Impact of the Polis System Crisis on the Nature and Line of Economic Activity in the Ancient Greek Poleis of the 5th-4th century BC

Keywords: Greek poleis, economic system, crisis, democracy, polis system, import, welfare growth, citizens, urbanization


The impact of the crisis of the polis system as a result of the Greco-Persian Wars, and especially the Peloponnesian War, one of the reasons for which was the contrary economic interests, is analyzed in the paper. While the poleis of the Athenian Maritime Union tried to develop intensive branches of economy and were interested in developing trade and crafts, the Peloponnesian Union, led by Sparta, focused on agriculture and subsistence production, as well as competition in the sales markets between Athens and Corinth. Just those wars were almost the most important factors in the crisis processes, the consequences of which showed up in nearly all spheres of life of ancient Greek society – from social relations, political institutions, ideology and army structure to the economy, and that in turn led to a deep transformation of ancient Greek society.

The main methodological principle in the research is the principle of historicism, which allows determining the importance and place of the problem under research in the overall evolution of ancient Greek poleis economy. Besides, structural, historical-genetic, historical-comparative, and problem-chronological methods are applied, and that makes it possible to identify historical features and specific crisis phenomena in the economy of the Classical period of ancient Greece, structure them chronologically and consider sequentially.

It should be emphasized that among the scholars there is no consensus on the economic processes that took place during the studied period. In particular, the traditional concept emphasizes the overall decline of the economy, some scholars believe that the economic crisis affected not the whole territory of Greece, but only some of its regions, the third group believes that the processes in the economy «were not so global and were not of a radical character» defining the period after the Peloponnesian War as a «crisis of growth» which was not interconnected with economic decline.

It has been proved that, despite the decline of certain sectors of the economy, such as the ruin of agriculture and the rupture of trade relations between the poleis, in general, income per capita increased, living conditions improved, the number of population increased and became more urban, which in turn had affected the development of trade, especially foreign trade. New conditions in the economy brought to the fore the finances which were directly related to money. From that time on, money was the basis of wealth, not land ownership, as it was before. Ongoing military conflicts contributed to shipbuilding, construction, especially of defense structures, military equipment, which also affected the overall technological progress and development of crafts. Therefore, we can assert that in Hellas in the 5th-4th century BCE took place a general economic upheaval.


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How to Cite
PopelniukB. (2019). Impact of the Polis System Crisis on the Nature and Line of Economic Activity in the Ancient Greek Poleis of the 5th-4th century BC. Eminak: Scientific Quarterly Journal, (3(27), 171-180.
World History and International Relations