They were a European barbarian people who had a unique way of life based on farming and warfare.
About 2000 b.c., they began to migrate into Europe's southeastern corner, only a short sea trip from the Middle East.
As a result of contact with civilization, the Greeks began to adopt a civilized way of life, something that would happen to European barbarian peoples over and over again in the next three thousand years.
The civilization of the Middle East was very similar to the Greek civilization.
It was a part of the international crisis and recovery of civilization in the Middle Eastern civilized world.
Greek civilization emerged as "classical" about 800 b.c.
The Greeks created something new and distinctive, despite the fact that every feature of this renewed Greek civilization was still influenced by Middle Eastern peoples.
The ideas, art forms, and forms of government of classical Greek civilization have an influence on Western civilization that has lasted up to the present day.
Greek city-states were the first in the world to allow citizens to participate in government on a limited basis.
Greek thinkers and writers, reflecting on their nation's religious traditions and observing the natural and human world around them, originated the disciplines of science, philosophy, and history.
From ancient religious rituals and epic tales, to the close-knit community life of the city-states, there emerged the new art form of drama.
New styles of architecture and sculpture were created because of the need to honor the gods and goddesses.
After 500 b.c., the city-states developed methods of fighting by land and sea.
The longest and most brutal of these conflicts, the Peloponnesian War, between Athens and Sparta, led to the end of the heyday of the citystates around 400 b.c.
The city-states fell under the rule of the northern kingdom of Macedonia.
This did not mean the end of Greek civilization or of Greek power in the world.
King Alexander of Macedonia led the Greeks to the conquest of Persia, and though his empire split up after his death, its separate territories were ruled by spectacularly wealthy and powerful Greek kings.
By 300 b.c., Greek civilization had entered a new phase, the Hellenistic era, in which their culture dominated those of the nations they ruled but was also influenced by them.
The Greeks themselves had evolved from a barbarian people on civilization's northwestern edge to become the dominant nation of a civilized world that now included the Mediterranean coastlines as well as the Middle East.
People living in civilized societies grew to be a majority of the human species during the three thousand years of the European Barbarians.
The civilization arose in India, China, and the Western hemisphere, apart from the expanding civilized world of the Middle East.
The village life that emerged from the Agricultural Revolution was still lived by humans.
Those who lived in the territory of Europe were included.
The rulers, priests, and scribes of the Middle East probably thought of the early Europeans as distant suppliers of raw materials and slaves and occasionally troublesome raiders and invaders, if they bothered to think about them at all.
Western civilization was born out of the encounter between the peoples of Europe and the Middle East.
Europe was overshadowed by the rise of civilization in the Middle East for many centuries.
The way of life of the peoples of Europe underwent many changes.
Farming and village life had spread throughout the continent by 4,000 b.c.
With them came an increase in population and wealth, as well as technical inventiveness that was sometimes ahead of that in the Middle East.
The beginning of the Babylonian empire in Mesopotamia and the founding of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt are contemporary with the construction of the most famous of megalithic structures.
In ancient times, the urge to build great monuments and the wealth, skills, and organization were not exclusive to civilized peoples.
Many of the megalithic structures have survived to the present day.
Evidence has been found that the peoples of this region were the first to use plows to break up the ground more quickly and thoroughly than with traditional hoes.
The build ing of the great open-air monument of Stonehenge was one of the most famous achievements of the early Europeans.
After being built as a religious center, it was repeatedly rebuilt by prosperous people of farmers and traders who inhabited the region until it reached its final form about 2000 b.c.
The monument consists of about 160 massive boulders, weighing up to 50 tons each, which had to be dragged many miles to the site.
Forty of the largest boulders were trimmed with stone tools.
Similar to the post-andlintel construction of Egyptian temples, these were set upright with others placed horizontally on top of them.
They were arranged in four horseshoe-shaped groups, one inside the other, all carefully aligned to the movements of the sun and moon.
The villagers of Europe and the city-dwellers of the Middle East were victims of a third group of people.
These were the herders who traveled thousands of miles from eastern Europe to the Pacific Ocean.
The nomadic way of life was the beginning of western civilization.
The horse was native to the steppes.
They used it to the earliest known wheeled vehicles.
They had learned to ride it after having bred it to be larger and stronger.
The peoples of the Megalithic sites concentrated more on herding.
They were able to follow larger herds farther across the grassland in search of water and food, and over the course of many generations, Megalithic Europe gave up settled village life altogether.
The prehis toric people or group of peoples known as the Indo-Europeans were the most influential people in Europe.
They spread out from their homeland in the southern part of Russia over many centuries as raiders, conquerors, and rulers.
They moved south into the Middle East and eastward into India.
The Hittites, Medes, and Persians moved into these lands.
adapted to the ways of the civilizations they encountered.
By 1000 b.c., other people from Europe moved west.
The languages of the peoples they encountered were changed by the Indo-Europeans.
The inhabitants of Europe and Asia abandoned their original tongues and came to speak that of the Europeans, as their descendants still do today.
The languages of English, Bengali, Russian, and Spanish are all derived from dialects spoken by prehistoric Europeans.
The villagers of Europe were especially affected by the nomads.
They didn't become nomads but continued to live in the village life of their ancestors.
In place of their tongues, they now spoke languages of European origin.
The lives of elites of warriors were centered around strength and courage, comradeship and loyalty, contests and battle.
Many European peoples had traditionally worshiped the deities of earth and fertility, but the warriors turned to other gods as well.
When a leading warrior died, his horses and chariot, his bronze (or later, iron) swords and daggers, his gold and silver drinking cups, would all go to the grave with him.
Women shared these warrior values with the less advanced European peoples of their time.
They went to war with the men to bring food and bind their wounds, but also to force them back into the fight if they panicked.
War was nothing new to Europe or any other part of the world.
The value of the warrior as a human being has been enhanced by the peoples of the continent who now regard it as honorable, noble, and pleasing to the gods.
The main business of life was farm ing, which was adapted to the different regions of the continent.
The population was thinner in the civilized Middle East than in the villages and big farmsteads where they lived.
The tribes were held together by common interests, traditions, and ties of kinship.
From time to time, a tribe would meet to conduct their common business and celebrate the festivals of a local god or goddess, and would often build a hilltop stronghold.
Under warrior kings and sometimes warrior queens, larger groupings were formed for purposes of warfare.
In good times, the tribal groupings fought each other for metals, slaves, and other items that brought prestige to their possessors or could be exported to the Middle East in return for some of the luxuries of civilization; in bad times, overpopulation and famine sometimes drove them to massive armed
Europe came to be inhabited by peoples who spoke mostly European languages, who were skilled in farming, metalworking, trade, and warfare, and who lacked cities, written records, and fixed structures of government, though they were fairly well organized on the local level.
The word refers to people who are less intelligent, refined, or humane than themselves.
The word with no contemptuous overtones is used by scholars to mean the tribal groups and way of life that emerged in Europe from about 2500 b.c.
If the contacts were warlike, the barbarians were sometimes the conquerors and sometimes the victims, as was the case with the earlier spread of civilization to less advanced peoples of the Middle East.
One by one, the barbarian peoples of Europe became civilized.
The chiefs and warriors of one era became the leaders and defenders of civilization in the next, often making their own contribution to the civilization they had acquired.
Civilization eventually spread throughout Europe.
Thessaly, Attica, and the Peloponnesus were where the Greeks settled around 2000 b.c.
Between 1200 and 800 b.c., they spread to the islands of the Aegean Sea and the western coast of Asia Minor.
The Greeks continued to migrate across Europe and Asia from the western Mediterranean to the borders of India, but the Aegean region remained the center of the Greek world.
The Greeks were the first barbarians to make contact with civilization.
The landscape and climate of the Aegean region were very different from that of Mesopotamia and Egypt.
To the west, the mountainous peninsula of mainland Greece jutted southward from the European landmass; the Aegean Sea was strewn with hundreds of islands; and on the east, the coastal plains of Asia Minor.
Most of the region had a limited amount of agricultural wealth because of its rocky soil, hot, dry summers, and cold, wet winters.
A powerful being holds a goose in each hand, while two pairs of bull's horns loom behind him, in this heavy gold pendant that was made in Crete about 1700 b.c.
The depiction of his body shows Egyptian influence.
The luck-bringing power of this piece of jewelry was not appreciated in its homeland.
It was found on the Greek island of Aegina, 200 miles from Crete.
The Ancient Art and Architecture Collection cultivated grain with olives and grapes to get the most out of their land.
Europe was rich in metals and timber for shipbuilding.
The Aegean peoples have traditionally supplemented their agricultural livelihood with lumberjacking, trade, and piracy.
Before 2000 b.c., the Aegean had come to be a fringe region of the international civilized world, inhabited by relatively advanced and prosperous peoples--none of whom, as yet, were Greeks.
Minoan, a civilization from Minos, a legendary king, arose under Middle Eastern influence on the island of Crete and advanced further in the Aegean region.
Minoan civilization's wealth was derived from its control of the surrounding seas and thriving trade with many eastern Mediterranean lands above Egypt.
The business records were written in a script that was developed locally under Egyptian influence.
A society devoted to spectacular games and the worship of a fertility goddess was a pleasure-loving society.
Changes were taking place on the Greek mainland at the time of Minoan civilization.
The Greeks had immigrants from the Middle East and other countries.
At the time that the Greeks made their way into their new homeland, they seemed to have been a European barbarian people just like any other.
By 1600 b.c., fortified settlements along the mainland's southern shore and on some of the islands had become the centers of a new civilization called the Mycenaean civilization.
The leading warriors of the Mycenaean Greeks rode into battle in horse-drawn chariots and protected their settlements with massive walls.
They buried their rulers in huge, stone-lined underground chambers with rich treasures of bronze weapons, as well as magnificent gold and silver personal adornments and eating and drinking vessels--proof of a skilled and wealthy society.
The Mycenaeans adapted Minoan civilization's writing to their own version of the Greek language.
The Minoans and the Mycenaeans battled for control of the eastern Mediterranean until the rivalry ended about 1400 b.c.
The downfall of the Hittites and the attacks of the Sea Peoples on Egypt happened at the same time as the demise of the Mycenaean civilization.
What happened in the Aegean is not known.
According to Greek tradition, fresh waves of warlike Greeks overran the region as part of the many armed migrations of barbarian peoples that troubled the Mediterranean at this time.
The Mycenaean chiefdoms may have been weakened internally by overpopulation and warfare.
In about 1150, Mycenae was sacked and all the other fortified settlements were empty.
Writing fell out of use as the population dropped.
The "Dark Ages" of Greek history were caused by the crisis and the eclipse of civilization for nearly four centuries.
Many Greeks fled the chaos on the mainland and settled on the western coast of Asia Minor, which became part of the Greek homeland.
Many Mycenaean religious and cultural traditions lived on.
The people continued to worship deities that their ancestors had brought with them to Greece, like the thunder god, Zeus, or the war goddess, Athena.
In the days of "golden Mycenae", Minstrels sang songs of heroic acts done in order to besiege and capture the flourishing city of Troy on the northwestern coast of Asia Minor.
The values of a warrior aristocracy that was home on both land and sea were celebrated in the heroic songs.
As their civilization grew, the Greeks joined the Phoenicians as traders, travelers, and settlers across the sea.
By 600 b.c., Greek city-states were flourishing along the coast of southern Italy and Sicily, southern Gaul, North Africa to the west of Egypt, and the Black Sea.
The Aegean was on the way to recovering from the crisis by about 800 b.c., as in the rest of the civilized world.
The population grew so fast that it outran the food supply.
When Greek settlements grew beyond supportable limits, the city fathers would send out expeditions to find a suitable spot for the founding of a daughter settlement.
emigration continued until 600 b.c.
The Greeks had a sense of oneness, which was expressed by their common religion.
Greek athletes from all over the Mediterranean traveled to southern Greece to compete in the Olympic Games, held every fourth year in honor of Zeus.
The oracle of the sun god, Apollo, in central Greece, was visited by warriors and statesmen to learn if their undertakings would succeed.
Ordinary people went on pilgrimage to Eleusis, not far from Athens, to gain the hope of eternal life by sharing in the rituals of the fertility goddess, Demeter.
The main binding force in the renewed civilization of the Greeks was formed by these practices.
As a result of new influences from the changing Middle East, this renewed civilization was very different from the old one.
From the ruins of the Hittite state, Greek settlers on the coast learned the use of iron tools and weapons as well as money.
The Phoenicians used the latest shipbuilding and naval warfare techniques.
After 700 b.c., Egypt threw off Assyrian rule and became independent.
The architectural and artistic ambitions of the rulers of the homeland were stirred by the stories of huge stone temples and impressive stone statues of Greek mercenary soldiers who served the pharaohs.
This isn't to say that the Greeks stole their civilization from other nations in Asia and Africa.
The Greeks did what many other people had done before them.
After moving into a region that brought them into contact with the civilizations that had begun in Mesopotamia and Egypt, they adapted what they learned to their own needs.
The earlier peoples usually ended by producing variations on the older civilizations they encountered.
The Greeks created something new and different by changing what they learned.
Classical Greece was a third great civilization after Mesopotamia and Egypt.
The family-, clan-, and tribe-based communities of the Dark Ages began to develop into well-organized, independent city-states after the recovery of Greek civilization about 800 b.c.
It ranged from a few square miles to 1,200 square miles, an area about the size of Rhode Island.
The city was nourished by the surrounding countryside, mountains, and sea.
The population of both country and town is usually less than a thousand.
The social and political units in Greece were not unique.
They arose wherever there was no powerful kingdom or empire to limit their independence.
The citizens didn't see this subjection to the community as a restriction on their liberty or an interference in their private lives because they also had the right to participate in community affairs.
The citadel and main religious center of the Athenian city-state were built at the height of Athens's wealth and power in the fifth century b.c.
There is a staircase leading up to the Propylaea, a ceremonial gateway leading through the citadel's walls to the temple of Athena.
The small building at left housed several religious cults, including that of Erechtheus, an early king whom the Athenians venerated as a "hero," or semidivine human being.
The city-state was viewed by the Greeks as a community enterprise.
The idea of citizenship is of Greek origin.
The idea of citizen participation seems to have started in the city-states.
The Greek city-states were protected from the Middle Eastern conquerors by many miles of land and sea.
They were free to argue among themselves because there was no universal empire to keep them in order.
They occupied a land that was not as rich as Mesopotamia or Phoenicia.
The Greek city-states couldn't afford large cavalry forces in their conflicts with each other.
They came to rely on infantry armies made of their own citizens.
Poorer citizens fought as light-armed infantry, harassing the enemy ahead of the phalanx's charge or covering its vulnerable flanks.
This was not a new way of fighting.
The Assyrian heavy infantry's equipment seems to have been modeled on the hoplite's.
The ordinary male citizens of the Greeks fought this way because they wanted to participate in other community activities besides warfare.
Traditions and myths reinforced the sense that the city-state was a community of all its citizens.
Most of the citizens of each city-state claimed to trace their ancestry back to common forefathers, as each city-state was believed to have been founded and developed by a family or clan.
In the fully developed city-state, citizenship was determined by the status of a father and his children.
The citizens could see themselves as distantly related members of a big family.
They didn't see any reason for conflict between the individual and the family.
The good life for the individual was active participation in civic affairs.
The Greeks paid special attention to the particular god or goddess who was associated with their own city, even though they were all in the same pantheon.
Local legend held that the founder of the community was semidivine and that a deity protected the city.
All Athenians were united in a special faith and ritual because the goddess of Athens was the patron.
The temple priests were state officials, not a class apart from the state.
The citizens were involved in the city-state's military, religious, and social affairs.
In the earliest times of classical Greek civilization, the communities that would become city-states were ruled by kings and their leading companion warriors.
The government was dominated by a minority of citizens and the power of the majority was limited.
Sparta was above many city-states in mainland Greece.
Other city-states that developed into large commercial cen ters gave more power to the majority.
In the war, big commercial cities depended on the poor citizens as oarsmen in the triremes.
The Phoenician warships had two banks of oars, but the triremes had three.
Since each trireme needed 170 men to row it, a city-state couldn't maintain a powerful fleet without the cooperation of the commoners.
In our present-day sense of a tyrant, a ruler of this kind was not necessarily one.
He was a self-proclaimed dictator, who held power partly by force, partly by exploiting internal divisions, and partly by providing efficient government.
Athens was the most successful city-state.
Among the Greeks of Asia Minor and elsewhere on the Mediterranean coastline, there were many others.
The city-state of Greeks was a sign of harmonious living.
It was a narrow and exclusive type of political community.
Women were more limited in their participation than men.
Immigrants from other Greek city-states had the duties but not the rights of citizens, and slaves were not considered members of the community at all.
A colony settled abroad by citizens from a mother city became an independent state.
When one city conquered another, it extended its control but not its citizenship.
Each of the tiny states had its own armed force as well as its own law, and they exhausted one another through endless rivalry, jealousy and war.
In the course of their warfare, they developed exceptional organizational and fighting skills that enabled some of them, notably Athens and Sparta, to act as great powers, alongside even the universal empire of Persia.
The Greek city-states had their own personality and many of them had the same features.
The creation of the human mind and spirit in Athens was more enduring than any city before or since.
Miletus and Ephesus were both located in Asia Minor and Thebes, but Athens was not the only center of creativity.
Their institutions and ways of life were vastly different.
We will look at the polar opposite of Athens in the Greek world.
The descendants of earlier Greek immigrants who were bound to the land by the Spartan state were compelled to work for the landholding citizens.
The fertile plains of Messenia were pushed eastward by the Spartans because much of the land in their territory of Laconia was infertile.
The non citizens were outnumbered by the Spartan citizens by about ten to one.
The conquerors became prisoners of their own success.
The Laconian helots were treated fairly and even fought in the army, but the Messenians never accepted their defeat and often rebelled.
The Spartans had to place themselves under a rigid system of life that would allow them to use terror to hold down a large population.
They had to cultivate their physical strength and endurance for soldiering, as well as strictest c hapter 2, the greek beginnings of western civilization discipline, and a constant watch on every individual.
Over several centuries, the Spartans never wavered from their self-imposed way of life.
The word "Spartan" became a synonym for courage, determination, and sternness.
The Spartans didn't want to mess with any of the institutions that had power over conquered people.
Though they did limit the royal powers, they kept their dual kings.
Policy decisions were taken over by a council of elders as the kings continued to command.
The kings and some thirty other men were chosen by the citizens from among the leading families.
The elders needed to be at least sixty years old.
The assembly was open to all adult males of the citizen minority, but they were not allowed to debate.
Instead, the council of elders drew up all the proposals and gave them to the Assembly for approval or disapproval only.
The Spartan government was a leading example of oligarchy.
The Spartans wanted to keep outsiders out of their city.
Sparta had little contact with foreigners and discouraged trade.
The citizens feared that "subversive" ideas might upset the delicate internal balance, so they used secret police and physical isolation to keep them out.
The law required Spartan men to serve as professional soldiers.
Property was fairly evenly divided among them, and any tendency to luxury was frowned on as a sign of weakness.
The middle class of aliens were allowed to conduct little business while the helots worked on the farms.
The family life of the ruling class was one of the most curious features of the Spartan social system.
The men lived in barracks until they were thirty years old.
They could have some home life with their wives and children, but they still had to take their chief meal at a soldiers' mess.
Babies who showed weakness were abandoned to die of exposure.
At the age of seven, boys were taken by the state and taught manly behavior, reading and writing, and started on a lifelong regimen of physical toughening and military instruction.
The state encouraged the breeding of the best humans.
The production of hoplites, who would be better trained and more disciplined than any other city-state, was the main goal of this regimentation.
The Spartan army was the most respected in Greece for as long as the city-state system existed.
The drills and exercises that girls were required to participate in were designed to develop them into healthy women.
Spartan women were considered scandalously "liberated" by other Greeks because they lived apart from their husbands for most of their lives.
They shared the same militaristic ideal of their menfolk.
The Spartans paid a high price for security, but their system did what they wanted it to do.
Sparta's city-states in the Peloponnesus and elsewhere in Greece, including important centers like Thebes, were also oligarchies.
Sparta citizens were mostly wealthy and accepted almost total domination by a few so as to preserve discipline and hold down the helots.
The way of life was less strict and harsh in other countries.
The assembly in which the "many" gathered had more power of debate and initiative than in Sparta were dominated by the wealthiest citizens.
Democracy is the main alternative form of government in Athens, but even the most liberal oligarchy gave less power to the majority of citizens.
The life led by the Spartans explained their willingness to face death.
The Athenians fought many wars, but they also wanted a more balanced life.
There are so many differences between the two cities.
Sparta and Athens both had access to the sea.
Sparta's army was more powerful than Athens's.
Sparta sought cultural isolation, while Athens welcomed foreign ideas.
From Athens came the daring inventiveness, the glorious literature, the stunning creations of mind and hand that have enriched our heritage.
Since Mycenaean times, Attica had been divided among many separate communities, but in the period of renewal of Greek civilization about 800 b.c., they merged to form a single city-state that was known by the name of the most important community, Athens.