CLS 150-01

Homer – Review

  • Iliad and Odyssey: epic poems c.800BC
  • originated from oral traditions – myths, legends, heroes, story formula
  • elements of Bronze Age & later periods
  • Iliad – Rage of Achilles — why is Achilles angry?
  • gods & men
  • heroic code: excellence in war & counsel
  • must be able to find Troy, Mycenae & Sparta on map

Bronze Age: 3000 – 1000 BC
(Iliad set around 1000BC, Homer wrote around 800BC)
Dark Ages: 1100 – 800 BC

The rise of the Polis

  • collapse of palace-based economy
  • steep drop in population, urban life ends, sites are abandoned
  • no central authority – local chieftans (Gk basileus; linear B qa-si-re-u) assisted by advisors (council), and an assembly (general population) Feudalism
  • loss of writing, trade declines/disappears, economy reverts to simple pastoralism
  • no monumental buildings, pottery quality declines (no longer wheel-thrown)

Out of the Darkness

  • huge, sudden increase in population c.750 — sevenfold increase in Attica
  • better communication, trade, greater division of labor
  • a new need for wide-ranging government to settle disputes, manmage resources, conduct trade and defend territory
  • rise of a wealthy, elite aristocratic class curtails the powers of basileus/king, can even eliminate him
  • rule by magistrate/boards, assisted by a council and assembly with various powers
  • competition among elites dominates political life

The Polis

  • each city politically independent (autarchy)
  • magistrates, council
  • written laws
  • citizenship (members carefully defined)
  • each had a patron deity & cult with shared kinship (real or mythological)
  • Hoplite warfare
  • usually have an urban center (excepting Sparta)
  • no 2 were alike, varied in size
  • arose during Dark Ages (1100-750BC)
  • earliest surviving law code: 600BC @ Dreros, Crete (in Gk alphabet)

Hoplite Warfare

  • New prosperity creates large class of small to middling yeoman farmers
  • yeomen range from subsistence farming to well-off
  • avg. polis composition – 20% elites, 30% landless poor, 50% yeomen
  • yeomen: backbone of the polis, elites have greatest stake in protecting the community and can afford to play chief roles in defense
  • Gk farming labor intensive: grape & olive orchards take years to develop, arable land is scarce in GR. communites compete for resources
  • military tactics: mass tactics (not individual duels) favored as yeoman class grows
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