Daily lecture and discussion notes 4-1 The Early Greeks

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The Early Greeks (pages 116–123)

In early Greece, roads were bumpy dirt trails and of little use to travelers. Because of this, ships became very important. To be near ships, most Greek communities settled within 60 miles of the sea.

I. The Geography of Greece (page 117)

  1. Mainland Greece is a mountainous peninsula—a body of land with water on three sides.

  2. The Ionian Sea is to the west of Greece, the Aegean Sea is to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea is to the south.

  3. Ancient Greeks were fishers, sailors, traders, and farmers.

  4. Although Greece’s rocky soil made it difficult to farm, people could grow wheat, barley, olives, and grapes in the favorable climate. How might a peninsula be affected by its surrounding water? (Land travel might be limited, the climate might be positively or adversely affected, and occupations of the people might be ocean-related, such as sailing and fishing.)

II. The Minoans (page 118)

  1. The ruins of the Minoan civilization, the first civilization to arise in Greece, are on the island of Crete.

  2. Artifacts at the palace at Knossos reveal the riches of the Minoan people, such as wine, oil, jewelry, and statues.

  3. The Minoan people were traders, traveling by ship to trade with other countries.

  4. The Minoan civilization collapsed around 1450 B.C., although historians disagree on the cause of the Minoan destruction.

How do historians know the Minoans were a wealthy people?

Artifacts at the palace of Knossos included items only wealthy people would have, such as bathrooms.

III. The First Greek Kingdoms (pages 119–120)

  1. The first Greek kings were Mycenaean leaders, whose people invaded the Greek mainland around 1900 B.C. The center of the Mycenaean kingdom was a palace surrounded by large farms.

  2. The Mycenaeans began trading with the Minoans and learned much about Minoan culture. Before collapsing around 1100 B.C., the Mycenaean civilization was the most powerful on the Mediterranean.

  3. The Dark Age occurred between 1100 B.C. and 150 B.C. and was a time of less trade and poverty among people.

  4. The Dorians invaded Greece, bringing new weapons and farming technology to the Greek people.

  5. The Greeks learned about an alphabet from the Phoenicians, one of their trading partners. The Greek alphabet had 24 letters that stood for different sounds. What was one positive result of the Dark Age? (Greeks left the mainland and settled in other countries. This helped spread Greek culture.)

IV. A Move to Colonize (page 121)

  1. After the Dark Age, Greek people began to set up colonies in other countries. This colonization spread Greek culture.

  2. Trade between colonists and the parent cities grew, and soon merchants were trading goods for money instead of more goods.

What invention allowed merchants to trade for money?

The Greeks began minting coins, which allowed merchants to trade for money.

V. The Polis (pages 122–123)

  1. A polis, or city-state, was like an independent country. City-states varied in size and population.

  2. An acropolis, located at the top of a hill, was the main gathering place of the city-state.

  3. An agora, or open area, served as a market and as a place for people to meet and debate issues.

  4. The Greeks were the first people to develop the idea of citizenship, in which citizens of a country are treated equally and have rights and responsibilities.

  5. In Greek city-states, only free, native-born, land-owning men could be citizens.

  6. Citizens could vote, hold office, own property, and defend themselves in court.

  7. The military of the city-states was made of ordinary citizens, not nobles. These citizens were called hoplites and fought each battle on foot instead of on horses.

How does the Greek definition of a citizen compare to the modern idea of who is a United States citizen?

Ancient Greeks decided that only free, native-born, land-owning men could be citizens. In the modern United States, men and women, native-born and naturalized people can be citizens, whether t hey own property or not.


Sparta and Athens (pages 124–130)

Children in ancient Greece played many games we still play today, including backgammon, checkers, hockey, and chess.

I. Tyranny in the City-States (pages 125–126)

  1. Nobles, who owned large farms, seized power from the Greek kings.

  2. Farmers had to borrow money from nobles and often could not pay back the debt. The farmers lost their land and had to work for the nobles or were sold into slavery.

  3. Unhappy farmers demanded changes in the power structure of the city-states. This unhappiness led to the rise of tyrants, or people who take power by force and rule with total authority.

  4. Tyrants overthrew the nobles during the 600s B.C.

  5. Tyrants maintained their popularity by building marketplaces, temples, and walls.

  6. The Greek people eventually tired of the tyrants and created oligarchies or democracies. An oligarchy is a form of government in which a few people hold power. A democracy is a form of government in which all citizens share power.

  7. Sparta was an oligarchy; Athens was a democracy. How are tyrants today different from those in ancient Greece?

Today the word tyrant means a harsh, oppressive ruler. Today’s tyrants are not concerned with the common good of their country’s people.
II. Sparta (pages 126–127)

  1. To obtain more land, Spartans conquered and enslaved their neighbors, calling them helots.

  2. To keep the helots from rebelling, the Spartans created a strong military of boys and men.

  3. Boys entered the military at age seven.

  4. At age 20, men entered the regular army and lived in the barracks for 10 years. They returned home at age 30 but served in the army until age 60.

  5. Spartan girls were trained in sports to become healthy mothers and were freer than other Greek women.

  6. The Spartan government was an oligarchy containing two branches, a council of elders, and an assembly.

  7. The Spartan government kept foreign travelers out and discouraged its own citizens from traveling in order to maintain control of the country.

What was one disadvantage of the Spartans’ focus on the military?

They did not learn as much about science or practice as much trade as Greeks in Athens.

III. Athens (pages 128–130)

  1. Boys in Athens attended school to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic.

  2. Athenian girls learned household duties from their mothers. Some wealthy girls learned reading, writing, and playing the lyre.

  3. The government of early Athens was an oligarchy.

  4. A noble named Solon reformed the Athenian government in 594 B.C.

  5. The tyrant Peisistratus seized power 30 years after Solon’s reforms.

F Cleisthenes took power in 508 B.C. He created a democracy in Athens. Cleisthenes gave the

assembly more power. He also created a new council to help the assembly carry out its duties.

Members of the council were chosen by lottery.

Why did the people of Athens remain unhappy after Solon’s reforms?

Solon refused to give away land of the wealthy nobles, so the farmers remained unhappy.

Persia Attacks the Greeks (pages 131–137)

After conquering Babylon in 539 B.C., Cyrus the Great wrote the Charter of Human Rights, which many historians call the first declaration of human rights.

I. The Persian Empire (pages 132–133)
A. Persians were warriors and nomads who lived in Persia, the

southwestern area of what is today Iran.

B. Cyrus the Great united the Persians. The Persians built a large empire, conquering Mesopotamia,

Asia Minor, Syria, Canaan, and Phoenician cities.

C. Darius came to power in 521 B.C. and reorganized the government.

  1. The empire under Darius was divided into satrapies, each with a ruler known as a satrap. The satraps answered to the king.

  2. The military of Persia consisted of full-time, paid soldiers known as Immortals.

  3. Zoroastrianism, the religion of Persia, was founded by Zoroaster, who believed in one god, the freedom of humans, and the triumph of good.

How did Cyrus’s compassion for his people help the Persian Empire grow?

People are more likely to follow a ruler who cares about them. People often attempt to overthrow cruel or unfair rulers.

II. The Persian Wars (pages 134–137)

A. After a failed rebellion by the Greeks, King Darius decided to stop the Greeks from interfering in his empire.

  1. The Battle of Marathon occurred in 490 B.C. on the plain of Marathon, a short distance from Athens. The Persians waited there for the Athenians. When they did not come, the Persian commander ordered the troops back on the boat. When the horsemen were on the boat, the Greeks charged the Persian foot soldiers and defeated them.

  2. After Darius’s death, his son Xerxes became king. He vowed a new invasion of Greece.

  1. Athens and Sparta joined forces to defend against Xerxes’s attack. The Greeks fought the Persians at Thermopylae for two days. The Greeks lost the battle, but 200 ships were assembled in Athens.

  2. At the Battle of Salamis, the Greeks used their faster, smaller ships to defeat the Persian fleet. The Persians entered Athens and burned the city.

  3. The Greek army won at Plataea. This was the turning point of the wars with Persia.

  4. The Persian Empire fell for several reasons. The Persians were weakened by war, and their rulers taxed the people and spent the money lavishly. The sons of kings had little power, so they killed rulers to get power.

How did modern marathon races get their name?

Legend tells that the Athenians sent a messenger to Athens after their victory at the Battle of Marathon. The messenger ran nearly 25 miles to Athens. There he collapsed. His final word was “victory.” Today’s marathons are about 26 miles long.


The Age of Pericles (pages 138–146)

Athens is named for its patron goddess, Athena.

I. The Athenian Empire (pages 139–140)

  1. Athens joined forces with other city-states to form the Delian League. The Delian League promised to defend its members against the Persians.

  2. Athens eventually gained control of the Delian League. The Athenians moved the Delian League from Delos to Athens.

  3. Athens had a direct democracy. In a direct democracy, people vote firsthand on laws and policies. Direct democracy worked because of the small number of Athenian citizens.

  4. In a representative democracy, people select smaller groups to vote on behalf of the people.

  5. AgeneralnamedPericlesledAthensformorethan30years.He promoted democracy by including more people in the government.

  6. The Age of Pericles was a time of creativity and learning. Pericles built temples and statues in the city after the destruction of the Persian Wars. He also supported artists, writers, architects, and philosophers. Philosophers are people who ponder questions about life.

Why wouldn’t a direct democracy work in the United States?

More than 206 million adults would need to meet to cast a vote. This large number of people would make the meetings impossible.
II. Daily Life in Athens (pages 142–144)

  1. In the 400s B.C., the population of Athens was about 285,000. This made Athens the largest of all Greek city-states.

  2. Most Athenian homes had at least one slave, and wealthy families had many slaves.

  3. Athenian farmers grew grain, vegetables, fruit, olives, and grapes. Because there was little farmland, Athens had to import grain from other places.

  4. Herders raised sheep and goats for wool, milk, and cheese.

  5. Athens became the trading center of the Greek world. Merchants traded pottery, jewelry, leather goods, and other products.

  6. Athenian men worked in the morning and exercised or attended assembly meetings in the evening.

  7. Athenian women were responsible for caring for their children and their households. Poor women might work in the fields or sell goods.

  8. Athenian women had no political rights and could not own property.

  9. Aspasia was a well-educated woman who influenced Plato and Pericles. Although she could not vote or hold office, she was influential in politics. Why were slaves important to Athenians? (Slaves provided important labor to merchants and artisans. Without slaves, Athens would not have been able to support its economy.)

III. The Peloponnesian War (pages 144–146)

  1. Other city-states along with Sparta became suspicious of Athens. These city-states joined together against Athens. The war that broke out is known as the Peloponnesian War.

  2. Pericles’s funeral oration reminded Athenians about democracy and gave them courage to continue fighting. 

C. Athenians outside the city walls moved inside the city to protect themselves.

  1. In the second year of the war, a disease killed more than one-third of the people inside Athens’ walls, including Pericles.

  2. Sparta made a deal with the Athenians and built a navy. The Spartan navy defeated the Athenian navy, which brought supplies to the Athenians. Athens then surrendered.

What was the effect of the Peloponnesian War on the city-states?

Many people died, and others lost jobs. Farmers also had their land destroyed. The Greeks could not reunite again.

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