Greece History – From the Origins to the Persian Wars Part 7

Greece History – From the Origins to the Persian Wars Part 7

According to, the development of Athenian history is quite different. In Athens, the discomfort of the indebted small owners, the disagreement between the noble families, the military weakness, which allowed Megara to take Salamis, pushed the people to appoint Solon archon, with full powers, to make reforms (594). And Solon abolished debt bondage, canceled the mortgages on the land; prohibited the export of wheat, reformed the coins, weights and measures, gave a written constitution, dividing the population into classes, of various political rights and various tax burdens, according to the census, reformed the attributions of the magistrates, of the bulè, of the Areopagus, established the people’s courts. But the building erected by Solon, after a few years, was already in danger: regional and class struggles resumed, anarchy was sometimes absolute (589-584), attempts at tyranny followed one another, such as that of Damasia failed in 583, and that, successful, of Pisistratus who, glorious for the recovery of Salamis, and supported by the strong family of the Alcmeonids, managed to occupy, with his soldiers, the Acropolis in 561-60. Expelled in 556, he returned by armed hand in 546, reigning then until his death (528). This second period of Pisistratean tyranny was full of works: built a fleet, the tyrant began a policy of maritime hegemony, attracting the priests of Delos to him, placing the tyrant friend Ligdami in Naxos, taking Sigeo on the Hellespont and west of it. Lemnos and Sciro, setting foot on the Pangeo, favoring the occupation made by Miltiades of the Thracian Chersonese, obtaining the friendship of the Lydians. Furthermore, he reduced the Boeotic power, favored trade,

But Athens, made powerful by the tyrant, no longer wanted to know about the now superfluous tyranny. While Pisistrato’s son Hippias was a tyrant, the Alcmeonids, who, driven out of Pisistratus, had taken refuge in Delphi, prepared their revenge (the killing of the other Pisistratides, Hipparchus, by Harmodius and Aristogiton, seems due for private reasons only). Defeated in Lipsidrio, the rebels returned to the charge, led by Clistene, supported by the Spartans. In 511-10 Hippias had to surrender the city, and retire in exile to Sigeo.

Remaining in power in Athens, Clisthenes began a series of democratic reforms; but against him the nobles again called the Spartans, and Clisthenes was exiled. But as soon as the reactionaries, remaining in power, began their work, a popular revolt drove them out, and reopened the doors to Clistene. In spite of the Spartan king Cleomenes, who wanted war, but was opposed by the other king Demaratus and by the allies; and in spite of the Boeotians and the Chalcidians who intervened to help the nobles, but were won by the Athenian democrats with two battles, which are said to be fought on the same day, Clisthenes was able to resume and carry out her democratic reform; he abolished the old personal tribes, constituting the territorial tribes, each comprising a triptych, or district, of mountain, one of plain, and a coastal one (thus breaking the aristocratic power and putting an end to the regional struggles); he instituted a strategist for each tribe, created a bulè of 500 members drawn by lot, representing proportionately all the demi of Attica, and so on. Athens had its own democratic constitution, almost in opposition to the oligarchic one of Sparta. History contrasted the two powers and the two constitutions, testing their effectiveness and vitality.

The barbaric danger in the east and west. – The occupation and colonization of the Asian coasts had been possible for the Greeks due to the anarchy and the political fragmentation of the Anatolian world, after the fall of the Hittite kingdom. But with the century. VIII a. C. two new great Anatolian states were formed; one further away in Phrygia; and one, just behind the Greek colonies, in Lydia. The latter, having overcome the crisis of the devastation of the Cimmerî, conquered the Phrygian lands, and, needing access to the sea, began the conquest of the Greek coasts, first taking Priene and Smyrna, and then, at the time of Croesus (from 561 onwards), one after the other all the remaining Ionian cities, except Miletus. But hand in hand with the conquest of the Lydians, their Greekization took place: so that Ionia, even having lost its independence, could continue to develop its own civilization.

But in the meantime the Persian empire was expanding, which in 546 conquered Lydia, in 525 Egypt, thus also taking possession of the Greek colonies of the southern Black Sea and the eastern Aegean, of Cyprus and Cyrenaica, which were subjects of the kingdoms subjugate yourself. For a first period the Persian dominion did not prevent the economic and cultural prosperity of the Greek subjects, who drew large profits from their intermediate position between the great empire of the East and the Mediterranean world. But sooner or later the Persians, at the first favorable occasion, would certainly have resumed Croesus’s project, both for their own gain and for the continuous requests for help that the Greeks themselves addressed to them, in their internal struggles.

At the same time that the Lydian and then the Persian dangers overwhelmed the Greeks of the East, those of the West had to face the Etruscan and Phoenician dangers. The Etruscans, in the period of colonial expansion that characterizes their activity, in the century. VII and VI, they had also conquered part of Campania, attacking the freedom of the Greek coastal cities: Cuma and Naples; the Greek colonists of Lipari attacked; and made an alliance with the Carthaginians, then attacking the Phocean fleet near Aleria in Corsica (540 c.) and forcing the Phocaeans to clear that island. But Cumae resisted. In 524 and later the Etruscans besieged it in vain, rejected by the Cumans, led by Aristodemus who shortly afterwards also helped the Latins, in the battle of Aricia, against the Etruscans. As long as Aristodemus lived, the Etruscans no longer dared to repeat the attempt.

Meanwhile in Sicily the Phoenicians, or rather the Carthaginians, began to hinder any Greek enterprise in the western part of the island. We have already said how they won the Pentatlo cnidium in 580, how, in 510 and following, they acted against the Spartan Dorieus. When then, thanks to the tyrants of Agrigento and those of Gela (then passed to Syracuse) in the last years of the century. VI and in the first two decades of the V, two powerful Doric states allied with an imperialist tendency were established on the island, the Carthaginians tried to attract to themselves all the Greek colonies jealous of that supremacy: Megara Iblea with its colony, Selinunte; the Ionian Regio, Zancle and Imera; and the indigenous Sicilians. It was this coalition that allowed the Carthaginians the ominous expedition of 479.

Greece Persian Wars 7