Greeks, Greco-Persian wars and the death of the Achaemenid...

6.4. Greeks, Greco-Persian wars and the death of the Achaemenid empire

The Greeks were one of the branches of Indo-Europeans, waves, one after another, migrating in the II-I millennium BC. to the west. If the earliest of these waves that gave rise to Mycenae and later to Homeric Greece, in principle, did not produce anything structurally new, for the Mycenaean and Homeric Greeks, known both from archaeological excavations and from the great poems "Odyssey" and "Iliad", lived about the same standards as all the ancient Eastern societies described above, at a later time the situation changed. The last of the migration waves, occurring around the XII century. BC, led to the settlement of Hellas by the semi-nomadic tribes of the barbarians, -Dorians, who dethroned the early fires of the ancient Greek urban civilization and began to reinforce on the land of Greece devastated by them. This land was not very suitable for intensive grain farming, which caused massive colonization. Following the Phoenicians, the Greeks actively engaged in trade and navigation and began one by one to found colonies in the Thracian and Scythian lands, in Asia Minor, Italy and other places, mainly on the coast and islands. The era of great colonization, as it is called by specialists, prepared Greece for what was above already been likened to a unique sociopolitical mutation , which began to vigorously display its potencies in the VIII-VI centuries . BC

Having learned a lot from the peoples of the East (Phoenicians, Egyptians, Babylonians, etc.), having become acquainted with the alphabet and coinage of the coin, what Lydia was especially famous for, the Greeks of the archaic epoch in question entered the path of energetic economic, political, social and cultural development, which was the essence of the mutation. Typical for all early agricultural communities, the process of enslaving the poor with the rich was thwarted by a series of decisive reforms, the most famous and important among which were the reforms of Solon in Athens in 594 BC. The reforms of Cleisthenes in the same Athens at the end of the VI. BC. eliminated the traditional forms of the tribal organization and thereby undermined the strength of the tribal aristocracy by replacing the old tribal ties with new ones based on the territorial representation of citizens on the council, on the compulsory performance of public posts in elected and accountable to the people representatives. Created by Solon, the jury trial, as well as the first code of law, contributed, as mentioned, to the strengthening of the Greek civil democratic system which they could not shake the tyrants, who severely dealt with political opponents, from time to time seized power in separate polices, including Athens.

The Greek archaic policy in its renewed form became a collective of equal citizens whose property and dignity were guarded and whose energy, private initiative, enterprise, enrichment - but not at the expense of enslavement of fellow citizens! - strongly encouraged. One can add to this that citizens had the right to acquire slaves outside their policy. It seems that they could be bought relatively cheaply in lands colonized by Greeks, from local czars and leaders, in exchange for desired and highly valued Greek goods such as wine, olive oil, ceramics, fabrics, metal products, etc. . Citizens, as a rule, were literate, because all the children of members of the policy studied at school. They were physically developed, as all of them were engaged in sports, trained and competed, up to participation in olympiads. In Sparta, the famous rival of Athens, citizens were strictly organized into paramilitary detachments with a sufficiently clear and even petty regulation of life. However, for all that they were and felt themselves to be citizens , i.e. individuals who had inalienable rights and obligations, freedom and dignity.

The civil community in the polis Greece has almost merged with the state, which was governed here by the non-administratively-bureaucratic elite not involved in the government, but by full-fledged citizens through democratic procedures. The most important of these were the principle of subordinating the minority to the majority in the course of elections or voting, and the legal capacity of each member of the policy, regardless of their property status or clan ties.

In Greece, somewhat different than in the East, there was slavery. On the one hand, the slave's lack of rights against the background of the citizen's rights proved to be much more obvious and enormous. On the other hand, a freed or bought slave, a freedman, was in fact equated to meteku (immigrant, stranger), i.e. the usual inhabitant of the policy, not belonging to the number of his natives.

In general, it is worth noting that they were by no means slaves, or at least mainly not they were the main producers in the ancient society, as the Marxists at that time insisted with their theory of formations (the ancient formation was identical with the slave-owning society), and not at the expense of slaves the policy prospered. His prosperity was ensured by the work of the citizens themselves or metekov and relied on those forms of socio-economic private-ownership ties, which were so strikingly different from the relations prevailing outside Greece. The impersonation of these relations for the polis Greeks was precisely the Persian Empire of the Achaemenids, whose border was closer to the zone of the Greeks, to their policies.

As you know, the military successes of Darius I stopped just when he faced freedom-loving citizens of policies. The Greco-Persian wars, so colorfully described by ancient authors, in particular Herodotus and Thucydides, lasted for many decades under the successors of Darius. Despite some successes Xerxes in land battles (the Battle of Thermopylae with the heroic death of 300 Spartans under the command of King Leonid), at sea the Persians invariably suffered defeat, the culmination of which was the famous Salamis battle in 480 BC. The political fragmentation of the Greek world and sharp disagreements, even rivalry, especially between Athens and Sparta, seemed to be in the hands of the Persians. But the great empire was never able to take advantage of its advantages and ultimately was forced to abandon plans to enslave Hellas.

The success of the Greeks led to the fact that in the middle of the 5th century BC, BC. Persians were forced to retreat and clear not only Greece proper, but also Greek Asia Minor (the obligation not to keep its troops closer than three days' journey from the western coast of Asia Minor). The consequence of this failure for the great empire was a series of anti-Persian uprisings in the major satrapies, in Egypt, Syria, Lydia. And although the insurrections were suppressed, they marked a gradual weakening of the power of the Persians. The turn of the V-IV centuries. BC. passed under the sign of strong strife among the pretenders to the Persian throne, and Artaxerxes II, who emerged from them as victor, tried to consolidate his positions by actively intervening in the internecine struggle of the Greeks, especially Athens and Sparta. For a while this helped stabilize his power, but not for long. By the end of his reign, Cyprus had fallen from the empire, then Cilicia, Lydia. With his son, new uprisings broke out, accompanied by palace intrigues. And while the Persians struggled to maintain the balance within the empire, in the far north Greek Macedonia the positions of the new formidable opponent of the Persians were strengthened.

The fact is that the development of Greek policies at the turn of the V-IV centuries. BC. led them not only to the political internecine strife, which was already mentioned, but also to the socio-political and economic crisis. In the framework of policies, the relationship between rich and poor, demos and aristocrats was exacerbated. Meteki and freedmen occupied more and more important economic positions, which could not but affect the status and sentiments of all residents of the policy. There were demands for changes, reflected, in particular, in various utopian projects, in the comedies of Aristophanes and the treatises of Plato. In the political struggle, this manifested itself in the pretensions of one or the other of the states (Athens, Sparta, Thebes, etc.) that have intensified from time to time to hegemony in Hellas, the creation of an alliance of Greek cities. In the internecine struggle, different policies alternated, most often Athens. But from the middle of the IV century. BC. the center of gravity of the power struggle in Hellas began to mingle to the north, to Macedonia.

The political structure of Macedonia was different from the Greek policies. It was a hereditary monarchy, albeit somewhat limited by a meeting of soldiers, by the council of the nobility. Economically, Macedonia lagged behind the rest of Greece, but already in the 5th century. BC. close ties with the Greeks and the borrowing of their culture have led to overcoming the backlog. Weakening of polis Greece in the IV. BC. coincided in time with the strengthening of the political power of Macedonia, which began to play a primary role in Greek affairs. The Macedonian king Philip II (359-336 BC), an intelligent and energetic ruler who spent his youth in Thebes as a political hostage and learned a lot of useful things, not only reorganized and strengthened the army when was in power, but also began to actively intervene in internecine war policies. In 338 BC, defeating the opposing Greek army, Philip united under his authority the majority of the policies of Greece and became in fact the commander-in-chief of the Greek army, preparing it for a campaign to the east, against the Achaemenids. Soon, however, Philip fell a victim of a conspiracy, and the supreme power in Macedonia was in the hands of his son, twenty-year-old Alexander, pupil of the famous Aristotle.

Alexander in 334 BC. spoke against the Persians at the head of the army, in which there were 30 thousand infantry, 5 thousand cavalry and 160 warships. The army was equipped with engineer equipment and had a well-chosen headquarters, including reconnaissance. And although his rival Darius III could expose a much stronger and more numerous army, the military genius of Alexander played a role. Having won the first battles in Asia Minor, the commander then subdued to himself the cities of Phenicia and in 332 BC. conquered Egypt. Then, returning to Syria, he moved to the banks of the Tigris and in the decisive battle at Gaugamela on October 1, 331 BC. caused a crushing defeat to the Persians. Darius III, who fled to Bactria, was killed there by a local satrap, and the Persian Achaemenid empire ceased to exist.

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