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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
I. THE LANDS OF THE WEST AND THE RISE OF GREECE TO ABOUT 500 B.C.
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THE GROWTH OF ATHENS (to 500 B.C.)
ATHENS AS A CITY-STATE
The district of Attica, though smaller than our smallest American commonwealth, was early filled with a number of independent city-states. It was a great step in advance when, long before the dawn of Greek history, these tiny communities were united with Athens. The inhabitants of the Attic towns and villages gave up their separate governments and became members of the one city-state of Athens. Henceforth a man was a Athenian citizen, no matter in what part of Attica he lived.
OPPRESSIVE RULE OF THE NOBLES
At an earlier period, perhaps, than elsewhere in Greece, monarchy at Athens disappeared before the rising power of the nobles. The rule of the nobility bore harshly on the common people. Popular discontent was especially excited at the administration of justice. There were at first no written laws, but only the long-established customs of the community. Since all the judges were nobles, they were tempted to decide legal cases in favor of their own class. The people, at length, began to clamor for a written code. They could then know just what the laws were.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy