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A change in warfare technique early in this century was an important factor in changing social relationships in Greece. The horsemen of the battlefield, heretofore chiefly aristocrats because of the cost involved, were now being replaced by heavily armed and armored clusters of infantrymen called "hoplites" which were massed together, shields overlapping, in a "phalanx". The farmers were able to take over this role and the tendency toward the development of an aristocratic primacy was checked. Even then some social struggles developed. Peisistratus (560-527 B.C.) backed the cause of the poorer class of hill men against the aristocracy in one such uprising. It is possible that the psychology of the phalanx helped to promote the democratic ideal of all being equal, but contrary to what one might believe from perusing the classical school textbooks, Greek democracy was far from being total. Great numbers of slaves, which we shall discuss more in detail later, lacked all political rights; women were also disfranchised; and resident aliens were admitted to citizenship only very rarely. Actually, throughout this 6th century Greece citizenry was pretty much a closed and hereditary group united by ties of kinship.

NOTE: Insert Maps taken from Reference 97 ANCIENT GREECE, CENTRAL GREECE

Aesop, of fable fame, lived in the first half of this century, born as a slave, physically malformed, rough, dogmatic but brilliant. He became the Greek ambassador to Lydia, but later, after challenging the integrity of the priests of Apollo, he was sentenced to die and was thrown from a cliff. Thales, after receiving part of his education in Egypt, founded the Ionian School of Natural Philosophy and set up the first system of abstract geometry and is said to have predicted the eclipse of the sun which occurred in 585 B.C. Coins of small denomination were introduced in Greece at this time. Toynbee (Ref. 220 ) says that 550 B.C. marks the end of the two hundred years of the acme of the Hellenic civilization, but in view of the developments in the latter part of this century and the next, many would disagree.

Upper balkans

Early in the century the Scythians extended their power as far west as present day Hungary, but then they were decimated by a mysterious disease and they drew back to their homeland around the Black Sea. Herodotus mentions a disease of the Scythians which made them sterile, but it is not known if this was one and the same scourge which facilitated their defeat by Darius, when late in the century (513 B.C.) the Persians crossed the Hellespont, conquered the silver and gold rich land of Thrace, making a buffer zone against Greece. The remaining Scythians in the north fled, burning the land behind them. Thrace had been flourishing with an extensive trade and Greek styles and luxuries. Strangely enough, the Persian invasion only seems to have stimulated Thracian art. Macedonia continued its own more or less unmolested development. The Indo-European Illyrians had settled in present day Albania and their mines had attracted Greeks who settled near them on the Adriatic coast. (Ref. 92 , 171 , 28 )

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Source:  OpenStax, A comprehensive outline of world history. OpenStax CNX. Nov 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10595/1.3
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