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Definition of the Greek Polis


The polis is based on the ancient form of ownership, representing the unity of the public and private principles of ownership. The polis had the right of supreme ownership of the land. Only the citizens of the policy could be the owners of the land. It was possible to become a member of the policy under two conditions: if the person was Greek, was free, and owned private property. Thus, all community members were free owners and had political rights (although not always equal), that allowed them to participate in-state activities. Therefore, the Greek polis is called a civil community; the main economic principle of the policy was the idea of autarky — self-sufficiency. The community turned into a small state with its laws, authorities, and management system.

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Government Features

The owner of the land could only be a citizen. All citizens were members of the militia who took up arms during a military threat. The People’s Assembly owned all the power in the policy. Only citizens of the village had the right to participate in it. There were different types of policies in ancient Greece. There were dozens of them. The policies of ancient Greece were powerful. Their names are Athens and Sparta. The richest was the city of Corinth. Each policy had its government, army, and treasury minted a coin.

The Dark Ages

The Constant Struggle

At this time, city-states are emerging in the Aegean region. The result of the constant struggle of the free population against the domination of the ancestral nobility and debt slavery by the end of the period under review in the states with the highest level of development was the formation of a system of slave-owning democracy and the creation of prerequisites for the development of the slave-owning economy of the ancient type. Herodotus later wrote that before Homer, the Greeks had no clear idea of the gods, their lives, relationships, and spheres of activity. The archaic era was marked by such an important event in the history of Hellas as the Great Greek Colonization when the Greeks founded many cities and settlements on the coasts of the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Thus, the Greek civilization spread to large areas of southern Europe. The transition from a heroic fighting style to an organized phalanx of Hoplites occurred between the XI and VIII centuries BC in the emerging cities of Hellas. According to most scientists, the appearance of the phalanx was determined by the evolution of the arsenal (a set of offensive and defensive weapons).

The Homeric Period

The burials of the Homeric period are, as a rule, extremely poor, even miserable, if compared with Mycenaean graves. Their entire inventory usually consists of several clay pots, a bronze or iron sword, spearheads and arrows in men’s graves, and cheap jewelry in women’s. There are almost no beautiful valuables in them at all. There are no objects of foreign, Oriental origin, so frequent in Mycenaean burials. All this speaks of the sharp decline of crafts and trade, the mass flight of skilled craftsmen from the country ravaged by war and invasions to foreign lands, the rupture of trade sea routes connecting Mycenaean Greece with the countries of the Middle East and the rest of the Mediterranean.

The Main Policies

Sparta and Athens

There are two main types of policies characteristic of the two centers of ancient Greek civilization – Sparta, and Athens. Their rivalry led to many years of civil wars that destroyed the ancient Greek civilization. Sparta was located in the south of the Peloponnesian Peninsula, in the fertile valley of the Evrot River. The Spartan state was formed around the IX century BC and first consisted of five settlements of Dorian Greeks. The different life of the policy proceeded in continuous wars with neighboring communities. The defeated population turned into helot enslaved people. In addition to the Helots, the Perks also worked for the Spartans, who were personally free, but paid tribute. Since ancient times, two kings have been at the head, who performed the duties of military commanders, judges, and priests. Each of the kings aspired to sole unlimited power – despotism. Ephors were quite effective in Sparta. The composition of the ephors is a controlling body that checked the activities of officials and monitored the implementation of Spartan laws.

Differences and Similarities

Unlike the Athenians, ordinary Spartiates did not make speeches at meetings to prove their point of view. Except for the tsars and geronts, no one was allowed to express their opinion. Thus, the system in Sparta can be called oligarchic. Athens was the main city of Attica, an area in the south of the Balkan Peninsula rich in minerals (clay, marble, silver). Sciences and arts flourished in Athens, and huge funds were allocated to urban planning. In the 5th century, the Acropolis began to be erected — the pinnacle of ancient Greek architecture, the center of which was the famous Parthenon temple dedicated to Athena, the city’s patroness. Sparta and Athens had similar forms of government: both city-states were partially governed by elected assemblies. However, the highest rulers of Athens were elected, but not in Sparta. Athens was a democracy, and Sparta was an oligarchy. Both city-states had an extremely large slave population with about 100,000 enslaved people.


The political life of the polis developed along the path of democratization through the struggle with the ancestral nobility. The first step towards creating Athenian democracy was the reforms of Solon, who was elected in 594 BC as one of the nine archons. An archon is an annually elected official who, along with other archons, was in charge of the most important state affairs. Corinth is the site of the first human settlement on Greek soil. The largest ancient city founded in the X century BC is located 90 km west of Athens, on the isthmus connecting the mainland of Greece with the peninsula. Artisans produced famous ceramics in the Mediterranean, fine fabrics, and bronze products. The Corinthian order in classical architecture has developed here – magnificent and complex.

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Greece Philosophy

Pre-Socratic Philosophy

Pre-Socratic philosophy is a fundamental stage in the history of the development and formation of classical philosophy. Most of the information about this period has been lost, and historians’ knowledge of ancient philosophy is mainly based on later sources. But even the minimum of preserved handwritten documents allows us to say that the philosophy of the pre-Socratics made a significant contribution to the development of society. The ancient philosophers themselves considered the teachings of the “seven sages” — the most famous and revered political figures and philosophers – to be the beginning of the development of pre-socratic thought. Various sources mention different names, but they all include The beginning of the classical period in ancient philosophy coincided with a group of thinkers who called themselves “sophists” – sages.


Sophists were the first professional teachers of eloquence (rhetoric) and various knowledge that were considered necessary for the active participation of the Greeks in political and civil life. Sophists paid almost no attention to natural philosophy, addressing, first of all, the problems of man, knowledge, and socio-political issues. Teaching the art of defeating the enemy in disputes, sophists in the question of truth took the position of epistemological relativism, recognizing the relative nature of all human knowledge, judgments, and assessments. Thus, Protagoras, pointing out the presence of two opposite sides and tendencies in each thing, believed that on this basis, any statement about it would be correct.

New Stage of Ancient Philosophy

The sophists’ philosophical ideas can be considered the beginning of a qualitatively new stage in the development of ancient philosophy, the content of which is the transfer of attention from the study of natural processes to man and society, which was especially clearly manifested in the activities of Socrates. Socrates never wrote anything in principle, so information about his philosophical views can only be obtained from the writings of his students – Plato, who made Socrates the main character of almost all his writings. Socrates adhered to the positions of ethical rationalism, linking virtue and knowledge. He believed that knowledge of virtue generates a good deed, and a bad one is ignorance. Therefore, ignorance pushes a person on the path of vice.

The Main Philosophers

Along with his teacher Socrates and his student Aristotle, Plato is considered the pinnacle of ancient Greek classical philosophy. Plato’s philosophy is the first attempt in the European tradition to create an integral philosophical system: his teaching includes ontology, epistemology, the doctrine of man and society, ethics, aesthetics, and theology. Plato expressed his views in dialogues, where Socrates was the main character, and his opponents were sophists. Plato interpreted reality from the standpoint of objective idealism. He believed that each class of objects and phenomena is preceded by their immaterial prototype – an idea. In full accordance with his ontological concept of the doubling of the world, Plato develops both epistemology and the doctrine of man and society. Real knowledge, he believes, cannot be obtained by studying individual, imperfect and changeable, material things, distorted copies of his invisible idea. Aristotle’s philosophy divided it into three parts – theoretical, practical, and creative. The theoretical one is connected with the truth; it presupposes cognition. The goal of practical philosophy is to do good deeds; it works with concepts such as good and evil.

The War of the Greeks Against the Persians


The war of the Greeks against the Persians became one of the longest in ancient history: the war lasted 51 years. The reason for the beginning of the Greco-Persian Wars was the Ionian uprising. In 499 BC, Aristagoras, the Persian governor who ruled in Miletus, raised an uprising against the Persians. To enlist the support of the people, Aristagoras allows the cities to choose their military leaders, and he sails to Sparta to enlist support. The king of Sparta refuses him, and then Aristagoras asks for help from Athens and receives it. Athens allocates people and ships. Upon their arrival, a hike to Sardis begins.

War Results

As a result of the extremely unsuccessful actions of the Athenians in Egypt, the course of the Greco-Persian wars took a completely different turn. The scales seemed to swing in the direction of Persia. Only after Kimon’s return from exile was the situation stabilized. The further conduct of the war became increasingly unpromising for both the Athenian Naval Alliance and Persia. Realizing this, in 449 BC, the warring parties concluded peace. On the Athenian side, the head of the delegation that arrived in the Persian capital of Susa to sign the treaty was a prominent diplomat Kallus. Therefore, the contract itself received the name of the Kalliev World.

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