The Rise of Greek Civilization
Greek civilization developed in southern Greece between 1200 BC and 338 BC. The Dorians, who settled in Greece, destroyed the cities and palaces of the Mycenaeans, which led to a decline in trade and writing.
However, over time, the ancient inhabitants and the Dorians began to speak the same language and believe in the same deities, marking the start of Greek civilization.
Territory and Geography:
The Greeks lived in a mountainous territory covered with woods. People lived near the sea in small villages because travel and communication were difficult.
City-States and Wars:
From 800 BC, several city-states were born, including the two most important ones, Sparta and Athens. The city-states were often at war with each other, fought two wars against the Persians, and were finally conquered by the Macedonians under Alexander the Great in 338 BC.
One of the most significant activities in the polis was breeding sheep and goats, which provided meat, milk, and wool. The Greeks cultivated wheat, vines, and olive trees despite the limited agricultural opportunities due to the few plains and lack of space.
The Greeks used oil to flavor their food and illuminate their houses. They obtained salt, an important resource, from the sea to preserve food. They also engaged in trade by sea and artistry, working with wood and metals to make decorated vases and plates.
The Polis of Sparta:
The Dorians founded Sparta in the southern Peloponnese in 1200 BC. They divided the inhabitants into three groups:
The Dorians were the ancestors of the Spartiates, the wealthiest group who were responsible for training and defending the city in times of war.
Artisans who were not citizens lived near the city and were called Perieci.
Helots were the descendants of the ancient inhabitants and were slaves who worked the land or mines.
Education in Sparta:
The Spartan society separated children from their families at the age of seven and took them to schools. Children were taught to read, write, and fight while they underwent rigorous physical tests in these schools.
Girls also learned to read and write, and practiced running, discus throwing, and wrestling, but did not learn housework as slaves took care of it.
The Polis of Athens:
The city of Athens, located in the Attica peninsula near the sea, had two ports – the Phaleron and the Piraeus, which facilitated the development of sea trade.
In Athens, all freemen born in the city could participate in the decision-making assembly, but foreigners, women, and slaves could not. The assembly met once a week in the agora and was responsible for establishing laws, imposing taxes, and declaring war.
A group of 500 citizens, chosen by lot every year, prepared the laws to present to the assembly. The people called this form of government democracy, “government by the people.”
Education in Athens:
In Athens, children went to school to learn to read and write, recite poems, play musical instruments, speak in public, and study mathematics, geography, art, and astronomy.
From the age of fourteen, they dedicated themselves to wrestling, discus throwing, and swimming, while girls learned to cook, spin and weave, read poetry, and play musical instruments. They lived inside the house and only went out to visit the temple to pray to the deities.
In conclusion, the Greek civilization is a rich and fascinating period of history that had a profound impact on the Western world. That is why, It was a time of outstanding artistic, philosophical, and political achievements.
The two most prominent city-states, Athens and Sparta, offer a unique insight into the political, social, and cultural aspects of the ancient Greek world.
The birthplace of democracy was Athens, and it directly impacted the development of modern democracy, while Sparta was known for its strict military training and oligarchic government.
The ancient Greeks developed innovative ideas that include advancements in mathematics, philosophy, and the arts. Their legacy continues to shape our world today.