(Napisao: gosp. Marko Marelić -  S. Francisco - USA)
--> Marko Marelic personal page

The Greeks established the basic principles of democracy.

Throughout its existence, the Aegean civilization had been threatened by invaders. About 1100 B.C. warlike peoples later known as the Dorians began moving into the Greek peninsula from the north. The Myceanaeans were driven from their cities, and many of the survivors fled eastward into Attica and settled in Athens. Others took refuge on the islands of the Aegean and on a strip of seacoast in Asia Minor known as Ionia. Still others fell victim to the conquerors, but in time a peaceful mingling began to take place. From the mixture of various groups emerged the Greeks. During this period of transition--from the first Dorian invasions to about the middle of the 8th century B.C.--the basis for Greek civilization was laid.

Little is known about this transitional period. Trade came to a standstill and the people lived in isolated agricultural communities. Gradually, Athens and other communities established contacts for mutual protection and for the observance of common religious festivals. From these contacts developed the famous Olympic games, beginning in the 8th century B.C. and held every four years in honor of Zeus. Little by little, the cultural unity was re-established which had existed when Mycenaean power was at its height.

The Greeks called themselves Hellenes after Hellas, an area in northwest Greece. The great period of Greek civilization which followed the era of transition is called the Hellenic period, lasted from about 750 to 338 B.C.

Independent city-states were formed on the Greek peninsula.

Early Greek society was simple. The people grouped into clans, ruled by a king or tribal chief. Each clan established a settlement, known as the polis, where the people might be safe from attack. The countryside around the polis was used for farming and grazing. The geographic isolation of the settlements among the mountains, valleys, and rocky coastline of Greece encouraged the growth of small, independent city-states. The members of the city-state were proud of their home city and only those born within the city-state could achieve full citizenship. The city-states were jealous of their independence and did not usually cooperate except when foreign invasion threatened.

One of the greatest contributions of the city-states to civilization was democratic government, which evolved gradually. The first step was usually the formation by the nobility of an oligarchy, or government by the few, which replaced the monarchy. As the power of the nobility increased, the common people at first benefited from the shift in political power. The first written legal codes were the work of the nobles; no longer was justice a matter of whim or guesswork. Penalties for lawbreakers were established by law rather than by a judge, and the laws were available for all to see.

Greek traders set up colonies and trade routes.

By the middle of the 8th century B.C., the Greek world was controlled by nobles who had become corrupted by power. They had increased their wealth through their control of the farmland, and had forced the small farmers to mortgage their plots of ground or to sell themselves into slavery. Many farmers abandoned the land in favor of small-scale manufacturing. Poor soils and scarcity of good land also contributed to the decline of agriculture.

Textile manufacturing, the making of pottery, and the fashioning of bronze weapons and implements developed rapidly. It was not long before Greek industry required additional markets for its goods and new sources of food supplies for the workers. An increase in population placed even greater demands on the available food supplies. Migration gave the people an opportunity to achieve wealth or attain increased political freedom; and the Greeks embarked upon a program of colonization.

Each new colony was bound by social and religious ties to the parent city-state, and thus the isolation of the original city-state decreased somewhat. Colonies were established in the north Aegean and the Black Sea areas, Adriatic--Corcyra Nigra, and in Egypt, Sicily, Italy, and southern France.

The power of the nobility was challenged by tyrants.

The colonization system did not relieve the discontent in Greece, however. A number of trends combined to bring about the decline of the nobility. The first was the growth of the hoplites, a heavily armed infantry of citizens. The power of the hoplites increased until they were a match for the cavalry of the nobles, and they demanded improved living condition for the common people. Second, the development of a system of coinage in Lydia quickly spread to Greece and a new basis of wealth was created which did not depend on land ownership. An important new social group appeared on the scene; a business class of merchants, shipowners, weavers, potters, and blacksmiths. They were discontented with the rule of the nobility and wanted a voice in government.

From about 650 to 500 B.C. a number of revolutions occurred in Greece. Many city-states came under the rule of tyrants, or leaders who had seized power unlawfully. To the Greeks, tyranny meant simply one-man rule. A tyrant was not necessarily a cruel or oppressive ruler; often he was a member of the nobility who had become democratic in outlook and to whom the people turned for leadership. In reality, the rise of tyrants was a step in the direction of government by the people.

The first democracy grew in Athens.

On the dusty coastal plain of Attica lay the city of Athens. The city hugged the sloped of a hill known as Acropolis, where the Athenians built their forts and temples. As a seaport, Athens was exposed to a variety of commercial and cultural influences, which brought wealth and a diversity of ideas to the city.

From the 8th to the 6th centuries B.C., political control in Athens was concentrated in a council of nobles, with the most important public office held by the archon, or chief magistrate, elected annually from the nobility. By the end of this period, Athens was suffering from food-supply problems and from political unrest among the many poverty-stricken small farmers. Solon, who was elected archon in 594 B.C., came to the aid of the farmers. He canceled debts which they owed the nobles and forbade the practice of a farmer offering his services as security for a loan.

Solon created the Council of 400, which comprised 100 representatives from each of the four main tribes of Athens. The Council prepared the agenda for the meeting of the assembly, which was allowed by law to discuss only those matters brought before it. Trade was encouraged and the full rights of citizenship were offered to non-Athenian craftsman if they moved their families to Athens. This step was important because citizenship had previously been granted only through birth. Solon did not create democracy, but his period of rule opened a new chapter in the history of Athens.

The shepherds were dissatisfied with their lot because they owned no land. They found a leader in the tyrant Pisistratus, a distant relative of Solon. Pisistratus seized the Acropolis in 560 B.C. and ruled for over thirty years. He redistributed the land and property of the nobles among the poor and landless and stimulated trade. The next important tyrant in Athenian history was Cleisthenes, who came to power in 508 B.C. Under Cleisthenes, the system of ostracism was introduced. This system allowed the citizens to banish any officials they judged to be dangerous to the Athenian state.

Other measures introduced by Cleisthenes strengthened the growth of democracy. To reduce the influence of the four Athenian tribes, he split their members into ten new tribes and set up a new system of political districts, or wards. He also increased the membership of the Council to 500. The new Council was composed of fifty members chosen annually by lot from each of the ten tribes. These changes were significant, for they enabled more people to participate in politics and allowed a greater variety of local interests to be represented in the governing bodies.

With the adoption of the reforms of solon, Pisistratus, and Cleisthenes--the famous trio of tyrants who were champions of the people--Athens had taken large steps toward becoming a democracy. Other city-states followed the lead of Athens. By the end of the 6th century B.C., democratic governments were being set up in most city-states.

Sparta became a warrior state.

An important exception to the trend toward popular government was the city-state of Sparta. When the ancestors of the Spartans, the Dorians, entered the Peloponnesus, they subdued the natives, who were classified as helots. Permitted to remain on the land as farmers, the helots supplied food for the conquerors. In the 8th century B.C., the Spartans invaded neighboring Messenia and subdued it. As a result, Sparta possessed adequate land and was not attracted by colonization and trade. Of greatest importance in the shaping of the Spartan system of government was the constant threat of rebellion by the Messenians and the helots.

In about 600 B.C., the Spartans set up a constitution, which was dedicated to ensuring the military strength of the state. An assembly of citizens was created, but it had little power. Control of the state was held by a small group of citizens, the Council of Elders, who presented measures to the assembly and appointed magistrates.

Sparta was organized as a military camp. To maintain high health standards, all weak or deformed children were killed. Only the strong and healthy were allowed to live. At seven years of age, boys were removed from their homes and sent to military camps, where they received strict training in gymnastics and military exercises. Each year they were flogged to test their powers of physical endurance. At twenty years of age, the young men became field soldiers and were permitted to marry, although they continued to live in the barracks. Ten years later men were admitted to the assembly and were given various government posts. The women of Sparta received equally severe training until marriage in order to be considered fit mothers.

The helots were regarded as state property and were little better than slaves. They were denied citizenship and were governed harshly. To spy on them and to prevent revolt, the Spartans created a secret police force. Once a year war was declared on the helots, so that potential rebels could be wiped out without breaking the law against murder.

The highly trained Spartan army was used against their neighbors with some success. But it was diplomacy, backed by threat of force, which enabled Sparta to extend its influence. In the 6th century B.C., the Peloponnesian League, a military alliance with nearby states was formed.

The Greeks were threatened by Persia and by city-state rivalries.

Inevitably the Greeks came into contact with other peoples as they expanded their colonial possessions and their power. The Persian Empire was the most dangerous foe. Hostilities between the Persians and the Greeks began when Cyrus of Persia attacked and defeated Croesus, the king of Lydia, in 546 B.C. Cyrus then continued his campaign until he had conquered most of the Ionian Greeks in Asia Minor.

The next Persian monarch to threaten the Greeks was Darius I, who began to rule in 522 B.C. One of his most important acts--the reorganization of the empire into administrative districts--aroused anger in the Ionian Greeks. Although included in one of these districts, they felt they had been given an insignificant status in the empire. In 499 B.C. the Ionian Greeks attacked the Persians. Although Athens sent ships to aid the Ionians, the Greeks were defeated decisively at the naval battle of Miletus in 494 B.C. The city of Miletus was burned by the Persians, an act of revenge which inflamed the Athenians. They began the construction of a navy to protect their own city. For his part, Darius was determined to seize the Greek mainland and punish the Athenians for the aid given their kinsmen in Asia Minor.

The Greeks were victorious at Marathon and Salamis.

In 492 B.C. Darius tried to crush Thrace, an area north of Greece, and to subdue Athens at the same time. While attempting to navigate around Mount Athos, the Persian fleet was almost completely destroyed by a storm. Two years later, a Persian army and navy moved westward across the Aegean Sea to the Bay of Marathon, about twenty-five miles from Athens. The Greeks were prepared for this move; Athens and Sparta had agreed to an alliance to meet the Persian threat. However, when a runner was sent from Athens to Sparta requesting aid, the superstitious Spartans refused to march until the next full moon. Although aid from Sparta was withheld, the Athenians--outnumbered two to one--achieved an astounding victory. The Greek historian, Herodotus, described the battle of Marathon thus:

"So when the battle was set in array, and victims showed themselves favorable, instantly the Athenians…charged the barbarians at a run. Now the distance between the two armies was a little short of a mile. The Persians, therefore, when they saw the Greeks coming on at speed, made ready to receive them, although it seemed to them that the Athenians were bereft of their senses, and bent upon their own destruction; for they saw a mere handful of men coming on at a run without either horsemen or archers…the Athenians in close array fell upon them, and fought in a manner worthy of being recorded…"

The Persian fleet then set sail in a bid to capture Athens, but was repulsed. The fleet then withdrew to Asia Minor. The success of the battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. inspired the Greeks with confidence and touched off rebellions in other sections of the Persian Empire.

During the sinter of 481-480 B.C., Xerxes captured Athens and burned the Acropolis. The Athenians placed their faith in "wooden walls"--the fleet--and assembled their ships at Salamis. The ensuing naval battle in the narrow straits of Salamis proved a disaster for the Persians. Xerxes returned to Asia Minor, and 479 B.C. the surviving remnants of the Persian army on the Greek mainland were routed in the battle of Plataea. The Greeks became unchallenged in the Aegean and Persia gave up its attempts to conquer them.
One of the most important results of the Hellenic Victory was that the bussing city--states of Greece had a change to develop their democratic systems of government. Thus the despotism of the East was not allowed to penetrate Europe and undermine the growth of freedom.

Athens became the leading city in Greece.

After the defeat of the Persians, Athens took the lead in holding many of the city-states together in a loose federation called the Delian League. The power and wealth of Athens was based on a thriving trade, naval supremacy, and prestige. Under the leadership of Pericles, Athens reached the zenith of its democracy. The period of his rule, from 460-429 B.C., is called the Golden Age of Pericles. During this time, the Parthenon was built, and the arts and literature flourished.

Political power was vested in the popular assembly, in the Council of 500, and in a popular court. The real power of government lay in the popular assembly, of which all citizens over eighteen years of age were members. The assembly drafted laws, decided important issued, and elected an executive board of ten generals. The generals were subject to the will of the assembly, which could reelect them, exile them, or sentence them to death. Pericles was president of the board of generals.

The Council of 500, which prepared legislation for the assembly, was divided into committees dealing with civic matters such as public buildings and street maintenance. Everyone serving the state was paid for his services, which meant that even poor men were able to serve. The juries of the popular court were also paid. The popular court was made up of as many as 2001 jurors, too many for even a wealthy person to bribe. To prevent corruption, judges and juries were chosen by lot. With the above Athenian democratic achievement, they established the Psephisma.

PSEPHISMA means a decree of the ECCLESIA of the Athena.

ECCLESIA, in ancient Greek states a political assembly of the citizens, especially at Athens. The periodic meeting of the citizens for conducting public business, usually for considering affairs proposed by the Council. COUNCIL, (L. concilium) (1). A group of people called together for consultation, discussion, advice, etc. (2). A Group of people chosen as an administrative advisory or "LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY". (3). The legislative body of a city or town. (4). An assembly of church officials to discuss points of doctrine, etc.
BOULE - a legislative council of elders or chiefs, Senate- the Boule of Homeric times was an aristocratic body of princes and leaders merely as advisory to the king. The Athenian Boule of Solon's times was an elective senate of 400 acting as a check on the popular ECCLESIA for which it examined and prepared bills for discussion. It later was increased to 500.

DECREE (L. decretum, Gr. nomoi) a law "judicial decision" by the court (Gr. Dikasteria).

PSEPHISMA of Athens (a law of a political assembly of Athens) was written or inscribed on stone tablets, clay tablets, wood tablets, etc. They were displayed in front of the judicial and government offices. The Legislature (Gr. nomothesia) met once a year to discuss public affairs.

Based on the principle that all citizens were equal, Athenian democracy made it possible for nearly every citizen to hold one or more public offices during his lifetime. This mass participation of citizens in political life is known as pure or direct democracy in contrast to the modern system of representative democracy, in which the citizens elect representatives to act for them in the government.

Not all the inhabitants of Athens were granted citizenship. Women, foreigners and slaves were excluded, and these groups far outnumbered the citizens. Therefore, limits to the principle of equality did exist.

A liberal education was stressed. Education in Athens was a primary factor in sustaining a healthy democratic government. The aim of Athenian education was to help students develop fine physiques and an appreciation for the arts, acquire the ability to think for themselves, and become good citizens.

Athenian boys started school at six years of age and continued until they were sixteen or older. Most of them learned to play the flute or lyre. At fourteen they entered a gymnasium, where they were trained in running, wrestling, boxing, and other athletic skills. Their academic subjects included geometry, astronomy, natural history, geography, and public speaking.

Because women in Athens did not take part in cultural or political affairs, the training of girls was more limited in scope. They did not attend school, but nevertheless they were taught in their homes to read, write, and play a musical instrument.

City-state rivalries undermined Greek power.

The democracy practiced by the Athenians in their native city differed markedly from the policies pursued elsewhere. Athens forced the other members of the Delian League to pay tribute to the Athenian treasury. Farmers in other city-states were often forced off their land by Athenian settlers, and Athenian traders reserved the best commercial advantaged for themselves. By placing its own interests first, Athens prevented the Delian League from becoming a true Greek union of states. Instead, the league was converted into an Athenian maritime empire.

During the final years of Pericles' leadership, other city-states tried to bring about the downfall of Athens. In addition to growing pressure from without, corruption crept into the government of Athens. Pericles' successors were inferior to him in intellect and morals. They used the ruling bodies for their private gain, and citizen juries frequently fined innocent men so that they could have regular employment in the courts at good wages.

The resentment of the other city-states erupted in open warfare; and in 431 B.C., with Sparta at their head, they allied themselves against Athens in the Peloponnesian War. After a long and costly struggle, Sparta defeated Athens in 404 B.C. Intermittent wars among the city-states, however, resulted in the collapse of Spartan leadership at the battle of Leuctra in 371 B.C. The disastrous Peloponnesian War left the Greeks weakened and divided. Meanshile, to the north, a new power was gaining strength.

The Macedonians united Greece and spread Hellenic culture.

North of Greece lay Macedonia, inhabited by an Indo-European people of the same racial stock as the Greeks. They were hardy mountain folk and Philip, their king, was a military strategist of the first rank. After he came to power in 359 B.C., he organized a standing army of professional soldiers who were drilled in cavalry and infantry tactics and kept in trim through a rigorous program of athletics. Philip was also a ruthless master of intrigue, willing to use bribery, falsehood, or any other treacherous means to achieve his ends. He was determined to unite the Greeks under his rule, and little by little he encroached on Greek territory and incorporated outlying areas into his domain. Yet Philip desired the friendship of the Greeks and at first avoided the use of force. As a youth he had been a hostage in Thebes and had learned to respect Greek culture.

Philip's conquest of the Greeks ended the Hellenic Period.

Early in 338 B.C., an alliance was arranged between Athens and Thebes, the two most powerful cities at that time. Although the stated objective of this union was to maintain a balance of power among the city-states, the real reason was the fear of Macedonia. In the summer of 338 B.C. the Greeks attacked Philip, but the Macedonian king with his son, Alexander, almost annihilated the Athenian army. This clash marked the end of the power of the city-states, and all of the Greek peninsula except for Sparta quickly passed under Philip's control.

Within the year in which Philip's victories took place, delegates from all the major city-states of Greece (except Sparta) were summoned by Philip at Corinth, where the so-called Hellenic League was formed. The individual city-states were given a large degree of self-government, but control of internal security and external defense remained in Philip's hands. In 336 B.C., after preparing to invade Persia, Philip was murdered.

Fortunately, Philip was one of the few kings of ancient times who had prepared his successor for the task of ruling. His son, Alexander, was given the finest education available, including a period of tutoring by the famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle. While Alexander was still in his early teens, Philip shared the state secrets with him, and at sixteen years of age Alexander took control of an elite guard. On his accession to the throne at the age of twenty, he proved himself a strong leader and mercilessly crushed a revolt by Thebes.

Alexander conquered the Persian Empire.

The youthful Alexander resolved to carry out his father's plan to conquer Persia. He was a fervent admirer of Hellenic civilization and desired not only to preserve it but also to spread it abroad. His own ambition burned within him; he was convinced it was his destiny to rule the world. In 334 B.C., more than 30 thousand infantry and 5000 cavalry were assembled for the march to the east. It was a journey from which Alexander would never return.

In 334 B.C., Alexander won a great triumph at the battle of Granicus, which touched off a revolt of the Greeks in Asia Minor against their Persian overlords. The following year, Alexander's forces met the armies of the Persian monarch Darius III at Issus and, though outnumbered three to one defeated them roundly. Darius fled ingloriously from the field of battle and Alexander's desire to defeat his once and for all increased. After a seven-month siege of Tyre and a successful expedition to Egypt, in which he founded the city of Alexandria, he swung north to face Darius again. In 331 B.C., Arbela fell to the young conqueror but Darius had eluded him. It was clear, however, that the Persian monarch could no longer rally his forces against the Greeks, and he was later murdered by one of his own men. Alexander marched on to Babylon and then Persepolis, where he took his seat on the royal throne of Persia. Thus ended the Persian threat to the Mediterranean world, which had existed since the time of Darius I.

Alexander moved eastward through Persia to India, but at last his weary soldiers forced him to turn back. In 323 B.C, while planning the conquest of the western Mediterranean, he died in Babylon, a victim of fever. Although his many military successes were in some measure due to the disorganized state of the Persian Empire, Alexander in his won right was a skillful general and gallant leader of men.

Outstanding as his military exploits appeared to the men of his own time and to later generations, of greater significance was Alexander's concept of "one world." He envisioned a blend of Greek and Persian culture with the Greek language and Greek law as strong unifying bonds. Marriages between his soldiers and native women were encouraged; Alexander himself married two Persian princesses. In the lands he conquered, a uniform coinage was adopted and the Persian system of satrapies, or administrative districts, was kept intact or modified only slightly. Over seventy new cities were founded and their governing bodies were staffed by Persians as well as Greeks and Macedonians. In short, Alexander believed firmly in the creation of a cohesive world government in which all men were brothers.

Alexander III Macedonia was born in 356 B.C. and died in 323 B.C. and his adviser Aristotle died in 322 B.C. Three years after Aristotle died, a big earthquake (megalos sismos) destroyed (katastrofos) the town of Corcyra Nigra called L. Punctum (Akpa pronounced Akra) in 319 B.C. The entire town of Punctum (Akpa) went to the bottom of the sea forever. The town of Punctum (Akpa) was on the eastern side of the island of Corcyra Nigra (Kerkira Melaina) and its harbor had a capacity for a big marine fleet. Its town was near today's village M.E. called Lumbarde.

Commerce and culture spread during the Hellenistic Age.

With the death of Alexander, the empire was left with no heirs to govern it. As a result, it was divided into three sections, each ruled by one of Alexander's generals. Antigonus ruled the kingdom of Macedonia which had partial control over Greece; Egypt was ruled by Ptolemy; and Syria and Persia, by Seleucus. Dynasties were established in these kingdoms, and the three-part division made up what was called the Hellenistic world. The period of these kingdoms, called the Hellenistic Age, lasted from Alexander's death until the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C.

The Hellenistic Age was a time of great economic growth and of cultural exchange between East and West. The network of cities founded by Alexander created new markets for a variety of goods and acted as focal points for the spread of Greek culture. The greatest city of all was Alexandria in Egypt, with a population of over half a million people. The city had wide, beautiful streets and a great library of 750 thousand books. A lighthouse nearly 400 feet in height was judged one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Greek civilization formed the basis for Western culture.

The Hellenic and Hellenistic phases of Greek civilization differed in one basic respect: the first was a period in which cultural development was confined to the Greek peninsula, whereas the Hellenistic Age was a time in which almost the whose of the known world served as a setting for the spread of Greek culture.

Athenian philosophers searched for truth.

The three greatest Greek philosophers were Socrates, Plate, and Aristotle. Socrates, who lived in the 5th century B.C., was known to his fellow Athenians as "the gadfly" because his persistent questioning of all ideas and actions stung his listeners into thinking. In fact, the so-called Socratic method consisted of asking questions and then carefully analyzing the answers in an attempt to arrive at the truth. Socrates might begin a session by posing the question, "What is the beautiful and what is the ugly?" Each response would be questioned and further questions would be posed until agreement had been reached by the participants about the precise definitions of the terms being discussed. Socrates advice to everyone was to "know thyself."

Some Athenians believed that Socrates was an immoral influence on his students because he encouraged young men to question practices of all kinds. His questioning the acts of the Athenian leaders led them to place Socrates on trial, charging that he was corrupting the youth of the city. He was sentenced to death and required to drink hemlock, a poison. Socrates accepted the verdict calmly; though his friends urged him to escape, he refused because he insisted that men must obey the laws of the state.
The most notable of Socrates' pupils was Plato, who lived from 430 to 347 B.C. He established the Academy in Athens, a famous school which existed for almost nine centuries. His most famous work, The Republic, describes an imaginary land in which each man does the work for which he is best fitted. Plato believed that there should be three classes of people: the workers to produce the necessities of life, the soldiers to guard the state, and the philosophers to rule in the interests of all. Private property was to be abolished and education was designed for the benefit of the rulers. Though Plato's ideas of communal life and a rigid class system seem harsh and akin to Spartan ideas, The Republic is an important work because it represents man's first attempt to devise a planned society.

Plato's most famous student was the 4th century philosopher, Aristotle. He was a brilliant thinker whose interest ranged widely. He wrote treatises in biology, astronomy, physics, ethics, and politics. His most important work consisted of studies in logic. It was Aristotle who devised the syllogism, which consists of three propositions. If the major and minor premises are valid and related logically, the third proposition, or conclusion, inevitable follows. For example, (1) all Greeks are human; (2) Aristotle is a Greek; (3) therefore, Aristotle is human.

Like most Athenians, Aristotle believed that a person could be happy if he were moderate in most things. It is desirable, he felt, for all men to strike a balance between rash action and inactivity; to live between two extremes by following the Doctrine of the Mean. The best way to meet danger, for example, is through courageous action, which is the mean between foolhardiness and cowardice. In his Politics, Aristotle discussed the good and bad features of different kinds of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Unlike Plato, he did not describe an imaginary state nor did he find a single system ideal. Politics serves to point out a significant difference between the two philosophers. Where Plato often appears to deal only with abstract ideas, Aristotle seems more down-to-earth, viewing men and things in a realistic fashion.

Two important schools of Greek philosophers arose in the Hellenistic Age: Epicureanism and Stoicism. The first was developed by Epicurus of Samos, who maintained that a temperate life was best for reducing pain and increasing pleasure. Some of his followers misunderstood his emphasis upon pleasure, thinking he meant that one should only live to eat, drink, and be merry. Thus Epicureanism is often misinterpreted in spite of its founder's emphasis upon mental activity as a way of gaining inner peace. Zeno of Cyprus developed the system of Stoicism. Zeno taught that true happiness, or inner peace, can be achieved by man when he finds his proper place in nature. His followers were called Stoics, because they usually met on a stoa, or porch. Believing all nature to be good, the Stoics maintained that man must accept poverty, disease, or even death as the will of God. This philosophy led them to develop an indifference toward all kinds of experience, good or bad. Today the word stoic describes a person who does not show his feelings or emotions.

The Greeks achieved eminence in science.

More important scientific discoveries and a greater degree of technological advance distinguished the Hellenistic period from the Hellenic. During the earlier period, however, Aristotle left his mark on the development of the natural sciences and other Greeks made notable advances also. Pythagoras, a philosopher from the island of Samos developed the geometric principle which bears his name, the Pythagorean theorem. Hippocrates, a Greek from Asia Minor, founded a medical school where diagnosis and treatment were based upon observation and healing practices rather than on magical formulas. "Every disease has a natural cause," he claimed. His work helped strip away superstitions and belief in magic which had hampered the study of disease. Physicians today swear an oath based on the original oath Hippocrates drew up for the ethical conduct of doctors.

During the Hellenistic Age, Archimedes of Syracuse calculated the way to measure the circumference of a circle. He also discovered the principle of specific gravity by noticing that the water in his bathtub overflowed when he lowered himself into it. From this experience he formulated what is known as Archimedes principle: "A body immersed in a liquid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the liquid displaced." Euclid, an Alexandrian, is often called "the father of geometry." His textbook The Elements still provides the basis for the study of plane geometry. Another Alexandrian scientist, Aristarchus, discovered that the earth rotated and revolved around the sun. Eratosthenes made a fairly accurate estimate of the circumference of the earth and drew the first rough system of longitudes and latitudes on a map of the world. More than 1700 years before Columbus, Hellenistic scientists had learned that the earth was round.

Scientists of the Hellenistic Age invented many machines that involved the use of levers, cranks, and geared wheels. Hero of Alexandria made a steam engine but used it as a toy. Other inventions included cogwheels, siphons, and derricks.

Herodotus and Thucydides were famous historians.

So far as is known, the first man to supply the word history to a narrative of past events was Herodotus, a 5th century Greek born in Halicarnassus, a city in Asia Minor. Driven into exile as a young man, he set out on his travels to Greece, Egypt, and the lands of the Persian Empire to gather information for his masterpiece, History of the Persian Wars. This work traced the rise of the Persian Empire under Cyrus and Darius I and came to a climax with the description of Xerxes campaign against the Greeks. It is filled with anecdotes, legends, and many entertaining bits of odd information which are not always reliable as historical evidence. When relating events that he could not verify, however, Herodotus admitted it, allowing his reader to decide whether they were fact or fiction. Yet the History, for all its rambling style, is a unified account, for which its author has been dubbed "the father of history." Basic to Herodotus' beliefs was the idea that the gods punish those with excessive pride; to his mind, the Persians were guilty of great pride and were destroyed by the gods.

Like Herodotus, Thucydides lived in the 5th century and was exiled from his native city of Athens. While in exile, he wrote History of the Peloponnesian War, his only work. But there the resemblance to Herodotus ends. In his history, Thucydides included only material he considered relevant to the narrative. He weighed evidence carefully and admitted no facts to his history unless they had been meticulously checked. As he stated:

"Of the events of the war I have not ventured to speak from any information, nor according to any notion of my own; I have described nothing but what I either saw myself or learned from others of whom I made the most careful and particular inquiry."

He did not believe that human events could be explained by fate or by the acts of the gods, and he searched for the human causes of the Greek wars. Thucydides himself had been an Athenian general before his exile. But no bias in Athens' favor mars his work, which has become a model for latter-day historians.

The Greeks invented drama.

Greek tragic drama was an outgrowth of religious rites held at the festivals honoring the god of wine, Dionysus. A chorus of men chanted hymns in praise of the god and accompanied the songs with stately dances. In the 6th century B.C. changes were made in the performances which led to the development of the drama form. Individual actors were separated from the chorus and given roles to enact, and dialogue was introduced. Of greatest significance was the use of new themes based on heroic legends not related to worship of Dionysus.

The form and matter of Greek tragedy owed much to its association with religious practices. Poetic language was considered the proper mode of expression; the chorus remained a basic part of the play, commenting on the action as it unfolded; and both masculine and feminine roles were played by men. Most important, tragedy dealt with serious matters--man's destiny and the problems of good and evil.

Athens dominated the development of this art form and the most famous tragic dramatists were a trio of Athenian poets who lived the 5th century: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Located on the slopes of the Acropolis was the open-air theater of Dionysus. It was semi-circular in plan and seated some 14 thousand spectators. Various devices were used to make a play understandable to the large audiences. The actors wore thick-soled sandals to increase their height and carried painted masks depicting grief, horror, and the other strong emotions portrayed. Speaking tubes were used to amplify the actors' voices.

Comedy also originated in the festivals of Dionysus. The greatest comic author was Aristophanes, who lived in the 5th century. No libel laws protected Athenians, and important citizens were often held up to ridicule in his plays.

Greek architecture and sculpture were widely imitated.

Most Greeks, including those who were wealthy, lived in modest clay-brick homes; but they created beautiful temples of marble for their gods. Of those built during the Age of Pericles, the finest was the Parthenon, judges one of the most beautifully proportioned structures of all time. Many modern buildings employ architectural features created by the ancient Greeks.

Stiffness and formality characterized the bronze and marble figures of early Greek sculptors; but later workers, including the Phidias of the 5th century, used their materials to display the natural lines of the human body. A century after the Age of Pericles, Praxiteles carved figures that equaled or surpassed Phidias in grace and poise.



The Greek Colonies in the Adriatic
Corcyra (Kerkyra), Corcyra Nigra (Korcula), Atria (Adria), and Spina

During ancient times the names "Adriatic" and "Ionian Seas" were used more or less interchangeably to denote the waters between Italy and the Balkan peninsula, which form a prolonged indentation with an average width of 110 miles. Later, the northern and southern sectors of this gulf came to be described as the Adriatic and Ionian Seas respectively, with their division at the Straits of Otranto, although the rugged Adriatic coast north of that point became known, by extension, as the Ionian Gulf. The first Greek settlement of these shores was intended to provide halfway houses to markets and colonies at Pithecusae and Cumae in Campania, by Euboeans from Chalcis and Eretria, and Syracuse in Sicily.

The scene of the initial colonizing venture in this area was Corcyra (Kerkyra, Corfu). This is the northernmost island of the Ionian archipelago, in the sea of the same name off the north-west coast of Greece, separated by a narrow channel from the mainland (now Albania). Rainfall supplies a more flourishing vegetation than is to be found on the other islands of the group. Thucydides recorded the tradition that Corcyra was Homer's Scheria, the home of the Phaeacians, although it had not, in fact, been the poet's design to identify Scheria with any real geographical location.

Corcyra (Kerkyra) was originally populated, it would seem, by people related to the Epirotes on the mainland opposite, and Apulians from southeast Italy were among the other inhabitants. In the early years of the eighth century B.C., however, the Euboean city of Eretria created a commercial post upon a peninsula jutting out from the island's eastern shore. This market, at first named Drepane (reaping-hook, because Demeter was said to have taught Titans to reap corn on the island), was served by two harbors, one upon the sea and the other in a deep-water lagoon. In addition, the settlers or visitors possessed a foothold upon the mainland opposite, so that they were able to dominate the Straits - and control the traffic to Italy and Sicily.

In c.733 B.C., however (though a later date of c. 706 B.C. has also been proposed), Corinthian migrants too, made their way to Corcyra, under the leadership of a certain Chersicrates, and expelled the Eretrians. The new arrivals established a colony at the port, under the name of Palaepolis (just north of the modern city), protected by an acropolis (Analepsis). The new colonists claimed that the name Corcyra (Kerkyra) itself was of Corinthian derivation, explaining it as a corrupt version of "Gorgo" (Gorgon), the monstrous Medusa who was struck down by Corinth's hero Bellerophon, but who symbolized the warding off of evil - although the name may, in fact, be of non-Greek origin, derived from the Illyrians who inhabited the hinterland of the northwest Balkan region, Dalmatia.

According the mythology, Bellerophon, a Corinthian hero, was sent to the king Lycia with a letter asking that he be put to death. The king commissioned him to slay the Chimera, which he did with the aid of Pegasus. According to Pindar, on his presuming to try to mount to heaven, he fell from Pegasus upon the Aleian field in Lycia, where he perished.

In keeping with the unusually determined desire of the Corinthians to keep their colonies in a dependent status, it has been suggested that Corcyra, too, was originally in such a situation. That is not certain, but at first the two communities did remain closely related. Yet not much time elapsed, all the same, before the island colony became involved in fierce fighting against its mother-city, whose fleet it defeated heavily off the Sybota islands, in the first recorded naval engagement between the Greek states. The battle has been attributed to c.664 B.C., but it may have been somewhat later.


While Cypselus was dictator of Corinth, the two cities collaborated in the foundation of Epidamnus (Dyrrhachium, Durres, Drac) up the Illyrian coast. The Corcyraeans were the principal participants, although other colonists of the place, including its founder, came from Corinth (c.627 B.C.; the original tribal leaders [phylarchoi] were later replaced by a council). Corcyra also probably collaborated in Cypselus' colonies at Ambracia (Arta) and Anactorium, and on the island of Leucas. The first coins of Apollonia in Illyria, too, suggest a joint foundation. They are datable to c.600 B.C.; and it was during this period that, although the Corcyraeans received the assistance of Cnidus (which itself colonized the island of Black Corcyra [Korcula], so-called because of its dark pine forests), Cypselus' son and successor Periander (c.625-585 B.C.) established (or re-established?) political control over Corcyra itself, exercising this domination through one of his sons.

Before Cnidus colonized Black Corcyra [Korcula], the Illyrians had used that island as a central prison for slaves and criminals for all Dalmatia. The Greeks had used Black Corcyra for harvesting oak and pine wood for building their marine flotilla. The Greeks had brought vineyard plants called Lipara from Sicily and Grk from the Greek islands. They also used it as the headquarters for their Adriatic colonies and their business and as a protection from Illyrian pirates.

Later, however, the island reasserted its independence. When this happened is uncertain, but the architects and sculptors of its temple of Artemis, erected in c.580 B.C. (or a little later?) still seem to have been Corinthians. This has been claimed as the first stone temple of the Greeks (though the material was also used for the entablature at Apollo's temple at Syracuse, another Corinthian colony, at about the same epoch). The Corcyraean shrine contained the earliest-known example of a limestone pediment, adorned by sculptures, which represent a huge Gorgon - the city's symbol - flanked by panthers. Moreover, since this pediment and the roof behind it needed heavier supports than wood could provide, the columns, too, were made of stone.

In the following century we learn from Herodotus that Corcyra could man sixty triremes, a form of warship which, according to Thucydides, this was (outside Sicily) the first Greek state to employ in substantial numbers, during the later sixth century B.C. Herodotus indicates this fact in relation to the Persian Wars, in which the Corcyraeans could not be persuaded to help the Greek cause at the battle of Salamis, because they were convinced that the Persians were going to win.


On the opposite shore of the Adriatic, with its unsatisfactory harbors and menacing populations, the Greek city-states did not attempt a similar program of expansion. Indeed, in marked contrast to the southern and south-western shores of the Italian peninsula, this coast experienced no Greek colonization at all. Nevertheless, Greek penetration was by no means lacking, since the northern extremity of the Adriatic coast witnessed the development of two communities, Atria and Spina, in which Greeks and Etruscans lived and traded together, utilizing sea and land routes and the river passage of the Eridanus (Padus, Po) to develop extensive commercial contacts with their compatriots elsewhere, and with non-Greeks in central and northern Europe as well.

Atria (now Adria) was a market town (emporion) to the north of the Po delta, between that river and the Atesis (Adige). It was important enough to give its name to the Adriatic Sea, which lay only a few miles away. Foundation myths offer deviating stories, in which leading parts are variously assigned to the Etruscans or to the Greek hero Diomedes - during his journeys after the Trojan War, and as part of his alleged foundations of many Italian cities. But a different people altogether, the Illyrian (?) Veneti (Eneti) who lived round the top of the Adriatic, should be identified as the earliest settlers of Atria.

Thereafter, however, Geeks and Etruscans - while maintaining a connection with the Veneti - shared the site, constructing a town upon a complex arrangement of wooden piles. Which of these two elements of the population was predominant among its settlers or traders is not entirely clear. The Greek vases found on the site, however - notably Corinthian and East Greek wares - go back as early as the 560s B.C., whereas the inscriptions and graffiti that principally bear witness to the Etruscan presence are relatively late, so that Atria can be identified, with some probability, as a port primarily utilized by the Greeks - to facilitate their contacts with Italy and remoter Europe - but also possessing an Etruscan quarter. We cannot identify the cities of Etruria from which these Etruscans came. But epigraphic evidence suggests that the Greek founders were from the island of Aegina.

Linked to Atria by a canal, Spina lay a little to its south - four miles west of the modern town of Comacchio - where a branch of the Po River delta emptied into a sea-lagoon providing a harbor. First of all villages were constructed on piles, as at Atria; and then later, in the sixth century, these hamlets were combined to form the township and port of Spina. It was built round a long, broad canal, detected by air photography, which also served to widen the channel linking the sea to the lagoon. Criss-crossed by a network of bridged canals or ditches (foreshadowing Venice, not far away), Spina covered an extent of more than 700 acres. The town comprised systematically planned blocks of approximately rectangular houses, built of stakes, clay and twigs, and this habitation area was flanked by richly furnished cemeteries lying along what was at this time coastline.

The name of Spina has been thought to derive from the Indo-European Italic dialect of the Umbrians, whose main centers lay in central Italy. But both Greeks and Etruscans subsequently occupied the place, as a blend of foundation myths, no less complex than those of Atria, testifies. Once again, a Greek version ascribes the beginnings of the settlement to the hero Diomedes (another account tells vaguely of "Pelasgi", a people coming from Dodonna in Epirus and invading Italy via the northern Adriatic on their way to Umbria).

Spina apparently came into existence a generation or two later than Atria, in c.525-520 B.C. At first sight the Greeks might again seem to have been the predominant partners, since a large quantity of Attic pottery has been found in 3,000 local graves, beginning in the later sixth century and culminating in the second quarter of the fifth. Moreover, inscriptions in the Ionic-Attic alphabet have come to light - referring to cults of Apollo, Dionysus and Hermes - and Spina, according to Pliny the elder, possessed its own treasury at Delphi (in which it lodged the plunder derived from its maritime enterprises). However, another Italian center, Caere, which possessed the same distinction, was not Greek but Etruscan. Despite the Greek pots at Spina, epigraphic evidence - notably inscribed territorial boundary markers - and the nature of the urban plan, as well as the presence of bronzes imported from Etruria, suggest that this may have been primarily a town of the Etruscans, which possessed, however, a Greek trading quarter, thus displaying the reverse process to Atria, but resembling, in this respect, a number of cities of the Etruscan homeland (including Caere). While both of these emporia, then, were co-operative Greco-Etruscan ventures, Atria seems to have served as the principal Greek port in the upper Adriatic, while at Spina the dominant role fell to the Etruscans.

The Etruscan businessmen of Spina were no doubt primarily concerned with furnishing overseas supplies to the principal Etruscan city of northern Italy, Felsina (Bononia, Bologna), although it is likely that Spina was not politically dependent on Felsina or any other center, but remained an autonomous entity, like Greek emporia in Campania, Syria and Egypt.

Probably imitating an example set by Atria, Spina also worked together with the Veneti to provide a transportation route for Venetian horses and Baltic amber, exchanged for exports (discovered in German finds), which it then passed on the Greek and Etruscan city-states. The Veneti again collaborated with the two emporia
in another of their principal tasks, very welcome to other Greek centers around the Adriatic, which was to police the waters of that sea against native rivals, whom they called pirates - although the latter, for their part, no doubt likewise described the fleets of Spina and Atria as piratical.
The Greeks and Etruscans achieved this local partnership in Atria and Spina at precisely the time when, in Campania, their compatriots' rivalry had broken out into open warfare, in which Cumae and Capua were the leading opponents. And indeed the Etruscan elements in Atria and Spina, too, may eventually have been drawn into these conflicts, since Dionysius of Halicarnassus, alluding to the years 525-524 B.C., tells of a "long march" against Cumae undertaken by a mixed force led by "the Tyrrhenians (Etruscans) who had inhabited the country near the Ionian Gulf" - the name for the northern sector of the Adriatic Sea.

These men could have come, as adventurers or mercenaries, from Atria and Spina, in which case the binational co-operation in the two places may already, at that time, have collapsed, at least temporarily. On the other hand, Dionysius' chronology is cast into doubt by his further assertion that these people had been chased out of their homes by the Gauls, - whose gradual infiltrations in Italy do not appear to have started much before 400 B.C. (despite Livy's statement to the contrary). During the fourth century Atria and Spina, like the rest of northern Italy, fell under Gaulish control.

Korcula mila - rodni otoku moj,
Ti njezna ruzo - u basti prekrasnoj,
Voli Te i ljubi otocanin Tvoj,
Ma gdje on bio - za Tebe bije boj!

Original Poem by Marko Marelich

Complied by Marko Marelich - October 27, 2003
Retired Mechanical Engineer
San Francisco, California USA