1995-04-24: The Rise of the Greeks

The Rise of the Greeks (1987)

by Michael Grant (1914-2004)

This book gives a broad history of the Hellenic city-states from the fall of Mycenae to the eve of the Persian Wars. Grant has chosen a geographic organization, and describes about fifty (of nearly 700 known) in some detail, with notes on a dozen or two more. Perhaps inevitably, Athens receives about a tenth of the attention. He also singles out certain inividuals who were associated with two or more cities.

One thing I was somewhat surprised to learn was the assertion that Hesiod (whom I have not yet read) was of the same time as Homer, perhaps even earlier. This means, to me, that his writings must be independent of direct influence by Homer and his world view. I must now attend to them.

I found it interesting that the Greek ruling classes (at least) were so fearful of women. They apparently feared the disruptive efect that women had on the well-ordered affairs of men, as exemplified by the Trojan War that followed the seduction of Helen. Grant asserts that Greek women had few rights under the law and customs, and also that strong male-male relationships, were due to this underlying attitude. I wonder to what extent this attitude existed among the non-ruling classes, and the non-Hellenic population of the lands they occupied.

One of the interesting aspects of Hesiod is illustrated in the following passage (p. 134):

Hesiod concentrates largely upon the supremacy that Zeus has won for himself, and upon the massive powers of destruction by which he obliterated the rebellions of one giant insurgent after another. (Milton’s Paradise Lost incorporates many details from the Theogony.) This is a progression towards Olympian fulfilment in which the guiding principle of the universe is the order imposed by Zeus, so that despite all the incidental ferocities and obstacles, justice (dike) can and will eventually prevail. In a deliberate mutiny against the conventional values of epic, dike has replaced time (honour) as the central virtue of the community.

Both are abstract political concepts, but Hesiod’s emphasis on justice reflects the dawn of a new stage of civic consciousness that would bear fruit, before long, in the work of law-givers in numerous cities.

This, near Thebes in Boeotia around 750BC, is a significant event in memetic history.

Another interesting bit of memetic history is the work of Thales of Miletus, around 600BC. He was regarded as the first philosopher, and also traditionally hailed as the founder of physical science. He left no writings; all we know is based on the writings of others, some long after his time. Grant says (p. 161):

… he believed that the world had evolved from – and was destined to return to – water …. the insistence on a single unifying principle in the physical world … marked a major departure from elaborately complex earlier Greek cosmogonies ….

Generalized concepts are the last concepts to appear in the evolution of a language, but Thales was able to envisage them, ask questions about them, and seek rational answers to the questions he had asked. … he was capable of aiming at the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, by means of abstract reasoning combined with the use of the eye and mind. Moreover, his assertion that, the basic substance of water being eternal and divine, ‘all things are full of gods’ was not so theological and unscientific as it sounded, since it broke new ground by implicitly denying that any distinction between natural and supernatural could be legitimately envisaged.

This line of thought leads to the notion that the sum of things is a cosmos, an orderly system governed by discoverable laws.

Without implying that each believed what his predecessors believed (they did not), Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, and perhaps Hecataeus, all of Miletus, were members of a community, holding a tradition of inquiry into the nature of the world. Grant says (p. 164):

Thus in Miletus, for the first time in history, the human being, as a thinking and feeling personality, began to hold the centre of the stage. But that was only one of a whole host of sciences which this emergence of soaring intellect, sweeping speculation and ebullient criticism helped to launch. … their continued citations of gods and the divine shows that a theological mode of expression could not yet be abandoned. Yet the terms were now depersonalized and employed in  a partially metaphorical sense – indicating eternity, infinity, ubiquity. These Milesians insisted on the application of rationally comprehensible, unbreachably regular, human criteria to the universal facts of physical existence – and such an endeavour, made possible by the spread of literacy, has been described, perhaps without exaggeration, as th Greeks’ greatest single claim to fame.

The leap forward was owed partly to Miletus’ outward-looking contacts with eastern civilizations. The mercantile prosperity and self-confidence inspired by these contacts endowed Milesians with the time and leisure to propound and publicly to discuss adventurous conceptions, deducing a regular law and order in the cosmos from the similar principles and institutions which had made their city such a resounding success.

In addition to the city-by-city descriptions, with a certain amount of redundancy, Grant provides a set of chronologies for the Greek regions, and for the non-Greek civilizations with which they interacted. I have merged his regional chronologies in the table below.

BC (approx.)

Area

Description

2000 – 1900

general Greek (G.)

Greece invaded from north

> 1600

G.

Greece increasingly under Minoan influence

1450 – 1200

Non-Greek Asia Minor (A.M.)

Hittite Empire (Hurrians defeated 1350)

1400 – 1200

G.

Mycenaean civilization at height

1365 – 1250

Babylonia and Assyria (B.A.)

First Assyrian Empire

1250

A.M./G.

Supposed sack of Troy by Greeks

13th and 12th

Syria and Phoenicia (S.P.)

Invasions by Peoples of the Sea, Philistines and Hebrews

late 13th – early 12th

G.

Destruction of Mycenaean and other civilizations

1150 – after 1000

Eastern and Central Aegean (E.C.A.)

Migrants settle in Cyclades, Ionia and Aeolis

12th-early 9th

Central and Northern Greece (C.N.G.)

Lefkandi (Lelantum) flourished

10th

E.C.A.

Settlement of Smyrna (wall by 850)

1200

A.M.

Phrygians destroy Hittite Empire

11th – 8th

S.P.

Aramaeans occupy much of northern Syria

1100 – 1050

G.

Sub-Mycenaean pottery

1116 – 1076

B.A.

Tiglath-Pileser I of Asyria

1075 – 1000

G.

Dorian invasions and immigration

1050

C.N.G.

cremation becomes common

1050 – 900

G.

Migrations of Ionians, Aeolians and Dorians to western Asia Minor and islands

1025 – 900

G.

Protogeometric, 900 – 700 Geometric pottery

1025 – 700

C.N.G.

Athenian Protogeometric and Geometric pottery in lead

1000 – 800

South and East (S.E.)

Syro-Phoenician settlement of Cyprus

1000

S.P.

Rise of Phoenician city-states. (Tyre takes lead over Sidon by 750.) Phoenicians transform syllabic scripts into alphabet. Also city-states in northern Syria combining Aramaean, neo-Hittite and Hurrian traditions.

900(?)

C.N.G.

Unification of much of Attica

900 – 750

G.

Creation of city-states. Replacement of monarchic by aristocratic governments

900

E.C.A.

Dorians found three cities on Rhodes

900

A.M.

Dorians found Pentapolis

911 – 745

B.A.

Assyrian Revival (Ashurnasirpal II 884 – 859, Shalmaneser III 859 – 824)

9th – 8th

Peloponnese (Pel.)

Argos earliest center of power in Peloponnese

9th – 8th

S.P.

Urartu borders upon and dominates Syria principalities.

850/800

S.E.

Greek trading stations at Al Mina, Posidium and Paltus

850 – 676

A.M.

Historic Phrygian kingdom (Midas 738-696)

850 – 612

S.P.

Assyrian conquest

late 9th

S.E.

Metal-workers from north Syria and Phoenicia in Crete

814

S.P.

Traditional foundation-date of Phoenician colony at Carthage. Also colonies in Cyprus and southern Spain, western Sicily and Sardinia

776

G.

Traditional date of first Olympic (Panhellenic) games

775 – 770

The West (W.)

Trading station at Pithecusae (Euboeans), then Cumae (750)

750 – 700

G.

Earliest surviving epic poems

750/725

W.

Cumaeans and Euboeans colonize Zande

750/700

E.C.A.

Homer (Iliad, Odyssey)

756

The North (N.)

Trading post at Sinope founded by Milesians

8th

W.

Greeks and Phoenicians in Sicily

8th

S.E.

Iliad and Odyssey indicate 90 – 100 cities inCrete: Cnossus and Gortyna in lead

8th

C.N.G.

Colonization of Chalcis in W. and market at Al Mina (later colonies in Chalcidice)

8th – 7th

G.

Colonization under way

8th – 7th

G.

Orientalizing art

8th

Pel.

Biremes at Corinth

750 – 650

G.

Major development of metallurgy

750

G./C.N.G.

Adoption of Phoenician alphabetic

747

Pel.

Corinthian monarchy ends

745 – 612

B.A.

Second Assyrian Empire (Tiglath-Pileser III 745-727, Sargon II 722-705, defeat of Urartu 714, Sennacherib 705-681, destruction of Babylon 689, Esarhaddon 681-669, conquest of Egypt 671, Ashurbanipal 669-630)

late 8th

C.N.G.

Hesiod (Works and Days, Theogony)

740/730 – 720/710

Pel.

Sparta’s First Messenian War

late 8th or 7th

C.N.G.

Delphi’s Panhellenic fame

late 8th – 550

Pel.

Protocorinthinian and Corinthinian pottery in lead

734

E.C.A.

Naxians colonize Naxos, earliest Greek colony in Sicily

734/733

W.

Chalcidians colonize Naxos (Sicily) and Corinthinians colonize Syracuse

733

Pel./N.

Corinthinians colonize Corcyra and Syracuse

730 – 715

Egypt

24th dynasty (capital at Sais). Kings Tefnakhte and Boccheris (Bakenrenef 720-715)

730/710

W.

Chalcidians colonize Rhegium and Achaeans colonize Sybaris, then Croton

730 – 656

Egypt

25th dynasty: Dynasty of Napata or Ethiopan or Cushite dynasty. Esarhaddon of Assyria captures Memphis 671

725 – 700

S.E.

Temple at Drerus in Crete

725/700

Pel.

Hoplite armor at Argos

709 – 612

S.E.

Cyprus under Assyrian control

706

W.

Spartans colonize Taras

705 – 637/626

A.M.

Occupation of Asia Minor by Cimmerians

700

G.

Lelantine war between Chalcis and Eretria

700 – 675

S.E.

Destruction of Al Mina

700 – 675

G.

Earliest Dorian temples

700

E.C.A.

Temple of Artemis at Delos rebuilt

early 7th

N.

Torone and Acanthus 655, (with others) colonized by Chalcidians

early 7th

Pel.

Pheidon of Argos

early 7th

G.

Earliest surviving lyric poems

early 7th

G.

‘Daedalic’ statuettes

> 700

G.

Samnian Heraeum rebuilt (Ephesian Artemisium after 660)

7th (?)

Pel.

Triremes at Corinth

690/688

W.

Rhodians and Cretans colonize Gela

from 687

A.M.

Kingdom of Lydia (Gyges 685-657, Ardys 652-625)

685, 657

Pel.

Megarians colonize Calchedon and Byzantium

683/682

C.N.G.

Annual archonships at Athens

680/652

N.

Abydus and Cyzicus (679) and Istrus (657) colonized by Milesians

679 or 673

W.

Locrians colonize Locri Epizephyrii

675/650

E.C.A.

Cimmerians plunder Artemisium at Ephesus

675 – 500

G.

Age of dictators (‘tyrants’); often replaced by oligarchies

669

Pel.

Argives defeat Spartans at Hysiae

664 or later

Pel./N.

Corinthinians defeated by Corcyraeans off Sybota

664 – 525

Egypt

26th dynasty: Saite age. Necho I, Psammetichus (Psamtik) I, Necho II, Psammetichus II, Apries (Hophra), Amasis (Ahmose) II, Psammetichus III.

663

W.

Law giver Zaleucus at Locri Epizephyrii

660

S.E.

Ionian soldiers in Nile delta: settle at Naucratis and elsewhere

660

E.C.A.

Samian Heraeum rebuilt

7th

G.

Earliest law-givers

7th

S.E.

Cretan sculptor Daedalus and poet and law giver Thaletus

658 – 581

Pel.

Cypselid dictatorship (‘tyranny’) at Corinth

shortly before 650

G.

Earliest large-scale statuary

655 – 555

Pel.

Orthagorid dictatorship at Megara

654

N.

Lampsacus colonized by Phocaeans

before 650

N.

Maronea colonized by Chians

650

N.

Thasos colonized by Parians

650 – 620

Pel.

Sparta’s Second Messenian War

650 – 550

Persia

Kingdom of Media (Cyaxares 625-585). Medes and Persians sack Nineveh 612

7th (?)

Pel.

Sparta’s politco-social system (agoge)

7th – 550

E.C.A.

Delos under Naxian control

7th – 6th

E.C.A.

Large-scale statues at Naxos and Paros

mid 7th

E.C.A.

Hymn to Apollo (Delos, Delphi)

mid 7th

E.C.A.

Parians colonize Thasos

mid 7th

E.C.A.

Archilochus of Paros

7th

E.C.A.

Semonides of Amorgos (from Samos)

658

W.

Zancleans colonize Himera

647

N.

Olbia (later Berezan) colonized by Milesians etc

640

N.

Perdiccas I of Macedonia moves capital from Lebaea to Aegae

640/638

E.C.A.

Colaeus of Samos at Tartessus

late 7th

G.

Earliest Greek coinages

631

N.

Sinope colonized by Milesians

632

S.E.

Therans colonize Cyrene under Aristoteles Battus I

later 7th

S.E.

Laws of Drerus in Crete

628

W.

Megaran Hyblaeans colonize Selinus

626 – 539

B.A.

New Babylonian Empire (Nabopolassar 626-605, destruction of Nineveh 612, Nebuchadrezzar II 605-562, Nabonidus 556-539)

625

N.

Epidamnus colonized by Corinthians and Corcyraeans

625 – 610

A.M.

Introduction of coinage by Lydians (under Sadyattes 625-615 or Alyattes 617-560)

625/600

N.

Tanais(?) and Panticapaeum colonized by Milesians. Potidaea colonized by Corinthinians

625/600

W.

Sybarites colonize Posidonia

605 – 539

S.P.

New Babylonian Empire

from late 7th

G./C.N.G.

Athenian Black-figure pottery in lead

late 7th (?)

C.N.G.

Aleuads of Larissa become tagoi of Thessalian League

end 7th

C.N.G./N.

Phrynon seizes Sigeum for Athens

by 600

S.E.

Cyrenaeans colonize Apollonia and Euphesperides

600

W.

Phocaeans colonize Massilia (Marseille)

600

W.

Cumaeans colonize Neapolis (Naples)

600 (?) and 560-550

E.C.A.

Artemisium at Ephesus rebuilt

600

E.C.A.

Thrasybulus dictator of Miletus

600/575

W.

Massalians colonize Emporiae

early 6th

N.

Hermonassa colonized by Milesians

early 6th

W.

Stesichorus at Himera

early 6th

S.E.

Al Mina rebuilt

early 6th (?)

E.C.A.

Mimnermus of Colophon

595/590

C.N.G.

Aegina’s turtle coinage

595 – 583

C.N.G.

First Sacred War (Delphi)

590

E.C.A.

Pittacus ‘arbitrator’ at Mitylene; Alcaeus and Sappho

590/580

Pel.

Tegeans defeat Spartans

588, 552

S.E.

Paltus destroyed

586/585 or 582/581

C.N.G.

Pythian Games at Delphi

583, 552

S.E.

Baltus II Eudaemon enlarges Cyrene, defeats Apries at Irasa 570

581

Pel.

Isthmian Games

580

N.

Temple of Artemis at Corcyra

6th

E.C.A.

Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes at Miletus; Heraclitus at Ephesus

6th

C.N.G.

Solon, Pisistratus and Cleisthenes at Athens

575

W.

Temple of Apollo at Syracuse

573

Pel.

Nemean Games of Panhellenic status

572

Pel.

Elis takes over Olympic Games from Pisa

570

Pel.

Corinth’s ‘colt’ coinage

570 – 554/549

W.

Phalaris dictator (‘tyrant’) at Akragas

570/526

S.E.

Naucratis becomes major treaty port

565

W./E.C.A.

Phocaeans colonize Alalia (Corsica)

560-546

A.M.

Reign of Croesus in Lydia

from 560

S.E.

Arcesilaus II the Cruel at Cyrene: defeated and killed by Libyans

by mid 6th

G.

Peloponnesian League under Sparta

mid 6th

W.

Bronze Vix crater (M. Lassois, Seine)

mid 6th

E.C.A.

Expedition of Midacritus (probably Phocaean) to W.

560 – 550

Pel.

Laconian (Spartan) vase-painting at height

560/559 – 530

Persia

Cyrus II the Great. Conquest of Media, Lydia (546), Ionia and Babylonia (539)

560/558

N.

Heraclea Pontica coonized by Megarians, Boeotians and Milesians (?)

early 560s, 545

S.E.

Cyprus under Egyptian then Persian control

560s, 525/520

N.

Greco-Etruscan settlements at Atria and Spina (NE Italy)

560 – 525

S.E.

Euelthon king of Salamis in Cyprus

556/555

Pel.

Chilon ephor at Sparta

555

C.N.G./N.

Miltiades the elder (Athenian) in Thracian Chersonese

550 – 330

Persia

Persian Empire

546

Pel.

Battle of Champions between Sparta and Argos at Thyrea

546

A.M.

Conquest of Lydia by Persians

from 546

E.C.A.

Persian conquest of Ionia (revolt 499 – 494). Pythagoras leave Colophon (545) and Samos (531)

545

N.

Abdera recolonized and Phanagoria colonized by Teians

6th

N.

Pitys, Dioscurias, Phasis colonized or given trading stations by Milesians

545

W.

Xenophanes moves to Zancle and Catana from Colophon

540/535

E.C.A.

Battle of Alalia: Phocaeans against Carthaginians and Caeratans

540/530

C.N.G.

Final subjection of Salamis to Athens

540

C.N.G.

Boeotians (Thebans) defeat Thessalians

540 (?)

W.

Locrians and Rhegians defeat Crotoniates on R. Sagra

540 – 522

E.C.A.

Polycrates dictator of Samos

540/535

W.

Battle of Alalia

539

B.A.

Babylonia conquered by the Persians

539 – 332

S.P.

Persian conquest

535/530

S.E.

Arcesilaus III at Cyrene, murdered 520/515, widow Pheretime recovers Barca from Egypt

534

C.N.G.

Earliest Attic tragedy: Thespis

531

W.

Pythagoras moves to Croton from Samos

from 530

G.

Athenian Red-figure pottery in lead

530 – 522

Persia

Cambyses II. Conquest of Egypt (525)

525 – 404

Egypt

27th Dynasty: Persian rule after conquest of Egypt by Cambyses

525/524

W.

‘Long March’ by Etruscans and others against Cumae

521 – 486

Persia

Darius I. Intervention at Cyrene (515) Thracian-Scythean expedition (513-512), Ionian Revolt (499-494)

520

S.E.

New towm at Al Mina under Persian suzerainty

520

S.E.

Cypriot city-kings initiate coinage

520

C.N.G.

First Athena-owl coinage at Athens

520

C.N.G.

Miltiades the younger (Athenian) in Thracian Chersonese

519

C.N.G.

Athenians and Boeotians at war over Plataea

519 – 490/488

Pel.

King Cleomenes I at Sparta

515

W.

Birth of Parmenides at Elea

514 – 512

S.E.

W.ern expedition of Dorieus from Cyrene fails

512

N.

Amyntas I of Macedonia becomes Persian vassal

510

W.

Crotoniates destroy Sybaris

later 6th

W.

Earliest work of Epicharmus of Syracuse

later 6th

W.

Construction of temple of Olympian Zeus initiated at Selinus

later 6th or after 500

W.

Physician Alcmaeon at Croton

506

C.N.G.

Athenians defeat Boeotians and Chaldicians; then ‘Heraldless War’ against Aegina

500

E.C.A.

Hecataeus at Miletus

499-498

C.N.G./E.C.A.

Athens and Eretria help Ionian revolt against Persia. battle of Lade 495, sack of Miletus 494, destruction of Naxos 490

499 – 497

S.E.

Cypriot risings to support Ionian revolt

498 – 491/490

W.

Hippocrates dictator at Gela, 492 defeats Syracuse on R. Helorus

494

Pel.

Spartans defeat Argives at Sepeia

494

N.

Calchedon destroyed by Persians

493

C.N.G.

Themistocles archon at Athens

480/450

S.E.

Gortyna code (Crete) embodying earlier laws

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