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CHAPTER 4
The Ancient GreeksSection 1
The Early Greeks
• Mainland Greece is a
peninsula- A body of
land with water on
three sides.
• The geography of
Greece (mountains,
seas, etc.) resulted in
many independent
Greek communities.
THE MINOANS
• The island of Crete lies southeast of the Greek
mainland.
• The Minoans were not Greeks, but they were the first
civilization to inhabit what would later be known as
Greece.
• The Minoans created an extravagant palace in
Knossos and made their wealth by trading.
• By 2000 B.C. they controlled the eastern
Mediterranean Sea.
• About 1450 B.C. the Minoan civilization collapsed.
Some historians believed they fell due to natural
causes. Others believe a group from the mainland,
the Mycenaeans invaded Crete.
THE FIRST GREEK KINGDOMS
• Originally from central Asia, Mycenaeans
invaded Greeks mainland in the 1800’s B.C.
and Mycenaean leaders became the first
Greek kings.
• The palace of the ruler stood in the middle of
the kingdom. Nobles, farmers and slaves
lived beyond the palace walls.
• Mycenaeans learned much from the
Minoans- how to work bronze, build ships, use
the sun and stars to find their way at sea,
religion- before conquering them.
• Myceneans were successful in trade but
took pride in their deeds in battle. Their most
famous victory is the Trojan War, led by King
Agamemnon.
• By 1100 B.C., Mycenaean civilization had collapsed due to
earthquakes & fighting within kingdoms.
• 1100 B.C. and 750 B.C. – The Dark Age
 Farmers grew food only for their families
 Education ceased
 Many Greeks left the mainland, expanding the reach
of Greek culture
• The Dorians moved in and settled on the Peloponnesus
peninsula. They brought advanced weapons and farm
technology.
• Gradually people began to farm and educate again. They
adopted the idea of an alphabet from the Phoenicians.
•
As the Greek population grew,
cities began sending people
outside Greece to start colonies.
•
Colony – a settlement in a new
territory that keeps close ties to its
homeland. Colonization led to the
growth of trade and industry.
The Polis
• At the end of the Dark Age, many nobles had overthrown
the Greek kings and created city-states, known as a polis
• Acropolis – a fortified area at the top of a hill used as a
gathering place in the polis
 Sometimes a religious center
• Agora – an open area below the acropolis that served as
both a market and a meeting/debating place
Citizenship
• Greeks were the first people to develop the idea of
citizenship.
• Citizens – members of a political community who treat each
other as equals and who have rights and responsibilities.
(Only free native-born men who owned land)
• In exchange for their rights (elect officials, pass laws, hold
office, own property), citizens must serve in government and
fight as citizen soldiers.
Section 2- Sparta and Athens
• Rule by the nobles began to decline by 650 B.C.
 Small farmers demanded changes in the
power structure and merchants and artisans
wanted to be a part of government.
• The growing frustration led to the rise of tyrants.
Tyrant – someone who takes power by force and
rules with total authority.
•
•
•
Tyrants overthrew the nobles during the 600’s. However, most Greeks
wanted rule by law with all citizens participating in government.
By 500 B.C., most city-states had become either oligarchies or
democracies:
Oligarchy – a form of government in which only
a few hold power
Democracy – a form of government in which all
citizens share in running the government
Sparta (oligarchy) and Athens (democracy) became two of the
most powerful governments of early Greece.
• Sparta was founded by the Dorians who
enslaved their neighbors, the Helots, to be
workers
• Fearing the Helots might someday rebel,
government firmly controlled the people and
trained the men for war
• Spartan soldiers were trained until age 30, but
remained in the army until age 60
• Spartan girls were trained in sports – running &
wrestling
• Spartan government included two kings. They headed a
council of elders who presented laws to an assembly.
• The assembly voted on the laws and chose 5 ephors
 Ephor – a person who enforced the laws and
managed tax collection
• By focusing on military training, the Spartans fell behind in
trade, technology and science, but played a key role in
defending Greece
ATHENS
• Athenians focused on providing boys a good education, sports, and
music
• At age 18, boys finished school and became citizens and girls were
taught at home by their mothers
• During the 600’s B.C., Athens was an oligarchy ruled by landowning
nobles
• During the early 500’s B.C., the government was in much turmoil due
to rebellion by the farmers
• Cleisthenes, their most important leader, made the Athenian
government a democracy
Section 3- The Persian Empire
• Persians lived in what is today southwestern
Iran
• Cyrus the Great (559 B.C. to 530 B.C.) united
the Persians into a powerful kingdom, larger
than any in the world
• In 539 B.C., Cyrus’ armies captured Babylon,
northern Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Syria,
Canaan, and the Phoenician cities
• King Darius (521 B.C.) reorganized the government,
dividing the empire into 20 states called satrapies
• The Persian government paid people to be full-time
soldiers, unlike the Greek city-states (citizen soldiers)
• The Greeks often clashed with the Persians while setting
up colonies in the Mediterranean region
•
The Greeks and the Persians fought in several key
battles
 Battle of Marathon –Athenians successfully
defeated the Persians as they attempted to
attack Athens
 King Xerxes, Darius’ son, vowed revenge
against the Athenians
 Battle of Thermopylae –Greek soldiers survived
but Sparta’s King Leonidas and several
hundred others fought to the death, losing this
battle
 Strait of Salamis – naval battle the Greeks won
decidedly with smaller, faster, and easier to
steer ships
• Battle of Plataea (479 B.C.) – the Greek army crushed
the Persian army at Plataea, northwest of Athens
 This battle convinced the Persians to retreat to
Asia Minor
The Fall of the Persian Empire
• A weakened army, high taxes which led to rebellions,
and fighting within the royal family made Persia
vulnerable to attack
• Persian Empire was conquered by Alexander the
Great in 334 B.C.
Section 4- The Age of Pericles
Population of Athens, 400s B.C.
100,000
Citizens
150,000
35,000
Foreigners
Slaves
• Persians remained a threat to Greece
• Delian League – group of city-states, including Athens, but
not Sparta who united in 478 B.C. to defend themselves
against the Persians
• Democracy in Athens
 Direct democracy- People gather at mass meetings to
decide government matters and every citizen can
vote on laws and policies
 Representative democracy (U.S.) – citizens choose a
smaller group of representatives to make laws and
governmental decisions on their behalf
Delian Leagues Direct Democracy
• Usually fewer than 6,000 men attended the assembly
meetings, which were held every 10 days
•
The assembly passed all laws, elected officials, and
made decisions on war and foreign affairs
•
Ten officials known as generals carried out the assembly’s
laws and policies
Pericles
One of the leading figures in Athenian politics
• Guided Athens for more than 30 years
• Helped Athens dominate/control the Delian league
• Strived to make Athens more democratic
• The Age of Pericles was a period of cultural
prosperity – tremendous creativity and learning
The Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 B.C.)
• Sparta vs. Athens for control of Greece
• Did not understand or trust each other and clashed
over political ideology and perceived aggression
• The Spartans made a deal with the Persian Empire
 They exchanged Greek territory in Asia Minor for
enough money to build a navy
• Sparta’s new navy destroyed the Athenian fleet
 Effects of the war
 Weakened all of the major Greek city-states
 Many people died, farms were destroyed, people
lost jobs
 Made it impossible for the Greeks to unite and work
together again
 30 years later, war broke out again, further
weakening the kingdom

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