Greece History – From the Origins to the Persian Wars Part 5

Greece History – From the Origins to the Persian Wars Part 5

No more fortunate had been the action of the Thessalians in Boeotia around 540, which ended with a defeat at Ceresso. Boeotia had once been divided into various amphitiae, which later gave rise to two federal states: one to the north, with Orchomenus and Aspledon; and one comprising the rest of the region, with about thirty cities (which made up from five to seven cantons) including the main ones of Thebes, Tespie, Tanagra. There were long struggles between the two federations, which ended around 500 with the unification of all under the hegemony of Thebes, where the federal magistracy of the “boeotarchs” met.

Attica, once made up of many small states (tradition speaks of twelve), was partly peacefully unified by Athens. This unification or “synecism” had, in its broad outline, to be a fait accompli since the century. VIII; but later other areas also entered the synecism (Eleusis in the seventh century, Salamis some time before Solon); while perhaps the Megaride was lost to the opposite. Certainly the Athenian unification did not mean the cessation of all particularism: remember the disagreements between the Pediei, the Diacrîs and the Paralî (ie “pianigiani”, “montanari”, “people of the sea”) still in the century. YOU. The Boeotians Eleutere and Platea (the latter from around 519 BC) approached Attica as friends.

In Argolis, the duality that already exists in the Mycenaean period between the north with Mycenae and the south with Tiryns caused the formation of a state of unitary tendency (on the basis of a previous amphition of the temple of Hera near Mycenae) in the north around Mycenae; and of a federal one around Tiryns and then to Argos (also initially based on an amphitionary, that of Calauria). From Argo then started a unifying movement that reached its apogee with Fidone before the middle of the century. VII; this Fidon joined all northern Argolis (including Sicyon and Corinth up to now independent, and then again independent after Fidon, with their own families of dynasts: the Ortagorids and Cypselids), the island of Aegina, a large part of Achaia, and the Cinuria.

According to, about 900 a. C., when the upper city of Lacedaemon was replaced by the one below of Sparta, the Spartiates possessed only the upper valley of the Eurota; but, when, around 800, they participated in the colonization of Taranto, they had already reached the sea, and later occupied, beyond the Taygetos, Messa, which gave the name of “Messene” to all the lands conquered in that direction since 700 about, when the population of northern Messenia rebelled and re-subjugated a century later, at the time of Tirteo (about 600), was reduced to slavery to the gleba (helots), as already part of that of Laconia. Later, around this unitary state, including citizens with full rights (Spartiates), free without political rights (perieci) and helots, and also expanded in Cinuria, to the detriment of the Argives, and at the borders of Arcadia (about 550), a vast league was formed, in which the various cities of Arcadia, the unified Elis, Corinth entered after the fall of the tyranny of the Cypselids (about 550). Out of this league remained only, of the Peloponnesian peoples, the Argives and part of the Achaeans.

In Euboea there was a fierce struggle for hegemony between Chalcis and Eretria: which ended in the so-called childhood war, in which the Chalcidians, aided by the Samî and the Thessalians, defeated the Eretresi, supported by the Milesî and the Corinzî.

As for the colonial world, the most important states constituted by the century. VIII to V were: in Italy those of Taranto, up to the Metapontine borders; of Metaponto; of Sibari which owned Pandosia in the interior and on the Tyrrhenian Scidro, Lao and Posidonia; of Crotone. In Sicily they assumed precocious importance: Syracuse, dominant up to Camarina; Gela, whose tyrants with Gelone took possession of Syracuse by transplanting there in 485; Agrigento, which, founded in 580, dominated up to the Tyrrhenian shores of the island; Selinunte.

The power of Cumae who was able to resist the Etruscans is still noteworthy; of Massalia, founder of dozens of emporiums, of Corcira (Corfu) and Potidea (in Chalkidiki), Corinthian colonies; of Byzantium and Chalcedon, megarese colonies, dominating the Bosphorus; of Cyrene.

Social struggleslegislators and tyrants. – In the original Greek economy, with an almost exclusive agricultural basis, the increase in population, with the corresponding crumbling of landed property, soon led to inequalities between rich and poor. The effects were: the reduction to slavery of part of the population (Thessalian penestas, Laconian-Messenian helots), and the development of emigration, with colonial enterprises. But even the colonies then became demographically saturated, not offering new lands to the last comers, who had to adapt to the life of the sharecropper, the wage-earner, the beggar. On the other hand, governments, almost everywhere in the hands of the nobles, had usurped from the people the powers they had in the time of the kings, and often administered justice in the most partial manner.

Thus began the contrast between the nobles, wealthy landowners, and the demos; victorious for the former, until the latter were a mass of possessors. But then the development of seafaring, piracy, commerce, craftsmanship, industry, gradually changed the conditions of the general economy, and many of the demo had ample economic means; the introduction of the currency favored and accelerated that development; the rejuvenation of metals and advances in metallurgy allowed a more general use of defensive weapons, and increased the importance of the demo for military service; and so the people, aware of their new economic and material strength, moved on to political and social demands.

Greece Persian Wars 5