CLA160 CHAPTER 4-12 NOTES.docx

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CHAPTER 4 NOTES: THE EMERGENCE OF GREEK CIVILIZATION (MINOAN AGE TO ARCHAIC AGE)
Greeks were never completely united (separate states & citizens) but had similar customs and language
The Minoan Age
Major Palace at Knossos discovered by Arthur Evans
Most of our understanding of Cretan society depends on our interpretations of the functions of the palaces
o Kings probably lived in the palaces
o They were complicated structures
o They regulated activities
o Size and wealth of the palaces indicates that overseas trade took place
o Find mostly the remains of elite life (women were prominent in religious and social life)
Cretans had a form of pictographic writing and also Linear A
o Used fro recording palace transactions and inventories
o Most writing perished because done on clay, skin, and bark
Conquered by the Mycenaeans from mainland Greece
The Mycenaean Age
Mycenaean elite took over the Minoan palaces
Introduced Linear B which we can read
Lasted for 4.5 centuries
Phases of the Mycenaean Age:
o 1) Shaft Grave Era (1600-1500 BC): the contents of graves suggest a warlike society with foreign
contact, influence of Minoan civilization is apparent
o 2) Beehivelike tholos (vaulted) tombs under mounds of Earth: show growing power and technical
ability
o 3) The period of the Palaces: there were administrative centers to control the commercial, industrial,
and agricultural activities. The center/great hall was called the megaron. There was a network of
roads. Landowners = “damos”. The head was a king called the “wanax” who was assisted by officials.
Religion had an integral role in the organization of palace activities they had altars and the
Olympian deities were represented in Linear B tablets
End of Mycenaean Civilization
All Mycenaean palaces were attacked and burned, all high arts of civilization were lost
How this happened is still a mystery either invaders or climate change
There was also similar destruction and disturbances in the rest of the Mediterranean
There were strained and unsettled conditions during this time
The Dark Ages
The epics of Homer were composed in the Dark Ages (~700 BC)
o Memories of the past survived in the songs of bards (bardic tradition)
o Heroic poetry was common in many cultures
o But the heroic poems of Homer are particularly sophisticated and complex
o Upper class women in heroic poetry are different from their invisible counterparts of later times;
women in epics are clearly valued (although still manipulated and there was a double standard)
Their social system was made of chieftains and different communities, strategic marriage, and athletic
competitions
The Archaic Age
Greeks traded with the Phoenicians (who were rich) through the Aegean
o Traded grain, metal, lumber, slaves, ideas, and technology
There were good lines of communication and accessibility
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The population increased so Greeks left and migrated (to areas of the Black Sea, Sicily)
o But they wanted to maintain their culture and resist assimilation
Military superiority greatly ensured success of colonization
o Hoplite warfare: new style of infantry fighting that used heavily armed bands of soldiers in massed
units called “phalanxes” (individual = a hoplite)
o Helped maintain superiority over the natives
With all of this growth and development, the old order shattered
o People started to gain huge fortunes
o Radically new ideas because of migration they began to see injustices and excesss
o Responded to the crisis of the old order by creating the polis (city-state)
o Agora = marketplace
People started to see themselves as citizens and began to see the authority of kings as inadequate
o The community was sovereign, no one was above the law
o Rise in the self-consciousness and exclusivity of citizens
o The kings and aristocracy were not all-powerful
People fighting in the war began to demand a share in political power
o They stopped burying warriors with their arms when hoplite warfare developed (pass on)
o War was justified as a community act, not for individuals glory (called the “democratization of war”)
The absence of any major rival power allowed for all of these developments
There was a decline in the visibility of upper-class women
o Assembly consisted of the men of the community
o Women could only influence affairs through the husbands
Narrowing definition of who belonged in the community
o Sense of “us” and “them”
o Need citizenship of both parents to be Athenian
o Benefits of polis membership
o Extreme exclusion occurred in Sparta
o Citizenship in a way became the new aristocracy
However, there were also oligarchic types of poleis (instead of democratic)
Sparta
Slaves called helots, belonged to the state
o Needed helots so they could be free during war
o Helots often revolted when Spartans were away
Endless athletic and military exercises
Children raised by the state from age 7
Spartan women could own property and marry whoever they wanted
2 hereditary kings provided military leadership along with 28 elected men (ages 60+, called gerousia)
Ephors = 5 annually elected magistrates
Spartan phalanx was unbeatable
Because of their focus on the military, their high-culture suffered
Called themselves the Equals (Homoioi), they valued the group
Athens
Had an assembly of males, an aristocratic council, and elected magistrates
In 594 BC Solon established wealth rather than birth as the basis of officeholding (Solon’s reforms)
o Also abolished economic obligations to aristocracy
o Made the assembly a court of appeal in certain cases
In 561 BC, Peisistratus seized power and became tyrant (but a popular strongman, not ruthless dictator)
o Ruled until 528 BC, continued under son Hippias
o Athenian aristocracy was weakened by the reforms and the tyranny, but it returned
Cleisthenes appealed to the people, made the “demos” his faction
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o Created the demes, which created 500 members of council (boule)
o Wide-scale participation by citizenry in government
o More democratic form of polis
o This is what stimulated classical Greek culture (official democracy?)
Polis Society
Society and the state were very closely linked
Power rested fully in the hands of the people
The rich were expected to perform liturgies (public services)
They were unwilling to admit outsiders
Population consisted of foreigners (metics) and slaves too
Working for someone else was not seen in a good light, better to farm
Education was informal
Marriages were arranged and children were an economic necessity
Houseold = oikos, included all property and members of the household
The smaller the dowry, the less power a woman had
Only men could function in the public realm, but women still had social lives
Householder = “kourios”
The family was a functional part of the whole community
Culture & Society in Archaic Age
Experiences of emigration, polis building, and contact with non-Greeks
Literacy spread widely among many strata in Greek society
Empirical investigation of the natural world
Greeks didn’t have a name for themselves until after Homer, called Hellenes
~700 BC, Hesiod wrote The Theogony and The Works and Days to bring order and to explain how the gods
came into being
Homer = the primacy of honour
Hesiod = the primacy of justice and order, and the rational world
Both provided a universal framework for Greek religion and culture
Cults and rituals were specific to each polis had different festivals
o Erected major temples for sacrifice and worship
o Mystery cults allowed for escape from dialy life (ex: Bacchic rituals of Dionysus)
Spirit of individualism, liberated from aristocratic concerns
Moral uncertainty had to avoid making mistakes and avoid hubris
Athletics served as preparation for war
Aristocrats had symposiums (feast/drinking party, songs, dancing, poetry, games, music, erotic activity)
Looked at mathematical relationship in everything
Look at some non mythological views of the universe
Xenophanes: “humans’ gods look like humans”
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