CLAB01 - Chapter 5: The Growth of Athens and the Persian wars

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Classical Studies
Vichi Ciocani

CLAB01 Chapter 5: The Growth of Athens and the Persian wars During the archaic period, numerous Greek states struggled w/problems bw the aristocrats, tyranny Sparta found a unique solution and so did Athens by 500BC the problems of Athens have been largely resolved; the last tyrant had been expelled, Athens had a democratic govnt, and aristocratic stasis was largely confined to competing for office and persuading the assembly Athenians became the 2 most powerful Greek polis and played a major role in war While Greek city stats were evolving, the Persian empire was growing into an ambitious power and would threaten to engulf the Hellenic world ATHENS FROM THE BRONZE AGE TO THE EARLY ARCHAIC AGE Physical remains and literary evidence show that during the Late Bronze Age, Athens was the largest and most important settlement and a major Mycenaean palace-center that exercised a loose control over the other fortified palace-centers in the region Archaeology confirm that the upheavals spared Athens o If this is true they would have found in Attica the same collapse of the centralized ruling structure, drastic depopulation and dispersal of the village The first sign of Athenian recovery from the post invasion slump is the appearance of Protogeometic pottery; Athens continued w.o interruption as the central place of Attica The appearance of rich graves reveals significant growth in wealth and overseas trade during the later Dark Age Popln around Athens rose sharply and new settlements appeared throughout Attica The synoecism or joining together of the towns and villages of Attica into a political unity under the leadership of Athens was probably gradual Theseus exploits such defeating the Minotaur in Crete and the Amazons in Athens, were enshrined in Athenian art and literature In making Theseus the founder of their polis and its democracy, the Athenians followed the common Greek practice of attributing important events to some figure in legendary past After the Dark Age, every settlement in Attica considered itself Athenian o The unification of Attica created unique problems o Athenian citizens could participate in the govnt of Athens, but in reality those who lived closer were more likely to vote i.e. farmers would find it difficult to vote The early govnt in Athens was aristocratic Later the chiefs of Attica replaced the paramount basileus w/ three civic officials called collectively archons the leaders who divided the leadership roles among themselves o basileus administers the cults of the polis and judged lawsuits (property and religious matters) o Polemarch commanded the army 1 o Archon Most prestigious; overall supervision of public affairs including presiding over the council and the assembly and judging nonreligious cases Six judicial officials called the smothetai were added later, making up the governing body of the nine archons= they were elected annually from candidates drawn from the small circle of aristocratic families The archons governed Athens in concert w/ the council that met on the hill sacred to the war god Ares Citizen males also participated in the assembly but its precise role and the role of the citizens was unknown although Aristotle claimed that it elected the archons In Attica the basic social units the individual households were grouped into larger but poorly understood kin-like associations: tribes, phratries and clans o Every citizen family belong to one of the four tribes and to another small group within their tribe o b/c all the Ionian peoples had the same 4 tribes, these probs originated in the Dark Age o it is possible they served as political and military divisions The Conspiracy of Cylon Cylon, an Olympic victor took advantage of his marriage connection w/ Theagenes, the tyrant nearby Megara, to seize the Acropolis and attempt to become tyrant of Athens, only to find himself and his supporters besieged by the Athenians Cyclone and his bro escaped but his supported surrender to the 9 archons on condition that their lives would be spared The conspirators even tied a thread to the statue of Athena and descended while holding onto it, hoping the goddess would protect them. When the thread snapped, the archon Magacles killed them People believed that Megacles had committed blasphemy and soon his fam was exiled Draco and Early Athenian Law The best known of Dracos laws is that concerning homicide o Before Dracos ;aw, bereaved family members were entitled and obliged to avenge the deaths of their slain relatives o Draco transformed such disputes into trials in which the next of kin prosecuted the accused killer before magistrates who determined the appropriate penalty: death for murder or exile for unintentional homicid Little is known about other laws except that they were secere and that stipulated death even for minor offences Someone claims the laws were not written in ink, but w/ bood His laws were significant in the role of developing the authority of the state at the expense of the family, and the magistrates- who were limited in their ability to shape their decisions in accord w/ their social and professional ties THE REFORMS OF SOLON Solon tried to strengthen the fragile agricultural base of the Atheniain economy by grafting onto it a thriving commerce 2 Athenians had poor soil so they could not raise enough grain Instead, they would obtain wheat from abroad by exchanging their olives, vines, figs and barley Athens had great positional for economic development, many poor sharecroppers were losing the struggle to survive- they would go to a respected individual to resolve their crisis They empowered Solon, an aristocratic poet w/ a reputation for wisdom, to draw up a new law code that would ease the suffering of the poor and avoid tyranny The poor wanted the abolition of debts and redistribution of land; what they got was the abolition of debt slavery Solons reforms mitigated the risk of dividing the Athenians into haves and have-notes by creating a sliding scale of privilege that contained something for everyone He defended his work in poetry; he identified wealth as an unstable and problematic force in human affairs Although he urged justice for the ppl, he also committed to defended the rights of the elite both to their lad and to preeminent role in govnt He wrote that it is hard to please everybody His first act was to address the sufferings of the poor o i.e. the sharecroppers, that were called hektemoroi bc they paid a rent equal to a sixth of their produce to a wealthy landowner, and failed debtors, who ha borrowed against their property and themselves and could not repay their debts he made it illegal for loans to be secured by anyones property or person and a
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