Warring City-States

Tyrants Seize Power

In classical politics, a tyrant is one who has taken power by their own means as opposed to hereditary or constitutional power. This mode of rule is referred to as tyranny. Now in days, the word "tyrant" carries connotations of a harsh and cruel ruler who places his or her own interests or the interests of a small oligarchy over the best interests of the general population, which the tyrant governs or controls. Tyrants of back then were different from today's, tyrants in that time would work for the interest of ordinary people and they would build programs that provided jobs and housing for their supporters.


Athens builds a Limited Democracy

The place that had most impact of democracy was Athens. After going to different power struggles between rich and poor, they went through the agreement of building democracy. Democracy means the form of government ruled by the people. Other Greek cities set up democracy too, but not as strong and stable as Athens'. The in-group of participants was constituted with no reference to economic class and they participated on a scale that was truly democratic.


Building Democracy

Athenian Democracy’s first stage was when Draco took power. He first made a legal code which stated that all Athenians had the same rights, that it didn’t matter their social class. His code punished most criminals to death if they committed any crime. It also talked about how if you had a debt with someone, you should become that persons slave until you paid every nickel you owed.

After came Solon, who stated that no citizen could own another (outlawing debt slavery), organized Athenian citizens into 4 social classes, and told citizens that they couldn’t bring any charges to people who did the wrong things. Only the members of the three top classes could hold political office, Solon said. However, all citizens could participate in the Athenian Assembly.

Then who came was Cleisthenes, who further organized Solon’s social classes into 10 groups which divided citizens by the area in which they lived. He let citizens submit laws for debate and passage through the Athenian Assembly. He then created the Council of Five Hundred, which role was to guide the Athenian Assembly by proposing some law choices to them. The members of this group were chosen at random.

His reforms let Athenian citizens participate in a limited democracy, only free adult men property owners could be citizens, this being restricted to women, slaves, and foreigners.

Each of these three rulers came up with an idea which seemed proper and just or their government and used to change, take off, or upgrade past laws by past rulers.

Athenian Education

For most parts, only sons of wealthy family recieved formal education. Schooling began around the age of seven and largely prepared boys to be good citizens. They studied Reading, Grammar, Poetry, History, Mathematics, and Music. Because citizen were expected to debate issues on the assembly, boys also recieved training in logic and public speaking.

Athenian girls did not attend school. Rather, they were educated at home by their mothers and other female members of the household. They learnd about child-rearing, weaving cloths, preparing meals, managing the household, and other skills that helped them become good wives and good mothers.


Pheidippides Brings News
Through the Athenians won the battle, their city now stood defenseless. According to tradition, army leaders chose a young runner named Pheidippides to race back to Athens. He brought news of the Persian defeat so that Athenians would give up the city without a fight. Dashing the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens, Pheidippides delivered his message. He then collapsed and died. Moving rapidly from Marathon, the Greek army arrived in Athens not longer after. When the Persians sailed into the harbor, they found the city heavily defended. They quickly put to sea in retreat.


Thermopylae and Salamis
Ten years later, in 480 B.C., Darius the Great’s son and successor, Xerxes, assembled an enormous invasion farce to crush Athens. Some city-states agreed to fight the Persians. When Xerxes came to narrow mountain pass at Thermopylae, 7,000 Greeks, including 300 Spartans, blocked his way. The Greeks stopped the Persian advance for three days. Fearing defeat the Spartans’ valiant sacrifice made a great impression on all Greeks. Themistocles, an Athenian leader, convinced them to evacuate the city and fight at sea. After setting fire to Athens, Xerxes sent his warships to block both ends of the channel. Xerxes watched in horror as more than one-third of his fleet sank. He faced another defeat in 479 B.C., when the Greeks crushed the Persian army at the Battle of Platea.

On the other hand, the Athenians were debating how they were going to best defend their city. Themistocles, an Athenian leader, convinced everyone to evacuate the city and fight at sea, to which the Athenians planned to position themselves in a narrow channel near the island of Salamis, where after starting fire to Athens, Xerxes set his people to block the ends o the channel. Thus, due to the narrowness of the channel, his plan backfired, completely affecting and sinking his warships, which brought the Persians fear and ultimate defensiveness towards others, since after that, they were always under attack.
After this unfortunate time, the Persians were not left alone. Greeks were helped by the Delian League, named after the Aegean island, Delos, which pressed the war against the Persians to leave to Greeks alone.

**Consequences of the Persian Wars**

After the Persian threat ended, the Athenians began to readjust and became more confident and free. They soon became leaders of the Delian League, which now had grown to 200 city-states. This period, known as the "Golden Age", was an amazing period for Athens. Athenians became more powerful and wealthier, and they had a urst of creativity, which opened more pathways for them. The end of the Persian Wars was surely an amazing period for Athenians.

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