The awareness among all Hellenes of common descent, customs and language strengthened during the Archaic period. At the same time, however, a feeling of a more particular 'local' pride was cultivated, and this was related to the development of the city-state. At Athens the social structures are more clearly defined between the 8th and 6th centuries B.C. The demos, a pattern of social formation known from earlier periods, is the last to achieve legislative existence, at the end of the 6th century. In the course of this century there is a clear separation of classes, while at the same time social mobillity, when compared with the past, increases.

It has been held that the main reason for this diversity within a broader unity was the geomorphology of the Hellenic area. It is however obvious, if one looks at other ages and places, that natural division of territory is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the birth of a competitive diversity of form. One should probably give more weight to the way people looked at the world, as seen in Greek mythology. Man's relationship with the divine; promotion of values such as personal initiative; reduction of particularity to a right and of freedom to a good; the idea of measure and due season: all these evidence the anthropocentric anxieties of society in the Archaic period.

In their struggle to survive (initially) and to impose themselves on their neighbours (afterwards), the city-states mounted a series of ideological and propaganda operations. Of these, superiority of descent and systematic embellishment of the past were already well developed by the Archaic period. The cities projected a special relationship with some deity -in some cases even claiming direct descent from the latter. Others, though, contented themselves with an heroic descent. Institutions were also linked with gods and heroes, and any city with aspirations was convinced of the superiority of its juridical and constitutional institutions.

Where the Panhellenic gods and heroes were insufficient, local deities took on the role of founder and were paid special honour. In colonies this role belonged as of right to the founders, who when dead were, as a rule, made into heroes, to gain the lustre and acceptance of a Founder of the Nation. In a reflux process, whereby the elements relating to the foundation of a city had disappeared from the collective memory, a hero was 'invented', and the name of the city was given to him. This hero was known as eponymous, and was recorded in the common consciousness as the ancestor by whom the city had been founded and from whom its name had come.

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