Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction

Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction

Paul Cartledge

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 0199601348

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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.

















the gods not to return to their homeland until the iron floated to the surface of the waves, i.e., in principle, never. In self-imposed exile they lived first on Corsica and then settled at Rhegium in the toe of Italy (Reggio Calabria). But, as the saying goes, never say ‘never’: for in much happier times two to three generations later descendants of these émigrés did indeed return, after the Graeco-Persian Wars of the 480s, and joined up as members of Athens’s anti-Persian naval alliance,

considered as a political entity, a polis, that is, an urban centre together with its surrounding khôra or countryside known as Attikê (literally, ‘the land of the Athenians’) encompassing some 2,400 square kilometres (1,000 square miles)—placing it at no. 3 (after Sparta and Syracuse) in the entire Greek world, and in the top 10 per cent (about 100) of poleis possessing above 500 square kilometres. (The ‘normative’ polis had a territory of fewer than 100.) Looked at differently, this entity was

Greece (Plate 20). By no means the most original, but probably the most tart, expression of this negative point of view is to be found in Edward Gibbon’s magnificently comprehensive Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (chapter 48, first published in 1788): the subjects of the Byzantine empire, who assume and dishonour the names both of Greeks and Romans, present a dead uniformity of abject vices, which are neither softened by the weakness of humanity, nor animated by the vigour of memorable

Peace: sponsored by Artaxerxes II of Persia and Agesilaus II of Sparta 385 Plato founds Academy 378 (to 338) Athens founds anti-Spartan Second Sea-League, Thebes a founder-member 371 Battle of Leuctra: Thebans defeat Spartans Theban ascendancy in mainland Greece (to 362) 367 Death of Dionysius I of Syracuse 366 End of Sparta’s Peloponnesian League 362 Second Battle of Mantinea: Theban victory, death of Epaminondas; Common Peace renewed 359 Accession of Philip II of Macedon 356 (to 346)

Alexander), a prince of the royal house of Troy. Schliemann had of course already dug there too, indeed could rightly claim to have found at Hissarlik overlooking the Dardanelles on the Asiatic side the only possible site of Homer’s Troy—if indeed there ever was a precise and uniform, real-world original of that fabled ‘windy’ city. But what he and his team of Greek workmen had in fact discovered at Mycenae, in one of the six hyper-rich shaft-graves enclosed within a much later (c.1300 BCE)

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