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Within the Greek city-states as they developed in the first millennium B. C . there were several different forms of government, ranging somewhere between the two extremes represented by Sparta and Athens. During the early period of their history the Spartans, who had conquered and reduced to serfdom the Laconians among whom they settled, chose to meet the increasing pressure of population by treating their neighbors to a similar fate, in this way becoming the largest of the city-states. After crushing a long and serious revolt, they turned themselves into a military society in order to maintain control over these subjugated peoples. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section I: Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem: Background of Western Civilization. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.