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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/214

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

fall into regions permitting considerable growth of population, but having physical structures which impede the centralization of power, compound political headships will arise, and for a time sustain themselves, through coöperation of the two factors—independence of local groups and need for union in war. Let us consider some examples.

 

The island of Crete has numerous high mountain-valleys containing good pasturage, and provides many seats for strongholds—seats which ruins prove that the ancient inhabitants utilized. Similarly with the mainland of Greece. A complicated mountain system cuts off its parts from one another and renders each difficult of access. Especially is this so in the Peloponnesus; and, above all, in the part occupied by the Spartans. It has been remarked that the state which possesses both sides of Taygetus has it in its power to be master of the peninsula: "It is the Acropolis of the Peloponnese, as that country is of the rest of Greece."

When, over the earlier inhabitants, there came the successive waves of Hellenic conquerors, these brought with them the type of nature and organization common to the Aryans, displaying the united traits above described. Such a people, taking possession of such a land, inevitably fell in course of time "into as many independent clans as the country itself was divided by its mountain-chains into valleys and districts." From separation there resulted alienation; so that those remote from one another, becoming strangers, became enemies. In early Greek times the clans, occupying mountain villages, were so liable to incursions from one another that the planting of fruit-trees was a waste of labor. There existed a state like that seen at present among such Indian hill tribes as the Nagas.

Though preserving the tradition of a common descent, and owning allegiance to the oldest male representative of the patriarch, a people spreading over a region which thus cut off from one another even adjacent small groups, and still more those remoter clusters of groups arising in course of generations, would inevitably become disunited in government: subjection to a general head would be more and more difficult to maintain, and subjection to local heads would alone continue practicable. Moreover, there must arise, under such conditions, increasing causes of insubordination, as well as great difficulties in maintaining subordination. When the various branches of a common family spread into localities so shut off from one another as to prevent intercourse, their respective histories, and the lines of descent of their respective heads, must become unknown, or but partially known, to one another; and claims to supremacy made now by this local head and now by that are certain to be disputed. When we remember how, even in settled societies having records, there have been perpetual conflicts about rights of succession, and how, down to our own day, there are frequent lawsuits to decide on heirships to titles and proper-