-Z- (z@gundam.com)
Tue, 2 Jan 2001 13:57:00 -0800


> In Ancient Greek times, there was a naval battle which took place
> between the Greeks and another side which I fergot.. Maybe the Spartans..

The Spartans WERE Greeks. So were the Athenians, who were their arch-rivals,
and whose battles with the Spartans, particularly the Pelopponesian War (431-404
BC), may have confused you into thinking of them as enemies to Greece as a
whole.

Athens and Sparta were both independent city-states. The Greek name for this is
"polis" and is the root word for politic ("citizenry"), metropolis ("mother
city") and "police" ("government"). Athens featured a city-within-a-city,
located on a great central mound, called the Acropolis ("high city"), the
centerpiece of which was the Parthenon, a Doric temple dedicated to the city's
matron goddess, Athena. Chief among the Greek polis were Athens, Corinth,
Sparta, Miletos, Ephesos, Thebes, Akragas and Abdera.

Athens and Sparta represented to opposite extremes in organization and political
thought.

Athens was a democracy, ruled by a council of elders called the Areopagus, who
appointed three (later nine) magistrates, or archons, who were responsible for
the conduct of war, religion, and law. Athens was dedicated to the pursuit of
art, commerce and philosophy.

Sparta (also known as Lacedaemon) was a military dictatorship, ruled by the
Tyrant, dedicated to the pursuit of war, pillage and conquest. No deformed
child was allowed to live; boys began military drill at the age of 7 and entered
the ranks at 20. Although permitted to marry, they were compelled to live in
barracks until the age of 30; from the ages of 20 to 60 all Spartans were
obliged to serve as hoplites (foot soldiers) and to eat at the phiditia ("public
mess"). The Spartan hoplites were the first infantry to operate in a massed
formation, called a phalanx.

(Athens was also ruled briefly by Tyrants, most notably Cylon in 632 BC and
Draco in 621 BC. Cylon's name was used for the evil robotic enemy in Battlestar
Galactica and, to this day, laws that are deemed unduly harsh are called
"draconian" in reference to the strict Code of Draco.)

The outbreak of the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC finally brought the rivalry
between Sparta and Athens to a head. Upon the overthrow of Athens in 404 BC,
Sparta became the dominant Greek state, but the Thebans under Epaminondas in 371
BC deprived Sparta of its power and territorial acquisitions, reducing the state
to its original boundaries. Sparta later became a portion of the Roman province
of Achaea and seems to have prospered in the early centuries of the Roman
Empire. The city itself was destroyed by the Goths under their king, Alaric I,
in 396 AD.

After its defeat by Sparta in the destructive Peloponnesian War, Athens began to
decline. Socrates was forced to take his own life when he questioned traditional
ideas, and an attitude of pessimism prevailed. Nevertheless, philosophy
continued to flourish. In the 4th century BC Plato's Academy and Aristotle's
Lyceum were founded as philosophical schools, and Demosthenes, Isocrates, and
others made rhetoric a fine art.

Although Athens virtually lost its independence to Macedonia in 338 BC, the town
continued to be an important cultural center. It fell to Rome in 146 BC but
maintained good relations with the Romans until they sacked it in 86 BC,
destroying many of Athens' monuments. Still, Athens remained a center of
learning for prominent Greeks and Romans from the 1st century BC until late
antiquity. In the 3rd century AD it was damaged by invading Goths, who were
repelled with some difficulty. In AD 529 the Christian emperor Justinian closed
the pagan philosophical schools, virtually ending the city's classical
tradition.

Athens became a cultural backwater during the ensuing Byzantine period. Many of
the city's artworks were moved to Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), and the
temples became Christian churches. Byzantine emperors occasionally visited
Athens, but the city was largely ignored and impoverished. After the Latin
Crusaders conquered Constantinople in 1204, Athens became a French feudal duchy.
The Catalans took over the city in 1311, but they were expelled when a
Florentine dynasty successfully installed itself in the late 14th century.

The Ottoman Turks gained complete control of Athens in 1458. The Parthenon,
built as the major temple of the goddess Athena, was then made into a Muslim
mosque. Under Turkish rule the town was still run by Greeks and had a mixed
population of Turks, Greeks, and Slavs. The Parthenon was badly damaged in
1687, when a Venetian bombardment ignited gunpowder that had been stored inside
the building.

The Greek War of Independence (1821-1829) liberated the city from the Turks and
made it the capital of modern Greece. Athens was largely rebuilt during the
reign (1832-1862) of King Otto by German architects, notably Eduard Schaubert.
Before its emergence as a major European commercial and industrial center in the
20th century, it was important mainly as a tourist center celebrated for its
ancient monuments.

And now, believe it or not, I'm going to relate all of this to Gundam.

Although each Side is a sort of nation-state or province within the Federation,
governed by a local or provincial administration -- the Zahn administration in
Side 1, the Hatte administration in Side 2, the Munzo administration in Side 3,
the Moore administration in Side 4, the Raum administration in Side 5, the Riah
administration in Side 6 and the Noah administration in Side 7 -- each of the
individual colony cylinders is perforce a separate city-state within that
administration or province.

When Zeon Zum Daikun and his followers took over in the colony in Side 3 and
founded the Colony Republic in UC 0058, it would probably have been recognized
by the Federation if it had remained part of the Munzo administration. Instead,
it declared independence not only from Munzo but also from the Federation as a
whole. It was only able to do this because it was already a separate physical
entity -- a self-contained city-state within a colony cylinder, in its own
unique orbit within L2, isolated from everything else in space.

The Federation was in no position -- physically as well as politically -- to do
much about the situation. In UC 0059, it instituted the first round of economic
sanctions, attempting to strangle the fledgling republic into submission, and in
UC 0060 it began its first military buildup, attempting to establish the
physical means for enforcing its authority. This economic sanctions drove the
rest of Side 3 to secede in common cause with the Republic and the military
buildup forced the Colony Republic to start its own military force in UC 0062.
Side 3 made a formal petition for autonomy in UC 0067, but it was rejected by
the Federation out of hand, so things were already tense when Zeon Daikun died
in UC 0068 and Degwin Sodo Zabi came to power and declared all of Side 3 to be
the indenpendent Principality of Zeon in UC 0069. Just as Sparta converted from
an agrarian economy to a militaristic one, so Zeon went from being an idealistic
philosophical regime to an aristicratic monarchy.

For the next ten years, Earth and Zeon re-enacted the Athens/Sparta rivalry,
with Earth the (relatively) pacifistic republic -- Athens had been the leader of
the Delian League, also known as the Confederacy of Delos, founded in 478 BC
shortly after the final repulse of the Persians under Xerxes I and broken up by
the capture of Athens by Sparta in 404 BC -- and Zeon the militaristic
empire-builder.

When the One Year War broke out, many of the Spacenoid city-states went their
own way. The Riah administration of Side 6 declared itself neutral, a position
it could only take because of the physical separation in space and innate
individuality of the colonies. On the Moon, some colonies, like Granada, sided
with Zeon, while others, like Amman, sided with Earth, and still others, like
Von Braun, the headquarters of Anaheim Electronics, adopted a "wait and see"
attitude, siding with whomever was ascendent at a given time. Because of its
pre-eminence as the first Moon colony, literally built over the footsteps of
Armstrong and Aldrin at Tranquility Base, Von Braun's attitude became the
prevailing one among the Lunar colonists.

In a pattern repeated again and again throughout the Gundam saga, individual
colonies acting as semi-autonomous city-states become the center of intrigue
because of their inherent separation and self-containment.

Considering their location in Lunar orbit, each space colony is truly an
Acropolis in every sense of the word.

-Z-

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