Your Federal Quarterly Tax Payments are due April 15th Get Help Now >>

CLASSICAL GREECE by Abby Rupsa

VIEWS: 93 PAGES: 5

									CLASSICAL GREECE

I. SPARTA VS. ATHENS
A. Sparta
Government (Lerner 162)
Two hereditary kings commanded army; had to swear oath to respect law
Council of 28 elders (older than 60 years) + kings: made policy
Assembly: all male citizens (once he had passed rite of passage): approved proposals; elected
council and magistrates (executive branch) called ephors - 5 every year
You might think this seemed democratic, but it was not
       Citizens themselves were a restricted group; all men, only about 8000 of them, ruled a
population of ca. 400,000, who were without political rights

Helots
Spartan citizens were supported by labor of helots – state slaves – each citizen having farm land
which helots required to work.
The helots were descendants of Greeks (Messenians) who had lived in the area before the
Spartans had invaded after 12th c
Spartans kept these hundreds of thousands of people in perpetual subservience to their city -
growing their food, paying their taxes, manufacturing what goods they needed.

Training of Spartan citizens
In order to maintain a situation like this (8000 citizens ruling half a million semi-slaves),
Spartans had to keep themselves continually mobilized for war; training of Spartan boys was
aimed at this.
Boys left home at 12 to live with other Spartan boys
In the barracks they ate famously bad food (barley porridge), kept silent except when authorized
to speak, and trained to be hoplites
Rite of passage for teenage boys was to form „ Secret bands”
        live off the land in wild and murder rebellious slaves (helots) (compare Fraternity
hazing)
Until 30, they were not allowed to live with wives, or possess money or precious metals

After this period of training, Spartans were considered Equals “homoioi” – with full citizen
rights and belonging to common mess halls
Every day, these men would eat and train with their colleagues - and rarely see their wives or
children
They formed romantic relationships with older males - Spartans were renowned homosexuals.
They didn‟t bother with intellectual pursuits (philosophy, drama, poetry, etc.) or trade.
Above all, they devoted themselves to being the best soldiers in the world

Spartan women

In some respects, this system gave Spartan women more independence than other Greek women.
Spartan women did far more property management than in other Greek city-states, mainly
because their husbands were away training, fighting and sleeping with each other.
Spartan women had access to some education - basic writing so that they could keep the
accounts, and gymnastics (important part of Greek education) because Spartans thought strong
women bore strong sons.

Strengths and weaknesses for Spartan constitution
Greek political philosophers like Aristotle strongly admired the Spartan constitution (except for
the excessive freedom of Spartan women)
It was a planned society, where all citizens‟ energies directed at serving the state
Sparta had the finest soldiers in Greece; they refused to surrender, no matter what the odds - and
could outfight and outgeneral armies more than three times their size.
But Sparta had its weaknesses
         Constant state of war against the helots - the state slaves - who outnumbered its citizens.
         Population problems - Spartan women didn‟t have many children, so not more than 8000
Spartan citizens at a time
         Material and intellectual poverty - Spartans weren‟t great traders, or builders; literature,
art, philosophy basically didn‟t exist

B. ATHENS
It‟s easier for Americans to identify with classical Athens.
If Sparta was the Soviet Union of classical Greece, Athens would be the United States.
Athenians believed in freedom of speech; Sparta in censorship
Athens was rolling in wealth - esp. wealth brought by trade; Spartans didn‟t even allow the use
of coinage.
Athens expected its citizens to earn their living or go hungry if they failed to (“capitalist”);
Spartan citizens were supported by the state.

Athenian government: first democracy
Athenian democracy didn‟t spring fully armed from the head of Zeus - it was developed over
time.
Successive reforms changed Athens from a polis ruled by aristocrats, into a democracy (Lerner
164) Solon ca. 594 BC – took power from aristocrats; gave to rich, with veto power to whole
assembly; Clisthenes ca. 507 BC – voting by tribes

Important thing is to know the shape of Athenian democracy at its Golden Age - mid 5th century
        1. Assembly: All adult male citizens voted in Athens - even if they didn‟t have any
property and even if they lived in the countryside (city-states included the country-side as well as
the urban core); more citizens than Sparta (40,000 vs 8000)
        Military service entitled them to a vote: All adult male citizens also served in the army in
Athens - there was no way of avoiding active military service (what entitles us to a vote?)
        These male citizens were subdivided into 10 regional tribes (100 demes) – often voting
done in the tribes – locally – not in Athens
        2. Council of 500, the Athenian Congress: member chosen by lot from citizens over 30
years old
        The Athenians elected councilmen by lot to prevent wealthy and influential men from
dominating their Council; every citizen, no matter how insignificant, had shot at serving in the
government.
        (Councilmen were paid a salary - a small one - so that even craftsmen or peasants could
afford to take off work to serve.)
        3. Athenian juries were also chosen by lot - at the last minute - the very day of the trial,
to prevent bribery.
        Juries of several hundred men decided most important court cases - without the
participation of a judge or lawyers - the plaintiffs and defendants had to speak on their own
behalf before a group of their peers.
        4. Executive branch
        Magistrates chosen by lot
        However, 10 annual “generals” - who ran the army – elected by citizens
        Despite the safeguards, Athens still had its rich powerful politicians, who would be
elected again and again to a generalship

Ostracism
The technique of ostracism was invented to keep these politicians in their place -
Every year all Athenian citizens would put a name on ostracon of someone they wanted to exile
for 10 years; the man whose name appeared on the most ostraca (more than 5000) was exiled
This was a sort of state-wide vote of impeachment.

On the whole, no more democratic form of government has ever been designed - one where all
citizens not only voted (and fought), but had opportunity to serve in government

Excluded members of Athenians society
Democracy coincided with the increased subordination of women and increased numbers of
slaves
Athens was a slave majority city-state
Status of Athenian women: you will discuss more on Friday from Xenophon readings
        confinement in the home: respectable Athenian (indeed Greek women in general) did not
go out in public esp. without veil, eat in company of men who were not their husband / relatives.
        arranged marriages
        difficulty controlling property – male guardians acted for them

II. PERSIAN WAR (CA. 490-479 BC)
Last lecture we spoke briefly about the Persians (one of Indo-European speaking people who
migrated into what is now Iran)
This Indo-European people had taken over what is modern-day Iran in the 6th century, and
conquered Mesopotamia.
The Persians would expand into an enormous empire - from northern India, to Egypt, to Asia
Minor.
Unlike the Greeks, they were politically unified under kings (Darius etc.)
Borrowed much in their administrative techniques from the Assyrians.
They had armies of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, drawn largely from conquered peoples.
The Greeks, from any objective observers‟ point of view, would have been no competition -
disunited, constantly warring, with a small population, and not much wealth.
Nevertheless, the Greeks would win the Persian war.
Why Persians attacked
The background to the Persian War is the Persian conquest of the Greeks in Ionia Asia Minor
In 499 BC - the Ionians revolted from the Persians: Ionian revolt
They called on the city-states of mainland Greece to help them; Athens did.
The Ionian revolt did not succeeds; the Persians put it down, and decided to punish Athens.
Marathon
In 490 BC, Persians invaded mainland Greece, heading for Athens.
The Spartans had not sent their troops in time to help, so the Athenians, grossly outnumbered
met the Persians alone.
The Athenian hoplites - the Greek infantry - ran at the Persian army, and defeated them. - 6400
dead Persians; 192 Athenians.
The Persians had not expected the impact of the Greek infantry.
2nd Persian invasion under Xerxes
10 year later the Persians came back, under a new king.
The best known incident was at Thermopylae, a mountain pass.
The Spartan king and an army was trying to hold the pass against the Persian army, so that the
Greek fleet could get away.
The ancient historians say 3000 Greeks vs. 3 million Perisans; this is probably an exaggeration.
A Greek traitor showed the Persians a way through the pass - allowing them to attackt he Greek
army from the rear.
The Spartan king ordered most of the Greek troops to leave, but not the three hundred Spartans; -
the Spartan moral code did not allow retreat.
These 300 Spartans held up hundreds of thousands of Persians for most of a day; and died down
to the last man.
The Greek fleet had time to retreat, and would subsequently defeat the Persians at Salamis, a
naval battle.
Salamis:
In the second Persian invasion, led by the Persian king Xerxes himself, the Athenians had take
the unparalleled step of evacuating Athens - letting the Persians have the run of it - while the
Athenian population took refuge at Salamis with fleet
An Athenian trick reportedly won the battle - Themistocles (Athenian general) told Xerxes he
had changed sides and that the Persians should attack immediately before Greeks sailed away ;
this meant attacking in narrows - where lighter more manueverable Greek ships had advantage.
Xerxes lost 200 ships and then executed the captains who survived (Xerxes personality partly
responsible fore Persian defeat - his hybris; whipping the Hellespont )
Spartans also did their part:
Sacrifice of Spartan king and 300 at Thermopylae (480) - blocked Persians at pass and died to
last man
Victory at Plataea 479
Why did Athenians and Spartans succeed?
Greeks had fundamentally two advantages over Persian

1. Hoplite warfare: heavy armor; hand-to hand combat - broke Persian ranks
2. Greater willingness to sacrifice - Athenians giving up their own city; Spartans dying to last
man at Thermopylae; style of Greek hoplite warfare involved greater sacrifice: Persians liked to
fight at a distance or on horseback; Greeks fought hand to hand, on foot
(somewhat disturbing today that we‟d like to have war without casualties - comparison Hussein‟s
comments about us - why not get out of planes and fight?)
SUMMARY
DISCUSSION

								
To top