A History of Argos to 500 B.C
by Thomas Kelly
University of Minnesota Press, 1977
Paper: 978-0-8166-5801-5


A History of Argos to 500 B.C was first published in 1977. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Specialists in ancient history will find some long-held beliefs challenged by this study. Professor Kelly reconstructs and discusses the history of the ancient Greek city of Argos, which was located in the northeastern Peloponnese, from the Bronze Age through the Archaic period. He relies primarily on the archeological evidence and considers the literary evidence in the context of the physical remains. In determining the broad pattern of historical development, his findings and conclusions frequently contradict previous conceptions about the city and its role in history.

The study shows that Argos existed in the shadow of Mycenae in the Bronze Age but that throughout the Dark Age it was one of the most progressive centers in Greece, though not a wealthy or powerful community. Its contacts with other areas were limited and it had no influence beyond its own village and fields. By the end of the Dark Age the city was growing and extending its influence throughout the Argive plain, but its external contacts remained limited. Contrary to theories of earlier historians, Professor Kelly finds that Argive foreign policy was not dominated by a rivalry with Sparta, and reports that the two states fought on numerous occasions, the Battle of Hysiae included, are erroneous. The present study also indicates that the tyrant Pheidon of Argos fits more logically into the early decades of the sixth century B.C.E. rather than the seventh century as had been thought. The fragmentary nature of the evidence does not make possible an assessment of the long-range impact of Pheidon's policies on the history of Argos, but it is clear that his reign was followed by important political changes in the city.

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