The Colonization by Greece
- Why did the Greeks send out colonies?
Greeks were mainly interested in gaining trade opportunities and resources from their colonies. The first individuals to establish colonies were traders who traveled across the Mediterranean to discover new possibilities. Initially, the traders colonized the islands near Greece, and then prospectors searched for new opportunities further afield. Normally, these traders sought to tap into the resources in these colonies and start a new life away from their crowded and competitive homeland. The colonies across the Mediterranean facilitated the exportation of Greek’s luxurious products such as wine, pottery, oil, and textiles (Bauer 84). They also became important sources of timer, metals, and agriculture products. Additionally, some of the colonies developed into important trading hubs and sources of slaves.
Besides promoting trade, colonies enabled Greece to establish its military presence in areas where it had business interests. Accordingly, some colonies were created to protect the lucrative Mediterranean sea trade routes (Morris and Powell 65). Equally important, some colonies provided a vital bridge to inland investment opportunities. For example, the strategic position of Syracuse, an ancient Greek colony, enabled it to become the largest polis. As a result, some of these colonies gained autonomy for most of their activities.
Ancient Greece was also interested in the fertile lands, natural harbors, and vast mineral resources of neighboring cities. As a result, Greece subdued most of these towns and stamped its identity. Such former colonized territories still share Greek’s culture and traditions. Also, their landscapes have ruins of Doric temples that were used by Greeks.
- How did colonization impact the development of ancient Greek civilization?
Contacts with artisans from different colonies inspired Greeks to diversify their art. For example, Greeks contacts with eastern craftspersons made them learn new techniques such as gem cutting, jewelry making, metalworking, and ivory carving. Following the successful conquest of Asia by Alexander the Great, Greeks were able to develop trade routes that went as far as Afghanistan and Indus Rift Valley (Morris and Powell 117). Their interactions with communities in these regions exposed them to new merchandise and cultures. In particular, these cooperation made Greeks introduce rubies, amethysts, and emeralds into Hellenistic jewelry.
The contact with colonies enabled Greece to learn new techniques in engineering and construction. Some city-states such as Syracuse and Selinus erected huge temples that rivaled those in Greece. In Sicily and Southern Italy, where there was a shortage of high-quality marble, beautiful buildings were constructed using terracotta and limestone. Thus, the interactions between Greece and its colonies made Greeks to enhance their construction skills.
Colonization also fostered the spread of academic skills in Greece. In particular, it led to the establishment of centers of study like Plato’s Academy, which was visited by scholars who lived in the empire (Bauer 97). The creation of education centers had a phenomenal impact on Greeks’ civilization since they led to the discovery of significant scientific concepts such as those formed by Pythagoras. Also, it enhanced Greeks culture and traditions through events such as pilgrimage, sports tournaments, dramas, and religion.
Finally, colonization enabled Greece to broaden its commerce and revolutionize international trade. Some of the colonies established their currencies, which enhanced the region’s trade. Also, Greece colonies provided safe trade corridors that acted as linkways for international trade. Therefore, the colonies were necessary for promoting Greece’s economy.
- Are the Homeric poems relevant to these questions?
Homeric poems are of interest to this issue since Greeks used them as a guide on how they should live. In Iliad for example, Achilles, who the protagonist, represented manly virtues of honor, strength, bravery, and military skills (Martin 118). Therefore, Achilles became a role model for many Greeks, because they envied his traits. For the Greeks to conquer most of their colonies, it was imperative for them to believe in themselves. As such, the stories of Achilles was necessary for building their confidence. Additionally, it illustrated and metaphorically explained the discipline that Greeks should have to overcome any challenge. Since this paper is largely about Greeks’ conquest and dominion over their colonies, the understanding of the individuals who inspired them is essential.
The second poem of Homer is the Odyssey, and it is mainly about Achilles adventures and misfortunes (Morris and Powell 98). Its main theme is on perseverance, hospitality, and patience. Therefore, it represents the moral codes of the Greeks, which enabled them to establish their vast empire. In particular, Odyssey illustrates a real-life scenario of the hardships and tribulations that they would face when exploring new areas to conquer. This poem was important in instilling Greek’s resilience, which enabled them to overcome many challenges in their quest to dominate most countries. Also, the hospitality with which strangers embraced Achilles inspired many Greeks to be friendly to strangers (Martin 58). As a result, Greeks were able to make new allies, who eventually became their business partners. Importantly, this trait made Greece establish safe trade corridors through which their merchants could transport their cargo. The nurturing of traits of hospitality and friendliness made Greeks become trustable and dependable, which in turn fostered trade in their empire.
Bauer, Susan. The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome. 1ed ., W.W. Norton & Company, 2017.
Martin, Thomas. Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times. 2nd ed., Yale University Press, 2013.
Morris, Ian, and Barry, Powell. The Greeks: History, Culture, and Society. 2nd ed., Pearson, 2009.