Ch. 5: Greece 1000-30 B.C.E.
Rise of the Greeks
a. Geography & Resources
i. Part of Mediterranean ecological zone; all areas have similar
climates, seasons, crops. Conducive to migration, transfer of
crops/technology, & trade. Culture area includes Greek mainland,
islands, & western Anatolia.
ii. Reliance on rainfall (no H2O sources for irrigation). Limited water
/ thin, arable soil meant limited population. Few metal
resources/little timber. Plentiful harbors.
b. Emergence of the polis
i. Post-Mycenaean “Dark Age” 1150-800 B.C.E. Ended when
contact/trade w/ Med lands re-established. Phoenicians played a
role & provided alphabetic system. Archaic Per. begins (800-480
ii. Explosive pop. growth. Causes: shift from pastoral to agricultural
eco, importation of foods/raw materials. Effects included
urbanization, specialization, & development of polis.
iii. Polis (city-state) was urban center & rural territory. Features
included acropolis, agora, fortified walls, public buildings. No
sharp distinction between urban & rural areas or inhabitants.
iv. Frequent wars between C/S. Warfare used hoplites – close
formation of infantry trying to break enemy’s defense. Soldiers
mostly farmer-citizens serving short-term.
v. When population outstripped resources, excess sent to colonies in
Med & Black Sea. Brought Greeks into close contact w/other
vi. Colonization introduced new ideas, but also sharpened Greek
identity. Important idea: coins in Lydia (early 6th cen. B.C.E.)
vii. Increasing prosperity & growing middle class led to mid-7th & 6th
cen. emergence of tyrants, reducing power of traditional elites.
Tyrants eventually rejected in favor of oligarchy or democracy.
viii. Religion: anthropomorphic sky gods (many represent forces of
nature). Worshiped @ state ceremonies. Sacrifice important &
helped create sense of community. Sought advice from oracles
(Apollo’s @ Delphi) & revered female fertility deities.
c. New intellectual currents
i. Archaic Greeks began developing concepts of individualism &
ii. Pre-Socratic philosophers began to question religion & tried to
explain rationally why world created, what it is made of, why it
iii. “Logographers” in Ionia began to gather information on Med
peoples, founding of cities, & family backgrounds. Method of
investigation/research called historia – adopted by Herodotus.
iv. Herodotus went beyond simple collection/recording of info to offer
explanations for Persian Wars in Histories. Invented modern
concept of “history”. “Father of History.” (Also included legend,
d. Athens & Sparta
i. Sparta: on Peloponnese in S. Greece. To ensure food supply, took
over fertile Messenia & enslaved Messenians (slaves called
helots). Fear of uprising led to creation of a severely ascetic,
highly militarized society in which all Spartan males trained for the
army & devoted lives to needs of state.
ii. Athens: large hinterland (Attica) supported 5th-cen. B.C.E. pop of
~300,000. 6th cen. B.C.E., period of rule by tyrants.
iii. Late 6th-early 5th cen., Athens ejected tyrant family & developed
democracy. Direct democracy. Limits on citizenship. Pericles
completed transition to democracy in 460s-450s. Gov’t included
Assembly, Council of 500, & People’s Courts. Participation
expected (or idiotes).
Struggle of Persia and Greece
a. Early encounters
i. 499-494 B.C.E., Greek cities of Anatolia, aided by Eretria &
Athens, staged revolt against Persians. Led to Persian Wars: 2
Persian attacks on Greece. 1st: 490, Darius I’s generals attacked.
Athenian forces won @ Marathon (Pheidippides- Nike!).
ii. 2nd: 480, Xerxes led army & fleet. Many C/S submitted. Sparta
organized Hellenic League (after Thermopylae, Greeks victorious).
Athens took leadership; organized Delian League & drove Persians
out of most of E. Med.
b. Height of Athenian power
i. Classical period (480-323 B.C.E.) marked by Athenian dominance –
subordinated other Delian League states & became imperial power.
Power based on navy.
ii. Naval strength based on technological innovation (triremes) and
use of lower-class men as rowers (they began to demand rights of
iii. Power used to conduct trade & extract tribute from subject states.
Wealth of empire made it possible for Athens to conduct public
works (Parthenon), put on festivals, and support arts & sciences
iv. Most influential philosophers: Socrates & Plato. Socrates focused
on ethics, probed meaning of words, & used “Socratic method” of
question & answer. Tried on charges of corrupting youth & not
believing in gods – untrue, but sentenced to death (he really made
people uncomfortable by challenging ideas/beliefs). Suicide or
v. His student Plato wrote dialogues exploring concepts like justice,
excellence, & wisdom. Said world we see is but a pale reflection
of higher, ideal reality (allegory: The Cave). His intellectual
activity is representative of transition from oral to written culture;
he read & wrote books, including The Republic, and founded a
school (the Academy).
c. Inequality in Classical Greece
i. Athenian democracy limited in scope; only free adult males
participated (10-15% of pop). Women, children, slaves, &
foreigners not citizens.
ii. Slaves mostly foreign, 1/3 of pop, regarded as property. Average
family owned 1 or more; treated them as domestic servants.
Slavery provided male citizens with leisure for political activity.
iii. Position of women varied. Sparta: relatively free & outspoken.
Athens: more confined & oppressed. Marriages arranged unions of
younger woman/older man. Duties of wife: produce & raise kids
(esp. sons), weave cloth, cook & clean. Poorly educated.
iv. Little meaningful relationship/equality between men & women, so
men sought emotional & intellectual companionship with equals
d. Failure of the C/S and triumph of Macedonians
i. Imperial Athens triggered resentment from other Greek C/S, which
led to Peloponnesian War( 431-404 B.C.E.) (Sparta’s alliance vs.
Athens’). Persians paid for Spartan navy to defeat Athens.
ii. Spartan arrogance inspired other C/S. The internal conflict
allowed Persia to reclaim territory in W. Asia, including Greek
cities in Anatolia.
iii. As Greek C/S declined, kingdom of Macedonia developed as a
military power. King Philip used longer spears, cavalry & infantry,
phalanx, and siege equipment/catapults.
iv. Philip’s son/heir Alexander (the Great) invaded Persia in 336
B.C.E. and conquered as far as Pakistan – also Egypt. Built an
empire maintaining the Persian administrative system, using
Persian, Greek, & Macedonian officials, encouraging intermarriage,
and presenting himself as successor to the Persian king (and son
of Zeus, and pharaoh. . .) New cities (Alexandria). Died @ 33 with
a. Hellenistic kingdoms
i. After Alex’s death, empire divided into 3 parts w/Macedonian
rulers – Hellenistic Age (323-30 B.C.E.).
ii. Seleucid Kingdom: Mesopotamia, Syria, parts of Anatolia, Iran,
Indus Valley... Peripheral area lost by 2nd cen. B.C.E. Maintained
Persian-style administration and Alexander’s institution of Greekstyle cities.
iii. Ptolemies: Egypt, sometimes Palestine. Used centralized, wellcontrolled Egyptian admin/tax systems. Capital: Alexandria.
Greek immigration encouraged. Did not build other Greek-style
cities or try to change Egyptian lifestyle/language. Resentment of
Greek rule meant uprisings common from early 2nd century on.
Last Ptolemaic ruler: Cleopatra.
iv. Antigonids in Macedonia & Greece. Spartans and confederations
of C/S resisted Macedonian rule; Athens neutral.
i. Greatest Hellenistic city. Pop of ~1/2 million; Mausoleum of
Alexander, Library, Museum. Served as center for politics,
learning, & trade.
ii. Greek city (but in Egypt). Greek residents were citizens,
participated in gov’t Assembly & Council. Public baths, theaters,
gymnasiums. Also a significant Jewish community.
c. Hellenization included intermarriage between Greeks & non-Greeks,
spread of Greek language & lifestyle, and synthesis of indigenous &
a. Significance of Persian Empire
i. Largest world had seen. Held together not so much by force but
by ability of Persian kings to co-opt local elites & incorporate
them into imperial structure.
ii. Persians were masters of PR and represented themselves as
b. Changes in W. Asia brought about by the Persians
i. Persian Empire brought dramatic political changes to W. Asia –
less significant cultural impact.
ii. Greeks not considered a significant threat until Alexander.
c. Cultural impact of Greeks
i. Persia was a major factor in Greek political life after 2 centuries of
ii. Alexander’s conquests in W. Asia had a deep, long-lasting cultural
effect. Hellenistic kingdoms used Greek soldiers, officers, &
administrators and established Greek-style cities. Strong
Hellenistic influence lasted 1000 years.