Greece History – From the Origins to the Persian Wars Part 6

Greece History – From the Origins to the Persian Wars Part 6

These were painfully achieved: first the written codification of the law was obtained, in Crete, in Locri (Zaleuco), in Syracuse (Diocles), in Catania (Caronda), in Athens (Dracone and Solone), in Mytilene (Pittaco).), etc.; codification that was often considered sanctioned by the very will of a divinity. Then he attacked political power, because the traditionalism and selfishness of the old nobility of the “geomori”, or landowners, continued to consider rural possession as an indispensable basis for political rights. The struggle became bloody and violent: with exiles, confiscations, redistributions of land, etc. He preserves a painting, full of passion, the poetry of Theognis.

It was in these situations that some men of genius, generally noble by origin, taking the defense of the demo, but also relying on a bodyguard, and occupying the citadels, assumed, in a more or less evident way, a new monarchical power, which, to be usurped and opposed, had the name of “tyranny”. The tyrants made their rapid and agitated appearance in those areas of the Greek world where the modification of economic life had been the most profound, the civilian development more rapid, and the social disputes earlier (in Asia Minor, in Euboea, in Attica, in the cities of the Isthmus and in the Argolide, in Sicily) assuming an overwhelming and moderating power of the party struggles, and inflicting a fatal blow to the aristocracy (with the development of the maritime power that gave work to the demo, with the constitution of new territorial tribes that broke up the noble factions, and with the opening of the judiciary to all). The tyrants left a large trace of themselves everywhere, with the grandeur of public works (ports, canals, reclamations, roads, temples, city walls), with the progress of the arts and letters, with the imperialist enterprises, with the democratic order, which generally it survived wherever there were tyrannies, while the rest of the Greek world remained for a long time still subjugated by the oligarchies.

Oligarchy and democracySparta and Athens. – The most fruitful and obvious comparison that can be established between the two systems, oligarchic and democratic, which divided the Greek world, is that between the two states that before the Persian wars were the most powerful and after those became implacable enemies: Sparta and Athens.

Also in Sparta there was an anti-monarchist, aristocratic, and an anti-aristocratic, democratic movement; but less radical and with peculiar results. Here too the old monarch was overthrown by the ruling nobles in the tribes, and apparently replaced at first with the three chiefs of those tribes; whence the typical diarchy was passed, that is to say to the power of the only two families of the Agiadi and Euripontidi, surrounded by the geronti (originally the heads of the 27 phratries). This resurgence of royal power gave Sparta moderating power in party struggles, which it lacked elsewhere; and the two diarchs, who supervised each other, preserved, from father to son, the traditions of soldiers and commanders. Shortly thereafter, a second, democratic movement replaced the three personal tribes with five territorial tribes, whose civil magistrates, the ephors,ephors).

According to, Sparta first gave citizenship to the residents of the conquered lands, but then modified its system partly by reducing it to perieci (free but without political rights) and partly to helots. Citizens of full right, or divided, were in a very large minority vis-à-vis the subjects; but, having divided the land of the pilots and making them work by them, they had obtained (as long as the pilots remained calm) the economic basis of their own life, and could not be interested in agriculture and commerce, to give themselves exclusively to the life of weapons. They thus constituted a powerful, stable, disciplined army, such as no other Greek state possessed, and against which the dispersed subjects of conflicting interests could not have rebelled with a probability of victory. Company established militarily, the Spartiate ruled for centuries with traditional laws that prevented sudden changes, a closed government, few in number, a misoneist, the Spartan had great continuity of method; and the stable and perfect army of hoplites was considered invincible and formed the basis for the formation of dominance first in the Peloponnese and then in all of Greece. We have already mentioned the formation of the Peloponnesian league, which was facilitated by the Spartan influence on the most famous temple in the region: that of Zeus in Olympia. The allies enjoyed considerable autonomy, as long as they maintained the oligarchic regime, and contributed, during the wars, by mutual agreement, with men and with the necessary provisioning.

The Spartan League, in the second half of the century. VI, was the most important and strongest political grouping in Greece: to its leaders, the Lacedaemonians, Croesus asked for help, Amasi of Egypt sent gifts; and to them, later, the Ionians and the Aeolians resorted to against Persia, as defenders and representatives of Hellenism.

Greece Persian Wars 6