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Early Change in Athens, Greece

4 Pages 886 Words June 2018

Early Greek society, according to Herodotus, was not only accustomed to warfare but was in some ways defined by it.1 Although given the frequency of fighting, the emphasis on marital values, and the potential distinction which both military victories and the memory of such triumphs could bring; you might ask why the Archaic Athens did not erect monuments featuring historical battles before the famed representation of Marathon in the Painted Stoa. One might think that given the nature of the polis and the fear of elevating the individual as a possible reason. After all, military victories, even more than athletic achievements, would have granted honors and fame to commanders which the community might have looked at with suspicion. A closer look at the nature of the Athenian military and warfare before the reforms of Cleisthenes, however, reveals a simpler answer on the effects of the Peisistratus tyranny and Cleisthenic reforms on their then, current Greek world.
Prior to the military reforms in the Cleisthenic legislation, Athens had no standing army or any real method for calling up troops.2 In the cases where Athenians participated in these skirmishes, it is likely that they did so out of personal loyalty to the commander or in order to acquire land, much like armies of colonists.3 Peisistratus, Herodotus says, relied on epikouroi, usually thought to be Argive mercenaries.4 Aristotle in Politics, partially defines a tyrant as commanding a retinue of foreigners as opposed to a king who used citizens as bodyguards.5 If victories were achieved by mercenary forces and not Athenian citizens, it would help to explain why Peisistratus would not build any sort of memorial promoting the feats of non-citizens, let alone a monument which prominently displayed their struggles. These skirmishes may have had tangible benefits to whichever private individual initiated these attacks, but this may also explain why monuments were not built to explicitl...

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