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GREEK & ROMAN

URBANISM

Classical Greece

The Greek World

http://www.uoregon.edu/~atlas/europe/maps.html

The Greek urban system

Site and Culture


(enabling factors, not determining)

No floods
Abundant and diverse
resources

Fish, grain, grapes, olives,


chestnuts, figs

Many isolated valleys and


islands (natural barriers)
Sea moat
Isolation meant greater security,
so power took a less aggressive
form both externally and
internally

Alphabet derived from


Phoenician consonant system,
promoted democracy and
public life
Money (local)
Decentralized political power
Ritual blended with
competition to produce a fairly
relaxing life
Tremendously creative society:
drama, poetry, sculpture,
painting, logic, mathematics,
geometry

The Greek Polis

The Greek Polis

A self-governing city-state
Not large cities
Plato thought ideal city
should have 5,000
citizens
Athens at its peak had a
bit over 100,000 citizens
-- about the size of Waco

Questions:

What are the odds of Waco


producing a great thinker
like Plato or Aristotle?
A great dramatist like
Sophocles, Euripides, or
Aeschylus?
Need I continue?

How were the Greeks


able to do what they did
with such small cities?

Source of Greek Creativity

Each citizen was expected to participate in the


polis in regard to its:
Political

life
Economic relations
Spiritual worship
Social events (e.g. dramatic performances)

Was this asking too much of people?


Would we appreciate these duties?

Greek Democracy

Decentralization of
power was a throwback
to village governance
Separation of church
and state was indicated
by distance between
the agora and the
acropolis
Imperfect democracy:
citizens constituted
only about 10% of the
total urban population

Agora and Acropolis

Agora
Gathering place and
market
On the road from the
harbor
Bordered by temples,
workshops, vendors
stalls, statues
Place for public event

Acropolis
Elevated temple district
Contained various
temples
Architectural vocabulary
used well into the 20th c.
for banks, courthouses,
town halls, etc.
Periodic processions to
Acropolis also celebrated
the polis