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Political Approach to the Classical World 51
The Greeks had been in close touch with the oriental world
for centuries past. Since early times bands of adventurers from
Ionia and Greece had hired themselves out as mercenaries to
Lydians and Egyptians, Assyrians and Persians. We have dis-
cussed the probability of contact between the Hittites and the
peoples of the Aegean coast. The lonians lived alongside the
civilizations of Asia Minor, and the Greets of the south coast
of the peninsula came into contact with the Assyrians when the
latter extended their hegemony over Cilicia. The Phoenicians
had acted as intermediaries of culture. Greek ships sailed con-
tinually across the Mediterranean. We know of a Greek trading
centre at the mouth of the Orontes in the eighth century B.C.,
importing a wealth of pottery from Rhodes, Cyprus, Athens,
and Corinth. In the Delta of Egypt, Naukratis was well
established under the patronage of the Saite kings as the prosper-
ous Greek emporium which travellers like Solon and Pythagoras
visited. And so through this contact between East and West,
before it had resolved into a struggle for supremacy, was
transmitted the heritage of experience from the ancient world.
In the course of our brief historical survey we have seen the
growth of successive political conceptions which formed part of
this heritage. In the third millennium the village community
had already developed into the city-state. In Hither Asia a
number of small unit Powers were united not politically but
culturally by a great civilization. Egypt had been the first to
show the benefits of centralized government over a wide area.
In the second millennium a new order arose—that of national
States, limited by fixed boundaries. This was an age of cosmo-
politanism, of wars on a large scale, and of the beginnings of
diplomacy; letters were interchanged between the great Powers,
treaties drawn up, marriages arranged to link the ruling lines.
Finally, the first millennium saw the growth of great empires.
Here again Egypt had pointed the way. The Assyrian Empire
was a far bigger conception than the Egyptian had been, and the