Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arcadians, Leto, Homer, Canaan, Messenian, Delos, Cretan

Artemis/Diana of Ephesus
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Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals".

 

The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter. In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows.

 

The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth. Various conflicting accounts are given in Classical Greek mythology of the birth of Artemis and her twin brother, Apollo. All accounts agree, however, that she was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and that she was the twin sister of Apollo. An account by Callimachus has it that Hera forbade Leto to give birth on either terra firma (the mainland) or on an island. Hera was angry with Zeus, her husband, because he had impregnated Leto. But the island of Delos (or Ortygia in the Homeric Hymn to Artemis) disobeyed Hera, and Leto gave birth there. Top left: Diana of Ephesus, Roman version of Greek Artemis.

 

 

 

Artemis Coin

In ancient Cretan history Leto was worshipped at Phaistos and in Cretan mythology Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis at the islands known today as the Paximadia. A scholium of Servius on Aeneid iii.

 

72 accounts for the island's archaic name Ortygia by asserting that Zeus transformed Leto into a quail (ortux) in order to prevent Hera from finding out his infidelity, and Kenneth McLeish suggested further that in quail form Leto would have given birth with as few birth-pains as a mother quail suffers when it lays an egg.

 

The myths also differ as to whether Artemis was born first, or Apollo. Most stories depict Artemis as born first, becoming her mother's mid-wife upon the birth of her brother Apollo. Top: Silver tetradrachm of the Indo-Greek king Artemidoros (whose name means "gift of Artemis"), c. 85 BCE, featuring Artemis with a drawn bow and a quiver on her back on the reverse of the coin Bottom: Greek Apollo coin about 200 BCE.

 

In the 8th century BC, Greece began to emerge from the Dark Ages which followed the fall of the Mycenaean civilization. Literacy had been lost and Mycenaean script forgotten, but the Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet, modifying it to create the Greek alphabet. From about the 9th century BC written records begin to appear.Greece was divided into many small self-governing communities, a pattern largely dictated by Greek geography: every island, valley and plain is cut off from its neighbors by the sea or mountain ranges.

 

The Lelantine War (c. 710 – c. 650 BC) is the earliest documented war of the ancient Greek period. It was fought between the important poleis (city-states) of Chalcis and Eretria over the fertile Lelantine plain of Euboea. Both cities seem to have suffered a decline as result of the long war, though Chalcis was the nominal victor.

Apollo Coin

A mercantile class arose in the first half of the 7th century BC, shown by the introduction of coinage in about 680 BC. This seems to have introduced tension to many city-states.

 

The aristocratic regimes which generally governed the poleis were threatened by the new-found wealth of merchants, who in turn desired political power. From 650 BC onwards, the aristocracies had to fight not to be overthrown and replaced by populist tyrants.

 

This word derives from the non-pejorative Greek τύραννος tyrannos, meaning 'illegitimate ruler', and was applicable to both good and bad leaders alike. A growing population and a shortage of land also seem to have created internal strife between the poor and the rich in many city-states.

 

In Sparta, the Messenian Wars resulted in the conquest of Messenia and enserfment of the Messenians, beginning in the latter half of the 8th century BC, an act without precedent or antecedent in ancient Greece. This practice allowed a social revolution to occur. The subjugated population, thenceforth known as helots, farmed and labored for Sparta, whilst every Spartan male citizen became a soldier of the Spartan Army in a permanently militarized state. Even the elite were obliged to live and train as soldiers; this commonality between rich and poor citizens served to defuse the social conflict. These reforms, attributed to the shadowy Lycurgus of Sparta, were probably complete by 650 BC.

 

Athens suffered a land and agrarian crisis in the late 7th century BC, again resulting in civil strife. The Archon (chief magistrate) Draco made severe reforms to the law code in 621 BC (hence "draconian"), but these failed to quell the conflict. Eventually the moderate reforms of Solon (594 BC), improving the lot of the poor but firmly entrenching the aristocracy in power, gave Athens some stability.

 

Minoan Fresco

By the 6th century BC several cities had emerged as dominant in Greek affairs: Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes. Each of them had brought the surrounding rural areas and smaller towns under their control, and Athens and Corinth had become major maritime and mercantile powers as well.

 

Rapidly increasing population in the 8th and 7th centuries BC had resulted in emigration of many Greeks to form colonies in Magna Graecia (Southern Italy and Sicily), Asia Minor and further afield. The emigration effectively ceased in the 6th century BC by which time the Greek world had, culturally and linguistically, become much larger than the area of present-day Greece. Greek colonies were not politically controlled by their founding cities, although they often retained religious and commercial links with them. Bottom image: Minoan Fresco about 100 BCE.

 

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Greeks, Syracuse, Sicily, Mediterranean, Carthaginians

 

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The emigration process also determined a long series of conflicts between the Greek cities of Sicily, especially Syracuse, and the Carthaginians.

 

These conflicts lasted from 600 BC to 265 BC when the Roman Republic entered into an alliance with the Mamertines to fend off the hostilities by the new tyrant of Syracuse, Hiero II and then the Carthaginians.

 

This way Rome became the new dominant power against the fading strength of the Sicilian Greek cities and the Carthaginian supremacy in the region.

 

One year later the First Punic War erupted.

 

Minoan Snake Goddess

 

Top: Minoan snake Goddess about 1000 BCE.

 

Greek Youth

 

Top: Greek Youth about 100 BCE.

 

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