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The Greek City-States
The Polis
Acropolis of Athens
• Acropolis- Fortified hill
at the center of a Greek
city. A temple of the
local god stood at the
• Agora- Open air
marketplace located at
the foot of the acropolis.
• Polis (city-state)- Made
up of farming villages
(which became cities),
fields, orchards,
acropolis, and agora.
• Each city-state:
o Had its own
o Had between 5,00010,000 people.
o Only allowed
native-born people
to be citizens, vote,
own property, and
take part in
government and the
• In south-central Greece, area known as the Peloponnesus.
• First ruled by a king.
• Aristocrats (nobles)- People with privileges based on
heredity (born into them).
• Aristocrats took over the government around 800 B.C.E.
Spartan Government
• 2 Kings with little power- led army and held religious
• Only aristocrats could be citizens.
• All citizens over 20 were members of the Assembly
which passed laws and decided questions of war and
• Ephors- five men chosen to lead the Assembly.
• Council of Elders- Men over 60 who helped the ephors
and served as a court.
Spartan Society
• Spartan land farmed by helots- enslaved people owned
by Sparta.
• Helots had to give ½ their crops to aristocrat
• Perioeci (pār ē ē sī)- Merchants or artisans who lived in
Sparta. Neither slaves nor aristocrats.
• 750 B.C.E. there were 20 times more helots and
perioeci than aristocrats.
Spartan Life
• Strong military-minded people.
• Unhealthy babies were left on hillsides to die.
• Boys sent to military camps at age 7 trained to be
• Men married at 20 and lived in military Barracks.
Could retire from army at age 60.
• Women had more freedom than other Greeks. Could
mix freely with men and attend sporting events.
• Spartans resisted
change believed
new ideas would
weaken their way of
• Resisted use of coin
money, literature and
• Remained a farming
society based on slave
Spartan Market
• First ruled by kings.
• 750 B.C.E. – nobles,
merchants, and
manufacturers took
over government and
set up an oligarchy.
• oligarchy- government
where a few people
have ruling power.
• Solon- rich merchant who set
up a constitution in 594 B.C.E.
• Constitution- a set of principles
and rules for governing.
• This limited power of rich, gave
landowners right to vote in the
Assembly or ruling body.
– Assembly could make laws.
• Solon erased all debts.
• Offered citizenship to more
• Peisistratus (pī sis’ trah tus) took over government
in 560 B.C.E.
• Supported lower classes  divided large estates
among landless farmers.
• No land requirements for citizenship.
• Encouraged the arts.
• After Peisistratus’ death, Athenian government
overthrown by Sparta.
• 508 B.C.E. Spartans overthrown by noble
Cleisthenes (klīs’ thuh nēz)
• He set up government that was democratic- favored
the equality of all people.
• Assembly was open to all males over 20.
• Council of Five HundredNames of 500 citizens
chosen at random each year.
• Managed daily business of
• Could only serve two terms.
• Citizens required to educate
their sons.
• Boys studied writing, math,
and music.
• At 18 males became citizens
and took an oath to Athens.
Oath Taken by All Athenian Men
• I will never disgrace my sacred arms nor desert my
comrades in the ranks.
• I will fight for temples and for public property, whether
alone or with my fellows.
• I will leave my country not less, but greater and better than I
found it.
• I will obey the magistrates and observe the existing laws,
and those the people may hereafter make.
• If anyone tries to overthrow or disobey the laws I will resist
him in their defense, whether alone or with my fellows.
• I will honor the temples and religion of my forefathers.