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That general picture is surely right, though it can be protested that Homer’s singling out of individuals may be just literary spotlighting and that the masses played a respectably large part in the fighting described in the epics.There is some force in that objection and in the converse and related objection that in Archaic and Classical hoplite fighting individual duels were more prevalent than is allowed by scholars anxious to stress the collective character of hoplite combat.There is no getting round the clear implication of two poems of Solon (early 6th century) that, first, gold and silver were familiar metals and, second, wealth was now in the hands of arrivistes. The Bacchiadae had exploited Corinth’s geographic position, which was favourable in ways rivaled only by that of the two Euboean cities already discussed.Like Chalcis, which supervised sea traffic between southern Greece and Macedonia but also had close links with Boeotia and Attica, Corinth controlled both a north-south route (the Isthmus of Corinth, in modern times pierced by the Corinth Canal) and an east-west route. Corinth had two ports, Lechaeum to the west on the Gulf of Corinth and Cenchreae to the east on the Saronic Gulf.The first objects recognizably similar to coined money were found there at levels most scholars (there are a few doubters) accept as securely dated.Coinage did not arrive in Greece proper until well into the 6th century.Still, a change in methods of fighting undoubtedly occurred in the course of the 7th century.
The evidence of an inscribed Athenian archon list, found in the 1930s and attesting a grandson of Cypselus in the 590s, settled an old debate about the date of Cypselus’s coup: it must have happened about 650 (a conclusion for which there is other evidence) rather than at the much later date indicated by an alternative tradition.
This last feature produced a consequence commented on by Thucydides—namely, a tendency of the sword bearer to drift to the right in the direction of the protection offered by his neighbour.
For this reason the best troops were posted on the far right to act as anchor-men.
Modern scholars have tried to look for more general factors behind Cypselus’s success than a desire in a new world of wealth and opportunity to put an end to Bacchiad oppressiveness and exclusivity.
One much-favoured explanation is military, but it must be said straightaway that the specific evidence for support of Cypselus by a newly emergent military class is virtually nonexistent.