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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 Notes.docx

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Department
Social Science
Course Code
SOSC 2730
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Lewis Code

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C HAPTER 5–E MERGENCE OF THE P OLIS 1) WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES IN THE PHYSICAL SETTING BETWEEN M ESOPOTAMIA AND GREECE ? DO THE DIFFERENCES EXTEND TO THE TYPE OF AGRICULTURAL CROPS TYPICAL OF THE TWO REGIONS? Mesopotamia had wider areas of farmable land in the Fertile Crescent, whereas the Greek islands, surrounded by the Aegean Sea, had very little soil to farm on, but enjoyed a variety of climates. Therefore, the Mesopotamians were able to farm more grains and hops for beer, while the Greeks had those as well as olives and nut-bearing trees grown near the sea, in addition to fish. 2) WHAT ARE THE KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EARLY M INOAN CULTURE (CENTRED ON THE ISLAND OFC RETE)? W HAT HAPPENED TO THE M INOAN CULTURE ? The Minoans were a very leisure-oriented people, whose isolated location in the sea provided natural protection from invaders. Thus, the city experienced its first uninterrupted growth here on this island. The structures were told to have been made of far more sophisticated design than those of the mainland (even possessing a substitute for glass windows), and their engineering skills were surprisingly well ahead of their time, with aqueducts and terra cotta pipes for transporting fresh water from the mountains. They were even known to have a degree of liberal contact with Africans who visited the island. Post-Thera, however, the Minoan culture eventually eroded until the island and its people were taken over by the war-loving Mycenaeans. Very little was passed on to the new rulers of the Minoan way of life, and Crete therefore became a “political fossil of the military state” (p. 123), meaning it had become extinct and remembered only by the records it left behind. 3. THE M YCENAEAN CULTURE SUPPLANTED M INOAN CULTURE IN CRETE AND ELSEWHERE . DID M YCENAEAN CULTURE DIRECTLY INHERIT CHARACTERISTICS OF THE M INOAN CULTURE ,OR IS THERE A DISCERNIBLE BREAK ? W AS IT AS SOPHISTICATED AS M INOAN CULTURE ? W AS IT AN “URBAN ”CULTURE ? The Mycenaean culture removed everything of Minoan culture, save for “the old contempt of the blooded aristocrat for honest work, and no less for honest trade.” (p. 123). The Mycenaeans were a more violent, less developed Greek faction, and therefore at a lower level of urban development than their Minoan counterparts. The new ruling faction did not possess “the permanent urban forces essential to further growth: the code of written law, the bureaucratic controls, the system of taxation, that would have ensured its continuity for even a millennium.” 4. W HAT HAPPENED TO THE CITADEL ’ ING REEK CITIES IN THE PERIOD 700-500B.C.E.? W HAT OTHER DEVELOPMENTS TOOK PLACE IN GREEK URBANIZATION DURING THIS PERIOD ? During this period, the citadel’s power was undermined by the introduction of “coined money”, so that the new power now lay in the hands of the “democratic village-based community” (p. 124). In addition, there was a focus on colonization at this point, bringing with each colony the essential institutions of urbanization, such that “the Greek polis and Greek culture was spread far and wide, from Naucratis in Egypt to Marseille in Gaul, from Sicily to the farther shores of the Black Sea” (p. 124) - Quote: “Within a couple of centuries, the Greeks discovered more about the nature and potentialities of man than the Egyptians or the Sumerians seem to have discovered in as many millennia. All these achievements were concentrated in the Greek polis, and in particular, in the greatest of these cities, Athens.” (p. 125) 5. W HAT ROLE DID GEOGRAPHIC ISOLATION PLAY IN SHAPING GREEK SOCIETY ? W HAT WAS THE ROLE OF THE VILLAGE ? H OW DOES THIS COMPARE WITH THE ROLE OF THE VILLAGE IN M ESOPOTAMIA ? “Villages, once isolated, would keep up their religious association when the military necessity was gone: if not the presence of danger, then the desire to forfend it by pious observances would draw them back to the natural acropolis.” (p. 126) The Greek village, whose societal structure inspired Greek democracy, was also not very supportive of classism, led the Athenians to “everywhere give more weight to the less higher class.” (p. 128) “The village measure prevailed in the development of Greek cities, down to the fourth century: the modest dimensions of stele and gravestone, delicately pithy inscriptions, the touches of humour – all far from the grandiose, the monumental, the inflated.” (p. 128) The Mesopotamian village was more of a foundation than a “measure”, and the Mesopotamians did not hesitate to enlarge that which originally existed within the village, both in size and purpose. 6. D ID KINGS ’PLAY A CENTRAL ROLE IN G REEK SOCIETY IN THE MANNER THAT THEY DID IN M ESOPOTAMIA ? W HY OR WHY NOT ? (128) In Greek society, the village ways made the citizens “distrustful of kingly power and centralized rule”. (p. 128) They discouraged the notion that their kings were “god-like” or possessed any divine powers, unlike their Mesopotamian counterparts, because of their village-bred parochialism, which insisted that each citizen was equal. - Quote: “… city and country formed a unity among the Greeks, not two antagonistic modes of life.” (p.129) 7. P RIOR TO THE H ELLENISTIC PERIOD (325-50 B.C.E), WHAT WAS THE G REEK CITY LIKE TO LIVE IN ? Pre-Hellenism, the city had no need to fortify itself with outer walls, as they had not known the threat of invasion then. The Greeks were so attached to their rural ways that “the easiest way to enter the flimsy walls of a household was by digging through the wall.” (p. 130) Despite their worship of the gods, the king was not seen as more godlike than the regular citizen, and the gods had taken on mortal dimensions. It was during Hellenism that the idea of the ruler being a god was revived (with Alexander the Great). (pp. 128- 129) 8. D ID TRADE PLAY A CENTRAL ROLE IN THE G REEK WORLD ? W HAT WAS THE NATURE OF THIS TRADE AND WHAT IMPACT DID IT HAVE ON URBAN DEVELOPMENT ? Trade was limited to that of oil and pottery, as most families would have their relatives in the country bring up their surplus produce to the city regularly – much to the detriment of Athens, who relied on taxation and tribute for the majority of its wealth. They ignored the benefits that trade could offer in terms of building up further surpluses, which was one of the reasons for its downfall. The lack of trade, therefore, became a limiting factor in the development of the city. “These traders and bankers, backed by manufacturers and craftsmen, were the new organizers of the city; after the sixth century they threatened the power of the original aristocrats and warriors. But the problem of incorporating these new commercial groups into the commonwealth, bringing them actively into its services and making them responsible, never seriously concerned the great minds of Greece.” (p. 132-133) “Yet it was from the commercial cities of Ionia, indeed from merchants in their own persons, like Thales, that a whole world of new ideas came forth.” (p. 133) Further reading: (p. 151-154) 9. W HAT WAS THE G REEK POLIS ? “The transposition of the village into the polis, the place where people come together, not just by birth and habit, but consciously, in pursuit of a better life, takes place before our eyes in Greece.” (p. 131) In essence, the polis was the Greek city, with all its evolved traits from village life, along with its institutions of the citadel/palace, the temple, and the agora. But with the good also came the bad: “isolation, jealousy, suspicion of the stranger, parochialism – the darker face of self-reliance and self-sufficiency.” This explained why the different Greek cities, despite sharing the same culture, would not even “arrive at a common calendar” (p. 132) According to Mumford, they even began their years at different times. 10. M UMFORD STATES , “AT THAT POINT ITS [THE G REEK CITY ]CIVIC PURPOSES HAD EMERGED FROM ITS ABORIGINAL MUNICIPAL FUNCTIONS –– AND WERE FAR MORE HIGHLY DEVELOPED .”(133) W HAT DOES THIS MEAN AND WHAT WAS ITS SIGNIFICANCE ? From the original institutions within the walled city, the Greek city’s institutions have come to perform more generalized purposes. Mumford says that from this evolved “a new set of institutions, more universal in nature, more spontaneous in association,: more than once these freer institutions seemed on the point of creating a new kind of urban organization, less enclosed, less divisive, less rigid and oppressive, than that which had given form to the walled city.” (p. 133) This change gave way to a new level of urban culture with an emphasis on democracy. 11. W HAT WERE THE IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF THE G REEK CITY IDENTIFIED BY PAUSANIAS (133-134)? Pausanias says that a city must have “government offices, a gymnasium, a theater, a market, and piped water supply.” He dismissed the city the Phocians had built as unworthy of being called a city because it lacked these components. 12. A THENS IS REGARDED AS THE BIRTHPLACE OF DEMOCRACY . W AS IT A DEMOCRACY IN THE MODERN SENSE OF THE WORD ? W ERE ALL RESIDENTS EQUAL PARTICIPANTS IN THE GOVERNANCE PROCESS ? Democracy in Athens was really an ideology limited to only native-born males who were chosen to participate in the administration of the city. Women, and understandably children and slaves, were excluded from the democratic process; foreigners were also prohibited from voting. To give perspective, “Athens, at its height, …, had 40,000 full-fledged citizens (male), possibly 150,000 free people (metics, women, and children), and perhaps 100,000 slaves.” (p. 153) This meant th
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