Sparta

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THE GREEK CITY STATES
Chapter 4.2
POLIS: THE CENTER OF GREEK LIFE
The polis or city-state was the central focus of Greek
life. The citizens of a polis had defined rights and
responsibilities, as well as a strong identity and
loyalty that kept the city-states divided.
POLIS: THE CENTER OF GREEK LIFE
• By 750 B.C., the city-state
or polis became the central
focus of Greek life.
• The polis consisted of a
town, a city or even a
village, along with its
surrounding country side.
• The town, city or village
served as the center of the
polis where people could
meet for political, social,
and religious activities.
ORGANIZATION OF THE CITY-STATE
• The main part of the polis was
usually the acropolis, a
fortified hilltop that served as
a place of refuge in time of
attack.
• Below the acropolis was the
agora, and open area that
served as a place where people
could assemble and use as a
market.
• City states varied greatly in
size, from a few square miles
to a few hundred miles.
• The population in each polis
varied from more than 300,000
to as small as several
thousand people.
COMMUNITY OF THE CITY-STATE
“We do not say that a man who
takes no interest in politics minds
his own business. We say he has
no business here at all.”
-Pericles (495-429 B.C.)
• Male citizens has both
rights and
responsibilities within
the polis. They could
vote, hold public office,
own property, and speak
for themselves in court.
• They were expected to
take part in government
and defend the polis in
times of danger.
COMMUNITY OF THE CITY-STATE
• As the polis developed so did the Greek
military system. In earlier times nobles
on horseback fought wars in Greece.
• By 700 B.C. the Greek military system
was based on hoplites, who were heavily
armed foot soldiers.
• Greek hoplites wore a bronze
breastplate, a helmet and greaves on
their legs.
• They carried a shield, known as an
aspis or hoplon.
• A hoplites primary weapon was his
spear or dory (or doru) which could
measure from 7 to 9 feet long.
• The secondary weapon of the hoplite
was the xiphos or short sword. It was
used if his spear was broken or lost. It
measured around 2 feet and was ideal
for slashing and stabbing in the breaks
of a shield wall.
COMMUNITY OF THE CITY-STATE
• Hoplites went into battle
as a unit, marching
shoulder to shoulder in a
rectangular formation
known as a phalanx.
• This close formation
created a wall of shields
and it was difficult for
enemies to harm them if
they kept in formation.
A LESSON ON THE PHALANX
GREEK EXPANSION
• Between 750 B.C. and 550 B.C., large numbers
of Greeks left their homeland to settle in
distant lands.
• They left for a desire for good farmland,
overpopulation at home and the growth of
trade.
• Each Greek colony would eventually become
an independent polis; spreading Greek culture.
GREEK COLONIES
• Greeks spread out across the
Mediterranean establishing
colonies along the coast lines of
southern Italy, southern
France, eastern Spain, and
northern Africa.
• The Greeks settled along the
shores of Thrace and along the
coast of the Black Sea, setting
up cities on the Hellespont and
the Bosporus Straits, in search
of good farmland.
• The most famous of the Greek
colonies was Byzantium which
would later be renamed
Constantinople and is now
Istanbul.
GREEK COLONIES
GREEK COLONIES
• The expansion throughout the
Mediterranean gave the Greeks
an economic advantage.
• Setting up colonies in prime port
locations led to increased trade
of Greek products such as
pottery, wine, and olive oil.
• In exchange for their goods they
received grains, metals, fish,
wheat and slaves.
• This increase in trade led to an
increase in wealth and created a
new group of wealthy
individuals who would look to
gain political power.
TYRANNY IN THE CITY-STATES
• The wealthy merchants desire for
political power would lead to the
rise of tyranny in Greece.
• Greek tyrants seized power by
force from ruling aristocrats.
• They gained the support of the
newly rich merchants who were
seeking a bigger voice in
government, and the poor farmers
who were heavily in debt to the
aristocratic ruling class.
• They gained and kept power
through hired soldiers. Once in
power they undertook building
projects to give the poor jobs and
to gain more favor.
• Tyranny’s would eventually be
replaced by democracy and
oligarchies in most city-states.
TWO RIVAL CITY-STATES
• The two most famous
Greek city-states were
that of Athens and
Sparta.
• These two cities would
develop different systems
of government.
SPARTA
• The descendants of the Dorian
invaders of the dark age founded
Sparta on the Peloponnesus in
Greece.
• The Spartans handled population
increase different than other citystates. Instead of setting up
overseas colonies they simply
invaded and conquered nearby
territory of Laconia, and Messenia.
• Their conquests led to a growing
number of helots or slaves and
perioeci (artisans and merchants
who worked for the Spartans).
• Around 650 B.C. the Helots
revolted and it took the
outnumbered Spartans 30 years to
suppress the revolt.
SPARTA
• All life in Sparta revolved
around the military.
• Spartan men strove to
become soldiers, and
Spartan women aspired
to become mothers of
soldiers.
• Their cities did not have
walls as they believed
any city defended by a
Spartan did not require
walls.
SPARTA
• From the age of seven
boys began training to
become soldiers.
• At age 20 they joined the
army.
• At 30 years of age they
could marry but still lived
with the army.
• At the age of 60 men
were permitted to retire
from military service.
SPARTA
• Sparta had two kings who were in charge of religious
ceremonies and leading the army.
• The running of the city was left to the Assembly,
which was made up of all male citizens over the age of
20. A Council of Elders, consisting of 28 men over the
age of 60 proposed laws and served as the supreme
court. Each year the Assembly would elect five
overseers known as Ephors to administer public
affairs.
• The Assembly passed laws and made decisions about
war and peace.
SPARTA
• Spartan women were brought up to
be as healthy and strong as
Spartan men.
• Young women were trained in
gymnastics, wrestling and boxing.
• Women married at age 19 rather
than 14 as in other Greek cities.
• The rights and privileges of
Spartan women were greater than
that of other Greek women. They
could:
– Go shopping in the marketplace
– Attend dinners or functions at
which other family members
were not present
– Own property
– Openly express opinions on
public matters
"Why are you Spartan women the only
ones who can rule men?"
"Because we are also the only ones who
give birth to men."
—Gorgo, Queen of Sparta and wife of
Leonidas, as quoted by Plutarch
ATHENS
• Athens is located on the Attica
Peninsula in central Greece.
• The founders of Athens were
descendants of the
Mycenaeans of Ancient Greece.
• In the 600’s B.C. Athens would
face the challenge of dealing
with an increase in noncitizens (metics)living within
the city.
• Initially only a man whose
father and maternal
grandfather could become a
citizen of Athens.
• By 507 B.C. all free men in
Athens were citizens no matter
their class or if they owned
land.
ATHENS
• Four tyrants engineered most of the changes in Athenian
Government.
• Draco (621 B.C.):
– Issued a new law code in 621 B.C. in which penalties were
extremely harsh.
– Law code was written down so aristocrats could not make up
their own.
• Solon(594 B.C.):
– Cancelled all land debts and freed debtors from slavery.
– He placed limits on the amount of land a person could own.
– Trade was promoted by encouraging farmers to grow cash crops.
– Farmers were ordered to teach their sons a trade and artisans
were given citizenship to promote industry.
– Set up a two house legislature where Aristocrats made up the
Council of 400 who proposed laws the Assembly, which was made
up of commoners.
ATHENS: DRACONIAN LAW
ATHENS
• Peisistratus (546 B.C):
– Divided large Athenian estates among landless
farmers and extended citizenship to men who did
not own land.
– Provided the poor with loans and put many of them
to work building temples and public projects.
• Cleisthenes (508 B.C.):
– He introduced a series of laws that established
Democracy to Athens.

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