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City-States

The Greeks banded together and kicked the Dorians out of Greece. After the Greek Dark Ages, villages started to organize to create city-states, for protection and for more organized trade. The cruel Dorians had been forced some existing city-states, like Athens and Sparta, into obedience. Now, these and other city-states reappeared and grew. Greece was back, stronger than before.

Because of the geography of the area, there was no central government in ancient Greece. There were no formal roads interconnecting the many city-states. The mountains and the ragged coastlines made travel by land quite difficult, so travel was mostly by sea. The Greek city-states communicate, and people were free to visit or even move to a different city-state.

Each city-state was independent and developed its own government. Some were ruled by kings, others by councils. Ancient Athens, which grew into a very important city-state, even experimented with an early form of democracy. At one time in ancient Greece, there were at least one thousand city-states on the Greek peninsula. Some were very small. Some were very powerful. All were independent.

The people in all the ancient Greek city-states believed in the same gods and worshiped in the same way. They were not forced to believe, but through the mythology, they simply believed in them. The Greeks spoke the same language. They had a common culture expressed through their love of beauty and competition. Their city-states were located on the same peninsula. They all thought of themselves as Greeks.

Ancient Greece was not one country, and it was never an empire. Except for the 13 years that Alexander the Great conquered the Greek city-states (along with additional areas), the Greek city-states did not have one leader. After Alexander died, the Greek city-states all went back to ruling themselves in their own ways.

Ancient Greeks would not say they were from Greece. Instead, they would name their home city-states as an expression of loyalty.

The Greek city-states did occasionally unite against a common foe. They also went to war with each other unless the Olympic Games were in progress. The Greeks invented the Olympics and took the event seriously. Most city-states sent teams to participate, even if they only had a few athletes. If two or more Greek city-states happened to be at war with each other, war was halted for the duration of the games. Every city-state wanted to brag that their athletics were the best!

The Greeks gave us gifts like democracy, trial by jury, the theater, advances in medicine and science, architectural wonders like the ancient Greek columns, and incredible stories about heroes.


Source: City-States
All Rights Reserved Written by Lin Donn

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