Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction
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This highly original introduction to ancient Greece uses the history of eleven major Greek cities to illuminate the most important and informative aspects of Greek culture. Cartledge highlights the role of such renowned cities as Athens (birthplace of democracy) and Sparta, but he also examines Argos, Thebes, Syracuse in Sicily, and Alexandria in Egypt, as well as lesser known locales such as Miletus (home of the West's first intellectual, Thales) and Massalia (Marseilles today), where the Greeks introduced the wine grape to the French. The author uses these cities to illuminate major themes, from economics, religion, and social relations, to gender and sexuality, slavery and freedom, and politics.
and wide in the Mediterranean for various reasons: to trade, especially in metals and slaves; to obtain new land to settle, and new luxuries to import; to fight as mercenaries; or/and for the sheer fun of it. At the eastern end of the Mediterranean by way of Cyprus they encountered the Phoenicians of Lebanon, and it was from them that they learned to write again after centuries of illiteracy following the demise of Mycenaean Linear B. But, typically, the Greeks did not just borrow Phoenician
resist the Persian empire, were concluded on Apollo’s sacred island of Delos, site of an annual festival of Ionian Greeks. The master of ceremonies was the Athenian general Aristides, nicknamed ‘the Just’ thanks to the perceived equity of the arrangements he imposed for regular payment of tribute and other contributions. From the start, however, it was a predominantly Athenian show—an ATO (Aegean Treaty Organization) or DPP (Delos Pact Powers), rather than an equal alliance. Most of the upwards
written ninety plays, seven surviving (or six, if Prometheus Bound is not his) AGAMEMNON King of Mycenae, commander-in-chief of the Greek expedition against Troy, represented ambivalently by Homer; his murder forms the subject of first play in the Oresteia trilogy of Aeschylus, 458 AGESILAUS II co-king of Sparta c.400–360, for a time one of the most powerful figures in mainland Greece but presided over Sparta’s decline and fall ALCIBIADES c.450–404, ward of Pericles and most brilliant if
Phrynichus, tragic poet 58–9 Pindar 113, 118, 132, 147, 194 Piraeus 54, 91, 104, 106, 110 Pisistratus, Pisistratids 91, 96 Pithecusae (Ischia) 64, 119 Plataea 83, 100, 101, 133, 135, 170 Plato 65, 90, 106–7, 111, 184 Plutarch 84, 178 Pnyx 91 Poe, Edgar Allan 178 poetry 25 see also epic poetry; Homer; Pindar; Theocritus polis, see city political thought 83–4, 106–7 politics 4, 5, 53, 95–6, 138, 184, 188–9 Polybius of Megalopolis 159 Polyclitus of Argos 105 polytheism see religion
the former. As we have seen, archaeology and philology between them tell us that in about 1450 BCE Cnossos was overwhelmed by Greek-speaking invaders from the north. These warrior communities had evolved a culture based, like that of Late Bronze Age Crete, on palaces. But whereas the ‘Minoan’ culture looks to have been strikingly peaceful or at least internally harmonious, the palace-based rulers of Mycenae and other mainland Mycenaean centres north and south of the Corinthian isthmus (Thebes,