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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ancient Rome and The Peninsula of Italy

Ancient Rome

Geography of Ancient Rome
After the death of Alexander in 323 B.C., control in the Mediterranean slowly shifted from the Balkan Peninsula to the peninsula of Italy. Over the centuries, many peoples had settled there, among them the Latins. The Latins migrated across the Alps from central Europe. These farmers and herders founded Rome in the eighth century B.C.

Geography of Ancient Rome

The Peninsula of Italy
The Italian peninsula lies just west of the Balkan Peninsula. It is shaped like a long, high-heeled boot. The peninsula is about 700 miles (1,127 km) long and only about 100 miles (161 km) wide for much of its length. The "toe" of the boot seems aimed to kick the nearby island of Sicily. Beyond Sicily, less than 100 miles (161 km) across the Mediterranean Sea, lies the northern coast of Africa.

Peninsula of Italy
Seas surround Italy on all sides except the north. The Tyrrhenian (tuh»REE»nee»uhn) lies to the west, the Adriatic to the east, and the Mediterranean to the south.

Along the northern border of Italy rises a range of snowcapped mountains called the Alps. The Alps separate the Italian peninsula from the rest of Europe. The steepest peak of the Alps rises as high as 15,771 feet (4,807 meters). Another range of mountains, the Apennines (A»puh»nynz), runs the length of the peninsula. Between these two high ranges lies an area of lower land called the Po Valley.

Peninsula of Italy
While some of Italy is made up of valleys and plains, most has higher elevations. However, the hills and mountains in Italy are less rugged than those in Greece. So land travel and trade were easier for the early people of Italy than for the early Greeks. Travel and trade by sea were more difficult, however. Although Italy has a long coastline, the peninsula has few good harbors. Because of this, the early people of Italy traded more with each other than with outsiders across the seas.

How did geography affect the way early people of the Italian peninsula traded?

Alexander's Great Empire and Conquest of Greece

Alexander's Great Empire
No one leader had ever ruled over the many different Greek city-states. That would soon change, however. In time, young Alexander the Great controlled lands that stretched from the Greek peninsula to northern India. This leader created the largest empire the world had known.

Conquest of Greece

Conquest of Greece

Conflict and distrust grew among the ancient Greeks after the Peloponnesian War. City-states formed alliances, or agreements to help each other, but most of these alliances did not last long. A friend in one conflict became an enemy in the next. Each city-state put its own interests above the common good of Greece. Sparta lost all of its power during this period, while Athens became the leader of a second Delian League.

Meanwhile, in Macedonia, an area north of the Greek city-states on the Balkan Peninsula, a strong king came to the throne. Philip II had brought his own people together under one rule. He wanted to do the same for the rest of the Greek mainland.

Conquest of Greece

Even the combined armies of Athens and Thebes could not stop Philip's well-trained Macedonian soldiers. Philip's armies moved south through northern and central Greece. In 338 B.C. his army defeated Athens and its allies in an important fight known as the Battle of Chaeronea (ker»uh»NEE»uh).

With this victory Philip gained control of most of the Greek peninsula.

The Macedonians did not take over Greece to destroy it. Philip greatly respected Greek culture and sought to preserve it, not end it.

With Greece under his control, Philip required that the city-states join the League of Corinth, which he headed. To join the League of Corinth, each city-state had to promise not to fight any other member of the league.

Conquest of Greece

With Greece under his control, Philip looked toward Asia. He wanted to free all Greek cities under Persian control. In 336 B.C. Philip sent a small army to Asia. He planned to send his entire army there later.

King Philip did not live to fight the Persians. The king was assassinated by a Macedonian in 336 B.C. while attending his daughter's wedding. His rule passed to his 20-year-old son Alexander.

What ruler united Greece and where was he from ?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ancient Greece and Alexander's Legacy

Alexander's Legacy
The empire may not have lasted, but the Hellenistic culture that started with Alexander did. As in the time of Pericles, great thinkers of the Hellenistic Age changed people's understanding of the world.
Alexander's Legacy
Alexandria, Egypt, became the leading center of learning in the Hellenistic world. The huge library at Alexandria contained more than 500,000 scrolls, rolled-up sheets of papyrus with writing on them. The goal of its librarians was to collect every text in the world!

Connected to the library was a building known as the Museum. There scholars wrote books and exchanged ideas. Today museums are places that preserve history and offer knowledge.

Hellenistic teachers worked out new ideas in mathematics. Euclid (YOOkluhd) of Alexandria, Egypt, conducted the first work in geometry, the study of lines and angles. Archimedes (ar»kuh»MEE«deez) of Syracuse, on the island of Sicily, used mathematics to build many useful machines.

Alexander's Legacy
Hellenistic scientists also made use of mathematics as they began to think about the universe. For example, Aristarchus (air»uh»STAR»kuhs) used mathematics to discover that Earth moves in a path around the sun.

Hellenistic scientists built on the knowledge of medicine that Hippocrates had introduced. Alexandria, Egypt, became the center for the study of medicine and surgery. Doctors there learned that the brain was the center of the nervous system.

Scientists of the Hellenistic period also focused on the study of geography. They not only improved the way maps were drawn but also made new discoveries about the Earth.

Alexander's Legacy
By 146 B.C. another group of people, the Romans, had grown strong enough to gain control of the Mediterranean world. But the knowledge the Greeks had gained was not forgotten. The Romans borrowed from the religion, art, architecture, philosophy, and language of the Greeks to build their own civilization. For many years after the Romans took control, Alexandria, Egypt, remained a center for Greek medical learning.

What city was considered the center of learning during the Hellenistic Age?

The Founding of Ancient Rome

The Founding of Rome
Around the eighth century B.C., a Latin community started on a hill overlooking a bend in the Tiber River. The area proved to be an excellent site, and the village grew into the city of Rome.

Founding of Ancient Rome
The land around Rome offered good soil for farming. It was also near supplies of wood and stone for building. The seven hills on which Rome was built could easily be defended. A stretch of level ground near the river provided a forum, a public place where people could meet and exchange goods and ideas.

Rome's inland location protected the city from pirates. Yet with the sea only about 15 miles (24 km) away, the Romans were close to sources of salt and fish.

Founding of Ancient Rome
Rome's location in the center of the «» peninsula was ideal for communication and trade with the rest of Italy. The Tiber River gave the Romans a route to the sea so that they could also trade with other Mediterranean civilizations. In time, partly because of its location, Rome gained control of sea routes linking Europe, Asia, and Africa. "Not without good reason did gods and men choose this spot as the site of a city," a Roman historian wrote.

Early settlers of Rome told colorful legends to explain how their city began. One legend told of the cruel brother of a Latin king who seized the throne from the rightful leader. When the real king's daughter gave birth to twin boys, the tyrant feared that the boys would grow up to take the throne from him. He left the babies to die on the banks of the Tiber River, but a mother wolf saved the twins and raised them. When Romulus and Remus grew to be adults, they defeated their great-uncle and made their grandfather king again.

Add caption
In 753 B.C., the legend says, the brothers set out to build their own city on the Tiber River near where they had been rescued long ago. They quarreled, however, over which hill to build the new city on, and Remus was killed. Romulus became the first ruler of the new city he founded. His followers named the city Rome in his honor. Romulus promised that the small city would someday rise to greatness. "My Rome shall be the capital of the world," Romulus said.

What advantages did the site of Rome offer?

Ancient Rome and Rich Farmland

Rich Farmland
"Tell me, all you who have journeyed through many lands, have you seen a more richly farmed land than Italy?" asked the Roman writer Varro in the first century B.C. From earliest times, the fertile land and mild climate of Italy attracted many settlers. The Italian peninsula had more arable (AIR »uh« buhl) land than the Balkan Peninsula, where the ancient Greeks lived. Arable land is land that can be used to grow crops. Early settlers were able to grow many different crops instead of importing them from other places.

Ancient Rome

Many rivers in Italy carry mineral-rich silt that creates good farmland. The peninsula's volcanoes have also made much of Italy's soil rich with volcanic ash. Most of the volcanoes have been extinct for a long time. An extinct volcano is a volcano that will never again erupt.

Ancient Rome
Around 1000 B.C. people from central Europe began migrating into the Italian peninsula. These people, who became known as the Latins, settled on land south of the Tiber River. There they raised crops, such as wheat and barley; peas, beans, and other vegetables; and figs, grapes, and olives. They also herded sheep, goats, and cattle. Latin women spun sheep's wool and wove it into fabric for clothing. These early farmers and herders were the ancestors of the Romans.

Ancient Rome
Why was the area along the Tiber River a good place to settle?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Alexander's Great Empire and The Breakup of the Empire

The Breakup of the Empire
Alexander the Great now ruled a wide area, but he still wanted more lands. Beyond Persia lay India. Alexander led his soldiers east from Persia to the Indus River. There he fought Porus, an Indian king.

Porus's army had more than 300 chariots and 200 war elephants.
King Porus himself fought from high atop a large elephant. Though these beasts were a terrifying sight, they were not enough to win the battle. After being wounded, Porus surrendered to Alexander's forces. Alexander allowed Porus to continue as ruler of his kingdom.

Alexander planned to push on from the Indus Valley to the Ganges River. However, his conquest-weary soldiers refused to follow. Bitterly disappointed, Alexander turned back to Babylon in 326 B.C.

Shortly after he returned to Babylon, in 323 B.C., Alexander became ill with a fever. He died a few days later, not long before his thirty-third birthday. Legend says that before Alexander's death, a soldier asked, "To whom will rule of the great empire go?" Alexander answered, "To the strongest!"

No one leader proved strong enough to replace Alexander. His empire broke up quickly after his death as his generals fought for control. The empire split into many parts. The largest of these parts were Macedonia, Syria, and Egypt. These three kingdoms were often at war with one another. Even so, these Hellenistic kingdoms continued and built upon many of Alexander's ideas.

Why did Alexander's empire break up after his death?

Alexander's Great Empire and Building an Empire

Building an Empire
Alexander's parents had prepared him well for his new role. Philip, who had spent part of his boyhood in Greece, wanted to pass on his love of Greek culture to his son. To do this, he hired the Greek philosopher Aristotle to be Alexander's teacher. From Aristotle, the future leader learned knowledge. From his father, he learned to be a fearless warrior. Stories say that Alexander slept with a dagger and a copy of Homer's Iliad under his pillow.

As king, Alexander wanted to complete his father's plan to rule not only the Greeks and the Macedonians but the whole world. The world known to Alexander was eastern Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia.

Trouble in his own kingdom delayed Alexander's plans. Neighboring peoples began to attack Macedonia along its northern border. Alexander had to make sure his homeland was safe before he could set out for distant lands.

Alexander and his army defeated the invaders quickly. During the battle, however, a rumor started that Alexander had been killed. Hearing this, some Greek city- states rebelled against Macedonian rule. Alexander returned to southern Greece and ended the rebellion by force.

In 334 B.C. Alexander returned to his dream of world conquest. He and his army crossed the Hellespont Strait between Europe and Asia Minor, attacking the Persian Empire, ruled by King Darius III. Alexander's army was made up of more than 35,000 well-trained soldiers.

One by one Alexander freed the Greek colonies of the region from Persian control. For the most part, Alexander established democratic rule in the Greek cities he freed. However, this did not mean that they had full independence. The Greek city-states of
Asia Minor were forced to accept Alexander as their new ruler.

Alexander Empire
After this, Alexander continued his bloody conquest. One by one, new peoples and places fell under his control. All across his growing empire Alexander the Great, as he came to be called, built new cities. Alexander named many of these cities Alexandria, after himself. The cities became centers of learning and helped spread Greek culture. In time Alexandria, Egypt, rivaled Athens as the center of Greek culture.

Greek soldiers and settlers spread throughout the empire. The different peoples of Alexander's empire learned to speak the Greek language and began to worship Greek gods. Because of this, the period of Alexander's rule and the next several centuries after his death became known as the Hellenistic, or "Greek-like," Age.

Alexander's conquests made him the ruler of a multicultural empire, or an empire of many cultures. As the ruler of many different peoples, Alexander felt it was wise to adopt some of their customs as well as introduce them to Greek culture. This helped the Persians and other conquered people accept his rule. By 331 B.C. Alexander's empire stretched from the Danube River in Europe south to the Nile River in Africa, and from Greece east beyond the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Asia. Alexander had conquered Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and other parts of the once-mighty Persian Empire all without losing a single major battle!

How did Alexander build his empire?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ancient Greece and Achievements of the Golden Age

Achievements of the Golden Age
Pericles wanted Athens to become "the school of Greece." He offered support to Athenians working in the arts and the building trades. He also invited artists from other Greek city-states to come to Athens.

Athens Greece
Architects and builders set about making Athens more beautiful. Architects designed new temples, gymnasiums, theaters, and other public buildings. Artists decorated the new buildings with murals, or wall paintings, showing scenes from Athens's history and from Greek myths.

Writers also contributed to the Golden Age. Herodotus (hih»RAH«duh»tuhs), whom some call the first historian and one of the earliest geographers, wrote about the Persian Wars. Herodotus explained that he wrote the history to put on record "the astonishing achievements of our own and of other peoples." Even today many people read his works. Sophocles (SAHF»uh»kleez) wrote tragedies, or serious plays in which the main character comes to an unhappy end. Aristophanes (air»uh»STAHF«uh»neez) wrote comedies, or humorous plays. His comedies usually made fun of political leaders or traditional ideas.

Athens Greece
 During the time of Pericles, scientists who studied nature and human life came to Athens from all around the Mediterranean. Their findings changed the way people saw their world. One of the great scientists of the Golden Age was Hippocrates (hih»PAH*kruh»teez). Hippocrates and his followers showed that illnesses came from natural causes. Before Hippocrates' time, many people believed that diseases were punishments from the gods.

Doctors in Athens used the ideas of Hippocrates. They advised the Greeks that to stay healthy, "wheaten bread is to be preferred to barley cake, and roasted to boiled meats." While many of their ideas made sense, they also thought that "vegetables should be reduced to a minimum."

Athens Greece
Hippocrates is perhaps best remembered for the rules of behavior he wrote for doctors. Today, doctors still promise to follow these rules when they graduate from medical school.

What kinds of people worked in Athens during the Golden Age?

The Peloponnesian War resulted from ongoing conflicts between Sparta and Athens.
During the war, which do you think had control of the Aegean Sea, Sparta or Athens?

Were Greek Women Active Citizens?

Were Greek Women Active Citizens?
Were women in ancient Athens made to stay in their homes and kept out of society? This question is hard to answer. We have almost no archaeological record of women's activities the crafts they made have been lost to time. No words come from the women themselves either almost all ancient records of Greece were written by men and for men.

Ancient Greek Women
Ancient Greek artwork adds to the confusion. While some writings state that women were not allowed to go outside, some vase paintings show women gathered at fountains, talking together. From studying such writings and artworks, some scholars believe that women had little social or public life. Others disagree.

Ancient Greek Women
The following statements are by four experts on ancient Greek culture. Each expert tells his or her ideas about the role of women in ancient Greek society. Their ideas are based on years of study, which has led them to differing opinions about how Greek women lived long ago. Read each statement, and then answer the questions under Compare Viewpoints.

Ancient Greek Women

Sarah Pomeroy
Sarah Pomeroy, a historian who focuses on women, writes,

Free women were usually secluded so that they could not be seen by men who were not close relatives. An orator [a speaker in the courts] could maintain that some women were too modest to be seen by men who were not relatives.

Francois Lissarrague
Francois Lissarrague, an art historian, writes about a vase that shows women at a fountain:

Here, then, the fountain is portrayed as the female equivalent of what the public square represents for men. It was a public place where one saw mainly women (or so the painters would have us believe).

Elizabeth Wayland Barber
Elizabeth Wayland Barber, a professor of archaeology, writes,

Women were virtually household prisoners in fifth- century Athenian society in particular, as the legal orations of Lysias show, and this seems to have been the typical state of affairs from shortly before the time of Homer onward.

David Cohen
David Cohen, a Greek historian, writes,

Husbands expected wives to go out and those wealthy enough gave them slaves to accompany them.... Indeed, one of the most important activities of women included visiting or helping friends and relatives. As men had their circle of friends, there is considerable evidence to indicate that women formed ... friendships with neighbors, and visited one another frequently  whether to borrow salt or a dress.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ancient Greece and The End of the Golden Age

The End of the Golden Age
During the time of the Golden Age, Athens and Sparta became the most powerful city-states in Greece. Yet neither was satisfied. Athens wanted to become even stronger. Sparta wanted to weaken Athens. The city-states of the Peloponnesian League supported Sparta, while those of the Delian League supported Athens. In 431 B.C. the Peloponnesian War broke out. The war lasted 27 years.

Golden Age of Ancient Greece
After Sparta attacked Attica, many people from the countryside moved into Athens. Because of the crowding, diseases swept through the city-state. One-fourth of the Athenian army died from an outbreak of a plague, or deadly sickness. Pericles also died at this time.

Without the wise leadership of Pericles, the members of the assembly began to follow bad leaders, or demagogues (DEH»muh»gahgz). These demagogues made promises they could not keep and led the assembly to make poor decisions. Faced with ruin, Athens surrendered to Sparta in 404 B.C. Sparta quickly replaced the Athenian assembly with an oligarchy like its own. However, the Athenians soon rebelled and brought democracy back to Athens.

Great thinkers and teachers lived in Athens during the last days of the Golden Age and after. One famous teacher was Socrates (SAH»kruh*teez). Socrates taught by asking questions and making his students think rather than by telling them information.

Socrates called himself Athens's "gadfly," after an insect that bites horses and makes them jump. Socrates often used criticism to "sting" Athenians so that they would return to their earlier greatness. Such criticism would have been more welcome in Pericles' day. In 399 B.C. it was not. An Athenian court convicted Socrates of teaching dangerous ideas to the city's young people. The court sentenced Socrates to end his own life by drinking poison. He did so, because he believed it was more important to obey the law than to save his own life by running away.

Golden Age of Ancient Greece
One of Socrates' students was Plato. Like Socrates, Plato was disappointed in the leaders who came after Pericles. Plato said that a ruler should be a good person, because good people are just and wise. He believed that it was possible to become a good person by studying hard and loving wisdom. He felt that philosophers, or "lovers of wisdom," would make the best rulers. In 385 B.C. Plato started a school called the Academy. There philosophers could learn the lessons they would need to live and govern well.

Plato also thought about what it takes to be a good citizen. He decided that a good citizen is someone who thinks and feels and then takes action. He felt that it was important for people to be informed, to understand other viewpoints, and to be responsible for their own actions. This idea of citizenship is shared by many people today.

Golden Age of Ancient Greece
Aristotle (AIR»uh»stah»tuhl), a student of Plato's, was more interested in how things were rather than in how he would like them to be. Aristotle entered Plato's Academy at age 18 and studied there for about 20 years. He left when Plato died in 347 B.C.
Aristotle's wide search for knowledge covered many subjects including law, economics, astronomy, science, and sports. Aristotle was also a pioneer in zoology the study of animals  and botany the study of plants.

Aristotle and Plato disagreed about many things. However, they both thought that the best life was one spent in search of knowledge and truth.

What brought an end to the Golden Age of Athens?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ancient Greece Cities and Athens

Athens was located in Attica (A»tih»kuh), the ancient name for part of the Greek peninsula northeast of the Peloponnesus. Life in Athens was very different from life in Sparta. Unlike Sparta, Athens required its young men to serve in its army only during times of war. The government of Athens also encouraged citizens to take part in decisions affecting the community. This civic participation grew into a system of democracy, or rule by the people. The Greek historian Thucydides (thoo»SIH»duh»deez) said about Athens, "Its administration favors the many instead of the few."

The Athenian leader Solon led the Athenian government toward democracy around 594 B.C. Under his leadership male Athenians were able to take a greater part in government. Then, in 508 B.C., a leader named Cleisthenes (KLYS»thuh»neez) changed the form of Athenian government to a full democracy. By 500 B.C., every free man over age 20 had full political rights.

All male citizens of Athens took part in the city-state's assembly, or Ecclesia (ih • KLEE* zee *uh). Every member of the assembly was allowed one vote. All decisions were made by majority rule.

In other words, the idea that received the most votes became law.

The reforms of Cleisthenes kept any one person from controlling Athens. To get rid of a troublesome person, citizens held a special meeting. Any citizen who received the most votes out of a total of 6,000 was forced to leave Athens for ten years. The candidates' names were written on broken pieces of pottery called ostraca (AHS»truh»kuh).

This ancient practice gave us the English word ostracize, which means "to shut out."
The changes made by Cleisthenes let more people take part in government. But Athenian democracy did not include everyone. Women could not take part in government even though they were considered citizens. Athens's enslaved people, who made up about one-third of the population, also had no voice in government. For the most part, Athens's slaves were people from neighboring areas who had been captured in war. The slaves did much of the work in Athens, giving citizens the time to take part in their democracy. Unlike the helots of Sparta, the enslaved people of Athens could be bought and sold by private citizens.

How were government decisions made in Athens?

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Golden Age of Athens

The Golden Age
The Greeks felt great pride after defeating the Persians. From about 479 B.C. to 431 B.C., Athenians turned their pride into a time of achievement known as the Golden Age. Athens was the cultural center of this important period.

The Golden Age of Athens
A member of the aristocracy named Pericles (PAIR»uh»kleez) led Athens during much of this time. Pericles was elected leader for 15 years in a row. He believed in the saying “Nothing to excess," meaning that a person should not overdo anything.

Pericles led Athens with the help of an assembly made up of thousands of male citizens. Any member could speak to the assembly, and each had the right to vote. Assembly members usually voted by raising their hands.

The Golden Age of Athens
A group called the Council of 500 decided what would be discussed at each assembly meeting. Council members were chosen from the assembly each year by drawing names from a bowl. Many other government officials, as well as the jury members for court cases, were also chosen this way.

Although Pericles strongly supported the Athenian democracy, he believed it could be made even better. He felt that every citizen had a right to take part in government, not just wealthy citizens. Pericles arranged for jurors to be paid a salary for the days they served.

The Golden Age of Athens
This pay made up for the money they would lose by not being at their regular jobs. Even the poorest citizens of Athens could now afford to serve the city-state. As Pericles explained,With us, poverty does not stand in the way. No one is prevented from being of service to the city-state.

How did Pericles improve Athenian democracy?

Ancient Greek Identity

Greek Identity
During the time of the city-states, Greeks did not think of themselves as belonging to a single country. People identified only with their city-state. However, the Greek people did feel a strong cultural connection, or cultural identity, with one another. Having a common ancestor, language, and religion brought the Greeks together.

Greek Identity
The hero Hellen was believed to have been the ancestor of all Greek people.
A Greek myth, or story passed down about a god or a hero, said that Hellen alone survived an ancient flood. The religion the Greeks shared also set them apart, in their minds, from other peoples who lived along the Mediterranean.

The Greek cultural identity was seen in various activities. The Olympic Games, for example, brought the city-states together in peace. Beginning about 776 B.C. Greeks met every four years to honor the god Zeus by competing in athletic contests. The Greeks believed that Zeus and their other gods controlled daily events in the world.

Greek Identity
A common written language also helped bring the city-states closer together. In the 700s B.C. the Greeks developed an alphabet based on the alphabet of the Phoenicians. Like the Minoans long before them, the Phoenicians were traders and needed a writing system to keep track of their trade. Phoenician writing used symbols to stand for single sounds rather than whole ideas.

The Greeks changed this system to fit their needs. They called their first letter alpha and their second letter beta. Our word alphabet comes from the names of those Greek letters.

What helped the Greeks feel a cultural identity?

The Persian Wars and The Golden Age of Athens

The Golden Age of Athens
For centuries the Greek city-states fought over land and trade. Then, beginning early in the fifth century B.C., a common enemy brought the Greek people together.

The Golden Age of Athens
The Persian Wars
Beginning about 540 B.C., armies from Persia conquered Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, and other lands around the Mediterranean. They also captured the Greek cities in Asia Minor. Soon Persian armies crossed the narrow Aegean Sea separating Europe from Asia and invaded the northern Balkans. About 500 B.C. the Greeks of Asia Minor rebelled against the Persians. Although the Athenians sent help, the Greeks in Asia Minor could not defeat the Persians.

The Persian Wars
In 490 B.C. the Persian king, Darius I, turned his soldiers toward Athens because Athens had helped the colonies fight the Persians. The Athenians met the Persians on the plain of Marathon, not far from Athens. Although the Persians had more soldiers, the Athenians managed to defeat them in just one day of fighting. Later, people told a story of a messenger running all the way to Athens from Marathon to report the amazing victory. Athletes in today's Olympic Games re-create this action in the long-distance running event called the marathon.

Darius I died in 486 B.C. After his death, his son Xerxes (ZERK»seez) took control of the Persian kingdom. Xerxes never forgot his father's defeat at the hands of the Greeks. In 480 B.C. he sent soldiers in 800 ships to attack Greece. This time the Persians met Greek forces made up of armies and navies from many city-states, including Athens and Sparta. The Persians still had more soldiers and sailors than the Greeks. Yet in a sea battle near the island of Salamis (SAL»uh»muhs), the Greeks defeated the Persians. The Persians were forced to return home. Greek civilization was able to continue undisturbed.

The Golden Age of Athens
After the Persian Wars, the Greek city- states feared future attacks. They banded together to form leagues, or groups of allies, for protection. Sparta led city-states in the Peloponnesian League. Athens led the city-states of Asia Minor and the Aegean islands in the Delian League.

What caused the Greek city- states to band together?

Ancient Greece Ancient Legends

Ancient Legends
Four centuries after the Mycenaean civilization lost its strength, the poet Homer created long story-poems, or epics, that kept its memory alive. His poems were based on old stories that had been retold through the centuries.

Homer built on these stories to give a powerful picture of a society in which honor and courage were everything.

Mycenaean civilization
Today, people around the world read Homer's works to find out more about the early Greeks. The Iliad is a story about people's actions during a great war. Homer's next epic, the Odyssey, follows the hero Odysseus (oh»DIH»see»uhs) as he returns from that war. During his ten-year journey home, Odysseus has many strange adventures, among them a fight with a one-eyed giant. At the same time, his wife, Penelope (puh»NEH»luh»pee), deals with problems caused by his absence.

Tradition says the war that Homer described in the Iliad was fought between the Mycenaeans and the Trojans. The Trojans lived in the city of Troy, in what is now north-western Turkey. The war has become known as the Trojan War.

According to legend the war began when a Trojan prince named Paris kidnapped Helen, the wife of a Mycenaean king. The king's brother, Agamemnon, took soldiers to Troy to get Helen back.

The conflict continued with no end in sight. Then the Mycenaeans came up with a plan to trick the Trojans. The legend tells how they built a huge, hollow wooden horse and dragged it to the gates of Troy during the night. The curious Trojans pulled the large horse into the city the next morning. Mycenaean soldiers hiding inside the hollow horse crawled out late at night. They opened the city gates to other Mycenaean soldiers waiting outside. By the following morning, the Mycenaeans had rescued Helen and set fire to the city of Troy.

The legend of the Trojan War, Homer's epics, and other stories left a lasting record of the early people of Greece. From this beginning, the Greek civilization continued to grow and change.

How did Homer keep alive the memory of Mycenae?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ancient Greece Cities and Sparta

Sparta was located in the southern Peloponnesus. In this city-state soldiers marching and young boys and girls exercising were common sights. Spartan citizens led a simple life filled with physical activity.

Sparta Map
The Spartans were descendants of Dorian settlers. They conquered the earlier people of the area and made them helots slaves owned by the state, not by private citizens.
Spartan leaders used military strength to control their city-state. Historians believe that Sparta may have had ten times as many slaves as citizens. Fear that the slaves would rebel led the Spartans to protect themselves with a military way of life.

Spartan children went through long physical-training programs. Boys had to leave their families at age 7 to attend training camps. Girls stayed at home but received training in gymnastics and running. Boys continued training until age 18 and served in the Spartan army until age 30.

The army camps taught Spartans to obey their leaders without question. Spartans believed that they must never give up a battle, even when wounded. The Spartans believed that there was no greater honor than to die defending their city-state.

 The women of Sparta had fewer rights than men but more rights than women in other Greek city-states. Spartan women managed the household and often handled business matters. However, the main duty of women, according to Spartan leaders, was to raise strong children.

 All Spartans followed a simple way of life. By law everyone ate "in common, of the same bread and same meat." Spartan leaders feared that new ideas would bring unwanted changes to their society. For this reason, citizens were rarely allowed to travel outside Sparta and were discouraged from trading with outsiders. This meant that the Spartans could use only their own resources. Because they kept to themselves, their way of life changed little over time.Sparta had two kings, each from a different royal family. Except in times of war, the kings had little authority. Both kings served as part of a 30-member senate. The other members of the senate all over the age of 60 were elected by an assembly of citizens. All male Spartans were allowed to be part of the assembly. The assembly elected five wealthy landowners called ephors (EH«ferz) to handle daily governing.

Only the senate or the ephors could suggest new laws in Sparta. The assembly of citizens voted for or against new laws, but their votes could be ignored by the ephors
and the senate. This meant that the ephors and the senators held most of the power in Sparta. Any small ruling group such as this is called an oligarchy.

 Although strict, Spartan government was among the most admired governments in all of Greece. Many Greeks thought that the Spartan government's tight control over its citizens made it a strong city-state.

Why did Spartans believe they needed a strong army?

City-States and Ancient Greek Culture

City-States and Greek Culture
Around 800 B.C. the people of Greece started building settlements once again. The settlements began as small farming villages, but some grew to become cities. Often, a city joined with small towns, villages, and nearby farms to form a kind of large community called a polis, or city-state. Sparta, Athens, Argos, and Aegina were all ancient Greek city-states.

Ancient Greek Culture

Rise of City-States

To protect themselves from invaders, most Greek communities built a fort on top of a large hill. Farmers from the countryside moved to this protected area for safety during enemy attacks. Later this secure place, called an acropolis (uh»KRAH»puh»luhs), also became a center of religion in many city-states.

Outside the acropolis stood houses, temples, and an open-air market and gathering place called an agora (A»guh«ruh). People met in the agora to trade and to discuss the news of the day.

At first a king or tyrant ruled each city-state. In ancient Greece a tyrant was someone who took control of a government by force or other means and ruled alone. Today the word tyrant refers to a cruel ruler.

Ancient Greek Arts
Over time each city-state formed its own way of governing. In some city-states the richest men shared authority with a king. This wealthy ruling class, or aristocracy, was made up of powerful landowners and merchants. In other city-states all free men took part in government. These men met in an assembly, or lawmaking group, to make decisions.

Most city-states had fewer than 5,000 people. As the population of a city-state grew, overcrowding forced some people to look for new places to live. Many city-states set up colonies in Asia Minor, northern Africa, and southern Europe.

Besides providing space for more people, the colonies brought the Greeks new natural resources and trade markets. This also helped spread Greek ideas and customs through the Mediterranean region.

Ancient Greek Culture

Soon the city-states began to compete for land and trade. Sparta and Argos both wanted control of the Peloponnesus. Athens and Thebes were rivals for control of the land northeast of the Peloponnesus. Sparta and Athens, while not rivals at first, had very different ways of life.

How were city-states alike?

Early People of Greece and The Mycenaeans

The Mycenaeans
During the last years of their kingdom, Minoan merchants started trading with the people of Mycenae (my.SEE.nee), a city near the coast of the mountainous Peloponnesus. The Mycenaeans seem to have been a warlike people who measured their wealth by the number of weapons they owned.

The Mycenaeans
The Mycenaeans learned many Minoan customs and adapted Minoan ways to fit their own culture. The process by which a culture takes ideas from other cultures is known as cultural borrowing. The Mycenaeans borrowed Minoan religious beliefs. They changed Minoan art styles and pottery designs to make them more warlike. They also changed Minoan writing to match the Mycenaean language. Historians now know that the Mycenaean language is an early form of Greek.

In 1450 B.C., after the Minoan kingdom weakened, the Mycenaeans invaded Crete. Mycenae controlled Crete and much of the Peloponnesus from about 1450 B.C. to 1100 B.C.

The Mycenaeans
Like the Minoans, the Mycenaeans built large palaces. However, the Mycenaeans put up walls to protect their palaces. The Minoans had not seen a need to guard themselves with walls. The fact that the Mycenaeans built walls shows that they often fought with others.

For many years the Mycenaeans sailed the seas in search of new trade just as the Minoans had done. Mycenaean trade and travel led to the founding of colonies all along the Mediterranean coast. However, after several centuries of strength, the Mycenaean civilization weakened about 1100 B.C.

The Mycenaeans
 No one knows why Mycenaean control of Greece weakened. For many years historians believed that other Greek warriors called Dorians marched southward and burned palaces and villages in their path. Now some historians believe that invaders called the Sea Peoples attacked the Mycenaeans. They think that the Dorians had long lived side by side with the Mycenaeans or moved into the area after the attack. Other historians believe that disagreements among the Mycenaeans themselves weakened them.

Most historians do believe that some great change must have happened or the Mycenaeans would not have given up their writing, art, and trade. Between 1100 and 800 B.C., much Minoan and Mycenaean learning was lost. The ancient people of Greece returned to a simpler way of life.

The Mycenaeans
 The work of archaeologists has helped us learn about the Mycenaeans. In 1876 German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann found the first signs of Mycenaean civilization. He uncovered many Mycenaean riches, including golden cups, weapons, and masks.

From whom did the Mycenaeans borrow ideas about art, writing, and religion?


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