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A Tale of Two Cities A Tale of Two Wars. Persian War Athens & Sparta vs. Persian Empire Peloponnesian War Athens vs. Sparta. Brief History of Greece. The first great civilization in Greece and Crete was the Minoan (2000 BCE – 1400 BCE).

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a tale of two cities a tale of two wars
A Tale of Two Cities A Tale of Two Wars
  • Persian War
    • Athens & Sparta vs. Persian Empire
  • Peloponnesian War
    • Athens vs. Sparta
brief history of greece
Brief History of Greece
  • The first great civilization in Greece and Crete was the Minoan (2000 BCE – 1400 BCE).
  • Around 1400 BCE, the Mycenaean civilization supplanted the Minoan, and dominated Greece until about 1100 BCE, when barbarians known as Dorians invaded.
the hellenic era
The Hellenic Era
  • Founding of Mycenae on the Peloponnesus (2000-1250 B.C.)
  • Mycenae (Greeks) battledfor control of the Aegean Sea with Troy

Trojan War

emergence of the polis or greek city state
Emergence of the Polis, or Greek City-State
  • Starting around 800 BCE a new civilization, the Hellenic, became dominant in Greece.
  • By 750 B.C. city-states began to form
  • The Hellenic civilization was composed of two strands, the Dorian and the Ionian.
  • This civilization gave rise to a new form of social/political organization: the polis.
the polis
The Polis
  • The polis was an independent, self-governing city of between 50,000 and 300,000 people.
  • Several dozen polises (Greek “poleis”) dotted the Greek countryside
  • In each polis, politics, religion, and social life were closely intertwined.
types of government
Types of Government
  • Two types of government were used in the Greek Polises.
  • The Dorians generally had an oligarchic form of government.
  • The Greek word oligarchy means rule by the few.
  • The Ionians developed the first democratic form of government.
  • Democracy means rule by the people.
sparta and athens
Sparta and Athens
  • Generally speaking, the Doriansdepended upon agriculture, while the Ionians were seafarers and merchants.
  • The two primary poleis were Sparta and Athens.
  • Sparta was Dorian, oligarchic, and had an agriculture-based economy.
  • Athens was Ionian, democratic, and depended on seafaring and trade.
background history
Background History
  • The Greek City-States under the leadership of Athens defeated the Persian Empire
  • Athens is acknowledged as the leading Greek state
  • However, as Thucydides relates in his history, Athenians increasingly fear Sparta as a competitor and believe they must increase Athen’s power and subjugate Sparta

Athens and Sparta were both poleis (plural of ‘polis.’)

  • Both were city-states, independent, with their own sub-culture and form of governance.
  • No “capital city” of Greece
  • While you were Greek--and proud of it--your primary allegiance and loyalty were towards your city-state
  • Many city-states in Greece and elsewhere.
  • Athens and Sparta mentioned the most because they emerged as the most powerful ones.


  • Monarchy
    • Rule by a king
  • Oligarchy
    • Rule by a small group of people. Usually elites bound together by interests and wealth.
  • Aristocracy
    • Rule by a small group of people, but in the classical definition, they’re chosen for their virtue and wise rule (though this wasn’t always the case).


  • 4. Tyranny
    • Rule by a individual with absolute power who took power by force, sometimes with popular support
  • Acropolis
    • Center and citadel of city-state. Literally means “high city” or “city at the top.”
    • Usually refers to the one in Athens today
  • Agora
    • An open public area acting as a center of public life and also the marketplace


  • Land-bound serfs that worked Spartan land
  • From surrounding land of Laconia and Messenia that were conquered.
  • Owned by the state and not individual masters--masters could not sell them.
  • Sparta got half of the helot’s crops.
  • Significantly outnumbered the citizens.
    • The potential threat they presented was another reason why the Spartans had such a potent army
    • Spartans were reluctant to fight too far from Sparta lest the helots act up
different values
Spartan Values




Athenian Values




Different Values
athens a city of the wise
Athens-A city of the Wise
  • City located on southern portion of the Greek peninsula, not on the Peloponnesus
  • A city run by thinkers and known for both its military might and wisdom in government and battle
  • Appropriately named after Athena, goddess of wisdom in battle and counsel
athens evolution of democracy
Athens-Evolution of Democracy
  • Around 1300-700, Athens is ruled by kings.
    • Over time it changes to an aristocracy (a few powerful, elite rule),
    • Then a tyranny (one person takes control)
    • Finally--by 450--a democracy (rule by many)
athens democratic principles
Athens-Democratic Principles
  • New, democratic ideas emerge from Athenian culture and society:
    • Direct Democracy: Citizens elect their representatives
    • Public Debate: Becomes an art in Athens to discuss and argue specifics of government
    • Duties of the Citizen: All citizens have responsibilities such as voting, participating in the government process

Athens famous for being primary basis of Western Civilization

  • Its democracy wasn’t always constant, and
  • Its form slightly different than what we’re familiar with.
  • Athens originally a kingdom which morphed into more of an aristocracy that became unstable, partially due to laws being oral and arbitrary
  • In 621 BC, Draco was appointed to codify the laws
  • Unpopular move because the laws (both as they already existed and were codified by Draco, but also most especially as designed by Draco) were extremely harsh.

More on Draco…

    • Death was the penalty for even minor crimes, like stealing vegetables.
    • Draco claimed that this was an appropriate punishment and if something even worse were found, he would have applied to greater crimes.
    • Different classes were also treated differently – debtors could be sold into slavery if in debt to a higher class.
    • An upside is that murder was punished by the state instead of by blood-feud vendettas.
    • It is from Draco that the term ‘draconian’ derives.


  • The Athenian lawmaker that first established the basis of civil democracy
  • Draco’s constitution wasn’t working out too well and in 594 BC, Solon revised it (almost completely).
  • He threw out all of Draco’s laws except those concerning homicide.
  • He had to strike a balance between the concerns of the aristocracy and those of the poor.
    • The poor were disgruntled at the possibility of they and their families being sold into slavery if they were in debt to an aristocrat.
    • The aristocrats wanted to prevent a revolution and keep their wealth (and their skin).

Some reforms:

    • Debt-slavery was abolished. Anybody who had been sold into slavery due to debt was liberated.
    • All outstanding debts were abolished.
    • Death penalty only for murder.
    • Classes were based on income, not birth
      • Pentakosiomedimnoi: Those whose land produced 500 bushels per annum
      • Hippeis: Those who were worth 300 bushels
      • Zeugitai: Those who were worth 200 bushels
      • Thetes: Manual laborers.
    • Move was important because it helped break the power of hereditary aristocracy

Some reforms cont.

  • Introduced trial by jury
  • Set up new system of government
  • Included a third class in the Boule (council of 400 – 100 from each of the four tribes)
  • After the new laws published and official, he left Athens for 10 years to avoid temptation to become a tyrant though he was effectively one in making the laws
  • Went touring.
  • Neither the poor nor the rich of Athens happy about new laws at first
    • the aristocrats had debts to them abolished and the poor didn’t get more wealth, but they liked them over time.

Peisistratus(Hippocrates’s son)

  • Mentee of Solon
  • Became leader of Athens’ poor in 565 BC
  • Initial attempts at seizing control of Athens failed
  • Seized power in 560 BC, Tyrant by 546 BC.
  • Made popular reforms.
    • Reduced taxation
    • Introduced festivals
    • Increased trade and commerce
    • Produced coin money
    • Beautified the city

Peisistratus cont.

  • Had official copies of the Iliad & Odyssey written.
  • Helped the poor, gave them jobs through public works,
    • Poor were satisfied & supported him.
  • Preserved the democratic institutions, but loaded upper bodies with family & cronies.
  • When he first took power in 560 BC, it was through cunning deception. Did it again later.
  • Solon urged the Athenians to resist Peisistratus, but they were too cowardly and Peisistratus too powerful.
  • Solon himself openly opposed Peisistratus.


  • Took power with Spartan help after Peisistratus’s son Hippias was exiled
  • Reformed the government
    • Previously, there were multiple tribes and there was conflict among the city folk, hill folk, and plain folk.
    • Cleisthenes organized ten entirely new tribes each composed of people from the three regions and of different family tribes.
    • Broke old tribal or class loyalties & reoriented people towards the state.
    • Solon’s council of 400 became the Council of 500, 50 people from each new tribe.

Cleisthenes cont.

  • Assembly became main governing body of Athens and dealt with day to day affairs.
  • Anybody was eligible to serve for one year and it was expected that all male citizens would serve eventually.
  • Also served as a supreme court / jury, except for murder cases and religious matters
      • --those remained to the Areopagus)
  • With the establishment of the assembly, Athens became a representative democracy.
  • The citizens themselves ran it.
four reformers
Four Reformers
  • Draco (621 B.C.)
    • Written code of laws
  • Solon (594 B.C.)
    • Eliminated debt slavery
  • Peisistratus (546 B.C.)
    • Caters to peasants
  • Cleisthenes (508 B.C.)
    • Council of 500
six steps to democracy
Six Steps to Democracy
  • Outlawed Slavery
  • Reduce nobility
  • Redistribute land
  • Assembly
  • Council of 500
  • Ostracism


  • Women didn’t have the same rights as in Sparta
  • Expected to take care of the home
  • Boys were taught reading and writing and
  • Girls were taught domestic skills by slaves: like spinning and sewing
  • Not allowed out of the house except nearby travels
  • Main purpose was to produce healthy children
  • Unusual considering that women played an important role in some religious rites and the city’s patron goddess was Athena

Women cont.

  • Women could be educated if they were Hetaerae
    • A bit like Japanese geishas
    • Educated to entertain men with good conversations at parties
    • Learned physical talents, like dancing
    • Some forced into prostitution
    • Despite public social discrimination, their opinions were often respected by men
    • Pericles’s mistress Aspasia was a hetaera


  • Practiced throughout Greece and in Athens
  • Rules governing it differed from city-state to city-state.
  • Slaves usually barbarians, typically captured in war.
  • Others were born slaves or their free parents sold them into slavery for money.
    • Considered by some an abomination to enslave a fellow Greek.
    • Greeks could be slaves, but many free Greeks didn’t like the idea.
  • Treatment different than that associated with American slavery.

Slavery cont.

  • Relatively well-treated in Athens when compared with other places.
    • Couldn’t slap a slave because you might inadvertently hit a citizen instead.
      • A master could beat his slave, though.
      • Testimony was taken only under torture.
    • Could buy freedom or earn through fighting in war.
    • Masters could free their slaves.
      • Even then, though, they couldn’t be citizens and there were still conditions on them.
  • In other city-states, treatment was much worse.


It was here:


sparta a city of warriors
Sparta- A City of Warriors
  • Those who lived around Sparta lived vastly different lives.
  • They were more focused on war and building up strength to fight
  • An early slave revolt causes the Spartans to create strict laws that demanded public allegiance to the state.
  • Although they did have artistic culture, much of their energy was spent tuning their military skills
sparta rise of the oligarchy
Sparta- Rise of the Oligarchy
  • olig (few or little in Greek) arche (rule)
  • Rule by a few
  • Sparta develops a system where either the city-state was controlled by a king or by an oligarchy
  • Citizens are not encouraged to speak freely, the few who rule were usually powerful military leaders.

In Greek, Spartans known asLacedaemonians

  • Lacedaemon was the name of the city-state while Sparta was the ancient town
  • According to legend, founded by Lacedaemon, son of Zeus and Taygete (a nymph)
  • Controlled most of southern Peloponnese
  • Argos & Arcadia were main rivals on the Peloponnese
plutarch greek biographer
Plutarch, Greek Biographer

on Spartans

“The women did not bathe the babies with water, but with wine, making it a sort of test of their strength. For they say that the epileptic and sickly ones lose control and go into convulsions, but the healthy ones are rather toughened like steel and strengthened in their physique. The nurses displayed care and skill: they did not use swaddling-bands, making the babies free in their limbs and bodies. They also made them sensible and not fussy about their food, not afraid of the dark or frightened of being left alone, not inclined to unpleasant awkwardness or whining. So even some foreigners acquired Spartan nurses for their children.”

plutarch on spartans
Plutarch on Spartans

"They learned reading and writing for basic needs, but all the rest of their education was to make them well-disciplined and steadfast in hardship and victorious in battle. For this reason, as boys grew older, the Spartans intensified their training, cutting their hair short and making them used to walking barefoot and for the most part playing naked. When the boys reached the age of twelve, they no longer had tunics to wear, but got one cloak a year. Their bodies were tough and unused to baths and lotions. They enjoyed such luxury only a few special days a year. They slept, in packs, on beds which they got together on their own, made from the tops of the rushes to be found by the river Eurotas. These they broke off with their bare hands, not using knives."



  • Sparta was a military culture
  • The entire Spartan culture went towards developing and fielding a strong army
  • This was to preserve itself as well as to keep down the helots
  • Children were taught at home until they were seven
    • At Seven, began their training
    • Exercises for them and all ages were always in the nude.
    • At 13, they were dropped off in the woods in groups with nothing…had to survive (without theft)

Spartan Military

  • Men married at the age of 20
  • Had to live in barracks for ten years
  • If they wanted to see their wives, they had to escape
  • At the age of 30, men could finally move home and were full citizens
  • Still ate every meal in the military dining hall
  • Food was sparse and plain


  • Began military service at 20
    • Soldiers not allowed to trade or hold non-military occupations.
      • These were done by a class called the periokoi, free non-citizen inhabitants of Sparta.
    • Exercised full rights and duties of citizens at 30.
    • Weren’t free from military service until 60.
  • To help ensure the physical superiority of their people, babies were bathed in wine shortly after birth.
    • If they survived, they were taken to elders.
    • If the elders deemed the baby unfit, it was left exposed to die on a hillside (other city-states practiced exposure).

Spartan mother to her son as he goes off to war:

“Return with your shield, or on it.”



  • Two (hereditary)Kings, Five Ephors, Gerousia & Apella
  • Two kings equal in power & exercised various duties.
    • Eventually became less powerful/important,
    • were primarily generals
  • Five Ephors: council elected for one year by the Apella. All citizens were eligible.
  • Gerousia: (Senate) – a council of 30 elders (over 60 yrs)
    • Elected for life by the Apella.
    • Could veto the Apella.
  • The Apella (lower legislative body).
    • Every citizen over 30 could attend.
    • Votes were taken by shouts.


  • More independent than in other city-states
  • Learned reading/writing
  • Girls given similar harsh physical training as the boys
  • Many domestic tasks were left to the helots & periokoi
  • Received same amount/quality of food as boys
  • Could own/control property and
    • Could overtake husband’s property while he was @ war.
    • Expected to defend it too and to put down revolts.
  • Not rushed into bearing children.
  • Husbands also allowed other men to bed their wives and produce children.
    • May have practiced polyandry.
sparta athens in conflict
Sparta- Athens in Conflict
  • Each city had a vastly different social and government structure.
  • Although they agreed on issues such as the limited role of women and the role of slaves, they had many disagreements
  • Athenians were interested in military strength, but also in art and culture.
  • Spartans were only interested in military power.
  • This type of rift leads to fighting across the Peloponnesus.
the persian wars
The Persian Wars

Athens & Sparta


Persian Empire

the greeks at war
The Greeks at War

Between 500 and 400 B.C. the Greeks fought several wars.

Two were against the powerful Persian Empire to the east of Greece.

Then a civil war broke out among the city-states of Greece.

why did the persians invade greece
Why did the Persians invade Greece?

In 519 B.C. the Persians conquered a group of people who lived in Asia Minor called the Ionian Greeks.


Those Greeks will pay for this

We’re on the way


In 499 B.C. the Ionian Greeks asked the mainland Greeks to help them rebel against the Persians.

Athens sent warships to help them, but they were not strong enough to defeat the Persian army.

This made the Persian King, Darius, very angry with Greece.


In 490 B.C. Darius sent 600 ships and thousands of soldiers to invade Greece. He wanted to punish the Athenians for helping the rebels.

The Persian army landed at Marathon, north of Athens, in 490 B.C.

Persians greatly outnumbered Greeks.

Persian Empire

The Persians were amazed at the strong will of the small Athenian force. They had no horses or archers, only fierce foot soldiers.




After a few days, the Persians decided to attack Athens by sea.

While they were loading their ships, the Athenians attacked and defeated them.

The Persians Retreated.


The Greeks sent their fastest runner Pheidippides to carry home news of the victory.

He sprinted 26.2 miles from the battle site to the city-state of Athens.

He arrived and said, “Rejoice, we conquer,” and died from exhaustion

The Marathon race is named after this event.

what happened at thermopylae
What Happened at Thermopylae?

The Greek ruler Themistocles knew this was a temporary victory. He encouraged the Athenians to build up their fleet and prepare for battle with the Persians.

In 480 B.C. Darius’ son Xerxes sent a larger force to conquer Greece.

He sent 200,000 soldiers and nearly 1,000 ships.

By this time Athens had convinced Sparta to join them in battle. Twenty Greek city-states joined together to meet the Persian invaders.

Sparta took charge of the army.

persia invades greece
Persia Invades Greece

The Persian army had little trouble as it moved through northern Greece.

It came to a narrow mountain pass called Thermopylae...7,000 Greeks waited for the Persians.

For several days they stopped the Persian army from moving forward

Someone led the Persians behind the Greek army, the Spartan soldier began to retreat to their ships as the Persians marched forward.


Thermopylae: The Last Stand

A Small Spartan force of about 300 men commanded by King Leonidas, guarded the mountain pass of Thermopylae.

They held out heroically against he enormous Persian force for three days.

They were betrayed when someone told the Persians how to get behind the army.

They were defeated, but won valuable time for the rest of the Greeks.

who won at salamis
Who won at Salamis?

The Persians marched south after their victory at Thermopylae and destroyed the city of Athens.


The Athenians had already moved to Salamis, a small nearby island.



More than 800 Persian ships attacked the Athenian navy near the island.

The large Persian ships could not maneuver in the water.The smaller Greek ships destroyed them.

results of the persian wars
Results of the Persian Wars
  • The Greek sense of uniqueness was increased.
  • Athens emerged as the most powerful city-state in Greece.
  • Athens takes credit leading the victory.
  • Athens organized the Delian League, an alliance with other Greek city-states.
  • Athens used the league to assert power and build an Athenian Empire.
  • They moved the treasury to Athens, and forced people to stay in the league against their will.
  • Persia still exists.
  • Greek cities in Asia Minor are still controlled by Persia.
athens in the age of pericles
Athens in the Age of Pericles

The wise and skillful leadership of Pericles brought about a Golden age in Athens.

This was from about 460 to 429 B.C. and is often called the Age of Pericles.

  • Pericles believed that all male citizens, regardless of wealth or social class, should take part in government.
  • He paid salaries to men who held public office.
  • This enabled the poor to serve in the government.
  • The assembly met several times a month and needed at least 6,000 members present to take a vote.
  • This was direct democracy, a large number of citizens took part in the day to day affairs of the government.
  • Pericles stated, “We alone, regard a man who takes no interest in public affairs, not as harmless, but as a useless character.

Pericles rebuilt the Acropolis and turned Athens into the cultural center of Greece.

age of pericles
Age of Pericles
  • Elected to lead Athens on and off for 30 years.
  • All citizens can hold office.
    • - ½ of population not citizens
  • Slaves made government participation possible.
  • City is rebuilt with Delian funds.
  • City-states that oppose Athens are crushed by League.
athens as leader
Athens as Leader
  • Athens rebuilds after the Persian War.
  • Rather than win by conquest, it tries diplomacy.
  • Many allies together, sharing money, troops and ships.
delian league or empire
Delian League…or Empire?
  • League consists of Athens and 140 city-states.
  • No member can withdraw without all the others agreeing. (Athens can thus control)
  • 465 BC: Xerxes dies – Persia not a threat.
  • League still exists
  • Athens takes treasury, spends $ on itself.
  • League becomes a financial empire.
the peloponnesian war
The Peloponnesian War

Athens & Delian League


Sparta & the Peloponnesian League

greek against greek
Greek against Greek

Many Greeks resented the Athenian domination.

The Greek world split into rival camps.

To counter the Delian League, Sparta and other enemies of Athens formed the Peloponnesian League.

Sparta encouraged an Oligarchy (government run by business) in the states of the Peloponnesian League, and Athens supported democracy.

A 27 year war broke out in 431 B.C. engulfing all of Greece

peloponnesian war
Peloponnesian War
  • Athens faced a serious geographic disadvantage from the start.
  • Sparta was located inland, the Athenian navy was no good against them.
  • When Sparta invaded Athens, Pericles allowed people from the countryside to move inside the city.
  • Overcrowding led to a plague that killed a third of the people.
  • Internal struggles undermined the Democratic government of Athens.
  • Sparta even allied with Persia, their old enemy, against the Delian League.
  • Finally, in 404 B.C., with the help of the Persian navy, the Spartans captured Athens and stripped it of its fleet and empire.
the peloponnesian war66
The Peloponnesian War
  • Sparta attacks Athens
  • Sparta has no Navy
  • Athenians hide inside walls.
  • Athens controls the ocean, from Delian League.
  • Athens gets greedy, attacks Sicily & LOSES.
  • Sparta builds small navy, stops food from getting in.
  • Eventually, Athens surrenders.
the aftermath of war
The Aftermath of War
  • The Peloponnesian war ended Athenian greatness.
  • In Athens Democratic government suffered: Corruption and selfish interests replaced order.
  • Fighting continued to disrupt the Greek world.
  • Sparta itself suffered defeat at the hands of Thebes, another Greek city-state.
  • Greece was left vulnerable to invasion.
  • Cultural development was arrested.
sparta controls greece
Sparta Controls Greece
  • Sparta gets respect, seems to rule.
  • But other city-states gain control. Corinth, then Thebes
  • Greece is left weak.
  • City-States fight, use up resources.
  • Greece conquered by Philip II from the region of Macedon to the North.
  • Philip unites, son Alexander takes over…
macedonia and alexander the great
Macedonia and Alexander the Great

In 338 B.C. King Phillip II of Macedonia led his army from the north and conquered Greece.

After his death his son, Alexander the Great, went on to conquer the entire Greek world.

  • Philip II saw the weakened state of Greece
  • He valued Greek culture – his son Alexander was educated in Athens
  • He took over Greece before any other power could
  • Was Persia next?
alexander the great
Alexander the Great
  • Philip died before attacking Persia
  • His son, Alexander, took over and Persia fell to his armies
  • Alexander went on to control areas in the Middle East and Asia