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Friday, December 30, 2016

027 - The Democracy of Cleisthenes

In this episode, we discuss the political struggle between Isagoras (who was now backed by the Spartan military) and Cleisthenes who ultimately was victorious, which allowed him to institute his overhaul of the Athenian constitution; the different democratic changes that he instituted in regards to the Boule and Ekklesia; and the consequences (both good and bad) from this new revolutionary government, including the gerrymandering of Attica into new tribes, the reorganization of the military structure, Athens' first diplomatic folly with the Persians, and the threat of war with Thebes, Corinth, Sparta, Chalcis, and Aegina

508 BC - Cleisthenes' and Cleomenes' power-sharing agreement formally split when Cleomenes' backed Cleisthenes' rival, Isagoras, for the archonship
507 BC - Isagoras removed citizenship from those enfranchised by Solon and the Peisistratids; Cleisthenes convinced the people to elect Alcmeon for the following year's archonship, which caused Isagoras to seek the military support of Cleomenes, forcing Cleisthenes and the rest of the Alcmeonidai to flee Athens; when Isagoras began acting like a tyrant and threatened to dissolve the boule, the Athenians besieged Isagoras, Cleomenes, and the Spartans on the Acropolis; Isagoras fled the city and the humiliated Cleomenes, along with his army, was allowed safe passage back to Sparta; Cleisthenes was then recalled and through the archonship of Alcmeon, he implemented his democratic reforms, while at the same time a delegation was sent to the court of Artapherenes at Sardis to seek an alliance with the Persians against further Spartan hostility
506 BC - Cleomenes orchestrated a three-prong attack of Attica (Peloponnesians from the southwest, the Thebans from the northwest, and the Chalcidians from the north) with the intent of installing Isagoras as tyrant of Athens; but due to differences with Corinth and between the two kings, the Spartans turned back, allowing the Athenians to defeat the Thebans and Chalcidians in succession and annexed some of their land
505 BC - the Thebans wanted revenge against the Athenians and so they enlisted the aid of Aegina, the arch-nemesis of Athens; the Aeginetans thus laid waste to many demes on the coastline but the Athenians didn't respond because at the behest of an oracle from Delphi they were advised to wait thirty years
504 BC - Cleomenes tried once again to invade Attica, this time to install Hippias as tyrant, but once again was thwarted by the Corinthians

Greek wordshetairoi (aristocratic supporters, literally “followers”), diapsephismos (scrutinization of citizen's list), astu (urban area), paralia (coastline), mesogeia (inland)trittys (a third), demoi (deme, i.e. local community), demarchos (elected leader of a deme), nothoi (illegitimate children, i.e. non-citizens), phratria (clan), dokimasia (investigation to confirm someone's legal right to hold office), apodektai (person in charge of finance), Boule (council), Ekklesia (general assembly), probouleusis (legislation prepared by Boule to be discussed in Ekklesia), probouleuma (a recommendation for legislation), psephisma (a motion in the Ekklesia), prytaneis (executives of the Boule), prytany (term of office for the prytaneis, i.e. 36 days), Tholos (round building on the south-side of the Agora where the Prytaneis lived at public's expense), Bouleterion (Council Hall), ostrakismos (ostracism), ostrakon (broken sherd of pottery), demokratia (democracy, i.e. the power of the people), isonomia (equality before the law), isogoria (equality of opportunity to address the political body), nomos (statute), themos (law based on custom), eleutheria (freedom)


Video/Cleisthenes & Athenian Democracy

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

026 - The Tyranny of the Peisistratids

In this episode, we discuss the ascension of Peisistratos as the first tyrant of Athens and the political maneuverings that he and his two sons, Hippias and Hipparchus, took in maintaining (and sometimes regaining) their position, which included armed warfare, trickery, political marriages, and the expulsion of many of their political enemies (who would go and found several colonies in Athens' name); the economic reforms that Peisistratos and his two sons undertook; their patronage of the arts and public works in the Agora and Acropolis, as well as at other religious sanctuaries in Attica; their encouragement of religious festivals, especially the Greater Panathenaia and the Dionysia; and the ultimate dissolution of the tyranny brought about by the assassination of Hipparchus, the susbsequent cruelty and expulsion of Hippias, and the ascendency of Cleisthenes (with the help of the Spartans)

565 BC - Peisistratos captured Nisaea, bringing an end to the wars with Megara, which ended the troublesome food blockage and enhanced his reputation
561 BC - Peisistratos seized the Acropolis with armed bodyguards and made himself tyrant for the first time, much to the chagrin and outcries of Solon
558 BC - Solon died of old age
556 BC - Resistance mounted against Peisistratos, leading the nobles to seek an alliance with the exiled Alcmeonidai; they were recalled to Athens and Peisistratos fled the city; the political alliance soon collapsed, so Megacles of the Alcmeonidai instead realigned with Peissistratos through a political marriage and thus he became tyrant of the city again; but this too was short-lived and Peisistratos was driven from the city a second time
547 BC - earthquake fells the temple of Apollo at Delphi; the Alcmeonidai were able to gain a special position of privilege thanks to their funding of the rebuilding of the temple
546 BC - After spending ten years cultivating powerful allies and a large personal army, Peisistratos invaded Attica; he crushed the Athenian army near Pallene, and became tyrant of Athens for the third and final time
540 BC - Miltiades the Elder established a colony in the Thracian Chersonese and ruled it as a tyrant, only subordinate to Peisistratos' overarching authority
534 BC - Thespis was first winner of tragedy competitions at the Dionysia
528/7 BC - Peisistratos died and the tyranny was passed to Hippias and Hipparchus
525/4 BC - archonship of Cleisthenes of the Alcmeonidai
524/3 BC - archonship of Miltiades the Younger of the Philaids
524 BC - Miltiades the Elder died and his eldest nephew, Stesagoras, replaced him as tyrant in the Thracian Chersonese
519 BC - the Athenians defended the Plataeans militarily against the Thebans
515 BC - Stesagoras was assassinated and replaced by his younger brother, Miltiades the Younger, who immediately quelled the uprising and formed an alliance with king Olorus of Thrace by marrying his daughter
515/4 BC - second archonship of Cleisthenes, but he tried to make it something more than titular (as the tyrants held the unofficial power), and for that he was banished from Athens
514 BC - Hipparchus was assassinated by the Tyrannicides, Harmodius and Aristogeiton; afterwards, Hippias' rule became oppressive
513 BC - Cleisthenes' mercenary army was defeated by Hippias' mercenary forces near Lypsidrion in northern Attica
511 BC - Cleisthenes' uses his families special privilege to get the Delphic oracle to coax Cleomenes and the Spartans to assist them in removing Hippias as tyrant; unfortunately, their first force was defeated near Phaleron
510 BC - Cleisthenes' second attempt was successful, though; Hippias was forced into exile, where he would eventually make his way to the Persian court of Darius; immediately after this the Thebans and Athenians engaged in hostilities again over Plataea, with the result of another Athenian victory

Greek Wordsou kata nomon (not according to the accepted norm), miltos (a red ochre clay used as paint), demotikotatos (a man concerned about the people), oikemata (small treasury-style buildings), komos (communal revelry), tragodia (tragedy), hermai (images of Hermes to act as milestones on the roads for travelers), Enneakrounos (the Nine Spouts), kanephoros (young virgin girls who carry the baskets that held the knives for the sacrifice to Athena), skolia (drinking songs), isonomia (free)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

025 - The Reforms of Solon

In this episode, we discuss the life of the great Athenian statesman, Solon, who from his position of sole archonship, enacted various economic, political, and legal reforms that would later form the backbone for Athenian democracy in the Classical Period, but in doing so he took a moderate stance to appease everyone, which didn't quiet the ongoing social and economic problems of the state and shortly thereafter factionalism set in, leading to the next phase of Athenian political history (in which aristocratic infighting led to instability for decades and ultimately to tyranny)

ca. 625 BC - severe agrarian crisis causes the Athenians to look for new land--their solution was to establish a cleruchy on Salamis; this led to continuous war with Megara, who also held claims to the island
ca. 605 BC - in order to defend their trade routes into the Black Sea, Athens challenges Mytilene for control of Sigeion in the Troad, an event which was arbitrated by Periander in favor of Athens (thanks to Solon's argument)
595 BC - Solon and Peisistratos led forces that defeated the Megarians
594/3 BC - Solon was appointed as sole archon of Athens in an extra legislative capacity to reform the constitution, which (among many other things) eliminated debt slavery and helped ease the land crisis; though wildly successful, his reforms' immediate aftermath led to increased competition amongst the elite for political offices
593-583 BC - Solon went on a self-imposed exile for 10 years following his reforms so that he couldn't be persuaded to change anything by his fellow citizens, during which he visited various rulers and wise men in Egypt, Cyprus, Lydia, and Ionia
591/0 BC - political strife in Athens led to a period of anarchy as they were unable to elect the three archons, but it was eventually restored
580s-560s BC - The three dominant political factions (the Pediakoi, the Peralioi, and the Diakrioi) all competed for control of Athenian government
586/5 BC - second bout of anarchy; once again was eventually restored
582/1 BC - archonship of Damasias, at the end of which he refused to step down
579 BC - after two and half years, Damasias was driven out of the archonship; afterwards, a board of 10 archons were appointed to govern Athens
578 BC - three traditional offices of the archons were re-established
575 BC - a great ramp was built up onto the Acropolis; noble families began to compete for prestige through the funding of the construction of new buildings and statues atop the Acropolis, such as the Temple of Athena Poleis (the precursor to the Parthenon) and a statue of Athena Promachos
566 BC - the Great Panathenaia was instituted by the archon, Hippocleides
ca. 565 BC - Solon recognized that Peisistratos was harboring feelings for a revolution to end the political strife of the three dominant political factions

Greek wordsgnorimoi ("notables"), plethos (the multitude), eunomia (good law and justice), sophrosyne (self-control and moderation), seisachtheia (the shaking off of burdens), metoikois (metics, i.e. resident foreigners), medimnos (measurement of grain equal to about 12 gallons), Pentakosiomedimnoi (those whose land produced at least 500 medimnoi), hippeis (horses or cavalrymen), thugatai ("yoke-fellows", those who were wealthy enough to own an oxen to plow their fields), thetes (landless workers), ekklesia (general assembly), politeia (constitution), eisangelia (impeachment), graphe (a written charge of indictment), heliaia (a court of appeals), Agroikoi (farmers), Demiourgoi (artisans), pediakoi (the men of the plain), peralioi (the men of the coast), diakrioi (the men of the hills), hyperakrioi (the men beyond the hills), apobatai (athletic competition at Panathenaic Games in which contestants wore armor and periodically leapt off a moving chariot and ran alongside it before leaping back on again), hekatombe (a sacrifice of a hundred oxen), pannychis ("all-nighter”, referring to a feast)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

024 - Early Athens

In this episode, we discuss the early history of Athens beginning with its mythical past, and how and why the later Athenians promoted and propogandized these myths, with a particular focus on their first king Cecrops, the contest between Athena and Poseidon for patronage of Athens, the birth of Ericthonius (the "love" child of Hephaistos-Athena-Gaia) who would go onto become king, the deeds and reign of Theseus, and the death of the final king Kodras fighting the Heracleidae; in historical times, the abolishment of the monarchy in the Dark Ages that gave rise to the oligarchic government (first by the Medontidai and then the Eupatridai); the social organizations of the Athenians; and finally the social and economic crises at the end of the 7th century BC that brought about an unsuccessful tyranny attempt by an Olympic athlete named Cylon and Athens' first written constitution, orchestrated by a shadowy figure named Draco

ca. 900 BC - Medontidai archon/basileus of Athens was pre-eminent in Attica
ca. 900-750 BC - the synoecism of Attica took place
752 BC - length of Medontidai archonship changed from life to ten years
681 BC - three annually elected archons (eponymous, basileus, polemarch) was introduced
ca. 650 BC - six more archons were introduced (called the Thesmothetai); collectively together with the other three they are known as the College of Nine Archons; full aristocratic revolution of Athens has taken hold
632 BC - Cylon unsuccessfully attempted to establish an Athenian tyranny
621 BC - Draco enacted first written constitution in Athenian history

Greek wordserion (piece of wool), chthon (ground, earth), synoikismos (the unification of the various villages), sympoliteia (a shared common citizenship), eupatridai (those with good fathers, i.e. "well-born"), pagos (hill), archo (to rule), thesmothetai (those who lay down laws), phyla (tribe), phratria (brotherhood), genos (clan), hippeis (horses or cavalrymen), thugatai ("yoke-fellows", those who were wealthy enough to own an oxen to plow their fields), thetes (landless workers), peletai (dependent agricultural farmer), hektemoroi (1/6th men, i.e. sharecroppers of their land), horoi (stones marking off boundaries of land), agogimoi (those seized as slaves to pay off a debt loan), thesmothetes (extraordinary legislator, i.e. a legislator given extra powers for reform), drakon (snake), ephetai (judges), strategoi (generals), hipparchoi (commanders of the cavalry)

Video/History of Athens - Part 1

Recommended Sources for Further Reading:

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

022 - Sparta Ascendant

In this episode, we discuss the early history (myth?) of Sparta and its growing pains that ultimately led to its rise to hegemony over what modern scholars called the Peloponnesian League

ca. 900-800 BC - the syncoecism of the four villages on the west bank of the Eurotas River resulted in the polis of Lacadaemon (Sparta)
ca 800-750 BC - a fifth village found three miles from the other villages is incorporated into Sparta, the old Mycenaean town of Amyclae
ca. 780-750 BC - reign of Eurypontid king, Charilaus (the nephew of the semi-mythical lawgiver Lykurgas who supposedly reformed Sparta)
ca. 760-740 BC - reign of Agiad king, Teleklos
ca. 750-725 BC - reign of Eurypontid king, Nicander
ca. 740-720 BC - the First Messenian War brought about the annexation of Messenia and the formation of the helot system that transformed Sparta into a slave-holding state like no other Greek polis
ca. 740-700 BC - reign of Agiad king, Alkamenes
ca. 725-675 BC - reign of Eurypontid king, Theopompos
706 BC - illegitimate Spartans, known as "Parthenai", were exiled to Italy where they founded Taras
ca. 700-665 BC - reign of Agiad king, Polydoros
ca. 675-650 BC - the poets Alcman and Tyrtaeus flourished at Sparta
ca. 675-645 BC - reign of Eurypontid king, Anaxandridas
669 BC - the Spartans were defeated by Pheidon and the Argives at Hysiae
ca. 668-650 BC - thanks to their defeat at the hands of Argos, the helots revolted with the backing of Argos, resulting in the Second Messenian War; the Spartans, though, were able to put the revolt down thanks to the martial vigor of Tyrtaeus
ca. 665-640 BC - reign of Agiad king, Eurycrates
ca. 645-625 BC - reign of Eurypontid king, Zeuxidamas
ca. 640-615 BC - reign of Agiad king, Anaximander I
ca. 625-600 BC - reign of Eurypontid king, Anaxidamos
ca. 615-590 BC - reign of Agiad king, Eurycratides
ca. 600-575 BC - reign of Eurypontid king, Archidamos I
ca. 590-560 BC - reign of Agiad king, Leon
583 BC - Sparta may have assisted with the overthrow of the Kypselid tyranny at Corinth
ca. 575-550 BC - reign of Eurypontid king, Agasicles
572 BC - Sparta may have helped Elis regain control over the sanctuary of Olympia again from Pisa
ca. 560 BC - the "Battle of the Fetters" resulted in a devastating Spartan loss to Tegea
ca. 560-525 BC - reign of Agiad king, Anaxandridas II
556 BC - the Spartans, with Chilon as ephor, helped to overthrow the Orthagorid tyranny at Sicyon
ca. 550-515 BC - reign of Eurypontid king, Ariston
ca. 550 BC - Sparta finally subdued Tegea, but instead of conquering them, they enacted diplomacy, marking the beginnings of Peloponnesian League
547 BC - Spartans are approached by the Lydians for an alliance against Persia, but the Spartans never provide aid as they still have Argos to deal with
546 BC - the "battle of Champions" resulted in a Spartan defeat of Argos and the annexation of the region of Kynuria from the Argives
525-522 BC - the Spartans and Corinthians join together to depose Polycrates of Samos as tyrant
520-490 BC - reign of Agiad king, Kleomenes
515-491 BC - reign of Eurypontid king, Demaratos
515-512 BC - Kleomenes' half-brother, Dorieus, tried to found the colony of Cinyps on the Libyan coast but he was ultimately driven out by Carthage
510 BC - Dorieus was killed in battle against the Carthaginians as he tried to establish a second colony, this one in western Sicily 

Recommended Sources for Further Reading: