THE ARCHAIC AND CLASSICAL PERIOD
THE ARCHAIC AND CLASSICAL PERIOD – The period following the Dark Age is referred to as the Archaic period (C. 800 – 500 BC). The foundations of classical Greek Civilization were laid in this period. The period from 500 BC to 338 BC is generally referred as the classical age of Greece. Some prominent changes take place in archaic and classical period and need specific dicussion. However, the division into these two periods is not always very sharp and there is lot of overlapping and continuity in various aspects of society, economy and culture. In view of this we would like to discuss it as one broad period of ancient Greece. The developments and institutions of the whole period would be analysed in this section. Wherever the features are clearly demarcated and can be distinctly confined to either of the periods it would be mentioned during the course of our discussion.
Conflict of Landed Aristocracy and Peasantry: Reforms Start
The Archaic Period (c. 800 – 5000 BC) witnessed an intense conflict between the landed aristocracy and the peasantry throughout Greece. The origins of this struggle may be traced to the latter half of the Dark Age when historical changes had placed landowning aristocrats in a strong position. Between c. 800 and 600 BC the landed aristocracy consolidated its hold over land and the political structures of the Greek states. This led to the impoverishment of the small landholders. In their desperation the small landholders put up a tough fight against the aristocracy. The constant upheavals caused by this struggle reached a point of crisis by c. 600 BC. Sections of the aristocracy realized that unless some way was found out of the crisis their own prosperity would be threatened. Consequently they were forced to initiate reforms which incorporated concessions to the peasants.