflict between them goes back to the Persian Wars even though they were
allies. They were the two leader states and, as often is the case, the question of
who is the real leader became important.
• After the victory over the Persians, Sparta focused on its own internal issues
(helots, internal divisions etc).At the same time theAthenians work on a network
of allies called the Delian League.
• TheAthenians set up this league to protect other city-states if Persian decided to
attack Greece again. The members of the League paid tribute to fundAthens.
Athens became an empire because of this.
• Active hostiles with Sparta begin in the 460s and continued until 404 BCE when
the Spartans defeat theAthenians
o The Thirty Years Peace of 446 BCE divides the conflict into two phases.
• Herodotus wrote about the Persians Wars while Thucydides wrote about the
• Thucydides is the author of an incomplete history of the war betweenAthens and
Sparta, the Pelop