Greek Civilization

Topics: Ancient Greece, Sparta, Battle of Thermopylae Pages: 6 (1239 words) Published: July 9, 2013
Lecture Notes on Greek Civilization

part of the Balkan Peninsula
maritime country in Southeastern Europe
bounded in the north by Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, in the south by the Mediterranean Sea, in the west by the Ionian Sea and in the east by the Aegean Sea known as the first “Western” civilization; reached the peak of its advancement in the 5th century BCE had no unified government and consisted of city states

4 Major Greek Tribes:

1. Acheans
2. Ionians
3. Dorians
4. Aeolians/Aetolians

Earliest Civilizations in Greece:

1. Minoan/Cretan (3,000-1300BCE)

known for its great palaces, mural paintings, labyrinth
achieved its Golden Age during the reign of King Minos
excavations in the 19th century revealed they had a system of writing labeled as Linear A and Linear B; Linear B script has been deciphered by Sir Athur Evans

2. Mycenean (1300-1100BCE)

mainland Greeks who launched an attack on the Cretan capital, Knossos around 1300 BCE destroyed Minoan civilization and ruled much of the Greek archipelago for two centuries fought against the city of Troy (c. 1200 BCE); Heinrich Schleimann excavated in Mycenae and found important relics and he also led a team to western Turkey where he unearthed the ruins of Troy

3. Dorian (1100-800BCE)

seized control of the Greeks from the Myceneans
ushered in the Greek “Dark Ages’

*After three centuries of stagnation, Greek civilization was revived by 800 BCE brought about by changes resulting from population pressures.

Greek Expansion

between the 8th and the 5th centuries, the Greeks set out to colonize overseas lands where they established permanent settlements; eg. Black Sea, Southern Italy, Southern France and Spain and North Africa facilitated the spread of Greek civilization to many parts of the Mediterranean


smallest political unit in Ancient Greece
refers to the city and the surrounding countryside
functioned independently of other states
main part is an elevated section of the city (acropolis)
had different systems (monarchies, oligarchies, aristocracies, democracies) in Athens, people gathered in the Agora (marketplace) to trade goods and ideas; it was also where assemblies of citizens were held to discuss important issues

Greek Society

divided into classes
in Athens, people were classified into citizens, non-citizens and slaves while in Sparta there were citizens (Spartans), perioci (merchants who were non citizens) and helots (slaves) only citizens enjoyed special privileges and rights

The two leading city states were:

1. Athens

most important city state in Attica
known as the birthplace of democracy
evolved from a monarchy to an aristocracy and finally, to a democracy

* the evolution of democracy in Athens was made possible by the reforms carried out by the following archons (leaders from the aristocracy):

a. Draco

codified the laws in 621 BCE
though harsh, his laws nevertheless prevented arbitrary interpretation by the judges or magistrates

b. Solon

carried out a number of reforms in 594BCE including:

1. abolition of slavery for debt
2. creation of the Council of 400
3. allowed ordinary citizens to sit on juries

c. Pisistratus/Peisistratos (546 BCE)

carried out measures for land redistribution
initiated the Panathenaic Festival (to honor Athena, patroness of Athens)

d. Cleisthenes

elected as archon in 508 BCE
turned Athens into a democracy by instituting the following reforms:

1. re-organization of political alliances into 10 demes; each can elect 50 representatives by lot 2. expansion of the Council of 400 to 500 where the 10 demes were given 50 representatives 3. creation of a Board of 10 Generals made up of one representative of each deme 4. institutionalization of ostracism (exile of people who are deemed a threat to Athens)

* These reforms gave Athenian citizens greater participation in the affairs of the city-state.

* But...
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