The smaller area had its own resources and

The word Polis has at times been translated into the word ‘City/State’, but considering that we have no modern-day equivalent whereas to compare it by, this terminology is not entirely correct. The term ‘City/State’ tends to be more descriptive of its physical attributes, however a Polis was conceptual as well as physical. Considering its complexity and structure, a more suitable term would perhaps be a ‘community of people’. This understanding of its meaning is vital in order to grasp the fullness of Greek history, thought and achievement. A polis was a small, independent, self-sufficient, self-governing community. There were hundreds of them scattered over the Greek peninsula.

A polis usually consisted of 2000-5000 citizens (adult males), with the exception of Athens, Syracuse and Acragas, who boastedof about 100,000. They each had a strong desire for autonomy and usually had there own calender, coins, festivals, laws, and citizen armies (hoplites). (3) Did the geography of Greece affect the development of the polis? If so, how? The geography of Greece played a major role in the development of the polis and can be indirectly related to the formation of these ‘pocket-communities’. The terrain of Greece is extremely mountainous. It has long dividing peninsulas that seperate the land into smaller areas.

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Each smaller area had its own resources and was therefore self-sufficient. The rough terrain made it difficult to trade with neighbouring poleis, so there was no desire for interaction between poleis. The Greeks lived without what they didn’t have. But aswell as the physical divisions were the social barriers that existed. Mountains that the Greeks built themselves, keeping them isolated. They seemed to want autonomy, a need for independence and a desire to be self-sufficient and self-governing. A smaller community would produce a greater opportunity to play an important role within it.


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