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Uncovering the Culture of Ancient Greece by Alix Wood is a part of the Archaeology and Ancient Cultures series. It is designed for younger children aiming to pique their interest in and educate them about ancient cultures.The book is laid out with a 2-page spread that details a city, people, or topic in ancient Greek history including Knosses, Mycenae, the Valley of the Temples, the Acropolis, etc. It provides a short description of the topic with pictures of artifacts, ruins, art, and people
Uncovering the Culture of Ancient Greece by Alix Wood is a part of the Archaeology and Ancient Cultures series. It is designed for younger, elementary school-aged children aiming to pique their interest in and educate them about ancient cultures, history, and archaeology.
The book is laid out in 2-page spreads that detail a city, people, or topic in ancient Greek history. Among the people it introduces the reader to are: the villages of Sesklo and Dimini, the Minoans via the city at Knossos, Mycenae, and the Lefkandi. It discusses various monuments in ancient Greek history including: the Home of the Olympics, the Valley of the Temples, the Oracle at Delphi, and the Royal Tombs. On each page is a small map labeling where the information takes place within Greece. Each section describes how it was found and the people that found it. Because it is aimed at children, there are pictures of the places and monuments that are described. The color and vibrancy of the illustrations are effective tools in recreating the setting and people of ancient Greece. Within the descriptions are words in bold that are included in an extremely helpful glossary at the back of the book.
The book is colorful, brief, and exciting to read and look at! It is designed to keep the interest of a young child and teach them interesting facts about Greece in a short amount of time. The diverse information allows for differing interests to be sparked. It contains sections on code-breaking and volcanoes—two things that are sure to grasp a child’s imagination. The book offers insight into each age of Greek history. It begins with the prehistoric Greek people and Minoans and takes the reader through to Greece during the Hellenistic age. However, a link is not provided between the various ages. The author provides a pinpointed snapshot of that age’s history and culture without much transition. A very brief history surrounding the local people is included, but that is the extent of the context given.
The history and information given are done so in the setting of an archaeologist. In that sense, the book achieves its goal. It provides a glimpse into the archaeological finds of ancient Greece. However, it does not provide the best “uncovering” of the culture of ancient Greece. It gives snapshots of the culture that surrounds the particular artifact it presents but does not explore the culture or connect the various changes in culture any further. In addition, the book interacts with objects and places rather than texts and stories. There is little mention to writing, for example, aside from a page discussing the tablets containing the scripts of Linear A and Linear B.
This book would be an effective resource for a child who is more interested in pictures and objects than in reading longer explanations of a people and culture. It would serve as a decent supplementary material if read with a book that gave a good foundation of the Greek culture and people. Alone, it would not be the best resource for one interested in ancient Greece.
The Lives and Social Culture of Ancient Greece
Modern society owes a lot to the ancient Greeks. The lives that they led, their belief system, and even the way they created buildings have left lasting impressions that can still be seen today. For many, ancient Greece is considered to be the cradle of Western civilization. By taking a look at their way of life, it is possible to see some similarities to today’s world as well as some of the traditions that were pushed aside in exchange for others. The fact the people vote in a democracy, read using an alphabet, and enjoy the Olympics every couple of years can all be traced back to the ancient Greeks.
12 Gifts Ancient Greece Gave To The World
It's easy to forget just how much credit we owe the brilliant minds of ancient Greece. They are responsible for so many of the world's early steps into language, politics, education and the sciences, so it's important to take an occasional, humble look back -- way back -- in time to ponder these roots and appreciate the ideas that have fueled progress throughout the centuries.
Here are 12 of the richest gifts ancient Greece has given to the world that still impact us today.
It was home to the first recognized historian.
The mission of Herodotus, also known as the "father of history," was to make sure that "human achievement may be spared the ravages of time, and that everything great and astounding, and all the glory of those exploits which served to display Greeks and barbarians alike to such effect, be kept alive – and additionally, and most importantly, to give the reason they went to war." Born around 484 BC in Halicarnassus, Herodotus was banned from his homeland by the tyrant Lygdamis and spent much of his time traveling and gathering the stories of others before he returned. He was one of the first writers to not only collect stories of ancient Greece, but also have them survive for others to read.
It's the birthplace of world-famous mathematicians.
The earliest mathematic theorems, Thales' theorem and Intercept theorem, both stemmed from the work of Thales of Miletus, recognized as the first of the seven wise men of Greece. Thale's theorem, which asserts that an angle inscribed in a semicircle is a right angle, lies at the crux of any modern-day geometry class. Following Thales, Pythagoras of Samos coined the word mathematics, meaning "that which is learned." Some of us may be able to recount the critical geometry theorem named after him as well.
It's the foundation of Western philosophic thought.
Pythagoras is also responsible for the word philosophy, signifying "a love of wisdom." During the Hellenistic period, ancient Greece's leading thinkers began searching for explanations of the world beyond the realm of mythology, instead looking to reason and empirical evidence. From Socrates to Plato to Artistotle, the Greeks expanded the new field into one of research and conversation regarding the role of knowledge, the capabilities of the human senses, and how man exists within the world. Each of these elements have had a direct impact on the shaping of Western thought as we know it.
Its founders designed the initial concept of democracy.
Americans are familiar with the famous description of democratic government by Abraham Lincoln, "a government of the people, by the people, for the people." It's less well known that the word democracy comes from our ancient Greek friends.
Demokratia, Greek for "power of the people," was born in Athens in the 7th century BC. As the city-state's oligarchy exploited citizens and created economic, political and social problems, Athenians were inspired by the successful, semi-democratic model Sparta had adopted. They turned to lawmaker Solon, who tried to help the struggling majority without disadvantaging the wealthy minority. He gave each Athenian the right to vote, and their assembly the ability to elect officials, pass laws and weigh in on the court's affairs.
It was the first place to bring trial by jury into the courtroom.
Athens is also the home of the original trial by jury practice. While any one citizen could raise charges against another in an ancient Greek courtroom, they were not allowed to select the jurors for their own trial. Their juries proved far larger than those used today -- it wasn't uncommon for the courts to use up to 500 citizens for any given case, and even to surpass 1,500 when it came to issues of death, exile and property seizure. Each decision was made via majority rule to keep the courtroom as reasonable as possible. The tradition of ensuring that all who serve receive a day's pay also originated in ancient Greece.
It educated and entertained us with mythology.
When it came to magical storytelling, the ancient Greeks were true professionals. Their myths were used to teach people about gods, heroes, nature, and why they practiced their religion the way they did. The narratives chart the globe, sharing new adventures and life truths with anyone who chooses to listen. From Achilles and Poseidon to Hercules and Athena, these stories have preserved the most colorful parts of Greek history well into the present day.
It brought us the origins of theater.
The early days of ancient Greek theatre began as festivals honoring the god Dionysus, and eventually evolved into an art all its own, once more than one person was allowed to take the stage at any given time. After performing the first known dramatic poetry reading on stage, Thespis became recognized as the first Greek actor and founder of the tragedy genre. Comedy, another genre introduced soon after by the Greeks, relied mainly on imitation. Aristophanes, for example, is most well known for writing comedic plays, 11 of which have managed to survive to the present day. Satyr plays centered around mythology stories with amusing twists.
It created the Olympic games.
The breathtaking city of Olympia is home to one of the world's greatest -- and oldest -- sport event traditions. More than 3,000 years ago, the ancient Greeks began hosting the games every four years in honor of the god Zeus. This practice continued for almost 12 centuries until Emperor Theodosius banned "pagan cult" rituals in 393 AD. The first modern Olympic games took place in Athens in 1896.
It introduced beautiful architecture.
With religion reigning as a dominant force in ancient Greek society, citizens needed to construct temples that reflected such devotion. The Parthenon and the Erechtheum are just two of the many impressive examples of their age-old architectural knowledge and practice that are still revered today. Flaunting ornate columns and beautiful figures, the temples are designed with particular attention to how all of the components of the structure relate to one another. The precision and skill behind these buildings inspired subsequent architectural concepts and designs that can be noticed in modern landmarks worldwide.
It shared with the world an incredible collection of sculptures and pottery.
The ancient Greeks are also highly revered for their sculpture work. Making use of their natural supply of marble, limestone and bronze, they created visions of their various god and heroes, as well as representations of important historical events and dominant elements of their culture. While pottery was created mainly for everyday use rather than display, many jars, jugs and containers were decorated with similarly themed paintings that are beautiful enough to be displayed on museum shelves.
It brought us the explanation of true tranquility.
In her latest book, Thrive: The Third Metric To Redefining Success And Creating A Life Of Well-being, Wisdom, And Wonder, Arianna Huffington writes, "From that place of imperturbability -- or ataraxia, as the Greeks called it -- we can much more effectively bring about change." That word first came from philosopher Epicurus and his famous list of principles. He believed that to achieve a state of inner tranquility, we must not attempt to maximize our sense of pleasure, but instead remove unnecessary desires from the equation. The simple parts of life are what keep us in a perpetual state of peace.
It gave us the most comprehensive, meaningful word for "happiness."
Eudaimonia, a term introduced by Aristotle in his work, Nicomachean Ethics, and a part of the ancient Greek virtue ethics system, is a simpler way of expressing a true, full sense of happiness that includes being part of something larger than yourself. This moral philosophy explores how making wise decisions in life can lead us to a state of well-being that not only benefits us but the world around us. Happiness and meaning become one and the same as we move through everyday life, make use of our practical wisdom, resolve any and all conflicts, and ultimately reach a state recognizable as the good life. Eudaimonia is the ideal for which we all strive.
The History of Ancient Greece in 18 Minutes: A Brisk Primer Narrated by Brian Cox
Ancient Greece never existed. Before you click away, fearing a truly brazen attempt at historical revisionism, let’s put that statement in context. Ancient Greece “was no state with an established border or capital, but rather a multitude of distinct and completely independent cities.” So says the video above, “Ancient Greece in 18 Minutes,” which makes historical corrections — and often humorous ones — to that and a variety of other common misperceptions about perhaps the main civilizations to give rise to Western culture as we know it.
“We might think we already know everything about Ancient Greece,” says the video’s narrator, actor Brian Cox. “The Parthenon, the 300 Spartans, and blind Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are familiar to all, yet there were far more than 300 Spartans, the Parthenon was actually built as a kind of central bank, and no such unified state as ancient Greece, with Athens as its capital, ever existed.”
Some of our unwarranted intellectual confidence about Ancient Greece surely comes from the movies that draw on its history and its stories, such as the comic-book Battle of Thermopylae dramatization 300 or, a couple years earlier, Troy, which delivered Homer’s Iliad in true Hollywood fashion — with Cox himself as Agamemnon, commander of the united Greek forces in the Trojan War.
That nine-year long siege, of course, figures into “Ancient Greece in 18 Minutes” as one of its most important episodes. The other chapters cover the Creto-Mycenaean era that preceded Ancient Greece, the barbarian attacks that plunged the region into a 400-year dark age, the Archaic Period that saw the beginning of Greece’s far-flung agriculture-driven colonization, the rise of the famous Athens and Sparta, the Graeco-Persian Wars (as seen, in a sense, in 300), the Golden Age of Athens (the age of the construction of the Parthenon, without which “the Greek classics wouldn’t have existed at all: no sculpture, drama, philosophy”), the Peloponnesian War, and the time of Alexander the Great.
Alexander the Great died young in 323 BC, and Ancient Greece as we conceive of it today is thought not to have survived him. But in another sense, it not only survived but thrived: the Romans conquered Greece in 146 BC, but “Greek culture was victorious even here: spread by the Romans, it finally conquered the world. Romans began to read The Iliad and Odyssey in Greek, followed by the Greek New Testament.” (You can find out much more about the Romans in the same creators’ video “Ancient Rome in 20 Minutes.”) When in 330 the Roman emperor Constantine built his new capital on the site of the Greek colony of Byzantium, he started the Byzantine Empire, “which extended the life of Greek culture another thousand years.” This left a formidable cultural legacy of its own — including, as this Russian-made video makes a special point of telling us, “the weird Russian alphabet.”
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.
The Decline and Fall of Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece never really declined. But it did fall.
Historians refer to Ancient Greece as a civilization. That's because it was never an empire. It was never a country. (Greece did not become an independent country until modern times, in 1821, or less than 200 years ago.) Ancient Greece was a collection of independent city-states with a common culture. Most historians agree the Greek culture was a foundation culture of Western Civilization, which means a root or a beginning. There is no doubt that the ancient Greek civilization has been immensely influential on language, literature, educational systems, philosophy, art and architecture, politics, theatre, drama, science, medicine, and mathematics.
The time period called Ancient Greece is considered by some historians to begin with the Greek Dark Ages around 1100 BC (the Dorians) and end when Rome conquered Greece in 146 BC. Other historians start with the 776 BC Greek Olympic Games, after ancient Greece had formed themselves into hundreds of independent Greek city-states, each with their own way of doing things. It's safe to say that the ancient Greek culture covered a lot of years. Ancient Greece was at its pinnacle from 776 BC to 146 BC. For a very short period of time, within that pinnacle, the ancient Greek city-states were pulled together under one rule - not their own rule, but the rule of Alexander the Great.
Alexander the Great conquered the ancient Greek city-states in 338 BC. Alexander ruled for about 13 years. Alexander died young. He was only 32 (or possibly 33) years old. He was off conquering other lands when he died. He respected and admired the Greek culture. He felt it was his mission to spread Greek culture to other lands. During his rule, Alexander spread Greek culture throughout the Persian Empire, including parts of Asia and Africa. After his death, the ancient Greek city-states did regain their independence. But the teachings of Alexander remained. The Hellenistic Age was the time after Alexander's death when Greek culture mixed with the various cultures of Alexander's Empire. This was a time of advances in learning, math, art, and architecture. Some of the great names of learning in this Age include Archimedes, Hero, and Euclid. It was a time of relative peace. (The Hellenistic Age began with Alexander's death and ended about 200 years later when the Romans conquered the Mediterranean region and beyond.)
The ancient Romans: The Romans attacked the ancient Greeks at the Battle of Corinth. The Romans won. But the Romans loved the Greek culture, especially the Greek gods and Greek myths, just like Alexander. The Romans adopted all the Greek gods and all the myths, changing them a bit to reflect the Roman way of life. As long as the ancient Greeks agreed to consider Rome in charge, the Greeks were free to mostly manage themselves. Even their language remained the same. Once again, the ancient Greek culture survived. In fact, it expanded - as the Romans expanded into Europe, they brought with them the Greek culture, which by then they claimed was the Roman culture. (The Romans often did that - adopt something, and then pretend it was Roman all along.)
Alexander spread the Greek culture around the Mediterranean, and the Romans spread the Greek culture into Europe. Greek culture is still influential today. That's why historians say Ancient Greece never really declined. But it did fall.
Uncovering the Culture of Ancient Greece - History
History of Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity (ca. 600 AD). Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the period of Classical Greece, which flourished during the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Classical Greece began with the repelling of a Persian invasion by Athenian leadership. Because of conquests by Alexander the Great, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea.
Classical Greek culture, especially philosophy, had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of the Mediterranean region and Europe, for which reason Classical Greece is generally considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of modern Western culture.
Ancient Greece is the term used to describe the Greek-speaking world in ancient times. It refers not only to the geographical peninsula of modern Greece, but also to areas of Hellenic culture that were settled in ancient times by Greeks: Cyprus, the Aegean coast of Turkey (then known as Ionia), Sicily and southern Italy (known as Magna Graecia), and the scattered Greek settlements on the coasts of what are now Albania, Bulgaria, Egypt, southern France, Libya, Romania, Catalonia, and Ukraine.
There are no fixed or universally agreed upon dates for the beginning or the end of the Ancient Greek period. In common usage it refers to all Greek history before the Roman Empire, but historians use the term more precisely. Some writers include the periods of the Greek-speaking Mycenaean civilization that collapsed about 1100 BC, though most would argue that the influential Minoan was so different from later Greek cultures that it should be classed separately.
In the modern Greek school-books, "ancient times" is a period of about 1000 years (from the catastrophe of Mycenae until the conquest of the country by the Romans) that is divided in four periods, based on styles of art as much as culture and politics. The historical line starts with Greek Dark Ages (1100-800 BC). In this period artists use geometrical schemes such as squares, circles, lines to decorate amphoras and other pottery. The archaic period (800-500 BC) represents those years when the artists made larger free-standing sculptures in stiff, hieratic poses with the dreamlike "archaic smile".
In the classical years (500-323 BC) artists perfected the style that since has been taken as exemplary: "classical", such as the (Parthenon).
In the Hellenistic years that followed the conquests of Alexander (323-146 BC), also known as Alexandrian, aspects of Hellenic civilization expanded to Egypt and Bactria.
Traditionally, the Ancient Greek period was taken to begin with the date of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC, but many historians now extend the term back to about 1000 BC. The traditional date for the end of the Ancient Greek period is the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC (The following period is classed Hellenistic) or the integration of Greece into the Roman Republic in 146 BC.
These dates are historians' conventions and some writers treat the Ancient Greek civilization as a continuum running until the advent of Christianity in the third century AD.
Ancient Greece is considered by most historians to be the foundational culture of Western Civilization.
Greek culture was a powerful influence in the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of Europe. Ancient Greek civilization has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, art and architecture of the modern world, particularly during the Renaissance in Western Europe and again during various neo-Classical revivals in 18th and 19th century Europe and The Americas.
The Greeks are believed to have migrated southward into the Greek peninsula in several waves beginning in the late 3rd millennium BC, the last being the Dorian invasion. The period from 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is described in History of Mycenaean Greece known for the reign of King Agamemnon and the wars against Troy as narrated in the epics of Homer. The period from 1100 BC to the 8th century BC is a "dark age" from which no primary texts survive, and only scant archaeological evidence remains. Secondary and tertiary texts such as Herodotus' Histories, Pausanias' Description of Greece, Diodorus' Bibliotheca and Jerome's Chronicon, contain brief chronologies and king lists for this period. The history of Ancient Greece is often taken to end with the reign of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 BC. Subsequent events are described in Hellenistic Greece.
Any history of Ancient Greece requires a cautionary note on sources. Those Greek historians and political writers whose works have survived, notably Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Demosthenes, Plato and Aristotle, were mostly either Athenian or pro-Athenian. That is why we know far more about the history and politics of Athens than of any other city, and why we know almost nothing about some cities' histories. These writers, furthermore, concentrate almost wholly on political, military and diplomatic history, and ignore economic and social history. All histories of Ancient Greece have to contend with these limits in their sources.
In the 8th century BC Greece began to emerge from the Dark Ages which followed the fall of the Mycenaean civilization. Literacy had been lost and the Mycenaean script forgotten, but the Greeks adapted the Phoenician alphabet to Greek and from about 800 BC written records begin to appear. Greece was divided into many small self-governing communities, a pattern dictated by Greek geography, where every island, valley and plain is cut off from its neighbors by the sea or mountain ranges.
As Greece recovered economically, its population grew beyond the capacity of its limited arable land, and from about 750 BC the Greeks began 250 years of expansion, settling colonies in all directions. To the east, the Aegean coast of Asia Minor was colonized first, followed by Cyprus and the coasts of Thrace, the Sea of Marmara and south coast of the Black Sea. Eventually Greek colonization reached as far north-east as present day Ukraine. To the west the coasts of Albania, Sicily and southern Italy were settled, followed by the south coast of France, Corsica, and even northeastern Spain. Greek colonies were also founded in Egypt and Libya. Modern Syracuse, Naples, Marseille and Istanbul had their beginnings as the Greek colonies Syracusa, Neapolis, Massilia and Byzantium.
By the 6th century BC Hellas had become a cultural and linguistic area much larger than the geographical area of Greece. Greek colonies were not politically controlled by their founding cities, although they often retained religious and commercial links with them. The Greeks both at home and abroad organized themselves into independent communities, and the city (polis) became the basic unit of Greek government.
First Crete, then in short order the other Greek city-states, adopted the formal practice of pederasty. From its ritual roots in Indo-European prehistory, the practice was elevated to prominence, influencing pedagogy, warfare and social life, and becoming a central feature of Hellenic culture for the next thousand years.
Social and Political Conflict
The Greek cities were originally monarchies, although many of them were very small and the term "King" (basileus) for their rulers is misleadingly grand. In a country always short of farmland, power rested with a small class of landowners, who formed a warrior aristocracy fighting frequent petty inter-city wars over land and rapidly ousting the monarchy. About this time the rise of a mercantile class (shown by the introduction of coinage in about 680 BC) introduced class conflict into the larger cities. From 650 BC onwards, the aristocracies had to fight not to be overthrown and replaced by populist leaders called tyrants (tyrranoi), a word which did not necessarily have the modern meaning of oppressive dictators.
By the 6th century BC several cities had emerged as dominant in Greek affairs: Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes. Each of them had brought the surrounding rural areas and smaller towns under their control, and Athens and Corinth had become major maritime and mercantile powers as well. Athens and Sparta developed a rivalry that dominated Greek politics for generations.
In Sparta, the landed aristocracy retained their power, and the constitution of Lycurgus (about 650 BC) entrenched their power and gave Sparta a permanent militarist regime under a dual monarchy. Sparta dominated the other cities of the Peloponnese, with the sole exceptions of Argus and Achaia.
In Athens, by contrast, the monarchy was abolished in 683 BC, and reforms of Solon established a moderate system of aristocratic government. The aristocrats were followed by the tyranny of Pisistratus and his sons, who made the city a great naval and commercial power. When the Pisistratids were overthrown, Cleisthenes established the world's first democracy (500 BC), with power being held by an assembly of all the male citizens. But it must be remembered that only a minority of the male inhabitants were citizens, excluding slaves, freedmen and non-Athenians.
Main article: Greco-Persian WarsIn Ionia (the modern Aegean coast of Turkey) the Greek cities, which included great centres such as Miletus and Halicarnassus, were unable to maintain their independence and came under the rule of the Persian Empire in the mid 6th century BC. In 499 BC the Greeks rose in the Ionian Revolt, and Athens and some other Greek cities went to their aid.
In 490 BC the Persian Great King, Darius I, having suppressed the Ionian cities, sent a fleet to punish the Greeks. The Persians landed in Attica, but were defeated at the Battle of Marathon by a Greek army led by the Athenian general Miltiades. The burial mound of the Athenian dead can still be seen at Marathon.
Ten years later Darius's successor, Xerxes I, sent a much more powerful force by land. After being delayed by the Spartan King Leonidas I at Thermopylae, Xerxes advanced into Attica, where he captured and burned Athens. But the Athenians had evacuated the city by sea, and under Themistocles they defeated the Persian fleet at the Battle of Salamis. A year later, the Greeks, under the Spartan Pausanius, defeated the Persian army at Plataea.
The Athenian fleet then turned to chasing the Persians out of the Aegean Sea, and in 478 BC they captured Byzantium. In the course of doing so Athens enrolled all the island states and some mainland allies into an alliance, called the Delian League because its treasury was kept on the sacred island of Delos. The Spartans, although they had taken part in the war, withdrew into isolation after it, allowing Athens to establish unchallenged naval and commercial power.
The Dominance of Athens
The Persian Wars ushered in a century of Athenian dominance of Greek affairs. Athens was the unchallenged master of the sea, and also the leading commercial power, although Corinth remained a serious rival. The leading statesman of this time was Pericles, who used the tribute paid by the members of the Delian League to build the Parthenon and other great monuments of classical Athens. By the mid 5th century the League had become an Athenian Empire, symbolized by the transfer of the League's treasury from Delos to the Parthenon in 454 BC.
The wealth of Athens attracted talented people from all over Greece, and also created a wealthy leisured class who became patrons of the arts. The Athenian state also sponsored learning and the arts, particularly architecture. Athens became the centre of Greek literature, philosophy and the arts.
Some of the greatest names of Western cultural and intellectual history lived in Athens during this period: the dramatists Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides, and Sophocles, the philosophers Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates, the historians Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, the poet Simonides and the sculptor Pheidias. The city became, in Pericles's words, "the school of Hellas."
The other Greek states at first accepted Athenian leadership in the continuing war against the Persians, but after the fall of the conservative politician Cimon in 461 BC, Athens became an increasingly open imperialist power. After the Greek victory at the Battle of the Eurymedon in 466 BC, the Persians were no longer a threat, and some states, such as Naxos, tried to secede from the League, but were forced to submit. The new Athenian leaders, Pericles and Ephialtes, let relations between Athens and Sparta deteriorate, and in 458 BC war broke out. After some years of inconclusive war a 30-year peace was signed between the Delian League and the Peloponnesian League (Sparta and her allies). This coincided with the last battle between the Greeks and the Persians, a sea battle off Salamis in Cyprus, followed by the Peace of Callias (450 BC) between the Greeks and Persians.
In 431 BC war broke out again between Athens and Sparta and its allies. The proximate cause was a dispute between Corinth and one of its colonies, Corcyra (modern-day Corfu), in which Athens intervened. The obviate cause was the growing resentment of Sparta and its allies at the dominance of Athens over Greek affairs. The war lasted 27 years, partly because Athens (a naval power) and Sparta (a land-based military power) found it difficult to come to grips with each other.
Sparta's initial strategy was to invade Attica, but the Athenians were able to retreat behind their walls. An outbreak of plague in the city during the siege caused heavy losses, including Pericles. At the same time the Athenian fleet landed troops in the Peloponnese, winning battles at Naupactus (429 BC) and Pylos (425 BC). But these tactics could bring neither side a decisive victory. After several years of inconclusive campaigning, the moderate Athenian leader Nicias concluded the Peace of Nicias (421 BC).
In 418 BC, however, hostility between Sparta and the Athenian ally Argos led to a resumption of fighting. At Mantinea Sparta defeated the combined armies of Athens and her allies. The resumption of fighting brought the war party, led by Alcibiades, back to power in Athens. In 415 BC Alcibiades persuaded the Athenian Assembly to launch a major expedition against Syracuse, a Peloponnesian ally in Sicily. Though Nicias was a skeptic about the Sicilian Expedition he was appointed along Alcibiades to lead the expedition. Due to accusations against him, Alcibiades fled to Sparta where he persuaded Sparta to send aid to Syracuse. As a result, the expedition was a complete disaster and the whole expeditionary force was lost. Nicias was executed by his captors.
Sparta had now built a fleet to challenge Athenian naval supremacy, and had found a brilliant military leader in Lysander, who seized the strategic initiative by occupying the Hellespont, the source of Athens' grain imports. Threatened with starvation, Athens sent its last remaining fleet to confront Lysander, who decisively defeated them at Aegospotami (405 BC). The loss of her fleet threatened Athens with bankruptcy. In 404 BC Athens sued for peace, and Sparta dictated a predictably stern settlement: Athens lost her city walls, her fleet, and all of her overseas possessions. The anti-democratic party took power in Athens with Spartan support.
Spartan and Theban Dominance
The end of the Peloponnesian War left Sparta the master of Greece, but the narrow outlook of the Spartan warrior elite did not suit them to this role. Within a few years the democratic party regained power in Athens and other cities. In 395 BC the Spartan rulers removed Lysander from office, and Sparta lost her naval supremacy. Athens, Argos, Thebes, and Corinth, the latter two formerly Spartan allies, challenged Spartan dominance in the Corinthian War, which ended inconclusively in 387 BC. That same year Sparta shocked Greek opinion by concluding the Treaty of Antalcidas with Persia by which they surrendered the Greek cities of Ionia and Cyprus, thus reversing a hundred years of Greek victories against Persia. Sparta then tried to further weaken the power of Thebes, which led to a war in which Thebes allied herself with the old enemy, Athens. The Theban generals Epaminondas and Pelopidas won a decisive victory at Leuctra (371 BC).
The result of this battle was the end of Spartan supremacy and the establishment of Theban dominance, but Athens also recovered much of her former power. The supremacy of Thebes was short-lived. With the death of Epaminondas at Mantinea (362 BC) the city lost its greatest leader, and his successors blundered into an unsuccessful ten-year war with Phocis. In 346 BC the Thebans appealed to Philip II of Macedon to help them against the Phocians, thus drawing Macedon into Greek affairs for the first time.
The Kingdom of Macedon was formed in the 7th century BC out of northern Greek tribes. They played little part in Greek politics before the beginning of the 4th century, but Philip was an ambitious man who had been educated in Thebes and wanted to play a larger role. In particular, he wanted to be accepted as the new leader of Greece in recovering the freedom of the Greek cities of Asia from Persian rule. By seizing the Greek cities of Amphipolis, Methone and Potidaea, he gained control of the gold and silver mines of Macedonia. This gave him the resources to realize his ambitions.
Philip established Macedonian dominance over Thessaly (352 BC) and Thrace, and by 348 BC he controlled everything north of Thermopylae. He used his great wealth to bribe Greek politicians and create a "Macedonian party" in every Greek city. His intervention in the war between Thebes and Phocis brought him recognition as a Greek leader, and gave him his opportunity to become a power in Greek affairs. But despite his sincere admiration for Athens, the Athenian leader Demosthenes, in a series of famous speeches (philippics) roused the Greek cities to resist his advance.
In 339 BC Thebes, Athens, Sparta and other Greek states formed an alliance to resist Philip and expel him from the Greek cities he had occupied in the north. But Philip struck first, advancing into Greece and defeating the Greek cities at Chaeronea in 338 BC. This traditionally marks the end of the era of the Greek city-state as an independent political unit, although in fact Athens and other cities survived as independent states until Roman times.
Philip tried to win over Athens by flattery and gifts, but did not really succeed. He organized the cities into the League of Corinth, and announced that he would lead an invasion of Persia to liberate the Greek cities and avenge the Persian invasions of the previous century. But before he could do so he was assassinated (336 BC).
The Conquests of Alexander
Philip was succeeded by his 20-year-old son Alexander, who immediately set out to carry out his father's plans. He travelled to Corinth where the assembled Greek cities recognised him as leader of the Greeks, then set off north to assemble his forces. The army with which he invaded the Persian Empire was basically Macedonian, but many idealists from the Greek cities also enlisted. But while Alexander was campaigning in Thrace, he heard that the Greek cities had rebelled. He swept south again, captured Thebes, and razed the city to the ground as a warning to the Greek cities that his power could no longer be resisted.
In 334 BC Alexander crossed into Asia, and defeated the Persians at the river Granicus. This gave him control of the Ionian coast, and he made a triumphal procession through the liberated Greek cities. After settling affairs in Anatolia, he advanced south through Cilicia into Syria, where he defeated Darius III at Issus (333 BC). He then advanced through Phoenicia to Egypt, which he captured with little resistance, the Egyptians welcoming him as a liberator from Persian oppression.
Darius was now ready to make peace and Alexander could have returned home in triumph, but he was determined to conquer Persia and make himself the ruler of the world. He advanced north-east through Syria and Mesopotamia, and defeated Darius again at Gaugamela (331 BC). Darius fled and was killed by his own followers, and Alexander found himself the master of the Persian Empire, occupying Susa and Persepolis without resistance.
Meanwhile the Greek cities were making renewed efforts to escape from Macedonian control. At Megalopolis in 331 BC, Alexander's regent Antipater defeated the Spartans, who had refused to join the Corinthian League or recognize Macedonian supremacy.
Alexander pressed on, advancing through what are now Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indus river valley, and by 326 BC he had reached Punjab. He might well have advanced down the Ganges to Bengal had not his army, convinced they were at the end of the world, refused to go any further. Alexander reluctantly turned back, and died of a fever in Babylon in 323 BC.
Alexander's empire broke up soon after his death, but his conquests permanently changed the Greek world. Thousands of Greeks travelled with him or after him to settle in the new Greek cities he had founded as he advanced, the most important being Alexandria in Egypt. Greek-speaking kingdoms in Egypt, Syria, Iran and Bactria were established. The Hellenistic age had begun.
The history of Ancient and Minoan Crete, Greece: The history of Crete is long and rich and, according to archaeologists, it started in the Neolithic times. Crete had always played an important part in the history of Greece and it is worth to mention that the island had made its appearance vivid in many aspects of the Mediterranean and the Greek culture, even in the Greek mythology.
A lot of myths report that Zeus, the chief of the gods, was brought up in Ideon Andron and the Cretan soldiers, known as Kourites, protected him. It was from Crete that Daedalus and Icarus, kept in prison by King Minos, escaped with waxen wings and became the first people to fly.
However, the most famous myth is the one that connects Crete to Labyrinth and the Minotaur, which was eventually killed by the legendary hero Theseus. The Labyrinth was probably found close to the Palace of Knossos, while others believe that it was found on the northern side of the island.
The most prosperous period in the history of ancient Crete was certainly the Minoan period, named after the mythical king Minos. This period reached its peak from the 16th to the 14th century B.C. and many excavations have revealed important information about this ancient civilization. For example, stones with a strange form of writing, known as Linear A, have been found, which makes Crete the first Greek region to invent writing. These writing symbols have not been de-coded yet by modern scientists.
Taking into account that Minoan Crete had developed writing, we deduct that it also had developed other parts of civilization. As seen by ancient frescoes, Minoan towns were rich and had gained this richness mainly from trading their agricultural products all over the Mediterranean Sea. They had thus developed an important navigation system, had built ships and had made beautiful pots to restore their trading goods, usually olive oil, cereals, and wine.
Along with trade, the Minoans also invented coins and money. Sometimes, they would also exchange their products with expensive clothes and jewellery from the Middle East, bringing nice gifts back home. They also developed a great urban planning system with cisterns, paths, walls, and a sewage system. Their kings would live a luxurious life in nice palaces and would frequently organize festivals. All citizens participated in these festivals, which also included shows with bulls. That is why the bull is the symbol of the Minoan civilization.
This civilization that flourished for so many centuries declined after the destruction of Knossos by the tsunami waves that the eruption of Santorini raised, probably at about 1,650 BC. After the destruction of Knossos, the other Minoan towns slowly declined until they were totally destroyed by the invasion of the Dorians.
Today, many sites with ancient Minoan towns survive all over Crete. The most important town, and capital of this civilization, is Knossos, close to modern Heraklion town. Other famous sites include the palaces of Phaistos, Kato Zakros and Malia. Findings from these excavations are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
The history of a people
Located on the cross roads of ancient trade routes, this region suggests that the Yiddish language was developed by Iranian and Ashkenazic Jews as they traded on the Silk Road from the first centuries AD to around the 9th century when they arrived in Slavic lands.
Putting together evidence from linguistic, history, and genetics, we concluded that the ancient Ashkenazic Jews were merchants who developed Yiddish as a secret language – with 251 words for “buy” and “sell” – to maintain their monopoly. They were known to trade in everything from fur to slaves.
By the 8th century the words “Jew” and “merchant” were practically synonymous, and it was around this time that Ashkenazic Jews began relocating from ancient Ashkenaz to the Khazar Empire to expand their mercantile operations.
Two Jewish merchants in medieval dress. Claudine Van Massenhove/Shutterstock
This Jewish migration led to some of the Turkic Khazar rulers and numerous eastern Slavs living within the Khazar Empire to convert to Judaism so they didn’t miss out on the lucrative Silk Road trade between Germany and China.
But the demise of Khazaria due to continued invasions and finally the Black Death devastated this last Jewish Empire of Khazaria. This led to the Ashkenazic Jews splitting into two groups – some remaining in the Caucasus and others migrating into eastern Europe and Germany.
The two groups still called themselves Ashkenazic Jews, however the name Ashkenaz became more strongly associated with Germany and the the European group – for whom Yiddish became their primary language.
Before Homer wrote the fearless warriors and extraordinary heroes enshrined in the temples of the Olympians in Iliad and The Odysseys, there were a people of invincible spirits and adventurism on a par with those of the characters – The Mycenaean, the torch-bearers of a great Aegean civilization in the Pre-Classical Greece existing from 2000 to 1200 BC, whose bravery and enterprising minds inspired Homer to pay tribute to them as immortalized in the two great Classical epics in the history of we Before Homer wrote the fearless warriors and extraordinary heroes enshrined in the temples of the Olympians in Iliad and The Odysseys, there were a people of invincible spirits and adventurism on a par with those of the characters – The Mycenaean, the torch-bearers of a great Aegean civilization in the Pre-Classical Greece existing from 2000 to 1200 BC, whose bravery and enterprising minds inspired Homer to pay tribute to them as immortalized in the two great Classical epics in the history of western civilization. Accordingly, The Mycenaean: The History and Culture of Ancient Greece’s First Civilization by Charles River Editors takes us to look back on the Mycenaean culture in the Pre-Classical era when these ancient ethic Greeks ruled the Aegean Sea as the maritime power and left their indelible marks on the posterity of the Greek culture in many aspects.
The Mycenaean, the first Greeks, were never unified under a central state and were a collection of several kingdoms. Influenced by the earlier Minoan civilization (2000-1450) at Knossos, Crete, the Mycenaean adapted the Minoan art and religious practices and developed them to their highest expectation of militaristic and cultural ideology. For example, the Mycenaean developed Linear B Script, which was the writing system comprising hieroglyphics, used between 1450 and 1100 BC especially in Knossos and Pylos, the corporate headquarters of the Late Bronze Mycenae. The letters were mostly written in clay tablets largely concerned with documenting economic transactions of the palace administration and various business transactions. In fact, the Linear B Script, preserved as the oldest Greek writing system, indicates that the Mycenaean were the linguistic and ethnic ancestors of the Classical Greeks.
In addition to economic activities Linear B Script also lets us glimpse into the belief system of the Mycenaean with the names of the deities they worshiped, such as the head of the Pantheon and Poseidon, the god o f the seas whom the Mycenaean paid special due respect for their being sea-faring people. The Mycenaean reverence for Poseidon is worth noting because it betokens the importance of the Mycenaean as the maritime power of the Aegean Sea as well as the most of the Mediterranean Sea. They eclipsed the Minoans and their Aegean neighbors in terms of open sea trade by establishing trade routes with the islands of Sardinia and Sicily as well as the Libyan coastline and importing more goods than exporting, such as grain from Egypt and metal from Cyprus and Anatolia to make weapons.
With respect to artistic and cultural historiography of the Mycenaean, the art of burial practices entailed the Minoan influence assimilated into the Mycenaean of their own accord, which was akin to the fashion of Hellenism, the spread of the Greek culture through enculturation by Alexander the Great centuries later. Likewise, after then conquest of Crete, the Mycenaean continued to employ many of the Minoan artistic traditions one of which was burial practices and their beliefs in afterlife as expressed in the Hagia Triada Sarcophagus on the island of Crete. Made in a Minoan style under the rule of Mycenaean, it depicts scenes of funereal game held in honor of a fallen warriors and dead kings, consisting of the following athletic events as part of the ritual:
Chariot Race – Popularized by the Hittite and the Egyptian as a symbol of power and prestige powered by 2 to 4 horses carrying a team of 2 to 3 men. The Hittite had 3 men – a driver, a shield bearer, and a warrior- while the Egyptian simply had 2 men – a driver and a shield bearer. The Mycenaean would most likely to have either of the styles, though not manifested.
Armed Combat – conflated with the Hittite sport
Boxing – popularized by the Minoan and developed by the Mycenaean
In fact, the factuality of the aforesaid athletic sport events is alluded in Homer’s Iliad, suggesting a Bronze Age tradition of funerary games in Greece with vivid descriptions of the games to honor the slain Greek warrior named Patroclus, which were all coordinated by Achilles. However, contrary to the nude events of the Classical Greece Olympics, which were the offspring of the Mycenaean funereal games, the competitors in the funereal sport events wore loincloths called “zoma.”
The demise of the Mycenaean Kingdom resulted from several factors one by one in a period of times, including the invasion of the Sea Peoples and the emerging of the Dorian in the north, all of which represented the end of the Mycenaean Age, coinciding with the collapse of the Bronze Age in the ancient Near East, where the Mycenaean played an important role as a formidable trade partner with the Egyptian. Notwithstanding the fall of the Mycenanean as the major sea power in the ancient Bronze Age, the brilliant legacy of the Mycenaean culture still thrives in (1) the form of Linear B Script, the oldest writing system of the Greek language before the adoption of the Phoenician alphabet system many centuries later (2) the belief system
In which Zeus and Poseidon were first recorded in the writing tablets and revered with due respect and (3) the initiating the sparks of the organized athletic events developed into the Olympic Games in posterity. It is this ingenuity imbued with the spirit of adventure and the policy of engagement in adopting cultural traditions of another people that exemplified themselves among other Pre-Classical peoples, which is something we in the modern time should adopt as well, so that our posterity can be benefited from what their ancestors learned and experienced, for it is also our legacy of history.
The History of Ancient Greece CLNS Media Network
The History of Ancient Greece Podcast is a deep-dive into one of the most influential and fundamental civilization in world history. Hosted by philhellene Ryan Stitt, THOAG spans over two millennia. From the Bronze Age to the Archaic Period, from Classical Greece to the Hellenistic kingdoms, and finally to the Roman conquest, this podcast will tell the history of a fundamental civilization by bringing to life the fascinating stories of all the ancient sources and scholarly interpretations of the archaeological evidence. And we won't just detail their military and political history, but their society, how the Greeks lived day-to-day, as well as their culture—their art, architecture, philosophy, literature, religion, science, and all the other incredible aspects of the Greek achievement , while situating the Greeks within a multicultural Mediterranean whose peoples influenced and were influenced by one another.
In this episode, we discuss the final two years of the Peloponnesian War (405-404 BC), including the comedic play "The Frogs" by Aristophanes Lysander's elevation to Persian satrap, his rebuilding of the Peloponnesian fleet, his tactical moves in the Hellespont, and his crushing victory over the Athenians at Aegospotami the besiegement and blockade of Athens and the Athenians' surrender and the terms of the peace treaty
Show Notes: http://www.thehistoryofancientgreece.com/2021/04/107-sparta-triumphant.html
106 Frustrations and Poor Decisions (Part II)
In this episode, we discuss the years 409-406 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including the Athenians’ achieving control in the Hellespont and Bosporus, Alcibiades’ triumphant return to Athens, the ascension of Lysander and his bromance with Cyrus, the Athenian defeat at Notium and the disgrace of Alcibiades, Kallikratidas victory over Konon at Mytilene, and the subsequent Battle of Arginusae with its disastrous consequences for the Athenians.
Show Notes: http://www.thehistoryofancientgreece.com/2020/10/106-frustrations-and-poor-decisions.html
***Special Guest Episode on Classics and White Supremacy w/Curtis Dozier***
In today's special guest episode, I am joined by Dr Curtis Dozier, Assistant Professor of Greek and Roman Studies at Vassar College. He is the producer and host of The Mirror of Antiquity, a podcast featuring classical scholars discussing the intersections of their research, the contemporary world, and their own lives. More importantly to our discussion, He is also the director of Pharos: Doing Justice to the Classics, a website devoted to documenting and responding to appropriations of ancient Greece and Rome by hate groups online. We discuss some of the reasons how, as well as why, White Supremacists have taken to coopting Classical imagery to support their twisted world views.
Show Notes: http://www.thehistoryofancientgreece.com/2020/10/special-guest-episode-on-classics-and.html
***Special Guest Episode on Race, Antiquity, and Its Legacy w/Denise McCoskey***