Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Democracy and Imperialism Discussion Forum 2013-4

Democracy and Imperialism Discussion Forum 2013-4 Discussion of Term 1 Lecture 4 Persian Wars: Key Questions

You need to be logged in to post in this topic.
  1. 1. To what extent did the Persian wars only bring long-term benefits to Athens? As many have pointed out the most obvious immediate effect of the Persian wars was the destruction of the acropolis. This, if we are to believe the ancient sources would have left a charred ruin in the heart of the city for 40 years and as some have observed would suggest that there were few short-term benefits for Athens. If we were to stick to this view we would of course only believe that there were long-term benefits for the Athenians as there city had been destroyed with very little to show for it. However this view would ignore what is perhaps one of the greatest benefits that Athens recieved from the Persian wars was the firm establishment of its democracy. This was a war that the people had started, had suffered through together and had won together. For this fledgling democracy to defeat the greatest power of the time must have caused a great swell in civic pride and belief. It is with this hope that the Athenians later went on to create their empire and celebrate the benefits it brought. They were no longer just another minor polis engaging in super casual wars with their neighbours, they were a nation united and imperialistic. All their later achievements came from this.
  2. The Persian wars brought mostly long term benefits, especially to Athens. Victory in the Persian wars allowed Athens to build its empire and create the Delian league which brought major economic benefits to Athens. This in turn then allowed Perickles to commission the numerous new buildings. Short term benefits were few but, the Persian wars may have installed belief into the democratic system as even the common man took part in the war and thus contributed to the victory. The Persian wars gave everyone the sense that they were involved in some form or another in the democratic sysytem of Athens, something which would later be reflected in the depiction of ordinary Athenian citizens on the ionic frieze of the Parthenon. I believe that the Persian wars didnt undermine the democracy in Athens. I beleive that the Persian wars presented Athens as the defenders of democracy and the city that would prevent the advance of the Persian monarchy.
  3. There were certainly no real short term benefits to the Persian Wars for Athens. The destruction of the Acropolis, the beating heart of the city, would have been a major blow to Athens as this partly symbolised the growing democracy of the city. There were however some longer term benefits. Incredible monumental architecture began to appear following the eventual defeat of the Persians and gives us some of the brilliant art that we can view in Athens today. Furthermore, the eventual creation of the Delian League significantly strengthened Athens, and the victory over the Persians gave them a prestige that made them stand out among the Greek city states.
  4. 1. To what extent did the Persian wars only bring long-term benefits to Athens? The Persian wars marked a significant change in the balance of power in the Aegean sea. Without a test of the Athenian military to be able to defend Greece Persia would always have seemed the dominant power in the region. Allowing Athens to demonstrate their ability to prove they could protect those around them and thereby start building the Athenian empire. In the short term however clearly life was lost and Athens was destroyed and hence shouldered massive financial burdens. The "Oath of Plataea" may have been a smoke-screen for the fact that they couldn't actually afford to rebuild the expensive temples. 2. What role did the Persian wars play in undermining the democracy at Athens? Whilst the concept of individual dominance becomes more obvious in the figure of Themistocles during the wars, it's unclear to what extent this was a problem in Democracy before-hand. Given less information about the politics before-hand it's unclear whether or not the same 1 figure dominance existed to "undermine" democracy beforehand. Clearly there were individuals gaining huge popular support even before democracy existed and it's unclear that this did not continue. It could be that it's simply an information bias about the Athenian government during the wars that reveals these figures names to us. 3. Was Athens’ democracy naturally imperialistic? Insofar as to secure itself it relied on defence structures that recruited other nations it had to be. More than that it's method of gaining political support was to lend support to democratic factions in other poleis. From that perspective it's geo-political position needed to continue imperialist expansion. But the constitutional forms themselves did not necessitate.
  5. 1. To what extenet did the Persian wars only bring long-term benefits to Athens? I pretty much agree with the general consensus above. In the short-term a lot of Athenian lives were lost, whilst in the long-term iit ultimately led to the Athenian Empire (bringing wealth to Athens) as well as Athens emerging as the prominent power in Greece. However, it must also be considered what exactly is meant by the term 'long-term' as it could imply anything from 50 years after the Persian War to thousands of years after. The question should be more specific in this sense. 2. What role did the Persian Wars play in undermining the democracy at Athens? Ultimately, the main way in which the Persian Wars undermined democracy in Athens wasin the fact that it allowed for the emergence of individuals who would take importance within the system Having a particular indiviual who was able to enter a position of influence appears to completely defeat the idea of everyone having an equal say within the system. However, once again this depends on what exactly would be meant by the term 'democracy' because, whilst the emergence of the individuals may not seem democratic by today's definition, it could be argued this 'way of doing things' simply reflected the evolution in 'Athenian democracy'. 3. Was Athens' democracy naturally imperialistic? Like others, I feel as though I do not know enough to make an informed decision on this. However, I would not call Athenian democracy 'naturally imperialistic' but instead argue that democracy needed a level of imperialism to have developed in the way which it did.
  6. 1. While the Persian wars brought few short term material gains for Athens, the psychological benefits it afforded cannot be denied. For such a young and untried government to defeat the region's most powerful empire, both on land at Marathon and at sea at Salamis, would have been hugely reassuring for any Athenians who doubted the power of their polis. The Athenian role in the Greek victory in the Persian wars also announced to any other nations that Athens would be a major contendor in future conflicts. But perhaps the most tangible short term (and potentially long term) benefit of the Persian wars for Athens was her strenghtened fleet which would see a lot of use in the later Peloponnesian wars and beyond. 2. The Persian wars exist in a curious place with regards to how democratic it was as a war waged by the Athenians. Certainly there is evidence of Athens falling back on its older, more aristocratic ways by granting so much power to generals like Miltiades and Themistocles but the actual battles probably relied more on the 'average' Athenian citizen than ever before, especially at Salamis. Large numbers of poor Athenians were required to man the fleet and as such were being entrusted with more power in battle than ever before. Furthermore, Miltiades and Themistocles did not ultimately benefit very much from their actions in the wars and both suffered a fall from power later in their lives. Perhaps the most damage that the Persian wars did to Athens in the long run was in the importance it had to the establishment of the Athenian empire, which would ultimately lead to further war and tribulatons for the people of Attica. 3. I see the Athenian imperialism as being a creation more of the competetive spirit that was ubiquitous in Classical Greece and less of something inherent within Athens or her democracy.
  7. 1. What extent did the Persian wars only bring long-term benefits to Athens? The Persian wars brought both short and long term benefits to Athens, specifically the morale boost they needed to solidify their political system. However, there were more long term benefits in terms of developing its empire and being economically powerful and the fact that in the short term they lost a lot of their architecture. 2. What role did the Persian Wars play in undermining the democracy at Athens? I'm not sure how much they did undermine democracy, whilst they highlighted the flaw in democracy in terms of a few needing to take charge in difficult times, they also allowed the entire population to feel as though they had acheived something as a whole and brought together all different classes. 3. Was Athens’ democracy naturally imperialistic? I think to some extent it was, there was always a natural hierarchy especially in terms of 'others', as Athens was very imperialistic in its attitude towards other countries.
  8. 1. To what extent did the Persian wars only bring long-term benefits to Athens? The Persian wars only bring long-term benefits inasmuch as Athens historically important role in the wars reinforced their importance as state. However the legacy of Themistocles reinforced the importance of the single man to the democratic society, while the Athenian people became used to the thought that they were a military significant power. However from most of our knowledge of these benefits comes from historians writing for their own teleologies and arguments. 2. What role did the Persian wars play in undermining the democracy at Athens? It re-enforced the importance of the single man over the /demos/ with the influence of Themistocles. In addition it must have increased the understanding of demagogues in ways to manipulate the demos through the threat of foreign invaders. 3. Was Athens’ democracy naturally imperialistic? The argument of Athenian imperialism is two-fold; on the one hand, their exertion of power beyond their borders would have been part of a natural tendency after the Persian Wars to secure their own borders and stabilise their economy through the enforcing of foreign trade. On the other, the importance of naval fleets in both Persian wars would have lead the Athenians to understand their naval power and the ability to exert influence over neighbouring states.
  9. *1. To what extent did the Persian wars only bring long-term benefits to Athens?* In the short term a principal benefit of the Persian War, and the burning of the acropolis in particular, was that it steeled the resolve of the Athenians. This is evident in the fact that they committed themselves to not rebuilding their most prominent religious sancturary, choosing this course of action would have bolstered civic pride and their commitment to their (democratic) way of life. *2. What role did the Persian wars play in undermining the democracy at Athens?* It undermined the collective of the power of the demos by re-entrenching the power and status of individuals, such as Alcibiadies. *3. Was Athens’ democracy naturally imperialistic?* No. Prior to the Persian wars that democracy wasn't imperialistic, it only took on this tone as the Athenian elite realised that they could further their own political power.

Are you sure?

Are you sure?

Forum followers

Follower data is not currently available.

Search results