In commencing a survey of the political history of the Archaic Period, we ought to underline the hypothetical nature which any attempt at resynthesizing it presents at many points. The period from the start of the 7th century B.C. to the start of the 5th century B.C. is marked by emergent organization of city-states and by a series of internal conflicts. The 7th century was evidently decisive for the evolution of cities, both by virtue of the constitutional changes that began at that time and because of the results of the phenomenon of colonization.
In the larger cities, the development of overseas trade, together with the social changes it entailed and the problem of land distribution and enslavement of farmers by their creditors often led, during the 6th century B.C., to violent civil strife against aristocratic or oligarchic regimes, strife which on many occasions ended with the intervention of lawgivers or with the imposition of a tyranny.
The Persian invasion at the start of the 5th century B.C., following on the Ionian Revolt, and the repulse of the invasion were not only a turning-point in the forming of a shared consciousness, but the point of origin of the confrontation between Athens and Sparta throughout the same century.
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