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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 pre-industrial economies. This was more than 3 times the average daily wage of an Egyptian worker during the Roman period, about 3. 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.

The scale and scope of warfare in ancient Greece changed dramatically as a result of the Greco-Persian Wars. To fight the enormous armies of the Achaemenid Empire 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 labor. Although alliances between city-states occurred before this time, nothing on this scale had been seen before. The rise of Athens and Sparta as pre-eminent powers during this conflict led directly to the Peloponnesian War , 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.

Ancient Greece Timeline - History

It had over triremes each powered by oarsmen who were seated in 3 rows on each side of the ship. The city could afford such a large fleet—it had over 34, oars men—because it owned a lot of silver mines that were worked by slaves. Ancient Greek philosophy focused on the role of reason and inquiry. In many ways, it had an important influence on modern philosophy , as well as modern science.

Clear unbroken lines of influence lead from ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophers , to medieval Muslim philosophers and Islamic scientists , to the European Renaissance and Enlightenment , 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 Babylonians , has long been a topic of study by theorists of civilization.

Some of the well-known philosophers of ancient Greece were Plato and Socrates , among others. They have aided in information about ancient Greek society through writings such as The Republic , by Plato. The earliest Greek literature was poetry, and was composed for performance rather than private consumption. Like poetry, Greek prose had its origins in the archaic period, and the earliest writers of Greek philosophy, history, and medical literature all date to the sixth century BC.

The Hellenistic period saw the literary epicentre of the Greek world move from Athens, where it had been in the classical period, to Alexandria. At the same time, other Hellenistic kings such as the Antigonids and the Attalids were patrons of scholarship and literature, turning Pella and Pergamon respectively into cultural centres. Almost all of the surviving non-technical Hellenistic literature is poetry, [72] and Hellenistic poetry tended to be highly intellectual, [73] blending different genres and traditions, and avoiding linear narratives. 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 who were patron goddesses of the arts. Ancient Greek mathematics contributed many important developments to the field of mathematics , including the basic rules of geometry , the idea of formal mathematical proof , and discoveries in number theory , mathematical analysis , applied mathematics , and approached close to establishing integral calculus.

The discoveries of several Greek mathematicians, including Pythagoras , Euclid , and Archimedes , 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 and Callippus of Cyzicus. Their younger contemporary Heraclides Ponticus proposed that the Earth rotates around its axis. In the 3rd century BC Aristarchus of Samos was the first to suggest a heliocentric system.

Archimedes in his treatise The Sand Reckoner revives Aristarchus' hypothesis that "the fixed stars and the Sun remain unmoved, while the Earth revolves about the Sun on the circumference of a circle". Otherwise, only fragmentary descriptions of Aristarchus' idea survive. The Antikythera mechanism , a device for calculating the movements of planets, dates from about 80 BC, and was the first ancestor of the astronomical computer.

It was discovered in an ancient shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera , between Kythera and Crete. 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 , accompanied by a replica. The ancient Greeks also made important discoveries in the medical field. Hippocrates was a physician of the Classical period, and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. He is referred to as the " father of medicine " [82] [83] 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 , establishing it as a discipline distinct from other fields that it had traditionally been associated with notably theurgy and philosophy , thus making medicine a profession. The art of ancient Greece has exercised an enormous influence on the culture of many countries from ancient times to the present day, particularly in the areas of sculpture and architecture.

In the West, the art of the Roman Empire was largely derived from Greek models. In the East, Alexander the Great's conquests initiated several centuries of exchange between Greek, Central Asian and Indian cultures, resulting in Greco-Buddhist art , with ramifications as far as Japan. Following the Renaissance in Europe, the humanist 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 was a central part of ancient Greek life.

The most important religious act in ancient Greece was animal sacrifice , most commonly of sheep and goats. The civilization of ancient Greece has been immensely influential on language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and the arts. It became the Leitkultur of the Roman Empire to the point of marginalizing native Italic traditions.

As Horace put it,. Via the Roman Empire, Greek culture came to be foundational to Western culture in general. The Byzantine Empire 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 and the Western European Renaissance. A modern revival of Classical Greek learning took place in the Neoclassicism movement in 18th- and 19th-century Europe and the Americas.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Civilization belonging to an early period of Greek history. Part of a series on the. Neolithic Greece. Greek Bronze Age. Pelasgian Helladic Cycladic Minoan Mycenaean. Ancient Greece. Medieval Greece. Byzantine Greece Frankish and Latin states. Early modern Greece. Modern Greece. History by topic. Art Constitution Economy Military Names. Further information: Timeline of ancient Greece. Main article: Greek historiographers. Further information: History of Greece. Main article: Archaic period in Greece. Main article: Classical Greece.

Main articles: Wars of Alexander the Great and Hellenistic period. Kingdom of Ptolemy I Soter. Kingdom of Cassander. Kingdom of Lysimachus. Kingdom of Seleucus I Nicator. Greek colonies. Carthage non-Greek. Rome non-Greek. Main article: Roman Greece. Further information: Byzantine Greece. Main article: Regions of ancient Greece. Main article: Ancient Greek law. Main article: Slavery in ancient Greece. Main article: Education in ancient Greece. Main articles: Ancient Greek warfare and Army of Macedon. Main article: Ancient Greek philosophy.

Main article: Music of ancient Greece. Main articles: Ancient Greek art and Ancient Greek architecture. Main article: Ancient Greek religion. Further information: Classics. Ancient Greece portal. Thomas Paths from ancient Greece. Retrieved 12 June The Rosen Publishing Group. Findling; Kimberly D. Pelle Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement. Greenwood Publishing Group. Thompson; Mark H. Western Europe, Stryker-Post Publications. Greece in the Making: — BC. London: Routledge. A History of Greek Literature. Columbia University Press. Greek and Roman historians: information and misinformation.

Greece in the Making: — BC 2 ed. A history of the Greek city states, ca. That's how completely devastating was the Indo-European conquest of this region. So, when people today study the ancient Greeks, they are examining not the earliest known humans in the area but later invaders called the Indo-Europeans. This is clear because of the language the Greeks spoke. All extant forms of ancient Greek clearly derive from a common ancestor called Proto-Indo-European , a language which engendered a large number of daughter languages found across much of the Eurasian continent, all the way from India to Norway.

These closely related tongues show that the Indo-Europeans must have migrated over thousand of miles in different directions, displacing natives and settling themselves in lands across a wide swath of the Eurasian continent. Another thing we know about the Indo-Europeans is that they tended to enter a region in successive waves. That is, Indo-Europeans rarely migrated into an area just once, and Greece was no exception.

As early as BCE one Indo-European contingent had begun infiltrating the Greek peninsula and by the end of that millennium at least three major discrete migrations of these intruders had surged across various parts of Greece. One racial group of these Indo-Europeans was called the Ionians. They settled along the eastern coast of Greece, in particular the city of Athens , and along the western coast of Asia Minor modern Turkey. Another group, the Dorians , settled the Peloponnese the southern part of Greece and many inland areas.

The result was a "dark age" accompanied by massive disruptions in the Greek economy and civilization, including a total loss of literacy. This dark age lasted about three centuries, from to BCE and, while it seems from our perspective today like a dismal time, it must have been a dynamic and fascinating period in Greek history, perhaps a wonderful time to have lived.

The lack of written historical records—the inevitable product of the age's illiteracy—leaves the impression of a vast void but, to judge the period from its outcome, it gave shape to much of the rest of Greek history.

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Many of the things we associate with Greek culture—for instance, vase-painting, epic poetry, and ship-building—assumed their basic and most familiar forms during this "dark" age. Particularly, many of the Greek myths read and studied today are traceable to this time period. Quite a few are set in the generations just before the dark age or in its early phases. For example, the famous cycle "collection" of myths about the Trojan War —if, in fact, it is based on any real event in history—must date to some time around BCE.

These myths found their most brilliant expression in the early Greek epic poems attributed to Homer , ancient Greece's greatest early poet. Homer's first epic, The Iliad , tells the tale of the Greeks' sack of Troy and the anger of their great hero, Achilles. Among other famous characters included there are the beautiful Helen and her hapless Greek husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta.

His brother, Agamemnon, the king of neighboring Mycenae who leads the expedition of Greeks to Troy, is married to Helen's sister Clytemnestra with whom he has several children including Electra and Orestes.

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All later became enduring characters in drama as well as epic. The gods also play a large role in The Iliad , in particular, the king of the gods Zeus, the sun god Apollo, and the goddess of wisdom Athena. Homer's other epic, The Odyssey , narrates the adventures of the Greek hero Odysseus as he wanders around the Mediterranean Sea trying for ten years to get home to Ithaca, an island on the western coast of Greece.

Along the way he encounters a number of deities and monsters and much mayhem, but ultimately with the help of his patroness, the goddess Athena, he arrives back in his kingdom safe, if not entirely sound. There encounters his wife Penelope and son Telemachus after an absence of twenty years. These stories convey such a compelling sense of realism about their day and time that more than one scholar has been tempted to see in them history rather than mere myth, but their historicity is questionable at best.

One such investigator was Heinrich Schliemann , a nineteenth-century German millionaire and archaeologist, who excavated what is now known as Troy. This site in the northwestern corner of Asia Minor near the straits that separate Asia and Europe indeed contains the ruins of a once-great city that thrived in the middle to late second millennium BCE, but is this site Homer's Troy? Even if its name was Troy—and there is no firm evidence to that effect—that still leaves open the question of the extent to which Homer's epics preserve historical reality.

The debate about the amount of verifiable history preserved in Homeric epic lingers unresolved to this day, a tribute to the enduring, gripping picture of humanity painted by this purportedly blind poet. With the reappearance of written records after the dark age, Greek history as such comes back into focus. Yet the Athenian strategy did not work as well as this. Sparta even sued for peace in BC, after suffering defeats at Pylos and Sphakteria, but the Athenians arrogantly rejected the proposal.

Ten years of strategical deadlock did bring peace for a time in BC, but not a lasting one. The case of Melos shows the war in all its brutal light. This tiny island city-state offended Athens by trying to remain neutral, so in BC the Athenians besieged the city into submission, slaughtered the men, and enslaved the women and children. The turning point in the war came in Athenian frustrations found an outlet in a scheme to carry the war further afield.

Capturing Syracuse would both decisively wound her enemy, and provide the wealth to build an even bigger fleet. The result was the disastrous Sicilian Expedition — BC , which was plague by incompetent leadership. It was decisive, but as a death-blow to the ambitions of Athens; 10, soldiers, 30, sailors, and ships were lost, a large portion of Athen's total manpower. Then in , the Spartans sought and obtained an alliance with Achaemenid Persia , with a secret clause allowing the Persian king to regain control over the Greek cities of Ionia, towards which Sparta felt no obligations.

The Persians provided the funds for the establishment of a Spartan navy, depriving Athens of her naval supremacy. The end came suddenly, when the Athenian fleet was surprised and defeated at the Battle of Aegospotami BC near the Hellespont. This effectively ended the war. Athens capitulated after a year of naval blockade and starvation. Spartan terms were remarkably lenient by the standards of the day; no one was killed or enslaved, no temples were destroyed.

Yet Athens was stripped of her overseas colonies, and the great city-walls protecting the city and her port were systematically demolished. The humiliation of defeat would show the harsh reality of Athenian democracy. The renowned philosopher Socrates BC had long been the most vocal critic of the Athenian political elites. He was arrested and put on trial on the dubious charge of corrupting the youth of the city.

Plato wrote an account of his spirited defense at the trial, but it was not one likely and no doubt intended to garner any sympathy. Socrates was found guilty and executed by self-administered poison.

History in 3 acts: a brief introduction to Ancient Greece [excerpt]

After the Peloponnesian War, there followed a brief Spartan hegemony, but her deeply conservative social structure made her ill-equipped to provide the necessary leadership. The Greeks attempted to prevent the Persians cashing the promissory note on the cities of Ionia, but this had to be conceded after a war which brought something of a revival of Athenian naval power.

In the end, Sparta and Persia had a common interest in preventing a renaissance of Athens and made peace in BC. Ironically, the Spartans soon became as hated as the Athenians had been, with the ambitious newcomer Thebes taking the leadership of their enemies. Under the brilliant general and statesman Epaminondas d. Spartan influence collapsed and Thebes filled the vacuum.

But in a surprise about-turn, Athens now allied itself with Sparta against Thebes.

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Although the Battle of Mantinea July BC was a Theban victory, she lost much of her manpower and the leadership of Epaminondas; Theban power soon crumbled. In fact such were the losses at Mantinea for all the great city-states, that it effectively put an end to the idea of one city-state establishing hegemony over Greece. For decades Greece had been torn by lethal squabbles as cities change sides, betray treaties, and attack each other by surprise.

The Greek invention of politics seems like a poison brew. After the mid-4th-century BC, the history of Greece civilization would be shaped, paradoxically, by a kingdom in northern Greece which some said was not Greek at all: Macedon. More than years after his death, Aristotle remains one of the most influential people who ever lived. The glorious days of the city-state had passed, but in the end the Greeks are remembered as poets and philosophers.

Some of their greatest advances were not to be made until long after the so-called Greek Golden Age. Aristotle d. What he wrote provided a framework for the discussion of biology, physics, mathematics, logic, literary criticism, aesthetics, psychology, ethics and politics for years. Euclid d. Archimedes d. Eratosthenes d.

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Hero of Alexandria d. Aristarchus of Samos d. Epicurus d. Zeno of Citium d. Essentially the Stoics taught that man could not control what happened to him, but he could accept what was sent by fate; its ethic of disciplined common sense was to have great success at Rome. Even erroneous Greek ideas would shape Western thought for centuries. The intellectual achievements of the Greek world often pushed up to the limits of existing technical skills; they could not be expected to go beyond them.

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  5. Within a few centuries, Greek civilization had invented philosophy, politics, most of arithmetic and geometry, and the categories of Western art and science. And the ideas of these Greek thinkers and artists be preserved, imitated and spread throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, the Near East, and as far as India thanks to the conquering exploits of Alexander the Great.

    Even in the 4th-century BC, the Ancient Greeks were almost oblivious to the new rising star in the west, Rome. The early years of Rome are shadowed in mystery, because most of the records were destroyed when the city was sacked in BC. All we have are the stories the Romans told themselves. According to the founding myth, the city that became Rome was founded in BC by Romulus, on the site where he and his brother, Remus, had been suckled by a she-wolf as orphan infants. The site of Rome was an obvious place for a prosperous settlement.

    Fifteen miles upstream on the River Tiber, there were several steep hills providing natural defences. It was high enough up the river to be bridged, but not so high that it could not be reached by sea-going vessels. The Tiber was also a natural barrier across the land route which ran up and down the west coast of Italy, between the two most prosperous early regions; the Etruscans to the north, and the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia in the far south. Italy was then a confusion of peoples, with Rome the northernmost settlement of the tribal Latin people, bordering the more developed Etruscans.

    The Etruscans remains a mysterious people, but somehow they developed an advanced culture heavily influenced by Ancient Greek culture; Herodotus claimed that they were migrants from Lydia , neighbours of the Greek colonies on the Ionian coast. The Etruscans were probably organised as a loose federation of city-states, were literate, using an alphabet derived from Greek, and were relatively rich through trade with the Celtic world to the north and the Greeks to the south. They also brought metallurgy to a high level, vigorously exploiting the iron deposits of Elba Island off the coast.

    With iron weapons, they established hegemony over all of northern Italy, from the Po Valley down to Tiber, with an ill-defined authority as far south as Campania. The legendary Romulus was Rome's first king and the city's founder, after killing his twin Remus. According to traditional accounts, Romulus killed his brother in a quarrel, and thus became the first of seven kings of the Roman Kingdom — BC , over a span of years. There were almost certainly more that seven kings; the idea that seven successive rulers could reign for an average of 35 years stretches credulity.

    The later Romans wished to have explanations for the early evolution of their culture, and ascribed various innovations to each of these kings, often in stereotypical ways. Romulus is credited with making Rome a society ruled by laws, with the establishment of the Senate as an advisory council of nobles, and citizens assemblies of commoners. Romulus was also behind one of the most notorious incidents in Roman history, commonly known as the rape of the Sabine women; the mass abduction of young women from the neighbouring tribe.

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    The women intervened themselves in the battle that followed, leading to the joining of the two tribes, and the initial growth of the city. From these unsavoury beginnings resulted years of Roman civilisation. The second king, Numa, is credited with the founding of the most important religious institutions in Rome: the Etruscan-influenced pantheon of gods and goddesses; the practice of predicting omens through auguries, examining the entrails of sacrificed animals; the office of Pontifex Maximus or high priest; the Vestal Virgins; the calendar of regular and holy days; and the temple of Janus, whose doors were closed to indicate a state of peace.

    His reign was marked by peace, transforming the Romans into a literate society of settled farmers. By contrast his successor, Tullus, made war on Rome's underdeveloped Latin neighbours, coming to dominate the mile region to the south of Rome. He is also credited with turning the Roman army into a well-equipped and well-disciplined force. The third king, Ancus, was something of an amalgam of his predecessors; by nature a peaceful and religious king, who was dragged into war by fate. He is credited with establishing the rituals surrounding how Rome would declare war on an enemy, and with founding the port of Ostia and the beginning of a Roman navy.

    These kings are instructive, and offer a neat encapsulation of the Roman character; a warlike people tempered by religion. Yet he proved an able king, both as an administrator and military commander. He is remembered for inaugurating one of the most famous Roman traditions, the Triumph. He also built the Circus Maximus hippodrome, one of the greatest sports venues in the ancient world, where the people of Rome flocked to see gladiators and wild beasts in combat.

    Tarquin was by all accounts the last good king of Rome. He was successes by his son, who was was assassinated and usurped by his brother and last king, the tyrannical Tarquin the Proud. The rape of Lucretia by Sextus Tarquinius, the king's son. The event that sparked the political revolution that resulted in the expulsion of the last king of Rome. Roman legend provides a dramatic story to account for the rebellion that resulted in the overthrow of the Roman monarchy. Tarquin's son raped a Roman noblewoman of exceptional virtue, Lucretia.

    She made the crime public and then, overcome with shame, committed suicide. This outrage provoked the popular uprising, led by Lucius Junius Brutus, that expelled the Tarquins from the city. From that point on, the Roman people swore an oath never to again suffer a king to rule Rome. Another story tells how Brutus condemned to death his own two sons for conspiring to restore the Tarquins, firmly implanting the virtue of putting the interests of the republic above even family.

    While probably not far from the truth, later Roman historians most likely orchestrated it to pre-date the establishment of Athenian Democracy in BC. In the Roman Republic sovereignty ultimately rested, at least in theory, with the people, concisely expressed through the motto SPQR or " the Roman Senate and People ". When it was founded the population of the city was around ,, and divided into two basic groups: the Patricians, the nobles who could trace their families back to the Senators chosen by Romulus; and the Plebeians or Plebs, the commoners who could not.

    The people acted through a complicated set of assemblies attended by all citizens, similar to what went on in many Greek city-states. But the actual working of the Republic was not as democratic as they appeared on the surface. Real power in practice rested in the Roman Senate, already in existence as an advisory body to the kings. It consisted of some members, dominated by Patricians, whose appointment was for life unless impeached; until BC, the Senate was an unelected body, with new members appointed by the existing senators. The Senate now chose two officials from among its own number to become joint heads of state.

    The two Consuls were elected only for one year, and each had a veto on the actions of the other, thus ensuring that power could never be concentrated in just one man. They were bound to be men of experience and weight, since they had to have passed through at least two subordinate levels of office, Quaestors and Praetors, before becoming eligible; Rome was rarely short of able men. High offices were won in the public assemblies, so Senators had to cultivate support among the citizenship. Yet the system was not as democratic as it might appear.

    Elections gave greater power to the wealthier social classes; Senatorial, Equestrian, and generally five ranks of Plebs. The Roman constitution also provided for a more powerful office than the Consuls in a crisis, with the title of Dictator; a single overall leader with absolute power for a period of no more than six months.

    Perhaps the most famous holder of the office was Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus d. Dictators would be appointed of and on over the next years when emergencies arose, but it was not until Julius Caesar that a Dictator did not ultimately resign of his own free will. The Secession of the Plebs, the first clash in the protracted political struggle between the Plebs commoners and Patricians aristocracy. That the Roman constitution worked well for a long time is indisputable, but the system was perfectly designed for a small oligarchy of rich Patrician families to rule and dispute the right to office among themselves.

    The Plebs initially had precious little say in political affairs, but the disenfranchised majority slowly wrested concessions in the two centuries that followed the founding of the Republic.