Monday, March 16, 2020

Guest Post: Ancient Greek Culture: Citizenship by Wilbur Arron

Something a little different from me for this blog post. Today I have author Wilbur Arron as a guest on the blog with a post about ancient Greek culture. More info about him and his book below. Enjoy!

Ancient Greek Culture: Citizenship
A Blog on Ancient Greek life by Wilbur Arron

In Ancient Greek culture and society, the concept of being a citizen is much different than in our current western style culture and society. Today we have a mild form of citizenship in the west. Not many demands are placed on us today for the right to say I am a citizen of so and so. The idea of citizenship itself is even getting passé with time. Most people frankly don’t give a drachma if they are a citizen of the USA, Canada, or the west European powers.

This was not true in ancient times. Then you were defined by your citizenship. In Roman culture the term ‘Civis Romanus Sum’ meant a great deal. It means that you are a citizen of Rome, you had certain rights, and you could be only judged by certain people, and you had the right of appeal. In ancient Greek culture to say you are a citizen of Athens meant that in Athens you could only be judged according to Athenian law, by an Athenian jury. You could also exercise your right to decide the fate of Athens in the agora by direct vote. Even in the Oligarchies of other states, the common citizen had rights and duties such as being judged only by the laws of your polis. Your very citizenship defined you, and was part of your being. To say I am an Athenian usually meant you are a merchant, businessman, scholar or some man of means. You were likely a sailor. To say you were a Spartan meant you were likely a soldier and a professional badass and people should leave you alone (and they did). Other people from poleis (city-states) meant different things to different people, but where you came from, defined you to the rest of the world.

In Ancient Greek culture what defined being a citizen? All citizens were adult males, (sorry ladies no women’s lib in ancient Greece). Most poleis required your father to have been a citizen. Many poleis required both parents had to be native to the polis. You could not be a slave or in any bondage. You also had to fulfill your civic duties.

How did you earn this right? That is also simple to understand. As a citizen, you were required at short notice to grab your arms and armor and fight the enemies of your polis. Most of that time you were either a heavy Hoplite that stood in the line of battle, or if poorer, you were a light infantry man throwing javelins or other missiles. For poleis with navies, you would serve as a rower for the trierse i.e. triremes. Despite what you see in the movies, men who rowed in the Greek trierse were free men, all volunteers. Another major point, no matter where you served, you personally knew all the men that fought or rowed next to you because they were your neighbors. All of you knew that your own lives and the lives of your families at home depended on how well you fought. Those who served honorably were given high personal status and looked upon favorably by their fellow citizens. Greek citizens took their duties and their rights very seriously. Men in Athens could actually be acquitted of crimes because they served in the armies that fought at Marathon, Salamis, or Plataea.

Besides fighting, other duties would require you to serve as an administrator of the government of your polis if called upon. You could also be called to serve on a jury if needed. This is only a sample of what it was to be a citizen. Like the Gods, Warfare, and Commerce, life for ancient Greek culture and society was an in-your-face operation that you did in person and did not farm it out to anyone else. I often wonder what they would think of our version of citizenship?

You can find further background information on Greek history as well and most any other subject through the Great Courses library. The link below will take you to their web page.

Also you can also see other aspect of Greek life in the blogs on my web site. Also you will see descriptions of my two books of Greek Fantasy that are available on Kindle. If you enjoy my blogs, I hope you will check out my books:

Thanks and Enjoy

About Wilbur Arron:
Wilbur Arron is the pseudonym of a retired professional engineer, project manager, and government official who has spent over 40 years in various engineering fields throughout the Southeast United States. In this time he has worked mostly on environmental issues, but also promulgated government regulation, performed forensics investigations, and investigated and corrected manufacturing problems.

Besides his technical background, Wilbur Arron is also an amateur historian with his major work on ancient history. This has given him insight on how the principles of science and engineering developed over the ages. He is familiar with both Greek and Roman history from 1500 BCE until 500 AD. He has also studied European history and the history of the Far East. Now in his late 60s, he has witness the major technical events occurring since the early 1960s and has taken part in a few of them. His first work in computer modeling was done using Fortran IV, and an IBM 360 on loan from NASA; then having data sent out on the Arpa-net. He was an early user of both desk top publishing and word processing platforms.

One of his other interests is in science-fiction and fantasy literature. He has been a reader of both styles of literature since the late 1950s. Since the late 1980s, he has attended and spoken at many World Cons on a variety of subjects from the history of science, to the design of national and private space programs. He has also met many authors both of science-fiction, fantasy and history.

Since his retirement, Wilbur Arron has decided to try a new career at writing. This allows him to combine his knowledge of science, engineering, and history into a single project. Now a widower, this also provides him time to write. Prior to this his first novel, he has published short stories to several on-line web sites such as Fan Fiction, Fiction Press, and Story Star. After favorable reviews for these stories, he decided to write a three book fantasy series set in a background similar to ancient Greece in the period after 330 BCE. This project also gives him the opportunity to correct a problem he has found with all fantasy books that use magic. A main reason for these novels is to rework the concept of magic so it is explainable and understandable. He also feels this time period has not been explored fully in modern books. Comments are always welcomed.
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Forest of Allund is a place filled with equal parts myth, mystery, and fear.
Young Mage Alexio Sopholus has returned home after ten years away at the Mage Academy. Although short and slight of build due to childhood sickness, he has found academic acclaim through his studies. Upon arrival in his home of Korpolis, he reacquaints himself with his old human friends and his former home. His only desire is to take up the position of forest caretaker left to him by his deceased master. The Forest of Allund is a place filled with equal parts myth, mystery, and fear. There he meets a wandering Amazon, but most importantly, his large and intelligent animal friends reside there. They all help him guard the forest from outside intruders. Soon the nature of the forces that govern and protect this place are made evident to him as he find new sources of knowledge and power.

Although he only seeks peace and quiet, he is soon thrust into a war with a new barbarian tribe, the Zilar. They seek total domination of all the lands and are not above using slavery, genocide, and brutal repression to get their way. Alexio is forced to fight them directly using all the powers at his command. Initially successful in his efforts he finds his victories have only made him the object of intrigue by his leaders who fear his power and his popularity. His efforts at protecting the land are met with suspicion, fear and betrayal by his own leaders.

Seeing the destruction, deceit, and betrayal around him, Alexio is forced to conclude that all his most cherished beliefs, principles, ethics and morality are all but useless against the foes arrayed against him. To protect himself and his friends he must wage war. It will be a war without pity, mercy, and against the laws of Gods and Men. It may also make him an outcast in his own land.

Cover Art by Keith Draws:

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