Polis: An Introduction to the Ancient Greek City-State

Polis: An Introduction to the Ancient Greek City-State

Mogens Herman Hansen

Language: English

Pages: 246


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

From antiquity until the nineteenth century, there have been two types of state: macro-states, each dotted with a number of cities, and regions broken up into city-states, each consisting of an urban center and its hinterland. A region settled with interacting city-states constituted a city-state culture and Polis opens with a description of the concepts of city, state, city-state, and city-state culture, and a survey of the 37 city-state cultures so far identified. Mogens Herman Hansen provides a thoroughly accessible introduction to the polis (plural: poleis), or ancient Greek city-state, which represents by far the largest of all city-state cultures. He addresses such topics as the emergence of the polis, its size and population, and its political organization, ranging from famous poleis such as Athens and Sparta through more than 1,000 known examples.

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come to terms with what is understood by a city, a state and a city-state. The present book is in three parts. The first is a relatively wide overview of the concepts of city-state and city-state culture and of the thirty-seven such cultures that we think we have uncovered in world history. The second is a specific description of the ancient Greek polis, and the third is a Conclusion, in which the Greek polis is compared with the thirty-six other city-state cultures and with the concept of

Inventory of the Polis Centre, 447 are explicitly attested as poleis in the sense of ‘city’. Of those, sixty- 88 Chapter 14 three must be left out of account because we have absolutely no evidence as to their political status in the Archaic and Classical periods. Of the remaining 384, there is no reason to doubt that 364 were poleis in the political sense; in the remaining twenty cases their political status can be disputed, but there is just a single one of these cases in which we can with

city-state culture, with about 1,500 city-states. In Italy there was also in antiquity the Etruscan city-state culture north of Rome and the Latin one which comprised Rome and the cities of Latium south of Rome. In the Middle Ages we can find city-state cultures in north Italy, south Germany and Switzerland; and the Dutch Republic was founded in 1579 as a kind of federal state comprising fifty-seven cities. Nor must it be forgotten that the Norwegian Vikings established a city-state culture in

independent30 poleis, but a complicated hierarchy of poleis, some independent, some not, but all with a good deal of selfgovernment, in internal a·airs at least.31 In the Hellenistic period practically all poleis had become dependent states,32 and thus the polis was combined with other types of society, of which some were above and some below the niveau of the polis. The most important political unit bigger than the polis was the federal state, and over time by far the larger number of poleis in

first period the Spanish conquistadores too governed the region through the existing network of city-states. It seems to have taken several generations for the former Aztec Empire to be transformed into a bureaucratically governed Spanish colony. Again, in West Africa the Kotoko became part of the Bornu Empire The Polis and Other Forms of City-State 139 c.1600, but their city-states continued to exist as dependencies until the region was taken over by the colonial powers in the 1890s.14 Size

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