The antiquated time 9th - 8th front centuries J. - C.

Vase Michens (antiquated time).
Museum of Ephèse

Greece of the cities

The Greeks are characterized as “those which live in cities”, and Aristote generalizes this historical characteristic by defining the man as a “political animal”. The city, or polished, is in fact a very particular form of State. It is before all the community of the citizens who compose it - thus, to speak about Sparte, a Greek says “the city of Lacédémoniens” -, community cemented by worships, governed by laws which are clean and sovereign for him on a territory (8 400 km2 for Sparte, 2 650 km2 for Athens, 880 km2 for Corinthe and, sometimes, much less). Agricultural space (will chôra it) maintains with the urban center (the asty) the close links.   However, the areas of North, like Thessalie and Macedonia, the mountains of the West (Locride, Etolie, Acarnanie) and of the Peloponnese maintain a long time the shapes antiquated of economy and company. But the State-ethnos - it is the name given at this kind of community rather near still to the tribal organization - does not play a great part in the history before the Hellenistic time, and Greeks of the O C century, “bread eaters”, these people hold, “eaters of nipple”, for semi-Barbarians.  
“Polishes” antiquated
The polishes antiquated is born from the meeting (synoecism) of a set of villages sufficiently close from/to each other to benefit from a common citadel. The religious phenomenon enters the process of structuring of the community: between 900 and 800; the offerings start to flow on the site of the futures great religious centers of Greece: those of Samos, Pérachora and Argos (dedicated to Héra); those of Erétrie in Eubée, of Thermon in Etolie, Délos and Delphes (dedicated to Apollon) but also of Olympie and Dodone (dedicated to Zeus) are among the oldest sanctuaries. The development of these common worships - which will be soon those of the protective divinity of the city - correctly translated the progress of the Community idea.  
The Greek tradition gives the date of the first Olympic Games (776) like marking the beginning of the normal functioning of the cities, and it is indeed as of first half of the VIII E century that these States are organized which, however primitive are, testify already to the embryonic functions of the city.  

The alphabetical writing

The alphabetical writing is acquired by the Greeks for the same period. Borrowed from the Phoenicians, it deeply modifies the “functions of the memory” in the city. The writing accompanies and facilitates the formation of the State and the development of its institutions: one of the most antiquated texts of decree that we had (VII E century) comes from Drêros, in Crete; it carries already the formula “the city decided”.
Beyond the diversity of the situations, that the history will do nothing but accentuate, the Greek city, as of its beginnings, has its particular characteristics: a preeminence recognized of the political factor, shared responsabilities between the citizens, more or less equal in front of the deliberative and executive authorities of the State; and consequently the access to the loads and the honors of the city. The Greeks, in opposition to the old rest of the world, are full aware of the major unity of a system which remains perfectly original in the history.

Changes of the antiquated time

When the city enters the history, almost everywhere the kings disappeared, and their attributions were distributed between several magistrates (archontes, polémarque and eponymous, for example, in Athens). Even the two “kings” of Sparte are more of the generals and the priests that true political leaders. The reality of the power passed to small groups of aristocratic families which describe themselves of agathoi (“goods”) or as aristoi (“the best”), in opposition to the kakoi (“the malicious ones”), i.e. the humble ones, revealing confusion between the spheres of the company and morals! The aristocrats monopolize the near total of the ground and direct the city, partly within the framework of the official institutions, partly thanks to the family ties which constitute them in “high society” and with the prestigious genealogies which, giving them for ancestors of the heroes or the gods, confer an intangible authority to them.
Between these aristocrats and the remainder of the population, more or less integrated into the city (by the means of an assembly of the people without much power still), the tensions, that certain factors of evolution accentuate, are transformed soon into open conflicts.  
Colonization was to have capital consequences for the development of the exchanges in the Mediterranean: the cities of the Greece old woman need metals, corn and, as the richnesses increase, luxury items for the aristocracy, which involves a development of the craft industry.  

Beginnings of the currency

At the end of the VII E century, the Greek cities of Asia borrow the currency from the Lydian kings, with the proverbial richness, and, during the next century, it is spread in all Greece. The absence of small cash leaves think that the currency had only one weak role at the level of local store; moreover, the surface limited of circulation of the specific monetary units to each city - before Athens, on the O C century, does not impose its silver coins struck of its emblem, the owl - questions on the economic role of the currency at its beginnings. In addition, the discovery of “treasures” of molten or divided coins seems to indicate that the currency initially circulated like object of exchange (a stamped money weight, therefore certified) before becoming a standard of common measurement. Besides this last function appears related to the new reports that the development of the State founds (tax levies, fixing of the fines and the sorrows, remuneration of foreign mercenaries, etc).  
The traditional thesis wants that this appearance of the currency developed a movable richness between the hands of tradesmen or craftsmen constituting soon a “middle-class” able to put in danger the old aristocracy. Actually, this new form of richness threatens the aristocracy of the interior: a fault appears, indeed, between noble attaches with the values land and closed with any economic evolution and a more open aristocracy (Solon in is, in Athens, excellent representing) which launches out in the trade and makes a pact with the new value of the money.  
The hoplitic reform

The balance of the aristocratic company is also threatened by the hoplitic reform. One thus calls a fundamental modification of the conditions of the war: the main role, up to that point reserved for the riders (i.e. with the aristocrats, only able to have horses), passes to the heavy infantry, the hoplites. The latter are easy men since they must provide their own armor, their helmet with cimier and their equipment (the long lance, the sword and the round shield).
Many comes from the average layers population and is a counterweight in power in the political struggles. The panoply of the hoplite makes its appearance as of the IX E century (fall from Argos), but the shield with double handle seems later, and it is to the VII E century only that paintings of vases carry testimony on the novel method of combat: the phalange. Whereas the Homeric combat a sum of duels between heroes - excited individual bravery, the formation of the phalange implies a collective combat, in tight rows. It imposes the principles of solidarity, of equality in the row and interchangeability. The defense of the city and its territory thus ceases being the privilege of a narrow aristocracy to become the fact of all, and the dêmos (“people”), more strongly integrated, will become aware of its rights and will develop its claims.  
The agrarian crisis

The evolution of the art of the war makes less justified and less bearable the economic domination of the aristocracy. At the time when the latter sees her interests to diverge, the tensions increase between those which, in Béotie, Hésiode calls the “fats” and the “thin ones”. The latter, the poor peasants, saw the successional divisions still dividing a field already too reduced. It is in Athens that we know best these agrarian problems, to which Solon had, temporarily, to put an end. The crisis, however, appears to have affected all the Greek cities in VIIe century. The dêmos asserts the handing-over of the debts and a new division of the grounds (perhaps inspired of the colonial model). It is of these same disorders as are born the political solutions intended before very reconstituting the community of the city in crisis.

Birth of the political regimes

One of the first claims of the dêmos was, in many evolved cities, that of a legislation withdrawn from arbitrary of the aristocrats, therefore written. Thus is explained the movement of the legislators who claimed, by the establishment of laws (nomoi), to ensure the triumph of justice.
Thus made the aisymnètes (presidents of legal commissions) in the Greek rich person quoted of Asia Mineure (Epimènes de Milet, Pittacos de Mytilène or Aristarque d' Ephèse), Charondas de Catane and Zaleucos de Locres in Occident, Dracon in 621 then Solon at the beginning of the VI E century in Athens and, much earlier perhaps, Lycurgue with Sparte. Law allotted to this last, the “large one will rhêtra” (the Great Law), owed, during centuries, to fix the destiny of an enlarged Community citizens - the “Equal ones”, or more exactly “Pars” - devoting their life to the defense and the policy of the city while the dependant ones, the hilotes, cultivated the civic ground and that the périèques ones are autoadministraient with the margins of the city.  
Elsewhere, the social disturbances allowed a man alone, often supported on the dêmos (people), to tear off the power with the aristocracy and to found a strong mode. The term of tyranny does not imply, at the origin, any value judgment on the exercise of the power, but qualifies simply an absolute power, established and maintained apart from any constitutional legality. There is no single diagram of tyranny.  

Thucydide noticed already a bond between the tyranny and the increase in richnesses due to the exchanges, and, in support of its demonstration, it quoted Samos (with its Polycrate tyrant), Phocée (for which the tradition however preserved the name of no tyrant) and Corinth (with Cypsélides). The example of Sicyone, with the tyranny of Orthagorides, shows how can also intervene the ethnic factors, at least with Clisthène (grandfather of the Athenian reformer), which, at the dawn of the Life century, is pressed on the people in his fight against the aristocracy.  
On the borders of Greek world, finally, there is not any doubt that the threat of the Barbarians increases the need for a strong power. In Samos, Polycrate thus wants to be the champion of the fight against Persians, and, in Syracuse, the tyranny of Déinoménides exploits the danger indigenous, and more still Carthaginian. It is the case of Gélon, at the beginning of the O C century, and, into 405, of Denys the Old one. But this tyranny of Déinoménides, moreover late, had the appearance of an exception.  
The tyrant “demagog”
The tyrant “demagog” is, literally, the “chief of the people”, which does not mean that he is a democrat. On the other hand, if the institutions are not modified (stations - keys being occupied by liege men), the tyrant, to have the support of the people, must take measures in his favor. The agricultural activities, artisanal and commercial are encouraged, and the policy of great work, systematically developed by the tyrants (aqueducts, fountains, ports), increases the wellbeing in the city. Lastly, the development of the State with finances which are clean for him (perception of the tithe on the incomes of the ground or taxation of those of the trade), the policy of prestige (embellishment of the city, brilliant court) and the multiplication of religious holidays, cement the unit of the community. The more so as the worships poliades are reinforced popular elements.  
An expansion of the city corresponds to the tyrannical phase (foreign policy activates, development of the exchanges) and to an increased dynamism of the dêmos, in particular of the urban dêmos. In same time, the aristocracy, reached by the coup d'etat which the seizure of power by the tyrant represents, is in lose speed. It would not have to be believed, however, that the fall of tyranny results everywhere in the accession of the dêmos to the power. The situations vary according to time and from the cities. In Argos, after the old tyranny of Phidon, the aristocracy recovers the power; in Corinthe, if Bacchiades do not find their prerogatives, it is a moderate oligarchy which settles, where the richness, much more than the birth, determines the participation in the public affairs; in most of Greece, moreover, the fight between the small number (oligoi) and masses it (polloi) will never calm down in a durable way.  
The “dêmos”
Rare are the cities where, as in Athens, the dêmos conquers really the right to move itself. Still should it be noticed that a similar experiment had already been tried: an inscription (known as “Constitution of Tap-hole” and dated from the medium of the VI E century) gives the people as author of the constitutional law (will rhêtra) engraved on a stone cube card-indexed on a pile; what allowed, by making it turn, to consult the four faces of them. The assembly of the people meets in fixed days, it returns justice, and its representatives, markings down, play a part dominating in the city at the sides of the “kings”, vestiges of an aristocratic company which is not main any more power.  
Beyond the factors of evolution common to all Greece and crisis, very general, aristocratic company, the traditional time thus opens on Greece with the very varied faces.