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Wright 1 Jeffery L Wright Humanities 540 Professor Bryan Feuer 09 March 2005 POVERTY AND CULTURE The Greek cities that developed at the beginning of the archaic period were known as polis Each of these polis or cities was comprised of a collection of poor self governing people The polis was a form of two cities There was a lower city in which the people lived and a high city or acropolis an elevated place in the center of the city Usually the acropolis is where you would find the temple of the gods The Greek polis emerged as a relatively peaceful quite place to live In its formative period poverty proved to be an advantage rather than a disadvantage to each polis or city Poverty has many obvious disadvantages but in the context of ancient Greece it contributed to the growth of a culture and political system unlike any other For example each polis lacked large distinctions between the rich and the poor To this end kings and priests could not rise to power and prominence and Greeks were forced to develop different more democratic systems of government Occasionally a polis might have a king but typically power in the polis actually belongs to the landowners and tribal leaders Culturally the Greek polis absent of an abundance of food and materialistic consumption had plenty of surplus time As a result polis citizens had plenty of time for intellectual reflection they were free to pamper themselves in endless conversations and philosophize on the state of man and esthetic indulges sexual passions Additionally Lewis Mumford states in The City IN History that most polis inhabitants were poor and use to living a lean life on barley and wheat As a result polis citizens could not be bribed by bread and shows Mumford further states that In these communities poverty was not an embarrassment if anything riches were suspect
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