Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece, Revised edition
Publication Year: 1998
In the past, scholars have assumed that the agricultural infrastructure of ancient society was often ruined by attack, as, for example, Athens was relegated to poverty in the aftermath of the Persian and later Peloponnesian invasions. Hanson's study shows, however, that in reality attacks on agriculture rarely resulted in famines or permanent agrarian depression. Trees and vines are hard to destroy, and grainfields are only briefly vulnerable to torching. In addition, ancient armies were rather inefficient systematic ravagers and instead used other tactics, such as occupying their enemies' farms to incite infantry battle. Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece suggests that for all ancient societies, rural depression and desolation came about from more subtle phenomena—taxes, changes in political and social structure, and new cultural values—rather than from destructive warfare.
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Preface to the Second Edition
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Waifare and Agriculture in Classical Greece was first published in 1983 inthe monograph series Biblioteca di Studi Antichi (edited by Graziano Ar righetti and Emilio Gabba, with Franco Montanari, and published byGiardini of Pisa, Italy). The book was, for the most part, favorably re viewed, occasionally cited, and went quickly out ofprint. At the time of...
Preface to the First Edition
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This study is virtually unchanged from the Ph.D. thesis I submitted tothe Stanford Classics Department in]une 1980. I have had some practi cal experience in agriculture from farming grapes and fruit trees on afamily farm near Fresno, California. Professor Michael Jameson, mythesis advisor at Stanford, suggested I combine that knowledge together...
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Armies need food. Any society that mobilizes troops must plan both tofeed its own men and to seek to deny supplies to the enemy. In a prein dustrial society, in which the vast majority of the population was en gaged in agriculture, and armies were thus composed largely of ruralfolk, comprehension ofthe relationship ofagriculture to warfare is fun ...
PART ONE: THE ATTACK ON AGRICULTURE
1. Military Organization
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An army of invasion in the classical age usually sought decisive battle,but it needed to utilize the countryside of its adversary to accomplishthat goal-both to feed itself and to provoke the enemy to fight by at tacking farmland. Consequently, Greek armies brought along mobilelight-armed troops, built field camps from local materials, had special ...
2. The Methods of Agricultural Destruction
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Under the diverse conditions of Mediterranean farming in ancientGreece, "agriculture" is, of course, an abstraction and can refer to radi cally different types of crops-olives, figs, and other deciduous fruittrees, barleys and wheats, vegetables, and various species of grapes.Moreover, since thesefruit~were both permanent and annual, culti ...
PART TWO: THE DEFENSE OF AGRICULTURE
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Greek plans of defense in the classical period seldom incorporated ei ther stockades built directly around cultivated fields or extensive fron tier walls designed to stop invading armies from reaching the croplandsof the interiors.1 Although it is true that in a few early instances wallswere constructed at key border passes to prevent entry into friendly ter ...
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The most effective method of "defense" was evacuation from the coun tryside. From descriptions in ancient literature it seems to have been acommonplace activity. Rural residents routinely gathered their posses sions together and trekked to places of refuge, regardless of whethertheir own forces chose to fight in pitched battle or border skirmishes. A...
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Once rural citizens had been evacuated to a place of refuge, and theenemy was in control of the countryside, as a result of either victory inhoplite battle or default, the invaded still had one last-and very good chance of impeding ravagers. Well-organized, sudden sorties, usuallymade up of cavalry troops,l could issue forth from the city, not only...
PART THREE: THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AGRICULTURAL DEVASTATION
6. The Devastation of Attica during the Peloponnesian War
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The Spartan annual invasions and eventual occupation ofAttica duringthe course of the Peloponnesian War are the best-known and best documented examples ofwartime destruction of agriculture in classicalantiquity. So far I have emphasized the pragmatic difficulties of cropdevastation in warfare and suggested that perlnanent destruction of...
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To be effective, agricultural devastation in classical Greece, as in anypreindustrial society, required time and extensive effort, and thereforewas not always accomplished. The light-armed ravaging parties whoseduties were to overrun small Greek farms and destroy crops were vul nerable to counterattack. They needed constant hoplite or cavalry pro ...
Appendix: The Vocabulary of Agricultural Devastation
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Updated Commentary and Bibliography
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Page Count: 260
Publication Year: 1998