Ancient History: Greece : Athens

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Ancient History: Greece

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Athens

This temple to Athena – constructed in the classical period of ancient Greece – still stands in Athens

Possible Answers:

The Pantheon

The Oracle at Delphi

The Parthenon

The Collossus

Correct answer:

The Parthenon

Explanation:

The Parthenon is a temple to Athena considered one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World and still stands in Athens today, so that would be the best choice. The Pantheon is a temple in Rome built for the Roman gods, so that would not be the best choice. The Colossus was built in Rhodes and not Athens, so it would not be a good choice. Lastly, the temple at Delphi and its oracle were dedicated to Apollo, so that would not be a good answer either.

Example Question #2 : The Classical Period (480 323 Bce)

In ancient Athenian society, Metics were __________.

Possible Answers:

conscripted soldiers

household slaves

free, foreign residents of the city

government bureaucrats

representatives that were elected by the people

Correct answer:

free, foreign residents of the city

Explanation:

In ancient Athenian society, most notably during the Athenian Classical Era, Metics were free, foreign residents of the city. They came to Athens to benefit from the extraordinary wealth and opportunity available to the city. They were not citizens and could not participate in the Athenian political process.

Example Question #2 : Athens

Athens grew in intellectual and artistic learning in the years 477 to 431 BCE.  This period is known as the Golden Age of Greece.  Drama, sculpture, poetry, philosophy, architecture and science reached new heights during this time period. Athens was led by Pericles during most of the Golden Age.  Pericles was born into a rich and high ranking noble family.  His father was an aristocrat and soldier who fought at the Battle of Salamis during the Persian War.  His mother was the niece of Cleisthenes.  As a leader, Pericles is remembered for his political achievements.  As an individual he is remembered as being a lonely man with no friends who left his home only to attend to official business.  Pericles was an able statesman, skillful politician, an honest and fair man who delivered inspiring speeches.  He was also a respected general.   His esteemed position and dominance of this age led many historians to call this time period the Age of Pericles.  Pericles had three goals for Athens.  He wanted to strengthen Athenian democracy, hold and reinforce the Greek empire and glorify Athens through the arts. 

How did Pericles background influence and enable him to set forth his democratic ideas?

Possible Answers:

As a general, he could use the army to enforce his democratic ideas

As the son of an aristocrat, he could expect to rise to power as a leader of Athens

His leadership as a general prepared him for political life

His family saw the need for democracy and witnessed first-hand the developing ideas of democracy in its early years

His solitary personal life enabled him to focus his thoughts on democracy

Correct answer:

His family saw the need for democracy and witnessed first-hand the developing ideas of democracy in its early years

Explanation:

Pericles’ father was an aristocrat and soldier. This would enable Pericles to see how the government worked during the times of Draco and Solon. He would learn the higher standards that were expected of him as the son of an aristocrat and soldier.  Perhaps of more influence was that Cleisthenes was his mother’s uncle. He would have learned the ways of democracy by living under the laws established by Cleisthenes and perhaps may have learned about him from his mother. His position as a general may have helped develop his leadership skills and his solitary life would have given him time to think about democracy but neither of these would be as great an influence as his family life and relationship to Cleisthenes. Pericles could not expect to attain to a leadership position in Athens simply because he was the son of an aristocrat. The thought that a general could use the army to enforce democratic ideas is contrary to the concept of democracy and Pericles own ideas about democracy.

Example Question #3 : Athens

Pericles wanted a stronger democracy for Athens. He set goals to achieve a strong democracy. He increased the number of officials and paid them salaries. This resulted in more citizens becoming involved in the process of self-government.  The payment of salaries would forestall any attempts at bribery. This action made Athens the most democratic government in history. He also wanted to make Athens stronger.  After the defeat of the Persians, Pericles saw the opportunity to organize the city states. He created the Delian League consolidating the city states into one united organization. The passage of time saw Athens take control of the leadership of the League, dominating the other city states.  Pericles used money from the League’s treasury, taken without consent, to strengthen Athens navy making it the strongest in the Mediterranean Sea. A strong Athenian military enabled Pericles to treat the other city states as part of its Empire. A few city states resisted joining the Athenian Empire and formed their own alliance.  Most notable of the resistant city states was Sparta.  Finally, Pericles wanted to glorify Athens through the arts. He used funds from the Delian League, again without approval, and persuaded the Athenian assembly to vote to use these funds to buy gold, ivory and marble for the glorification of Athens. The funds were also used to pay artists, architects and workers who would use these materials to bring glory to Athens. 

Which of the following would be the most logical reason for Pericles desire to reinforce the Athenian navy?

Possible Answers:

He planned to use the navy to explore foreign lands in East Asia

He could use the navy to plunder neighboring countries to repay the funds he took from the Delian League

Pericles planned to invade Sparta and the other city states that did not join the Delian League

He recognized the need of a strong navy to ensure the safety and prosperity of the Empire

A great navy would add to the glory of Athens

Correct answer:

He recognized the need of a strong navy to ensure the safety and prosperity of the Empire

Explanation:

Athens needed a strong navy to guarantee the security of the Empire. The city had a strong army to protect it on land but needed a defensive force to protect it from attack by sea and to protect its trade routes. Athens prosperity depended on safe access to the waterways and trade routes of the Mediterranean. From its earliest days, Athens needed to obtain grain and raw materials from trading partners in the Mediterranean. Therefore a strong navy was required. There is no evidence to support a plan to explore East Asia and after the Persian Wars, this would not have been of vital importance to Pericles.  Nor did he plan to invade Sparta or the other city states that did not join the Delian League. He had no intention of plundering neighboring countries. Again, that would be contrary to his personality and the ideas of democracy. Finally, while a great navy may have added to the reputation and by extension to the glory of Athens that was not the reason Pericles sought to build the Athenian navy.

Example Question #3 : Athens

The development of democracy in Athens began with Draco, a nobleman who came to power in 621 BCE. Draco developed a legal code that stated all Athenians were equal. The Draconian Constitution dealt harshly with criminals, meting out the death penalty for most crimes. The harshness of the code can be seen in the commonly held belief that it was written in blood not ink. Aristotle, the chief source of knowledge regarding Draco, claimed the Draconian Constitution was the first Athenian set of laws. Solon, who was a magistrate in 594 BCE, repealed the Draconian Constitution and instated more far reaching democratic reforms. Solon created four social classes based on wealth and while all citizens could participate in the Athenian assembly only the top three classes could hold political office.  Solon maintained the homicide laws of the Draconian Constitution. In 508 BCE, Cleisthenes aligned himself with the powerful nobles to bring about democratic reform in Athens. He created ten social classes, increased the power of the Assembly to allow all citizens to submit laws for debate and passages. Cleisthenes is created with basing citizenship on location or where the individual lived rather than on membership in a clan.  

Cleisthenes’ actions were an attempt to achieve which of the following results?

Possible Answers:

More reliance on Delphi for enlightened government

A return to power of his exiled clan, the Alcmaeonids

The destruction of the code of Solon

Move Greek government forward towards democracy by attacking hereditary privilege

An alliance of Athenian and Spartan nobility

Correct answer:

Move Greek government forward towards democracy by attacking hereditary privilege

Explanation:

Cleisthenes’ motivation was to bring democracy to Athens. To do so, it would be necessary to encourage the older families of the city to look to the future rather than live in the past. It was his goal to improve the Solonian code with more democratic concepts. This required the destruction of hereditary privilege and determination of citizenship by clan. His family had been exiled and threatened with death as a result of a plan conceived by the archon of Athens and the Spartan army. When the plan failed, the Spartan army withdrew from Athens. It was common for all Greek leaders to turn to Delphi for advice and counsel. This would not be out of the ordinary and but it was not part of Cleisthenes’ reforms.

Example Question #4 : Athens

This Greek Goddess was the subject of many cults in ancient Greek society, particularly in Athens, where dozens of cults were dedicated to her name.

Possible Answers:

Athena

Demeter

Aphrodite

Artemis

Hera

Correct answer:

Demeter

Explanation:

Demeter is one of the more important Greek Goddess’ who we do not hear very much about in contemporary reimaginings of ancient Greek mythology. Demeter was the Goddess of fertility and the harvest, and was credited with introducing agriculture to the Greek people. She was revered in many Greek city-states and was the subject of cult-like worship. In Athens especially, there were dozens of all-female cults dedicated to serving the Goddess Demeter.

Example Question #7 : The Classical Period (480 323 Bce)

Pisistratus is most notable for __________.

Possible Answers:

leading the Spartan invasion of Athens in the sixth century

leading the Spartan invasion of Messenia in the seventh century

ruling Athens as a tyrant

leading the Athenian defense against Persia in the fourth century

ruling Corinth as a tyrant

Correct answer:

ruling Athens as a tyrant

Explanation:

Pisistratus is most notable for ruling Athens as a tyrant for several decades in the sixth century BCE. Pisistratus is a classic example of an ancient Greek tyrant who ruled by revoking the power and privileges of the aristocracy and granting increased rights to the poor and common people. Notably, Pisistratus confiscated lands for the aristocracy and redistributed those lands to the poor.

Example Question #5 : Athens

Demes took on greater significance after __________.

Possible Answers:

the democratic reforms of Cleisthenes

the Peloponnesian War

the Persian War

the Second Messenian War

the judicial reforms of Solon

Correct answer:

the democratic reforms of Cleisthenes

Explanation:

Demes were village communities or neighborhoods of Athens that were united by their geographical proximity. When Cleisthenes reformed Athenian democracy in the late sixth century, he made demes the primary constituent unit of Athenian politics. Athenian citizens were organized according to their demes, and all adult male citizen members of the demes participated in Athenian government.

Example Question #6 : Athens

Themistokles was instrumental for his developments of the Athenian military that helped to dictate their foreign policy for many years to come. Which was a major policy that Themistokles pursued?

Possible Answers:

Fortified colonial outposts

Build a strong navy

Increased archers and javelin throwers

Developed siege warfare

Instituted a cavalry

Correct answer:

Build a strong navy

Explanation:

After the discovery of a rich vein of silver at Lavrion, Themistokles convinced the Athenians to invest the new wealth in the construction of a navy. This helped to put the military power in the hands of the people (the rowers) rather than the wealthy who could afford hoplite arms and armor. As a populist, the politically benefited Themistokles. It also led to the Athenian thalassocracy that dictated Athenian foreign and military policy for centuries to come. With the construction of the long walls, Athens could withstand sieges indefinitely by remaining within the walls and importing food. 

Example Question #6 : Athens

How could you describe the Athenian war strategy under Pericles and during the first portion (Decelean) of the Peloponnesian War?

Possible Answers:

Besiege Sparta

Bribe Spartan officials to surrender towns

Avoid direct confrontation with Spartan forces

Fortify an area outside Athens in order to raid Spartan settlements

Scorched-earth policy: burn all Spartan crops

Correct answer:

Avoid direct confrontation with Spartan forces

Explanation:

Pericles knew that the Athenians could not defeat the Athenians in open battle. Instead, he had all citizens move inside the long walls in order to withstand any Spartan aggression. The navy was used to raid Spartan territory and bring supplies to the Athenian citizens

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