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The Greek City

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  1. Define the concept of Polis. What role did geography play in its development nad why did the Greeks consider it a unique and valuable institution?

Polis was a Greek city state which was characterized by a sense of community (Merriam Webster). It was marked by a centrally organized place, and social life was carried out publicly before the human community and the gods. The adults were given obligations and rights. Polis also included the idea of citizenship (Ferguson, 2005).

Geography played a vital role in the development of these city states. For instance, the Mediterranean Sea provided convenient means of transport and communication. The Polis was considered by Greeks a unique and valuable institution because this is where the government was located (Craig et al. 2011). The city state included both the urban center and the land that surrounded it. It was both a market place and civic center and was, therefore, the heart of Greek social life. The city state was marked by the high military presence, and it was here the relationship between the aristocrats and farmers was cemented (Craig et al. 2011).

  • Why did the Greeks and Persians go to war in 490 and 480BCE? What benefit could the Persians have derived from conquering Greece? Why were the Greeks able to defeat the Persians, and how did they benefit from the victory?

The Greeks and the Persians went to war because of resources. Both nations needed resources to cater for their growing economies. The Persians would have benefited from the vast resources in Greece. Greece was endowed with precious metals and human resources which the Persians wanted to control. The Persians were, however, defeated in these wars. Another cause of the war was a diplomatic misunderstanding between Athens and Persia (Martin, 1999). The Persian king began these wars as revenge against Greeks whom he considered rebellious subjects. Greece winning against Persia was more catalyzed by its generals who motivated her soldiers not to lose heart. The generals were a board of ten elected men. They were elected each year as the civil military leaders. These generals carefully planned their tactics and minimized the time their soldiers would be exposed to the Persian archers. The Greeks also had a superior weapon, namely, protective metal armor and long weapons that were very vital in one on one combat (Martin, 1999).

The benefit the Greeks gained from defeating the Persians was being able to control their resources. They could also boast of military might since by then the Persian army was considered the greatest. In fact, the Greeks could not believe their victory and every man felt it an honor to have participated in this war regarded as the Marathon war.

  • Why did Athens and Sparta come to blows in the great Peloponnesian War? What was each side’s strategy for victory? Why did Sparta win the war?

The reason behind Peloponnesian War was democratic reforms advanced by Athens but which were opposed by Sparta. Athen’s strategy in this war was fortification with walls and avoiding land battles while Sparta relied on its good land forces and hence captured land and destroyed crops hence cutting off the food supply to its opponents (Martin, 1999). The reason for Athen losing the war was that its city became overcrowded leading to a plague that killed most of its people and soldiers. It was forced to sign a truce bringing the war to an end (Craig et al., 2011).

  • What were the significant consequences of Alexander’s death? Assess the achievements of Alexander. Was he a conscious promoter of Greek civilization, or just an egomaniac drunk with a lust for conquest?

The major consequences of Alexander’s death were the destruction of the Greek Empire, which became a divided empire. His generals fought to get control of the territories he had conquered (Craig et al. 2011). His major achievement was the defeat of the Persian Empire creating a very strong Greek empire. He is also known for bringing together people from different races (Martin, 1999). He had a desire to integrate the Greek culture with the Persian culture. It can be said in as much as Alexander was a conquest maniac; he was a true crusader of Greek civilization. He tried his best to bring all people to the Greek civilization (Craig et al. 2011).

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