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Were the the Myceneans the ancestors of the Helots?
#1
I was watching a doc about Sparta that states that ...I always wonder how the Myceneans desapeared from history, but I think they where always there....

the doc sed that Helot mean captured, wich mean in battle...

does any agree with that?..

I have books about peloponese wars etc. but will like to find a statement like that.


No strange that there was a saying that the Spartans were the only greeks whom enslaved fellow greeks
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Remarks by Philip on the Athenian Leaders:
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#2
Well, the Late Bronze Age people (and not not only the "Mycenaeans") continued to inhabit more or less the same areas of Greece, although there was a dramatic decline in population in th2 late 12th-early 11th century BC.
They didn't vanish as some people still believe. It was these people mixed with some newcomers that became the Greeks of the city-state, the phalanx, the theatre, etc.

By the way, Mycenaeans is NOT an ethnic term but a conventional one used by scholars to describe the people and culture of mainland Greece during the Late Bronze Age (ca.1600-1100 BC).
Ioannis Georganas, PhD
Secretary and Newsletter Editor
The Society of Ancient Military Historians
http://www.ancientmilitaryhistorians.org/


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#3
Quote:the doc sed that Helot mean captured, wich mean in battle... does any agree with that?..

I can't tell you what the word means, but the Helots were traditionally a captured population. This is why they were not simple slaves, but more like serfs, under the thumb of overlords.

Remember that as far a the Mycenaeans go, there were populations in greece before them that they lorded over or absorbded. There were many waves of immigration: Paleolithic "cavemen", Neolithic farmers and seafarers who either became Minoans or were absorbed by them, a possible Luwian invasian, early greek Mycenaeans, perhaps backwash from the "Sea peoples" coming back from the levant and carthaginians, and finally the Dorians who would become Spartans.

Every new wave encounters the mix from tha last. It is a simple rule of history that today's conquorer is tommorow's serf.
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#4
Also do not fotget that some of the Spartans were Achaians.Achaians are used by Homer to describe what we today call Myceneans.
Helots were once captured in the early period of Sparta.At least some generations of them were captured.The first helots were the laconians in the area strictly arround Sparta.But during centuries the helot families kept their status and because the way of their life was such,they grew in numbers much more quickly than the Spartans(at least after some point).So we have an efect as if the Spartans continue enslaving populations.It was just that the residents of some of the Spartan teritory(the one with the homioi's farms) had a specific status-farmers for ever.
And usually we believe that a helot would be in a much worse condition than a slave in any other state,but this was not nessecarilly true,and certainly not in all periods.
Khaire
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
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#5
I study social insects- ants and termites, so I always wonder how much the Spartan-helot relationship was a division of labor. Some would account for the lack of helot uprisings- there were few for laconian helots and often they fought for Sparta- was due to some sort of mass Stockholm syndrome. But there may be more to it. The life of a helot was not so bad when compared with the life of early Spartan homoioi- they were both slaves in their way. The laconian populations, helot (agricultural), Perioci (commercial), and Spartan (military) were so interconnected that one could not survive without the other unless they changed their way of life. Like the breeding, worker, and soldier castes in ants who only together can function as a whole organism.

I remember reading about a pair of Indian lovers who were killed by their families for dating outside of their cast. the girl's family slew her for trying to marry "up" the cast chain. This made me think that our notions of "over" and "under" may not be so clear and that there may be pride attached to any level.
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#6
Indeed!And possibly this relationship which is clear in Plato's ideal city was inspired from there(ok much much idealised,but it must have existed.)
And since we know the Spartans needed the helots in the base of their system,it's ironic if helots had not any such need from Spartans,after so many centuries of living together.
Also,it reminds me the relationship between the enslaved Greeks and the Turkish after 4 centuries of Turkish control over Greece.Life was not that bad,just with no chance and hope of becoming better...
Khaire
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#7
I haven´t revisitied the topic in years, but I think that the "Dorian invasion" is an old, largely discredited theory.
AKA Inaki
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#8
You're absolutely right Inaki! Unfortunately, there are still lots of people who believe in it.
Ioannis Georganas, PhD
Secretary and Newsletter Editor
The Society of Ancient Military Historians
http://www.ancientmilitaryhistorians.org/


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#9
Quote:You're absolutely right Inaki! Unfortunately, there are still lots of people who believe in it.

Are you referring to a cthonic Doric origination as an existing underclass of the Mycenaeans? Or do you simply mean to differentiate an immigration from an violent "invasion"?
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#10
Strabo says that the Doreans were greatly aided by the Achean Philonomos in establishing themselves in the Peloponesos.

Take also into account that the Achean Aegidae and Talthybiadae clans were prominent in Spartan politics.

The 10th and 9th centuries B.C are not as clear cut as was once belived.

Kind regards
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#11
Quote:I haven´t revisitied the topic in years, but I think that the "Dorian invasion" is an old, largely discredited theory.
Yes! I remember that it was difficult to prove the invasion from an archaeological point of view, and that the linguistic change can be explained from other models than migration. But is there currently a communis opinio?
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#12
The word 'helot' has two possible origins - it is either derived from 'El' lit:captive or 'ELN' lit (dwellers in ) marshy places i.e. the swampy lower reaches of the Eurotas. The former is far more likely, since it is hard to see why Messenians would be so described if it was the latter .
Helots were owned by the State, and were thus not at the whim of any individual, unlike a slave.(more like state serfs) They were' bound to the land' and could not have their farm taken from them, or be freed, except by state decree. They could not leave their farm, had no political rights, and were obliged to render a tithe of their crops to the Homioi to whom they were allocated. Provided they did this, they were left pretty much alone, though always under suspicion of rebellion, and at the mercy of the krypteia(secret police) but in this regard were no worse off than Eastern Europeans under communism. They were more akin to mediaeval peasants than ancient slaves.(Pollux describes them as 'half slave, half free). On occasion they fought bravely for their country. Messenian Helots were sharply distinguished from Laconian Helots (Old Helots) who were evidently proud of their country. After Leuctra, when Epaminondas set up Messene as a free country agin ( thus depriving Sparta of about 60% of its wealth/land at a stroke), it is significant that there is no disaffection in Laconia, and this is not simply fear, for 6000 Helots are drafted into the Army. Smile
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#13
Fortunately people are increasingly revising their views of freedom and what that meant in antiquity and now.However,even today if you say the word "Spartans" in Greece,have of the Greeks will recall Leonidas's bravery and half the "cruelty" over helots.And the former truelly adore them the latter literally hate them!This is what not studying history makes... :evil:
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#14
Giannis wrote:-
Quote:Fortunately people are increasingly revising their views of freedom and what that meant in antiquity and now

...yes indeed it is always a pity that 'moderns' can't help imposing modern values etc on societies that were very different......there is a saying 'freedom begins with a full belly'..... the lot of the Helots was actually better than most greek peasants of the time.

Quote:have of the Greeks will recall Leonidas's bravery and half the "cruelty" over helots

The so-called 'cruelty' is a bit of a myth, and the accusation invariably comes from outsiders. In a land where the serfs vastly out-numbered the the aristocratic Homioi , it would not do to be too harsh.
Thucydides reports the rumour that 2000 of the bravest who had served the state well were murdered in 424, but acknowleges that the whole business was mysterious. The more so as Brasidas took 700 of these same 2000 to Chalcidice, and later to the battle of Mantinea !! Confusedhock:
(ghosts who walk ?? :lol: ).

According to Plutarch, Aristotle is supposed to have reported that the Ephors declared war on the Helots every year so that killing them out of hand would be legal..... but if so Aristotle would have reported such a strange practice in his " Politics", but he doesn't.... and anyway, Aristotle was rather ignorant of Spartan customs. Myron of Priene describes Spartan treatment of Helots as 'shameful', but this is sheer sensationalism.
He says they were forced to wear humiliating clothes - a dogskin cap and workers jerkin - as worn by any other greek peasant ! Plutarch reports ( Institutions of the Lacedaemonians 239 ) that the tithe payable to the Homioi was fixed, that Homioi were not allowed to raise this 'rent', in order that the Helots could sell any surplus at a profit and thus be grateful to their masters. Hardly 'cruel' or 'shameful' treatment !

The other side of the coin is that the krypteia( secret police) undoubtedly existed and when the Ephors chose to, troublesome Helots were made to disappear, just as in eastern Europe until recently and in South America to this day ! Cry
It is also true that the Homioi lokked down on the Helots, as aristocracy do on peasants everywhere. Tongue
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#15
Well,also it is possible that helots were a bit more isolated than any other peasants in Greece.It cannot be otherwise explained how they sold gold for bronze after the battle of Plataia.If this is true,but I don't see why it shouldn't.
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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