Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece

Overview


Ancient Greece is a civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

 belonging to a period of Greek history
History of Greece
The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern state of Greece, as well as that of the Greek people and the areas they ruled historically. The scope of Greek habitation and rule has varied much through the ages, and, as a result, the history of Greece is similarly...

 that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

 and the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 era. Included in Ancient Greece is the period of Classical Greece
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

, which flourished during the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Classical Greece began with the repelling of a Persian invasion by Athenian
Classical Athens
The city of Athens during the classical period of Ancient Greece was a notable polis of Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Hippias...

 leadership.
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Encyclopedia


Ancient Greece is a civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

 belonging to a period of Greek history
History of Greece
The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern state of Greece, as well as that of the Greek people and the areas they ruled historically. The scope of Greek habitation and rule has varied much through the ages, and, as a result, the history of Greece is similarly...

 that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

 and the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 era. Included in Ancient Greece is the period of Classical Greece
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

, which flourished during the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Classical Greece began with the repelling of a Persian invasion by Athenian
Classical Athens
The city of Athens during the classical period of Ancient Greece was a notable polis of Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Hippias...

 leadership. Because of conquests by Alexander the Great, Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

 flourished from Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

.

Classical Greek culture
Culture of Greece
The culture of Greece has evolved over thousands of years, beginning in Mycenaean Greece, continuing most notably into Classical Greece, through the influence of the Roman Empire and its Greek Eastern successor the Byzantine Empire...

 had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, which carried a version of it to many parts of the Mediterranean region and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, for which reason Classical Greece is generally considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of Western culture
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

, but had similar impact especially on Muslim culture
Islamic civilization
Islamic civilization may refer to:*Islamic Golden Age*Muslim world*Caliphate...

, as well as Buddhist culture
Greco-Buddhism
Greco-Buddhism, sometimes spelled Graeco-Buddhism, refers to the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism, which developed between the 4th century BCE and the 5th century CE in the area covered by the Indian sub-continent, and modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and north-western...

 and other civilizations and cultures; and at the same time was itself influenced throughout history, like in the Orientalizing period
Orientalizing Period
In the history of ancient Greece, the Orientalizing period is the cultural and art historical period informed by the art of Anatolia, Syria, Assyria, Phoenicia and Egypt, which started during the later part of the 7th century BCE. It encompasses a new, Orientalizing style, spurred by a period of...

 and Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

.

Chronology


There are no fixed or universally agreed upon dates for the beginning or the end of Classical Antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

.
It is typically taken to last from the 8th century BC until the 6th century AD, or for about 1,300 years.

Classical Antiquity in Greece is preceded by the Greek Dark Ages
Greek Dark Ages
The Greek Dark Age or Ages also known as Geometric or Homeric Age are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean Palatial civilization around 1200 BC, to the first signs of the Greek city-states in the 9th...

 (c. 1100 - c. 750 BC), archaeologically characterised by the protogeometric and geometric style of designs on pottery, succeeded by the Orientalizing Period
Orientalizing Period
In the history of ancient Greece, the Orientalizing period is the cultural and art historical period informed by the art of Anatolia, Syria, Assyria, Phoenicia and Egypt, which started during the later part of the 7th century BCE. It encompasses a new, Orientalizing style, spurred by a period of...

, a strong influence of Syro-Hittite
Syro-Hittite states
The states that are called Neo-Hittite, or more recently Syro-Hittite, were Luwian, Aramaic and Phoenician-speaking political entities of the Iron Age northern Syria and southern Anatolia that arose following the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BC and lasted until roughly 700 BC...

, Assyrian, Phoenician and Egyptian
Third Intermediate Period of Egypt
The Third Intermediate Period refers to the time in Ancient Egypt from the death of Pharaoh Ramesses XI in 1070 BC to the foundation of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty by Psamtik I in 664 BC, following the expulsion of the Nubian rulers of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty....

 cultures.

Traditionally, the Archaic period of ancient Greece is taken in the wake of this strong Orientalizing influence during the 8th century BC, which among other things brought the alphabetic script
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

 to Greece, marking the beginning of Greek literature (Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

, Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

). The Archaic period gives way to the Classical period
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

 around 500 BC, in turn succeeded by the Hellenistic period
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

 at the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC.

The history of Greece
History of Greece
The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern state of Greece, as well as that of the Greek people and the areas they ruled historically. The scope of Greek habitation and rule has varied much through the ages, and, as a result, the history of Greece is similarly...

 during Classical Antiquity may thus be subdivided into the following periods:
  • The Archaic period
    Archaic period in Greece
    The Archaic period in Greece was a period of ancient Greek history that followed the Greek Dark Ages. This period saw the rise of the polis and the founding of colonies, as well as the first inklings of classical philosophy, theatre in the form of tragedies performed during Dionysia, and written...

     (c. 750 - c. 500 BC) follows, in which artists made larger free-standing sculptures
    Ancient Greek sculpture
    Ancient Greek sculpture is the sculpture of Ancient Greece. Modern scholarship identifies three major stages. They were used to depict the battles, mythology, and rulers of the land known as Ancient Greece.-Geometric:...

     in stiff, hieratic poses with the dreamlike 'archaic smile
    Archaic smile
    The Archaic smile was used by Greek Archaic sculptors, especially in the second quarter of the sixth century BCE, possibly to suggest that their subject was alive, and infused with a sense of well-being. To viewers habituated to realism, the smile is flat and quite unnatural looking, although it...

    '. The Archaic period is often taken to end with the overthrow of the last tyrant of Athens
    Athens
    Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

     in 510 BC.
  • The Classical period (c. 500 - 323 BC) is characterised by a style which was considered by later observers to be exemplary (i.e. 'classical')—for instance the Parthenon
    Parthenon
    The Parthenon is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although...

    . Politically, the Classical Period was dominated by Athens
    Classical Athens
    The city of Athens during the classical period of Ancient Greece was a notable polis of Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Hippias...

     and the Delian League
    Delian League
    The Delian League, founded in circa 477 BC, was an association of Greek city-states, members numbering between 150 to 173, under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the end of the Greco–Persian Wars...

     during the 5th century, displaced by Spartan hegemony
    Spartan hegemony
    The city-state of Sparta was the greatest military land power of classical Greek antiquity. During the classical period, Sparta owned, dominated or influenced the entire Peloponnese. Additionally, the defeat of the Athenians and the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War in 431-404 BCE resulted in...

     during the early 4th century BC, before power shifted to Thebes
    Ancient Thebes (Boeotia)
    See Thebes, Greece for the modern city built on the ancient ruins.Ancient Thebes was a Boeotian city-state , situated to the north of the Cithaeron range, which divides Boeotia from Attica, and on the southern edge of the Boeotian plain...

     and the Boeotian League and finally to the League of Corinth
    League of Corinth
    The League of Corinth, also sometimes referred to as Hellenic League was a federation of Greek states created by Philip II of Macedon during the winter of 338 BC/337 BC after the Battle of Chaeronea, to facilitate his use of military forces in his war against Persia...

     led by Macedon
    Macedon
    Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

    .
  • The Hellenistic period (323-146 BC) is when Greek culture and power expanded into the near and middle east
    Middle East
    The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

    . This period begins with the death of Alexander and ends with the Roman conquest.
  • Roman Greece
    Roman Greece
    Roman Greece is the period of Greek history following the Roman victory over the Corinthians at the Battle of Corinth in 146 BC until the reestablishment of the city of Byzantium and the naming of the city by the Emperor Constantine as the capital of the Roman Empire...

    , the period between Roman victory over the Corinth
    Corinth
    Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

    ians at the Battle of Corinth in
    Battle of Corinth (146 BC)
    The Battle of Corinth was a battle fought between the Roman Republic and the Greek state of Corinth and its allies in the Achaean League in 146 BC, that resulted in the complete and total destruction of the state of Corinth which was previously so famous for its fabulous wealth...

     146 BC and the establishment of Byzantium
    Byzantium
    Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

     by Constantine
    Constantine I
    Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

     as the capital of the Roman Empire
    Roman Empire
    The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

     in 330 AD.
  • the final phase of Antiquity
    Late Antiquity
    Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

     is the period of Christianization during the later 4th to early 6th centuries, taken to be complete with the closure of the Neoplatonic Academy by Justinian I
    Justinian I
    Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

     in 529 AD.

Historiography



The historical period of ancient Greece is unique in world history as the first period attested directly in proper historiography
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

, while earlier ancient history or proto-history is known by much more circumstantial evidence, such as annals or king lists, and pragmatic epigraphy.

Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 is widely known as the "father of history", his Histories
Histories (Herodotus)
The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the seminal works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that...

being eponymous of the entire field
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

. Written between the 450s and 420s BC, the scope of Herodotus' work reaches about a century into the past, discussing 6th-century historical figures such as Darius I of Persia
Darius I of Persia
Darius I , also known as Darius the Great, was the third king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire...

, Cambyses II and Psamtik III, and alludes to some 8th-century ones such as Candaules
Candaules
Candaules , also known as Myrsilos was a king of the ancient Kingdom of Lydia from 735 BC to 718 BC. He succeeded Meles and was followed by Gyges...

.

Herodotus was succeeded by authors such as Thucydides
Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

, Xenophon
Xenophon
Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

, Demosthenes
Demosthenes
Demosthenes was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by...

, Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

. Most of these authors were either Athenians
Classical Athens
The city of Athens during the classical period of Ancient Greece was a notable polis of Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Hippias...

 or pro-Athenians, which is why far more is known about the history and politics of Athens than of many other cities.
Their scope is further limited by a focus on political, military and diplomatic history, ignoring economic and social history.

Archaic period




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 Mycenaean script
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 forgotten, but the Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

, modifying it to create the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

. From about the 9th century BC written records begin to appear. Greece was divided into many small self-governing communities, a pattern largely dictated by Greek geography, where every island, valley and plain is cut off from its neighbours by the sea or mountain ranges.

The Lelantine War
Lelantine War
The Lelantine War was a long-remembered military conflict between the two ancient Greek city states Chalkis and Eretria in Euboea which took place in the early Archaic period, at some time between ca 710 and 650 BC. The reason for war was, according to tradition, the struggle for the fertile...

 (c.710–c.650 BC) was an ongoing conflict with the distinction of being the earliest documented war of the ancient Greek period. It was fought between the important poleis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

 (city-state
City-state
A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity whose territory consists of a city which is not administered as a part of another local government.-Historical city-states:...

s) of Chalcis
Chalcis
Chalcis or Chalkida , the chief town of the island of Euboea in Greece, is situated on the strait of the Evripos at its narrowest point. The name is preserved from antiquity and is derived from the Greek χαλκός , though there is no trace of any mines in the area...

 and Eretria
Eretria
Erétria was a polis in Ancient Greece, located on the western coast of the island of Euboea, south of Chalcis, facing the coast of Attica across the narrow Euboean Gulf. Eretria was an important Greek polis in the 6th/5th century BC. However, it lost its importance already in antiquity...

 over the fertile Lelantine plain of Euboea
Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

. Both cities seem to have suffered a decline as result of the long war, though Chalcis was the nominal victor.

A mercantile class
Merchant
A merchant is a businessperson who trades in commodities that were produced by others, in order to earn a profit.Merchants can be one of two types:# A wholesale merchant operates in the chain between producer and retail merchant...

 rose in the first half of the 7th century, shown by the introduction of coinage
Ancient Greek coinage
The history of Ancient Greek coinage can be divided into three periods, the Archaic, the Classical, and the Hellenistic. The Archaic period extends from the introduction of coinage to the Greek world in about 600 BCE until the Persian Wars in about 480 BCE...

 in about 680 BC. This seems to have introduced tension to many city-states. The aristocratic
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 regimes which generally governed the poleis were threatened by the new-found wealth of merchants, who in turn desired political power. From 650 BC onwards, the aristocracies had to fight not to be overthrown and replaced by populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 tyrant
Tyrant
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.Plato and...

s. The word derives from the non-pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 Greek τύραννος tyrannos, meaning 'illegitimate ruler', although this was applicable to both good and bad leaders alike.

A growing population and shortage of land also seems to have created internal strife between the poor and the rich in many city-states. In Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

, the Messenian Wars
Messenian Wars
Messenian Wars is a term of special historical application. It means the wars between Messenia and Sparta in the 8th and 7th centuries BC as well as the 4th century BC.*First Messenian War*Second Messenian War* Third Messenian War...

 resulted in the conquest of Messenia
Messenia
Messenia is a regional unit in the southwestern part of the Peloponnese region, one of 13 regions into which Greece has been divided by the Kallikratis plan, implemented 1 January 2011...

 and enserfment of the Messenians, beginning in the latter half of the 8th century BC, an act without precedent or antecedent in ancient Greece. This practice allowed a social revolution to occur. The subjugated population, thenceforth known as helots
Helots
The helots: / Heílôtes) were an unfree population group that formed the main population of Laconia and the whole of Messenia . Their exact status was already disputed in antiquity: according to Critias, they were "especially slaves" whereas to Pollux, they occupied a status "between free men and...

, farmed and laboured for Sparta, whilst every Spartan male citizen became a soldier of the Spartan Army
Spartan Army
The Spartan army was the military force of Sparta, one of the leading city-states of ancient Greece. The army stood at the centre of the Spartan state, whose citizens' primary obligation was to be good soldiers. Subject to military drill from infancy, the Spartans were one of the most feared...

 in a permanently militarized state. Even the elite were obliged to live and train as soldiers; this equality between rich and poor served to defuse the social conflict. These reforms, attributed to the shadowy Lycurgus of Sparta, were probably complete by 650 BC.

Athens suffered a land and agrarian crisis in the late 7th century, again resulting in civil strife. The Archon
Archon of Athens
This is a list of the eponymous archons of Athens.-Background:The archon was the chief magistrate in many Greek cities, but in Athens there was a council of archons which comprised a form of executive government...

 (chief magistrate) Draco made severe reforms to the law code in 621 BC (hence "draconian"), but these failed to quell the conflict. Eventually the moderate reforms of Solon
Solon
Solon was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic and moral decline in archaic Athens...

 (594 BC), improving the lot of the poor but firmly entrenching the aristocracy in power, gave Athens some stability.

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.

Rapidly increasing population in the 8th and 7th centuries had resulted in emigration of many Greeks to form colonies
Colonies in antiquity
Colonies in antiquity were city-states founded from a mother-city—its "metropolis"—, not from a territory-at-large. Bonds between a colony and its metropolis remained often close, and took specific forms...

 in Magna Graecia
Magna Graecia
Magna Græcia is the name of the coastal areas of Southern Italy on the Tarentine Gulf that were extensively colonized by Greek settlers; particularly the Achaean colonies of Tarentum, Crotone, and Sybaris, but also, more loosely, the cities of Cumae and Neapolis to the north...

 (Southern Italy and Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

), Asia Minor
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and further afield. The emigration effectively ceased in the 6th century by which time the Greek world had, culturally and linguistically, become much larger than the area of present-day Greece. Greek colonies were not politically controlled by their founding cities, although they often retained religious and commercial links with them.

In this period, huge economic development occurred in Greece and also her overseas colonies which experienced a growth in commerce and manufacturing. There was a large improvement in the living standards of the population. Some studies estimate that the average size of the Greek household, in the period from 800 BC to 300 BC, increased five times, which indicates a large increase in the average income of the population.

In the second half of the 6th century, Athens fell under the tyranny of Peisistratos
Peisistratos (Athens)
Peisistratos was a tyrant of Athens from 546 to 527/8 BC. His legacy lies primarily in his institution of the Panathenaic Festival and the consequent first attempt at producing a definitive version for Homeric epics. Peisistratos' championing of the lower class of Athens, the Hyperakrioi, can be...

 and then his sons Hippias and Hipparchos. However, in 510 BC, at the instigation of the Athenian aristocrat Cleisthenes
Cleisthenes
Cleisthenes was a noble Athenian of the Alcmaeonid family. He is credited with reforming the constitution of ancient Athens and setting it on a democratic footing in 508/7 BC...

, the Spartan king Cleomenes I
Cleomenes I
Cleomenes or Kleomenes was an Agiad King of Sparta in the late 6th and early 5th centuries BC. During his reign, which started around 520 BC, he pursued an adventurous and at times unscrupulous foreign policy aimed at crushing Argos and extending Sparta's influence both inside and outside the...

 helped the Athenians overthrow the tyranny. Afterwards, Sparta and Athens promptly turned on each other, at which point Cleomenes I installed Isagoras
Isagoras
Isagoras , son of Tisander, was an Athenian aristocrat in the late 6th century BC.He had remained in Athens during the tyranny of Hippias, but after Hippias was overthrown, he became involved in a struggle for power with Cleisthenes, a fellow aristocrat. In 508 BC he was elected archon eponymous,...

 as a pro-Spartan archon. Eager to prevent Athens from becoming a Spartan puppet, Cleisthenes responded by proposing to his fellow citizens that Athens undergo a revolution: that all citizens share in political power, regardless of status: that Athens become a "democracy
Athenian democracy
Athenian democracy developed in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the central city-state of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, around 508 BC. Athens is one of the first known democracies. Other Greek cities set up democracies, and even though most followed an Athenian model,...

". So enthusiastically did the Athenians take to this idea that, having overthrown Isagoras and implemented Cleisthenes's reforms, they were easily able to repel a Spartan-led three-pronged invasion aimed at restoring Isagoras. The advent of the democracy cured many of the ills of Athens and led to a 'golden age' for the Athenians.

Classical Greece






5th century


Athens and Sparta would soon have to become allies in the face of the largest external threat ancient Greece would see until the Roman conquest. After suppressing the Ionian Revolt
Ionian Revolt
The Ionian Revolt, and associated revolts in Aeolis, Doris, Cyprus and Caria, were military rebellions by several regions of Asia Minor against Persian rule, lasting from 499 BC to 493 BC...

, a rebellion of the Greek cities of Ionia
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

, Darius I of Persia
Darius I of Persia
Darius I , also known as Darius the Great, was the third king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire...

, King of Kings
King of Kings
King of Kings is a title that has been used by several monarchies and empires throughout history. The title originates in the Ancient Near East. It is broadly the equivalent of the later title Emperor....

 of the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

, decided to subjugate Greece. His invasion in 490 BC was ended by the Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon
Battle of Marathon
The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC, during the first Persian invasion of Greece. It was fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes. It was the culmination of the first attempt by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate...

 under Miltiades the Younger
Miltiades the Younger
Miltiades the Younger or Miltiades IV was the son of one Cimon, a renowned Olympic chariot-racer. Miltiades considered himself a member of the Aeacidae, and is known mostly for his role in the Battle of Marathon; as well as his rather tragic downfall afterwards. His son Cimon was a major Athenian...

.

Xerxes I of Persia
Xerxes I of Persia
Xerxes I of Persia , Ḫšayāršā, ), also known as Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire.-Youth and rise to power:...

, son and successor of Darius I, attempted his own invasion 10 years later, but despite his larger army he suffered heavy casualties after the famous rearguard action at Thermopylae
Battle of Thermopylae
The Battle of Thermopylae was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It took place simultaneously with the naval battle at Artemisium, in August...

 and victories for the allied Greeks at the Battles of Salamis
Battle of Salamis
The Battle of Salamis was fought between an Alliance of Greek city-states and the Persian Empire in September 480 BCE, in the straits between the mainland and Salamis, an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens...

 and Plataea
Battle of Plataea
The Battle of Plataea was the final land battle during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It took place in 479 BC near the city of Plataea in Boeotia, and was fought between an alliance of the Greek city-states, including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and Megara, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes...

. The Greco-Persian Wars
Greco-Persian Wars
The Greco-Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and city-states of the Hellenic world that started in 499 BC and lasted until 449 BC. The collision between the fractious political world of the Greeks and the enormous empire of the Persians began when Cyrus...

 continued until 449 BC, led by the Athenians and their Delian League
Delian League
The Delian League, founded in circa 477 BC, was an association of Greek city-states, members numbering between 150 to 173, under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the end of the Greco–Persian Wars...

, during which time the Macedon
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

, Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

, the Aegean Islands
Aegean Islands
The Aegean Islands are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast...

 and Ionia were all liberated from Persian influence.

The dominant position of the maritime Athenian 'Empire' threatened Sparta and the Peloponnesian League
Peloponnesian League
The Peloponnesian League was an alliance in the Peloponnesus from the 6th to the 4th centuries BC.- Early history:By the end of the 6th century, Sparta had become the most powerful state in the Peloponnese, and was the political and military hegemon over Argos, the next most powerful state...

 of mainland Greek cities. Inevitably, this led to conflict, resulting in the Peloponnesian War
Peloponnesian War
The Peloponnesian War, 431 to 404 BC, was an ancient Greek war fought by Athens and its empire against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases...

 (431-404 BC). Though effectively a stalemate for much of the war, Athens suffered a number of setbacks. The Plague of Athens
Plague of Athens
The Plague of Athens was a devastating epidemic which hit the city-state of Athens in ancient Greece during the second year of the Peloponnesian War , when an Athenian victory still seemed within reach. It is believed to have entered Athens through Piraeus, the city's port and sole source of food...

 in 430 BC followed by a disastrous military campaign known as the Sicilian Expedition
Sicilian Expedition
The Sicilian Expedition was an Athenian expedition to Sicily from 415 BC to 413 BC, during the Peloponnesian War. The expedition was hampered from the outset by uncertainty in its purpose and command structure—political maneuvering in Athens swelled a lightweight force of twenty ships into a...

 severely weakened Athens. An estimated one-third of Athenians died, including Pericles
Pericles
Pericles was a prominent and influential statesman, orator, and general of Athens during the city's Golden Age—specifically, the time between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars...

, their leader.

Sparta was able to foment rebellion amongst Athens's allies, further reducing the Athenian ability to wage war. The decisive moment came in 405 BC when Sparta cut off the grain supply to Athens from the Hellespont. Forced to attack, the crippled Athenian fleet was decisively defeated by the Spartans under the command of Lysander
Lysander
Lysander was a Spartan general who commanded the Spartan fleet in the Hellespont which defeated the Athenians at Aegospotami in 405 BC...

 at Aegospotami
Battle of Aegospotami
The naval Battle of Aegospotami took place in 405 BC and was the last major battle of the Peloponnesian War. In the battle, a Spartan fleet under Lysander completely destroyed the Athenian navy...

. In 404 BC Athens sued for peace, and Sparta dictated a predictably stern settlement: Athens lost her city walls (including the Long Walls
Long Walls
The Long Walls , in Ancient Greece, were walls built from a city to its port, providing a secure connection to the sea even during times of siege. Although long walls were built at several locations in Greece—Corinth and Megara being two of the best known examples—the phrase "long...

), her fleet, and all of her overseas possessions.

4th century


Greece thus entered the 4th century under a Spartan hegemony
Spartan hegemony
The city-state of Sparta was the greatest military land power of classical Greek antiquity. During the classical period, Sparta owned, dominated or influenced the entire Peloponnese. Additionally, the defeat of the Athenians and the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War in 431-404 BCE resulted in...

, but it was clear from the start that this was weak. A demographic crisis meant Sparta was overstretched, and by 395 BC Athens, Argos, Thebes, and Corinth felt able to challenge Spartan dominance, resulting in the Corinthian War
Corinthian War
The Corinthian War was an ancient Greek conflict lasting from 395 BC until 387 BC, pitting Sparta against a coalition of four allied states; Thebes, Athens, Corinth, and Argos; which were initially backed by Persia. The immediate cause of the war was a local conflict in northwest Greece in which...

 (395-387 BC). Another war of stalemates, it ended with the status quo restored, after the threat of Persian intervention on behalf of the Spartans.

The Spartan hegemony lasted another 16 years, until, when attempting to impose their will on the Thebans, the Spartans suffered a decisive defeat at Leuctra
Battle of Leuctra
The Battle of Leuctra was a battle fought on July 6, 371 BC, between the Boeotians led by Thebans and the Spartans along with their allies amidst the post-Corinthian War conflict. The battle took place in the neighbourhood of Leuctra, a village in Boeotia in the territory of Thespiae...

 in 371 BC. The Theban general Epaminondas
Epaminondas
Epaminondas , or Epameinondas, was a Theban general and statesman of the 4th century BC who transformed the Ancient Greek city-state of Thebes, leading it out of Spartan subjugation into a preeminent position in Greek politics...

 then led Theban troops into the Peloponnese, whereupon other city-states defected from the Spartan cause. The Thebans were thus able to march into Messenia and free the population.

Deprived of land and its serfs, Sparta declined to a second-rank power. The Theban hegemony
Theban hegemony
The Theban Hegemony lasted from the Theban victory over the Spartans at Leuctra in 371 BC to their defeat of a coalition of Peloponnesian armies at Mantinea in 362 BC, though Thebes sought to maintain its position until finally eclipsed by the rising power of Macedon in 346 BC.Externally, the way...

 thus established was short-lived; at the battle of Mantinea
Battle of Mantinea (362 BC)
The Battle of Mantinea was fought on July 4 362 BC between the Thebans, led by Epaminondas and supported by the Arcadians and the Boeotian league against the Spartans, led by King Agesilaus II and supported by the Eleans, Athenians, and Mantineans...

 in 362 BC, Thebes lost her key leader, Epaminondas, and much of her manpower, even though they were victorious in battle. In fact such were the losses to all the great city-states at Mantinea that none could establish dominance in the aftermath.

The weakened state of the heartland of Greece coincided with the Rise of Macedon
Rise of Macedon
The rise of Macedon, from a small kingdom at the periphery of Classical Greek affairs, to one which came to dominate the entire Hellenic world , occurred in the space of just 25 years, between 359–336 BC...

, led by Philip II
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon "friend" + ἵππος "horse" — transliterated ; 382 – 336 BC), was a king of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was the father of Alexander the Great and Philip III.-Biography:...

. In twenty years, Philip had unified his kingdom, expanded it north and west at the expense of Illyrian tribes
Illyrians
The Illyrians were a group of tribes who inhabited part of the western Balkans in antiquity and the south-eastern coasts of the Italian peninsula...

, and then conquered Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

 and Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

. His success stemmed from his innovative reforms to the Macedon army. Phillip intervened repeatedly in the affairs of the southern city-states, culminating in his invasion of 338 BC.

Decisively defeating an allied army of Thebes and Athens at the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC)
Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC)
The Battle of Chaeronea was fought in 338 BC, near the city of Chaeronea in Boeotia, between the forces of Philip II of Macedon and an alliance of Greek city-states...

, he became de facto hegemon of all of Greece, except Sparta. He compelled the majority of the city-states to join the League of Corinth
League of Corinth
The League of Corinth, also sometimes referred to as Hellenic League was a federation of Greek states created by Philip II of Macedon during the winter of 338 BC/337 BC after the Battle of Chaeronea, to facilitate his use of military forces in his war against Persia...

, allying them to him, and preventing them from warring with each other. Philip then entered into war against the Achaemenid Empire but was assassinated by Pausanias of Orestis early on in the conflict.

Alexander, son and successor of Philip, continued the war. Alexander defeated Darius III of Persia
Darius III of Persia
Darius III , also known by his given name of Codomannus, was the last king of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia from 336 BC to 330 BC....

 and completely destroyed the Achaemenid Empire, annexing it to Macedon and earning himself the epithet 'the Great'. When Alexander died in 323 BC, Greek power and influence was at its zenith. However, there had been a fundamental shift away from the fierce independence and classical culture of the poleis—and instead towards the developing Hellenistic culture
Hellenistic Greece
In the context of Ancient Greek art, architecture, and culture, Hellenistic Greece corresponds to the period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the annexation of the classical Greek heartlands by Rome in 146 BC...

.

Hellenistic Greece




The Hellenistic period
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

 lasted from 323 BC, which marked the end of the Wars of Alexander the Great, to the annexation of Greece by the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 in 146 BC. Although the establishment of Roman rule did not break the continuity of Hellenistic society and culture, which remained essentially unchanged until the advent of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, it did mark the end of Greek political independence.

During the Hellenistic period, the importance of "Greece proper" (that is, the territory of modern Greece) within the Greek-speaking world declined sharply. The great centers of Hellenistic culture were Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 and Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

, capitals of Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt began when Ptolemy I Soter invaded Egypt and declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt in 305 BC and ended with the death of queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to...

 and Seleucid Syria
Seleucid dynasty
The Seleucid dynasty or the Seleucidae was a Greek Macedonian royal family, founded by Seleucus I Nicator , which ruled the Seleucid Kingdom centered in the Near East and regions of the Asian part of the earlier Achaemenid Persian Empire during the Hellenistic period.-History:Seleucus was an...

 respectively.

The conquests of Alexander had numerous consequences for the Greek city-states. It greatly widened the horizons of the Greeks and led to a steady emigration, particularly of the young and ambitious, to the new Greek empires in the east. Many Greeks migrated to Alexandria, Antioch and the many other new Hellenistic cities founded in Alexander's wake, as far away as what are now Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, where the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdiana in Central Asia from 250 to 125 BC...

 and the Indo-Greek Kingdom
Indo-Greek Kingdom
The Indo-Greek Kingdom or Graeco-Indian Kingdom covered various parts of the northwest regions of the Indian subcontinent during the last two centuries BC, and was ruled by more than 30 Hellenistic kings, often in conflict with each other...

 survived until the end of the 1st century BC.

After the death of Alexander his empire was, after quite some conflict, divided amongst his generals, resulting in the Ptolemaic Kingdom
Ptolemaic Kingdom
The Ptolemaic Kingdom in and around Egypt began following Alexander the Great's conquest in 332 BC and ended with the death of Cleopatra VII and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. It was founded when Ptolemy I Soter declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt, creating a powerful Hellenistic state stretching from...

 (based upon Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

), the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 (based on the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 and Persia) and the Antigonid dynasty
Antigonid dynasty
The Antigonid dynasty was a dynasty of Hellenistic kings descended from Alexander the Great's general Antigonus I Monophthalmus .-History:...

 based in Macedon. In the intervening period, the poleis of Greece were able to wrest back some of their freedom, although still nominally subject to the Macedonian Kingdom.

The city-states formed themselves into two leagues; the Achaean League
Achaean League
The Achaean League was a Hellenistic era confederation of Greek city states on the northern and central Peloponnese, which existed between 280 BC and 146 BC...

 (including Thebes, Corinth and Argos) and the Aetolian League
Aetolian League
The Aetolian League was a confederation of tribal communities and cities in ancient Greece centered on Aetolia in central Greece. It was established, probably during the early Hellenistic era, in opposition to Macedon and the Achaean League. Two annual meetings were held in Thermika and Panaetolika...

 (including Sparta and Athens). For much of the period until the Roman conquest, these leagues were usually at war with each other, and/or allied to different sides in the conflicts between the Diadochi (the successor states to Alexander's empire).
The Antigonid Kingdom became involved in a war with the Roman Republic in the late 3rd century. Although the First Macedonian War
First Macedonian War
The First Macedonian War was fought by Rome, allied with the Aetolian League and Attalus I of Pergamon, against Philip V of Macedon, contemporaneously with the Second Punic War against Carthage...

 was inconclusive, the Romans, in typical fashion, continued to make war on Macedon until it was completely absorbed into the Roman Republic (by 149 BC). In the east the unwieldy Seleucid Empire gradually disintegrated, although a rump survived until 64 BC, whilst the Ptolemaic Kingdom continued in Egypt until 30 BC, when it too was conquered by the Romans. The Aetolian league grew wary of Roman involvement in Greece, and sided with the Seleucids in the Roman-Syrian War
Roman-Syrian War
The Roman–Syrian War , also known as War of Antiochos or Syrian War, was a military conflict between two coalitions led by the Roman Republic and the Seleucid Empire under Antiochus the Great...

; when the Romans were victorious, the league was effectively absorbed into the Republic. Although the Achaean league outlasted both the Aetolian league and Macedon, it was also soon defeated and absorbed by the Romans in 146 BC, bringing an end to the independence of all of Greece.

Roman Greece


The Greek peninsula came under Roman
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 rule in 146 BC conquest of Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 after the Battle of Corinth
Battle of Corinth (146 BC)
The Battle of Corinth was a battle fought between the Roman Republic and the Greek state of Corinth and its allies in the Achaean League in 146 BC, that resulted in the complete and total destruction of the state of Corinth which was previously so famous for its fabulous wealth...

. Macedonia
Macedonia (Roman province)
The Roman province of Macedonia was officially established in 146 BC, after the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeated Andriscus of Macedon, the last Ancient King of Macedon in 148 BC, and after the four client republics established by Rome in the region were dissolved...

 became a Roman province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

 while southern Greece came under the surveillance of Macedonia's praefect; however, some Greek poleis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

 managed to maintain a partial independence and avoid taxation. The Aegean islands
Aegean Islands
The Aegean Islands are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast...

 were added to this territory in 133 BC. Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and other Greek cities revolted in 88 BC, and the peninsula was crushed by the Roman general Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix , known commonly as Sulla, was a Roman general and statesman. He had the rare distinction of holding the office of consul twice, as well as that of dictator...

. The Roman civil wars devastated the land even further, until Augustus organized the peninsula as the province of Achaea in 27 BC.

Greece was a key eastern province of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, as the Roman culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 had long been in fact Greco-Roman. The Greek language
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 served as a lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 in the East
East
East is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.East is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of west and is perpendicular to north and south.By convention, the right side of a map is east....

 and in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, and many Greek intellectuals such as Galen
Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

 would perform most of their work in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

.

Regions


The territory of Greece is mountainous, and as a result, ancient Greece consisted of many smaller regions each with its own dialect, cultural peculiarities, and identity. Regionalism and regional conflicts were a prominent feature of ancient Greece. Cities tended to be located in valleys between mountains, or on coastal plains, and dominated a certain area around them.

In the south lay the Peloponnese
Peloponnese
The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

, itself consisting of the regions of Laconia (southeast), Messenia (southwest), Elis (west), Achaia (north), Korinthia (northeast), Argolis (east), and Arcadia (center). These names survive to the present day as prefectures of modern Greece, though with somewhat different boundaries. Mainland Greece to the north, nowadays known as Central Greece
Central Greece
Continental Greece or Central Greece , colloquially known as Roúmeli , is a geographical region of Greece. Its territory is divided into the administrative regions of Central Greece, Attica, and part of West Greece...

, consisted of Aetolia
Aetolia
Aetolia is a mountainous region of Greece on the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth, forming the eastern part of the modern prefecture of Aetolia-Acarnania.-Geography:...

 and Acarnania
Acarnania
Acarnania is a region of west-central Greece that lies along the Ionian Sea, west of Aetolia, with the Achelous River for a boundary, and north of the gulf of Calydon, which is the entrance to the Gulf of Corinth. Today it forms the western part of the prefecture of Aetolia-Acarnania. The capital...

 in the west, Locris
Locris
Locris was a region of ancient Greece, the homeland of the Locrians, made up of three distinct districts.-Locrian tribe:...

, Doris
Doris (Greece)
Doris , is a small mountainous district in ancient Greece, bounded by Aetolia, southern Thessaly, the Ozolian Locrians, and Phocis; the original homeland of the Dorian Greeks...

, and Phocis
Phocis (ancient region)
Phocis was an ancient region in the central part of Ancient Greece, which included Delphi. A modern prefecture, also called Phocis is named after the ancient region, although the modern region is substantially larger than the ancient one.-Geography:...

 in the center, while in the east lay Boeotia, Attica
Attica
Attica is a historical region of Greece, containing Athens, the current capital of Greece. The historical region is centered on the Attic peninsula, which projects into the Aegean Sea...

, and Megaris
Megaris
This is also the ancient Greek name of a small island off Naples, site of the Castel dell'Ovo.Megaris or the Megarid was a small but populous state of ancient Greece, west of Attica and north of Corinthia, whose inhabitants were adventurous seafarers, credited with deceitful propensities...

. Northeast lay Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

, while Epirus
Epirus
The name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...

 lay to the northwest. Epirus stretched from the Ambracian Gulf
Ambracian Gulf
The Ambracian Gulf, also known as the Gulf of Arta or the Gulf of Actium, and in some official documents as the Amvrakikos Gulf , is a gulf of the Ionian Sea in northwestern Greece. About long and wide, it is one of the largest enclosed gulfs in Greece...

 in the south to the Ceraunian mountains
Ceraunian Mountains
The Ceraunian Mountains is a coastal mountain range in southwestern Albania. The name is derived from Ancient Greek Κεραύνια ὄρη, meaning "thunder-split peaks"....

 and the Aoos river in the north, and consisted of Chaonia
Chaonia
Chaonia or Chaon was the name of the northwestern part of Epirus, the homeland of the Greek tribe of the Chaonians. Its main town was called Phoenice. According to Virgil, Chaon was the eponymous ancestor of the Chaonians....

 (north), Molossia (center), and Thesprotia (south). In the northeast corner was Macedonia, originally consisting Lower Macedonia
Lower Macedonia
Lower Macedonia or Macedonia proper or Emathia is a geographical term to the coastal plain, watered by the rivers Haliacmon, Axius on the west and bounded by Strymon on the east. Its districts are: Pieria, Bottiaea, Amphaxitis, Crestonia, Mygdonia, Anthemous, Crousis and Bisaltia...

 and its regions, such as Elimeia
Elimeia
Elimeia is a former municipality in Kozani peripheral unit, West Macedonia, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Kozani, of which it is a municipal unit. The population is 6,429 . The seat of the municipality was in Krokos...

, Pieria
Pieria
Pieria is one of the regional units of Greece. It is located in the southern part of Macedonia, in the Region of Central Macedonia. Its capital is the town of Katerini. Pieria is the smallest regional unit within Macedonia. The name Pieria originates from the ancient tribe and the ancient country...

, and Orestis. Around the time of Alexander I of Macedon
Alexander I of Macedon
- Biography :Alexander was the son of Amyntas I and Queen Eurydice.According to Herodotus, he was unfriendly to Persia, and had the envoys of Darius I killed when they arrived at the court of his father during the Ionian Revolt...

, the Argead kings of Macedon
Argead dynasty
The Argead dynasty was an ancient Greek royal house. They were the ruling dynasty of Macedonia from about 700 to 310 BC. Their tradition, as described in ancient Greek historiography, traced their origins to Argos, in southern Greece...

 started to expand into Upper Macedonia
Upper Macedonia
Upper Macedonia is a geographical and tribal term to describe the regions that became part of the kingdom of Macedon in the early 4th century BC. From that date, its inhabitants were politically equal to Lower Macedonians...

, lands inhabited by independent Macedonian tribes like the Lyncestae and the Elmiotae and to the West, beyond the Axius river, into Eordaia
Eordaia
Eordaia is a municipality in the Kozani peripheral unit, Greece. The seat of the municipality is the town Ptolemaida.-Municipality:The municipality Eordaia was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 5 former municipalities, that became municipal units:*Agia...

, Bottiaea
Bottiaea
Bottiaea was a geographical region of ancient Macedonia and an administrative district of the Macedonian Kingdom. It was previously inhabited by the Bottiaeans, a people of uncertain origin, later expelled by the Macedonians into Bottike...

, Mygdonia, and Almopia
Almopia
Almopia is a municipality and a former province of the Pella regional unit in Macedonia, Greece. The seat of the municipality is the town Aridaia. One of the regions of ancient Macedon, north-west of Bottiaea, it corresponds roughly to the Moglena region of medieval and modern times. Ancient...

, regions settled by Thracian tribes. To the north of Macedonia lay various non-Greek peoples such as the Paeonians due north, the Thracians
Thracians
The ancient Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting areas including Thrace in Southeastern Europe. They spoke the Thracian language – a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family...

 to the northeast, and the Illyrians
Illyrians
The Illyrians were a group of tribes who inhabited part of the western Balkans in antiquity and the south-eastern coasts of the Italian peninsula...

, with whom the Macedonians were frequently in conflict, to the northwest. Chalcidice
Chalcidice
Chalkidiki, also Halkidiki, Chalcidice or Chalkidike , is a peninsula in northern Greece, and one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Macedonia. The autonomous Mount Athos region is part of the peninsula, but not of the regional unit...

 was settled early on by southern Greek colonists and was considered part of the Greek world, while from the late 2nd millennium BC substantial Greek settlement also occurred on the eastern shores of the Aegean
Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

, in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

.

Colonies



During the Archaic period, the population of Greece grew beyond the capacity of its limited arable land
Arable land
In geography and agriculture, arable land is land that can be used for growing crops. It includes all land under temporary crops , temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow...

 (according to one estimate, the population of ancient Greece increased by a factor larger than ten during the period from 800 BC to 400 BC, increasing from a population of 800,000 to a total estimated population of 10 to 13 million).

From about 750 BC the Greeks began 250 years of expansion, settling colonies in all directions. To the east, the Aegean
Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

 coast of Asia Minor
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 was colonized first, followed by Cyprus
Ancient history of Cyprus
The ancient history of Cyprus, also known as Classical Antiquity, dates from the 8th century BC to the Middle Ages. The earliest written records relating to Cyprus date to the Middle Bronze Age , see Alasiya.-Assyrian Period:...

 and the coasts of Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

, the Sea of Marmara
Sea of Marmara
The Sea of Marmara , also known as the Sea of Marmora or the Marmara Sea, and in the context of classical antiquity as the Propontis , is the inland sea that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, thus separating Turkey's Asian and European parts. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Black...

 and south coast of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

.

Eventually Greek colonization reached as far northeast as present day Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 and Russia (Taganrog
Taganrog
Taganrog is a seaport city in Rostov Oblast, Russia, located on the north shore of Taganrog Bay , several kilometers west of the mouth of the Don River. Population: -History of Taganrog:...

). To the west the coasts of Illyria
Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

, Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 and Southern Italy were settled, followed by Southern France
Southern France
Southern France , colloquially known as le Midi is defined geographical area consisting of the regions of France that border the Atlantic Ocean south of the Gironde, Spain, the Mediterranean, and Italy...

, Corsica
Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

, and even northeastern Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. Greek colonies were also founded in Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 and Libya
Ancient Libya
The Latin name Libya referred to the region west of the Nile Valley, generally corresponding to modern Northwest Africa. Climate changes affected the locations of the settlements....

.

Modern Syracuse
Syracuse, Italy
Syracuse is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in...

, Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

 and Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 had their beginnings as the Greek colonies Syracusae (Συρακούσαι), Neapolis (Νεάπολις), Massalia (Μασσαλία) and Byzantion
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

 (Βυζάντιον). These colonies played an important role in the spread of Greek influence throughout Europe, and also aided in the establishment of long-distance trading networks between the Greek city-states, boosting the economy of ancient Greece
Economy of Ancient Greece
The economy of ancient Greece was characterized by the extreme importance of importing goods, all the more so because of the relative poverty of Greece's soil...

.

Politics and society



Political structure


Ancient Greece consisted of several hundred more or less independent city-state
City-state
A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity whose territory consists of a city which is not administered as a part of another local government.-Historical city-states:...

s (poleis). This was a situation unlike that in most other contemporary societies, which were either tribal
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

, or kingdoms ruling over relatively large territories. Undoubtedly the geography of Greece
Geography of Greece
Greece is a country located in Southern Europe, on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. Greece is surrounded on the north by Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia and Albania; to the west by the Ionian Sea; to the south by the Mediterranean Sea and to the east by the Aegean Sea and Turkey...

—divided and sub-divided by hills, mountains and rivers—contributed to the fragmentary nature of ancient Greece. On the one hand, the ancient Greeks had no doubt that they were 'one people'; they had the same religion, same basic culture, and same language. Furthermore, the Greeks were very aware of their tribal origins; Herodotus was able to extensively categorise the city-states by tribe. Yet, although these higher-level relationships existed, they seem to have rarely had a major role in Greek politics. The independence of the poleis was fiercely defended; unification was something rarely contemplated by the ancient Greeks. Even when, during the second Persian invasion of Greece, a group of city-states allied themselves to defend Greece, the vast majority of poleis remained neutral, and after the Persian defeat, the allies quickly returned to infighting.

Thus, the major peculiarities of the ancient Greek political system were; firstly, its fragmentary nature, and that this does not particularly seem to have tribal origin; and secondly the particular focus on urban centres within otherwise tiny states. The peculiarities of the Greek system are further evidenced by the colonies that they set up throughout the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, which, though they might count a certain Greek polis as their 'mother' (and remain sympathetic to her), were completely independent of the founding city.

Inevitably smaller poleis might be dominated by larger neighbours, but conquest or direct rule by another city-state appears to have been quite rare. Instead the poleis grouped themselves into leagues, membership of which was in a constant state of flux. Later in the Classical period, the leagues would become fewer and larger, be dominated by one city (particularly Athens, Sparta and Thebes); and often poleis would be compelled to join under threat of war (or as part of a peace treaty). Even after Philip II of Macedon 'conquered' the heartlands of ancient Greece, he did not attempt to annex the territory, or unify it into a new province, but simply compelled most of the poleis to join his own Corinthian League.

Government and law


Initially many Greek city-states seem to have been petty kingdoms; there was often a city official carrying some residual, ceremonial functions of the king (basileus
Basileus
Basileus is a Greek term and title that has signified various types of monarchs in history. It is perhaps best known in English as a title used by the Byzantine Emperors, but also has a longer history of use for persons of authority and sovereigns in ancient Greece, as well as for the kings of...

), e.g. the archon basileus
Archon basileus
Archon Basileus was a Greek title, meaning 'king magistrate': the term is derived the words archon "magistrate" and basileus "king" or "sovereign"....

in Athens. However, by the Archaic period and the first historical consciousness, most had already become aristocratic oligarchies
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

. It is unclear exactly how this change occurred. For instance, in Athens, the kingship had been reduced to a hereditary, life-long chief magistracy (archon
Archon of Athens
This is a list of the eponymous archons of Athens.-Background:The archon was the chief magistrate in many Greek cities, but in Athens there was a council of archons which comprised a form of executive government...

) by c. 1050 BC; by 753 BC this had become a decennial, elected archonship; and finally by 683 BC an annually elected archonship. Through each stage more power would have been transferred to the aristocracy as a whole, and away from a single individual.

Inevitably, the domination of politics and concomitant aggregation of wealth by small groups of families was apt to cause social unrest in many poleis. In many cities a tyrant
Tyrant
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.Plato and...

 (not in the modern sense of repressive autocracies), would at some point seize control and govern according to their own will; often a populist agenda would help sustain them in power. In a system racked with class conflict
Class conflict
Class conflict is the tension or antagonism which exists in society due to competing socioeconomic interests between people of different classes....

, government by a 'strongman' was often the best solution.

Athens fell under a tyranny in the second half of the 6th century. When this tyranny was ended, the Athenians founded the world's first democracy as a radical solution to prevent the aristocracy regaining power. A citizens' assembly
Popular assembly
A popular or people's assembly is a gathering called to address issues of importance to participants. Assemblies tend to be freely open to participation and operate by direct democracy...

 (the Ecclesia
Ecclesia (ancient Athens)
The ecclesia or ekklesia was the principal assembly of the democracy of ancient Athens during its "Golden Age" . It was the popular assembly, opened to all male citizens over the age of 30 with 2 years of military service by Solon in 594 BC meaning that all classes of citizens in Athens were able...

), for the discussion of city policy, had existed since the reforms of Draco in 621 BC; all citizens were permitted to attend after the reforms of Solon
Solon
Solon was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic and moral decline in archaic Athens...

 (early 6th century), but the poorest citizens could not address the assembly or run for office. With the establishment of the democracy, the assembly became the de jure mechanism of government; all citizens had equal privileges in the assembly. However, non-citizens, such as metic
Metic
In ancient Greece, the term metic referred to a resident alien, one who did not have citizen rights in his or her Greek city-state of residence....

s (foreigners living in Athens) or slaves
Slavery in Ancient Greece
Slavery was common practice and an integral component of ancient Greece throughout its rich history, as it was in other societies of the time including ancient Israel and early Christian societies. It is estimated that in Athens, the majority of citizens owned at least one slave...

, had no political rights at all.

After the rise of the democracy in Athens, other city-states founded democracies. However, many retained more traditional forms of government. As so often in other matters, Sparta was a notable exception to the rest of Greece, ruled through the whole period by not one, but two hereditary monarchs. This was a form of diarchy
Diarchy
Diarchy , from the Greek δι- "twice" and αρχια, "rule", is a form of government in which two individuals, the diarchs, are the heads of state. In most diarchies, the diarchs hold their position for life and pass the responsibilities and power of the position to their children or family when they...

. The Kings of Sparta
Kings of Sparta
Sparta was an important Greek city-state in the Peloponnesus. It was unusual among Greek city-states in that it maintained its kingship past the Archaic age. It was even more unusual in that it had two kings simultaneously, coming from two separate lines...

 belonged to the Agiads and the Eurypontids, descendants respectively of Eurysthenes
Eurysthenes
In Greek legend, Eurysthenes was one of the Heracleidae, a great-great-great-grandson of Heracles, and a son of Aristodemus and Argia. His twin was Procles. Together they received the land of Lacedaemon after Cresphontes, Temenus and Aristodemus defeated Tisamenus, the last Achaean king of the...

 and Procles
Procles
In Greek legend, Procles was one of the Heracleidae, a great-great-great-grandson of Heracles, and a son of Aristodemus and Argia. His twin was Eurysthenes. Together they received the land of Lacedaemon after Cresphontes, Temenus and Aristodemus defeated Tisamenus, the last Achaean king of the...

. Both dynasty founders were believed to be twin sons of Aristodemus
Aristodemus
In Greek mythology, Aristodemus was an Heracleidae, son of Aristomachus and brother of Cresphontes and Temenus. He was a great-great-grandson of Heracles and helped lead the fifth and final attack on Mycenae in the Peloponnesus....

, a Heraclid
Heracleidae
In Greek mythology, the Heracleidae or Heraclids were the numerous descendants of Heracles , especially applied in a narrower sense to the descendants of Hyllus, the eldest of his four sons by Deianira Other Heracleidae included Macaria, Lamos, Manto, Bianor, Tlepolemus, and Telephus...

 ruler. However, the powers of these kings was trammeled by both a council of elders (the Gerousia
Gerousia
The Gerousia was the Spartan senate . It was made up of 60 year old Spartan males. It was created by the Spartan lawgiver Lycurgus in the seventh century BC, in his Great Rhetra...

) and magistrates specifically appointed to watch over the kings (the Ephor
Ephor
An ephor was the leader of ancient Sparta and shared power with the Spartan king...

s
).

Social structure


Only free, land owning, native-born men could be citizens entitled to the full protection of the law in a city-state (later Pericles
Pericles
Pericles was a prominent and influential statesman, orator, and general of Athens during the city's Golden Age—specifically, the time between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars...

 introduced exceptions to the native-born restriction). In most city-states, unlike the situation in Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, social prominence did not allow special rights. Sometimes families controlled public religious functions, but this ordinarily did not give any extra power in the government. In Athens, the population was divided into four social classes based on wealth. People could change classes if they made more money. In Sparta, all male citizens were given the title of equal if they finished their education. However, Spartan kings, who served as the city-state's dual military and religious leaders, came from two families.

Slavery
Slaves had no power or status. They had the right to have a family and own property, subject to their master's goodwill and permission, but they had no political rights. By 600 BC chattel slavery had spread in Greece. By the 5th century BC slaves made up one-third of the total population in some city-states. Two-fifths (some authorities say four-fifths) of the population of Classical Athens
Classical Athens
The city of Athens during the classical period of Ancient Greece was a notable polis of Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Hippias...

 were slaves. Slaves outside of Sparta almost never revolted because they were made up of too many nationalities and were too scattered to organize.

Most families owned slaves as household servants and labourers, and even poor families might have owned a few slaves. Owners were not allowed to beat or kill their slaves. Owners often promised to free slaves in the future to encourage slaves to work hard. Unlike in Rome, freedmen
Freedman
A freedman is a former slave who has been released from slavery, usually by legal means. Historically, slaves became freedmen either by manumission or emancipation ....

 did not become citizens. Instead, they were mixed into the population of metic
Metic
In ancient Greece, the term metic referred to a resident alien, one who did not have citizen rights in his or her Greek city-state of residence....

s
, which included people from foreign countries or other city-states who were officially allowed to live in the state.

City-states legally owned slaves. These public slaves had a larger measure of independence than slaves owned by families, living on their own and performing specialized tasks. In Athens, public slaves were trained to look out for counterfeit coinage
Coin counterfeiting
Coin counterfeiting of valuable antique coins is common; modern high-value coins are also counterfeited and circulated.Counterfeit antique coins are generally made to a very high standard so that they can deceive experts; this is not easy and many coins still stand out.-Circulating...

, while temple slaves acted as servants of the temple's deity and Scythian slaves were employed in Athens as a police force corralling citizens to political functions.

Sparta had a special type of slaves called helots
Helots
The helots: / Heílôtes) were an unfree population group that formed the main population of Laconia and the whole of Messenia . Their exact status was already disputed in antiquity: according to Critias, they were "especially slaves" whereas to Pollux, they occupied a status "between free men and...

. Helots were Messenia
Messenia
Messenia is a regional unit in the southwestern part of the Peloponnese region, one of 13 regions into which Greece has been divided by the Kallikratis plan, implemented 1 January 2011...

ns enslaved during the Messenian Wars
Messenian Wars
Messenian Wars is a term of special historical application. It means the wars between Messenia and Sparta in the 8th and 7th centuries BC as well as the 4th century BC.*First Messenian War*Second Messenian War* Third Messenian War...

 by the state and assigned to families where they were forced to stay. Helots raised food and did household chores so that women could concentrate on raising strong children while men could devote their time to training as hoplite
Hoplite
A hoplite was a citizen-soldier of the Ancient Greek city-states. Hoplites were primarily armed as spearmen and fought in a phalanx formation. The word "hoplite" derives from "hoplon" , the type of the shield used by the soldiers, although, as a word, "hopla" could also denote weapons held or even...

s. Their masters treated them harshly (every Spartiate
Spartiate
The Spartiates or Homoioi were the males of Sparta known to the Spartans as "peers" or "men of equal status". From a young age, male Spartiates were trained for battle and put through grueling challenges intended to craft them into fearless warriors...

 male had to kill a helot as a right of passage), and helots often resorted to slave rebellion
Slave rebellion
A slave rebellion is an armed uprising by slaves. Slave rebellions have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery, and are amongst the most feared events for slaveholders...

s.

Education


For most of Greek history, education was private, except in Sparta. During the Hellenistic period, some city-states established public schools. Only wealthy families could afford a teacher. Boys learned how to read, write and quote literature. They also learned to sing and play one musical instrument and were trained as athletes for military service. They studied not for a job but to become an effective citizen. Girls also learned to read, write and do simple arithmetic so they could manage the household. They almost never received education after childhood.

Boys went to school at the age of seven, or went to the barracks, if they lived in Sparta. The three types of teachings were: grammatistes for arithmetic, kitharistes for music and dancing, and Paedotribae for sports.

Boys from wealthy families attending the private school lessons were taken care of by a paidagogos, a household slave selected for this task who accompanied the boy during the day. Classes were held in teachers' private houses and included reading, writing, mathematics, singing, and playing the lyre and flute. When the boy became 12 years old the schooling started to include sports such as wrestling, running, and throwing discus and javelin. In Athens some older youths attended academy for the finer disciplines such as culture, sciences, music, and the arts. The schooling ended at age 18, followed by military training in the army usually for one or two years.

A small number of boys continued their education after childhood, as in the Spartan agoge
Agoge
The agōgē was the rigorous education and training regimen mandated for all male Spartan citizens, except for the firstborn son in the ruling houses, Eurypontid and Agiad. The training involved learning stealth, cultivating loyalty to one's group, military training The agōgē (Greek: ἀγωγή in Attic...

. A crucial part of a wealthy teenager's education was a mentorship with an elder, which in a few places and times may have included pederastic
Pederasty in ancient Greece
Pederasty in ancient Greece was a socially acknowledged relationship between an adult and a younger male usually in his teens. It was characteristic of the Archaic and Classical periods...

 love. The teenager learned by watching his mentor talking about politics in the agora
Agora
The Agora was an open "place of assembly" in ancient Greek city-states. Early in Greek history , free-born male land-owners who were citizens would gather in the Agora for military duty or to hear statements of the ruling king or council. Later, the Agora also served as a marketplace where...

, helping him perform his public duties, exercising with him in the gymnasium and attending symposia
Symposium
In ancient Greece, the symposium was a drinking party. Literary works that describe or take place at a symposium include two Socratic dialogues, Plato's Symposium and Xenophon's Symposium, as well as a number of Greek poems such as the elegies of Theognis of Megara...

 with him. The richest students continued their education by studying with famous teachers. Some of Athens' greatest such schools included the Lyceum
Lyceum
The lyceum is a category of educational institution defined within the education system of many countries, mainly in Europe. The definition varies between countries; usually it is a type of secondary school.-History:...

 (the so-called Peripatetic school founded by Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 of Stageira
Stageira
Stageira was an ancient Greek city on the Chalkidiki peninsula and is chiefly known for being the birthplace of Aristotle. The city lies approximately 8 kilometres north northeast of the present-day village of Stagira, close to the town of Olympiada....

) and the Platonic Academy
Platonic Academy
The Academy was founded by Plato in ca. 387 BC in Athens. Aristotle studied there for twenty years before founding his own school, the Lyceum. The Academy persisted throughout the Hellenistic period as a skeptical school, until coming to an end after the death of Philo of Larissa in 83 BC...

 (founded by Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 of Athens). The education system of the wealthy ancient Greeks is also called Paideia
Paideia
In ancient Greek, the word n. paedeia or paideia [ to educate + - -IA suffix1] means child-rearing, education. It was a system of instruction in Classical Athens in which students were given a well-rounded cultural education. Subjects included rhetoric, grammar, mathematics, music, philosophy,...

.

Economy


At its economic height, in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, ancient Greece was the most advanced economy in the world. According to some economic historians, it was one of the most advanced preindustrial economies. This is demonstrated by the average daily wage of the Greek worker which was, in terms of wheat, about 12 kg. This was more than 3 times the average daily wage of an Egyptian worker during the Roman period, about 3.75 kg.

Warfare


At least in the Archaic Period, the fragmentary nature of ancient Greece, with many competing city-states, increased the frequency of conflict, but conversely limited the scale of warfare. Unable to maintain professional armies, the city-states relied on their own citizens to fight. This inevitably reduced the potential duration of campaigns, as citizens would need to return to their own professions (especially in the case of, for example, farmers). Campaigns would therefore often be restricted to summer. When battles occurred, they were usually set piece and intended to be decisive. Casualties were slight compared to later battles, rarely amounting to more than 5% of the losing side, but the slain often included the most prominent citizens and generals who led from the front.

The scale and scope of warfare in ancient Greece changed dramatically as a result of the Greco-Persian Wars
Greco-Persian Wars
The Greco-Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and city-states of the Hellenic world that started in 499 BC and lasted until 449 BC. The collision between the fractious political world of the Greeks and the enormous empire of the Persians began when Cyrus...

. To fight the enormous armies of the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 was effectively beyond the capabilities of a single city-state. The eventual triumph of the Greeks was achieved by alliances of city-states (the exact composition changing over time), allowing the pooling of resources and division of labour. Although alliances between city-states occurred before this time, nothing on this scale had been seen before. The rise of Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

 as pre-eminent powers during this conflict led directly to the Peloponnesian War
Peloponnesian War
The Peloponnesian War, 431 to 404 BC, was an ancient Greek war fought by Athens and its empire against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases...

, which saw further development of the nature of warfare, strategy and tactics. Fought between leagues of cities dominated by Athens and Sparta, the increased manpower and financial resources increased the scale, and allowed the diversification of warfare. Set-piece battles during the Peloponnesian war proved indecisive and instead there was increased reliance on attritionary strategies, naval battle and blockades and sieges. These changes greatly increased the number of casualties and the disruption of Greek society.
Athens owned one of the largest war fleets in ancient Greece.It had over 200 warships called "triremes"each powered by 170 oars men who were seated in 3 rows on each side of the ship.The city could afford such a large fleet-it had over 34,000 oars men-because it owned a lot of silver mines that were worked by the slaves.

Philosophy


Ancient Greek philosophy focused on the role of reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

 and inquiry
Inquiry
An inquiry is any process that has the aim of augmenting knowledge, resolving doubt, or solving a problem. A theory of inquiry is an account of the various types of inquiry and a treatment of the ways that each type of inquiry achieves its aim.-Deduction:...

. In many ways, it had an important influence on modern philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, as well as modern science. Clear unbroken lines of influence lead from ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophers
Hellenistic philosophy
Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy that was developed in the Hellenistic civilization following Aristotle and ending with the beginning of Neoplatonism.-Pythagoreanism:...

, to medieval Muslim philosophers
Early Islamic philosophy
Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH...

 and Islamic scientists
Islamic science
Science in the medieval Islamic world, also known as Islamic science or Arabic science, is the science developed and practised in the Islamic world during the Islamic Golden Age . During this time, Indian, Iranian and especially Greek knowledge was translated into Arabic...

, to the European Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

, to the secular sciences of the modern day.

Neither reason nor inquiry began with the Greeks. Defining the difference between the Greek quest for knowledge and the quests of the elder civilizations, such as the ancient Egyptians and Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

ns, has long been a topic of study by theorists of civilization.

Some well know philosophers of Ancient Greece were Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

, and many others. They have aided in information about ancient Greek society through writings such as The Republic , by Plato.

Literature and theatre


Ancient Greek society placed considerable emphasis upon literature. Many authors consider the western
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 literary tradition to have begun with the epic
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 poems The Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

and The Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

, which remain giants in the literary canon
Western canon
The term Western canon denotes a canon of books and, more broadly, music and art that have been the most important and influential in shaping Western culture. As such, it includes the "greatest works of artistic merit." Such a canon is important to the theory of educational perennialism and the...

 for their skillful and vivid depictions of war and peace, honor and disgrace, love and hatred. Notable among later Greek poets was Sappho
Sappho
Sappho was an Ancient Greek poet, born on the island of Lesbos. Later Greeks included her in the list of nine lyric poets. Her birth was sometime between 630 and 612 BC, and it is said that she died around 570 BC, but little is known for certain about her life...

, who defined, in many ways, lyric poetry
Lyric poetry
Lyric poetry is a genre of poetry that expresses personal and emotional feelings. In the ancient world, lyric poems were those which were sung to the lyre. Lyric poems do not have to rhyme, and today do not need to be set to music or a beat...

 as a genre.

A playwright named Aeschylus
Aeschylus
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos , meaning "shame"...

 changed Western literature
Western literature
Western literature refers to the literature written in the languages of Europe, including the ones belonging to the Indo-European language family as well as several geographically or historically related languages such as Basque, Hungarian, and so forth...

 forever when he introduced the ideas of dialogue
Dialogue
Dialogue is a literary and theatrical form consisting of a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more people....

 and interacting characters to playwriting. In doing so, he essentially invented "drama": his Oresteia trilogy of plays is seen as his crowning achievement. Other refiners of playwriting were Sophocles
Sophocles
Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

 and Euripides
Euripides
Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most...

. Sophocles is credited with skillfully developing irony
Irony
Irony is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions...

 as a literary technique, most famously in his play Oedipus the King
Oedipus the King
Oedipus the King , also known by the Latin title Oedipus Rex, is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed c. 429 BCE. It was the second of Sophocles's three Theban plays to be produced, but it comes first in the internal chronology, followed by Oedipus at Colonus and then Antigone...

. Euripedes, conversely, used plays to challenge societal norms and mores—a hallmark of much of Western literature for the next 2,300 years and beyond—and his works such as Medea
Medea (play)
Medea is an ancient Greek tragedy written by Euripides, based upon the myth of Jason and Medea and first produced in 431 BC. The plot centers on the barbarian protagonist as she finds her position in the Greek world threatened, and the revenge she takes against her husband Jason who has betrayed...

, The Bacchae
The Bacchae
The Bacchae is an ancient Greek tragedy by the Athenian playwright Euripides, during his final years in Macedon, at the court of Archelaus I of Macedon. It premiered posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in 405 BC as part of a tetralogy that also included Iphigeneia at Aulis, and which...

and The Trojan Women
The Trojan Women
The Trojan Women is a tragedy by the Greek playwright Euripides. Produced during the Peloponnesian War, it is often considered a commentary on the capture of the Aegean island of Melos and the subsequent slaughter and subjugation of its populace by the Athenians earlier in 415 BC , the same year...

are still notable for their ability to challenge our perceptions of propriety, gender, and war. Aristophanes
Aristophanes
Aristophanes , son of Philippus, of the deme Cydathenaus, was a comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his forty plays survive virtually complete...

, a comic playwright, defines and shapes the idea of comedy
Comedy
Comedy , as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in...

 almost as Aeschylus had shaped tragedy
Tragedy
Tragedy is a form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure. While most cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, tragedy refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of...

 as an art form—Aristophanes' most famous plays include the Lysistrata
Lysistrata
Lysistrata is one of eleven surviving plays written by Aristophanes. Originally performed in classical Athens in 411 BC, it is a comic account of one woman's extraordinary mission to end The Peloponnesian War...

and The Frogs
The Frogs
The Frogs is a comedy written by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. It was performed at the Lenaia, one of the Festivals of Dionysus, in 405 BC, and received first place.-Plot:...

.

Philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 entered literature in the dialogues of Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, who converted the give and take of Socratic questioning into written form. Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, Plato's student, wrote dozens of works on many scientific disciplines, but his greatest contribution to literature was likely his Poetics, which lays out his understanding of drama, and thereby establishes the first criteria for literary criticism
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

.

Music and dance



Music was present almost universally in Greek society, from marriages and funerals to religious ceremonies, theatre, folk music and the ballad-like reciting of epic poetry. There are significant fragments of actual Greek musical notation as well as many literary references to ancient Greek music. Greek art depicts musical instruments and dance. The word music derives from the name of the Muses, the daughters of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 who were patron goddesses of the arts.

Science and technology


Ancient Greek mathematics contributed many important developments to the field of mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, including the basic rules of geometry
Geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

, the idea of formal mathematical proof
Formal proof
A formal proof or derivation is a finite sequence of sentences each of which is an axiom or follows from the preceding sentences in the sequence by a rule of inference. The last sentence in the sequence is a theorem of a formal system...

, and discoveries in number theory
Number theory
Number theory is a branch of pure mathematics devoted primarily to the study of the integers. Number theorists study prime numbers as well...

, mathematical analysis
Mathematical analysis
Mathematical analysis, which mathematicians refer to simply as analysis, has its beginnings in the rigorous formulation of infinitesimal calculus. It is a branch of pure mathematics that includes the theories of differentiation, integration and measure, limits, infinite series, and analytic functions...

, applied mathematics
Applied mathematics
Applied mathematics is a branch of mathematics that concerns itself with mathematical methods that are typically used in science, engineering, business, and industry. Thus, "applied mathematics" is a mathematical science with specialized knowledge...

, and approached close to establishing the integral calculus. The discoveries of several Greek mathematicians, including Pythagoras
Pythagoras
Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable information is known about him...

, Euclid
Euclid
Euclid , fl. 300 BC, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I...

, and Archimedes
Archimedes
Archimedes of Syracuse was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Among his advances in physics are the foundations of hydrostatics, statics and an...

, are still used in mathematical teaching today.

The Greeks developed astronomy, which they treated as a branch of mathematics, to a highly sophisticated level. The first geometrical, three-dimensional models to explain the apparent motion of the planets were developed in the 4th century BC by Eudoxus of Cnidus
Eudoxus of Cnidus
Eudoxus of Cnidus was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar and student of Plato. Since all his own works are lost, our knowledge of him is obtained from secondary sources, such as Aratus's poem on astronomy...

 and Callippus of Cyzicus. Their younger contemporary Heraclides Ponticus
Heraclides Ponticus
Heraclides Ponticus , also known as Herakleides and Heraklides of Pontus, was a Greek philosopher and astronomer who lived and died at Heraclea Pontica, now Karadeniz Ereğli, Turkey. He is best remembered for proposing that the earth rotates on its axis, from west to east, once every 24 hours...

 proposed that the Earth rotates around its axis. In the 3rd century BC Aristarchus of Samos
Aristarchus of Samos
Aristarchus, or more correctly Aristarchos , was a Greek astronomer and mathematician, born on the island of Samos, in Greece. He presented the first known heliocentric model of the solar system, placing the Sun, not the Earth, at the center of the known universe...

 was the first to suggest a heliocentric system, although only fragmentary descriptions of his idea survive. Eratosthenes
Eratosthenes
Eratosthenes of Cyrene was a Greek mathematician, poet, athlete, geographer, astronomer, and music theorist.He was the first person to use the word "geography" and invented the discipline of geography as we understand it...

, using the angles of shadows created at widely separated regions, estimated the circumference of the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 with great accuracy. In the 2nd century BC Hipparchus of Nicea
Hipparchus
Hipparchus, the common Latinization of the Greek Hipparkhos, can mean:* Hipparchus, the ancient Greek astronomer** Hipparchic cycle, an astronomical cycle he created** Hipparchus , a lunar crater named in his honour...

 made a number of contributions, including the first measurement of precession
Precession
Precession is a change in the orientation of the rotation axis of a rotating body. It can be defined as a change in direction of the rotation axis in which the second Euler angle is constant...

 and the compilation of the first star catalog in which he proposed the modern system of apparent magnitude
Apparent magnitude
The apparent magnitude of a celestial body is a measure of its brightness as seen by an observer on Earth, adjusted to the value it would have in the absence of the atmosphere...

s.

The Antikythera mechanism
Antikythera mechanism
The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient mechanical computer designed to calculate astronomical positions. It was recovered in 1900–1901 from the Antikythera wreck. Its significance and complexity were not understood until decades later. Its time of construction is now estimated between 150 and 100...

, a device for calculating the movements of planets, dates from about 80 BC, and was the first ancestor of the astronomical computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

. It was discovered in an ancient shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera
Antikythera
Antikythera or Anticythera is a Greek island lying on the edge of the Aegean Sea, between Crete and Peloponnese. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality of Kythira island....

, between Kythera and Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

. The device became famous for its use of a differential gear, previously believed to have been invented in the 16th century, and the miniaturization and complexity of its parts, comparable to a clock made in the 18th century. The original mechanism is displayed in the Bronze collection of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens
National Archaeological Museum of Athens
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the great museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek...

, accompanied by a replica.

The ancient Greeks also made important discoveries in the medical field. Hippocrates was a physician
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 of the Classical period, and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine
History of medicine
All human societies have medical beliefs that provide explanations for birth, death, and disease. Throughout history, illness has been attributed to witchcraft, demons, astral influence, or the will of the gods...

. He is referred to as the "father of medicine" in recognition of his lasting contributions to the field as the founder of the Hippocratic school of medicine. This intellectual school revolutionized medicine in ancient Greece
Medicine in Ancient Greece
The first known Greek medical school opened in Cnidus in 700 BC. Alcmaeon, author of the first anatomical work, worked at this school, and it was here that the practice of observing patients was established. Ancient Greek medicine revolved around the theory of humours...

, establishing it as a discipline distinct from other fields that it had traditionally been associated with (notably theurgy
Theurgy
Theurgy describes the practice of rituals, sometimes seen as magical in nature, performed with the intention of invoking the action or evoking the presence of one or more gods, especially with the goal of uniting with the divine, achieving henosis, and perfecting oneself.- Definitions :*Proclus...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

), thus making medicine a profession.

Art and architecture


The art of ancient Greece has exercised an enormous influence on the culture of many countries from ancient times until the present, particularly in the areas of sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

 and architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

. In the West, the art of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 was largely derived from Greek models. In the East, Alexander the Great's conquests initiated several centuries of exchange between Greek, Central Asian and India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n cultures, resulting in Greco-Buddhist art
Greco-Buddhist art
Greco-Buddhist art is the artistic manifestation of Greco-Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between the Classical Greek culture and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 1000 years in Central Asia, between the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, and the Islamic...

, with ramifications as far as Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. Following the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 in Europe, the humanist
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 aesthetic and the high technical standards of Greek art inspired generations of European artists. Well into the 19th century, the classical tradition derived from Greece dominated the art of the western world.

Religion and mythology


Greek mythology consists of stories belonging to the ancient Greeks concerning their gods
Family tree of the Greek gods
Key: The essential Olympians' names are given in bold font.Key: The Names marked in green are the titans...

 and hero
Hero
A hero , in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion...

es, the nature of the world and the origins and significance of their religious practices. The main Greek gods were the twelve Olympians, Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, his wife Hera
Hera
Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

, Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

, Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

, Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

, Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

, Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

, Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

, Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, Artemis
Artemis
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

, Demeter
Demeter
In Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains, the fertility of the earth, and the seasons . Her common surnames are Sito as the giver of food or corn/grain and Thesmophoros as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society...

, and Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

. Other important deities included Hebe
Hebe (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Hēbē is the goddess of youth . She is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Hebe was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, serving their nectar and ambrosia, until she was married to Heracles ; her successor was the young Trojan prince Ganymede...

, Helios
Helios
Helios was the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. Homer often calls him simply Titan or Hyperion, while Hesiod and the Homeric Hymn separate him as a son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia or Euryphaessa and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn...

, Dionysus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

, Persephone
Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

 and Heracles
Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

 (a demi-god). Zeus's parents were Kronos
Cronus
In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the sky...

 and Rhea
Rhea (mythology)
Rhea was the Titaness daughter of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth, in Greek mythology. She was known as "the mother of gods". In earlier traditions, she was strongly associated with Gaia and Cybele, the Great Goddess, and was later seen by the classical Greeks as the mother of the Olympian...

 who also were the parents of Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Hestia, and Demeter.

Legacy



The civilization of ancient Greece has been immensely influential on language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and the arts. It became the Leitkultur
Leitkultur
The German language term Leitkultur is a politically controversial concept, first introduced in 1998 by the German-Arab sociologist Bassam Tibi. It can be translated as 'guiding culture' or 'leading culture', less literally as 'common culture', 'core culture' or 'basic culture'...

of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 to the point of marginalizing native Italic traditions. As Horace
Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

 put it,
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et artes / intulit agresti Latio (Epistulae 2.1.156f.)
"Captive Greece took captive her fierce conqueror and instilled her arts in rustic Latium
Latium
Lazio is one of the 20 administrative regions of Italy, situated in the central peninsular section of the country. With about 5.7 million residents and a GDP of more than 170 billion euros, Lazio is the third most populated and the second richest region of Italy...

."


Via the Roman Empire, Greek culture came to be foundational to Western culture
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 in general.
The Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 inherited Classical Greek culture directly, without Latin intermediation, and the preservation of classical Greek learning in medieval Byzantine tradition further exerted strong influence on the Slavs and later on the Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

 and the Western European Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. A modern revival of Classical Greek learning took place in the Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

 movement in 18th and 19th century Europe and the Americas.

See also



  • Outline of ancient Greece
    Outline of ancient Greece
    The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to ancient Greece:Ancient Greece – period of Greek history lasting from the Greek Dark Ages ca. 1100 BC and the Dorian invasion, to 146 BC and the Roman conquest of Greece after the Battle of Corinth...

    • Regions of ancient Greece
      Regions of Ancient Greece
      The regions of ancient Greece were areas identified by the ancient Greeks as geographical sub-divisions of the Hellenic world. These regions are described in the works of ancient historians and geographers, and in the legends and myths of the ancient Greeks....

  • Outline of ancient Rome
  • Outline of ancient Egypt
    Outline of ancient Egypt
    The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to ancient Egypt:Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of eastern North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt...

  • Outline of classical studies
    • Regions in Greco-Roman antiquity
    • Classical demography
      Classical demography
      Classical demography refers to the study of human demography in the Classical period. It often focuses on the absolute number of people who were alive in civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea between the Bronze Age and the Fall of the Roman Empire, but in recent decades historians have been...

    • History of science in Classical Antiquity
      History of science in Classical Antiquity
      The history of science in classical antiquity encompasses both those inquiries into the workings of the universe aimed at such practical goals as establishing a reliable calendar or determining how to cure a variety of illnesses and those abstract investigations known as natural philosophy...

  • Ancient Macedonia
    • Ancient Macedon

Further reading


External links