The problem of the evolution in time of a system of two-level atoms that are coupled through their electromagnetic fields, is studied and solved in the framework of semiclassical radiation theory. The atoms may be in any initial states and the radiation reaction is fully taken into account. Both superradiance and time-dependent frequency shift or chirping effects are found. The assumption that all the atoms see the same field is shown to place severe constraints on the evolution of the system, in the form of constants of the motion. These constraints are most easily pictured in terms of the Bloch-vector representation of the atomic system, and they lead to explicit solutions for the time development of each atom. It is shown that the evolution of the complex system is describable by means of a collective super Bloch vector, whose behavior is similar to the behavior of the Bloch vector for a single isolated atom. The constraints on the motion also imply that the system cannot radiate all its energy coherently; some of it remains trapped, to be dissipated ultimately by incoherent processes. Some curves are presented to illustrate the behavior of the system in special cases.