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Greek City-States - Research Paper Example

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Greek City States The city states (polis) developed in Greece during the 8 century BC and became the fundamental institution of Greek polity. A city state consisted of a town or village and its surroundings. The town was the central point of the city state and citizens assembled there for political, religious and social activities…
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Greek City-States

Download file to see previous pages... The size of the city states varied. While some consisted of few square miles, there are some consisting of over 100 square miles. The large city states formed through the consolidation of several cities. For example, the territory of Attica which earlier had 12 city-states became a single city state of Athens. By fifth century BC, it had a population of 250000. But most city states had population of few thousands only. The word politics is derived from the Greek word Polis. For the Greeks, the polis was not only a political institution, but it was a community of persons in which all political, economic, social, cultural and religious activities are focused (Spielvogel). The people in the city state consisted of citizens with political rights, citizens without political rights and non citizens. In the city state, women and children had no political rights. Slaves were not considered as citizens. All citizens of the polis had rights and responsibilities. According to Aristotle, the father of Political Science, every citizen must consider himself as belonging to the state. He emphasised on the unity of the people and believed that the state should take the initiative to direct the life of the community. This patriotism however brought distrust among the various city states that ultimate resulted in its ruin. In fact, Greece was not a politically united country. There was no central government in ancient Greece. It mainly denotes the geographical location only (Ancient Greek City-States ). War was an integral part of Greek way of life. According to the great Greek philosopher Plato, war exists by nature between every Greek city state. The tradition of warfare developed by Greeks became part of western civilisation. They possessed excellent weapons and made use of technological advancements. A large number of citizens were solders. They were interested in discipline and receiving training. This gave the Greek army an edge over the opponents’ larger armies. They had a willingness to engage the enemy directly and thus the battle ends quickly with fewer casualties. They also demonstrated the effectiveness of heavy infantry. Colonisation Another major development during 750 BC and 550 BC was the expansion of Greece and growth of trade. Over population, hunger, poverty, growth of trade etc. forced many Greeks to leave their homeland and settle in distant parts. Most of them settled inn fertile agricultural lad taken from native population. Each colony was established as a polis and was independent of the mother polis (metropolis). The Greek settlements in Western part of Mediterranean included cities of Tarentum (Taranto) and Neapolis (Naples). Many Greek communities established in Italy who were later called Magna Graecia by the Romans. Syracuse, another city found by the Corinth was important. Greeks also established in southern France, Northern Africa and Western Egypt. The Greeks also established on the banks of black sea, most important being Byzantium. By establishing a trading post in Egypt, Greeks also got access to the culture and goods from the East. Results of colonisation Greek settlements in different places resulted in spreading Greek culture throughout Mediterranean region. The Romans had first contacts with Greece through settlements in south Italy. It also helped in developing a Greek identity. The Greek communities before the 8 century had isolated life. When they went abroad and confronted people ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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