ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Greek Polis

Updated on December 8, 2013
Todays Acropolis at night
Todays Acropolis at night | Source

The Greek state and its citizens

The frame of the everyday life of the Greek was the state in which he was a citizen; in it he should realize his view of life. The circumstances of nature was an influential cause that the state was a “polis”, a word we usually translate to the word “city-state”. Its area of land was usually no bigger than it could be seen from the cliff of the castle, and its number of free men was usually very small – no more than a few thousand people - all knew each other and were often related.

This gained the greatest historical influence for Greek culture in general and especially for the ideas concerned with a state and how a one should be. This is something the Greek determined.

The Nature of the Polis

The foreseeable conditions made the state into something very palpable for the citizen, a living reality which in its purest sense was his – according to his perception. The opposite was true with the great states of the Orient. The State was not some kind of assistance that one occasionally got in touch with; it simply had to do with all of life and existence altogether. The Polis of the Greek was his home which he gained familiarity with trough his upbringing. It was there for him, he felt, his welfare was in the deepest sense connected to its well-being and its independence, order and sanctity – all the matters of the state were his own, he had them close to himself. Aristotle coined the human being as a “polis creature”; “it is the men which constitute Polis” Thucydides said. The interest of the citizen towards the matters of the polis – for politics – was therefore usually very living, a given thing so to speak; if one did not possess it one was useless, even suspicious, because the responsibility of the cosmos of the state had been neglected. In the Greek polis we meet the free citizen who has a totally different attitude towards the term “state” than the one we find for instance at the minions of the Persian great king.

An old map of Athens - however obviously not as old as the Athens this article is concerned with.
An old map of Athens - however obviously not as old as the Athens this article is concerned with. | Source

The Cosmos of Polis

It seems obvious to consider, that when the thought of cosmos – when it is so widely spread – influenced and shaped the Greek view of life. This is true and it has something to do with the life in the city-state; the conception perhaps has its roots here. If it was something which required order and balance between the diverse amount of individual wishes and wills, then it was the community of the small and narrow space of the little city-state. An intense political tension was always to be found, even outwards in the rivalry towards the neighbor state; the feeling of being in a battle was living and stimulating. It was in an atmosphere like that the people of Athens provided their cultural actions, and where the conceptions of political and personal freedom arose, which became the heritage and the content of which we best know from Athens.

Then given ideal in every single polis was naturally autonomy, the rule of the self under own laws. For it was through laws the unwritten as well as the accepted law the cosmos of polis was secured. The law was the apparent expression of the society, the true man of the community. It was the laws which conditioned the whole life of the citizen from cradle to grave, and it was through this he was raised to become a citizen and a human. The law was something living, something creating – it is polis which makes life unfold itself. As the state itself, law was holy - an expression of the wills of the Gods.
Breaking the law was an abuse. The inevitable godly reaction hit the community as a whole. One were responsible towards everyone, and everyone was responsible towards one. Like all states in the ancient times the Greek was in fact also a religious institution, a cultic community which was concerned with the connection between the citizens and the Gods. The most important duty of the government was to secure the autonomy and happiness of the fatherland by maintaining and renewing the union. Acting and sports were matters of the state. All public events were done with a sacrifice and a prayer. In relation to this, abuse of the Gods was to be seen as crimes against the security of the states.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Keyla 

      3 years ago

      Enngnhteliig the world, one helpful article at a time.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)