Greece is a country in southern Europe.

Greece is the southern continuation of the `Balkan peninsula`_. Geologically, Greece and the Aegean basin are all that remain above sea level of a large slab of the Earth's crust which sank millions of years ago. The history of Greece is linked closely with its unique geography: it is defined by a series of mountains, surround on all sides except the north by water, and endowed with countless large and small island. The mainland of Greece is divided into two major parts by the deep inlet of the Gulf of Corinth. In antiquity, a narrow strip of land, the isthmus, separated the northern region from the souther, the Peloponneseus or Island of Pelops.

To the west of mainland Greece, the `Ionian Sea`_ stretches to the shores of Magna Graecia (what is today southern Italy). To the east is the Aegean Sea, bordered by the large island of Crete on the south and the coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) on the east. (In ancient times, Greeks occupied most of the coastal plains of western Asian Minor.)

The mountains, which served as natural barriers and boundaries, dictated the political character of Greece. From early times the Greeks lived in independent communities isolated from one another by the landscape. Later these communities were organized into poleis or city-states. Although ancient Greece was considerably richer in timber resources and arable land than it is today, the mountains prevented large-scale farming and caused the Greeks to looked beyond their border to new lands where fertile soil was more abundant. Natural resources of gold and silver were available in the mounts of Thrace in northern Greece and on the island of Siphnos, while silver was mined from Laurion in Attica. Supplies of iron ores were also available on the mainland in the Aegean islands.

The climate of Greece is called Mediterranean. The `Mediterranean Sea`_ is a moderating factor, cooling the air in summer and providing warmth in winter months. The summer are generally hot and dry, while the winters are moderate and rain in coastal regions and cold and snowy in mountainous areas.

Greece is considered to be the birthplace of `Western civilization`_.


1   Culture

1.1   Architecture

1.1.1   The Parthenon

The Parthenon is a temple to the goddess Athena_. It was built with pure white marble_ and built without mortar_ or cement_; the stones were carved and locked together by iron clamps. The building and sculptures were completed in 15 years between 447 and 432 BC.

Within the treasury of the Parthenon stood an 11-meter statue of Athena_, carved in ivory and armor of pure gold. Nothing remains of this statue. It was created by Phidias_.

The Parthenon exhibits numerology_. The ratio of the longer side of the Parthenon to the shorter side is root-five to one. It has been argued that the façade of the Parthenon has proportions of the golden ratio.

Despite appearances, there are few perfectly straight lines or right angles in the Parthenon. The observer sees the eight columns of the façade as a perfectly regular array, but this is achieved by deliberately introducing subtle distortions called “optical refinements”. To avoid an apparent sagging effect, the base of the façade is about 6cm higher at its center than at the corners.

The shape of the column shafts, and their slight tilt from the vertical, are said to correct optical distortions so that the building appears to be perfectly regular. The columns taper towards the top, but also swell slightly part of the way up, to avoid an impression of narrowing at the centre. The corner columns are marginally wider, to counteract another visual effect; without this adjustment, they would appear thinner than the inner columns.

The columns are not exactly equidistant, the outer ones being slightly closer together. Neither are the columns precisely vertical; they slope imperceptibly inwards. It has been estimated that the end columns, if continued upwards, would meet several kilometres above the Parthenon. These refinements required a remarkable degree of precision, and deep understanding of both geometry and the subtleties of human visual perception.

1.3   Religion

It must be admitted that religion, in Homer_, is not very religious. The gods are completely human, differing from men only in being immortal and possessed of superhuman powers. Morally, there is nothing to be said for them, and it is difficult to see how they can have inspired much awe. In some passages, supposed to be late, they are treated with Voltairean irreverence. Such genuine religious feeling as is to be found in Homer is less concerned with the gods of Olympus than with more shadowy beings such as Fate or Necessity or Destiny, to whom even Zeus is subject. Fate exercised a great influence on all Greek thought, and perhaps was one of the sources from which science derived the belief in natural law. [2]

The Homeric gods were the gods of a conquering aristocracy, not the useful fertility gods of those who actually tilled the soil. As Gilbert Murray says:

"The gods of most nations claim to have created the world. The Olympians make no such claim. The most they ever did was to conquer it. . . . And when they have conquered their kingdoms, what do they do? Do they attend to the government? Do they promote agriculture? Do they practise trades and industries? Not a bit of it. Why should they do any honest work? They find it easier to live on the revenues and blast with thunderbolts the people who do not pay. They are conquering chieftains, royal buccaneers. They fight, and feast, and play, and make music; they drink deep, and roar with laughter at the lame smith who waits on them. They are never afraid, except of their own king. They never tell lies, except in love and war."

Antaeus_ was a giant, the son of Gaea_ and Poseidon_. He forced passerby in his country, Libya_, to wrestle; this thing was to pin his victims to the ground and crush them. Antaeus aimed at building a temple to his father, Poseidon, use the skulls of his victims.

Antaeus was invincible, but derived his strength from contact with his mother, the Earth.

Hercules_ as part of his twelve labors defeated Antaeus by lifting him off the ground and crushing him.

1.4   Pottery

The Corinthians developed the `Black Figure painting`_ technique in which a black silhouette figure with incised interior details and some added colors standards against the natural color of the clay.

Pottery provides the best evidence for the movement of the Greeks and the distribution of their trade around the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins. This is due to two factors: baked clay was the preferred material for containers of all kinds, and it is difficult to destroy pots down to the last fragment. The interpretation of pottery finds is not always obvious. The discovery of a shard does not necessarily mean that we know by whom, for what reason, or exactly when it was brought to that place. Nevertheless, the find-spots of Greek vases allow us to reconstruct much of what we know about the chronology and geographic spread of the Greek colonies, as well as the reciprocal nature of trade both inside the Greek world and with surrounding non-Greek cultures.

Corinth dominated the pottery export-trade up to the mid-6th century BC. By around 525 BC Athens had established a monopoly in luxury wares with Black Figure and in time effectively drove all other regional styles from the marketplace. Red Figure, which appeared around 530 BC, and effectively replaced Black Figure by 4580 BC, extended Attic domination until the 4th century BC. The key to Athen's success lay in the quality and variety of pottery shapes and the wide range of pictorial scenes. Local, non-Attica fine wares made their appearance in the later 5th and 4th centuries and were produced down to the end of the Hellenistic period. Coarse ware pottery was produced locally through the Greek world wherever adequate clay deposits were available.


Pots, whole or broken, provide the most abundant and informative evidence available. In our culture as in antiquity, for example, the fashions for cooking wares or dinner patterns change from generation to generation. Arcaheologist studying ancient pottery can plot these changes and assign particular ceramic shapes, decoration, or technological advances to a particular time period. Know how old the pottery is can in turn help date an archaeological site. The study of Greek pottery is so precise that it is often possible to pinpoint the manufacture date of a vessel to within five to ten years.

Manufacturing centers for certain ceramics, identified by the discovery of a kiln site or by a maker's mark on the vessel, provide another kind of ceramic evidence. Using this information, the archaeologist might trace trade routes, identify cultural contacts, or fill out a picture of economic life of a region or town.

Neutrons from a nuclear reactor can be used to measure the amount of trace impurities in a piece of pottery. The pattern of these impurities can serve as a "fingerprint" for an ancient site's local clay source.

The geopgraphic character of the Mediterranean area ensured that the bulk of the trade conducted around its periphery moved by sea. Land transportation in the Sapnish, Italian, and Greek peninsulas has always been impeded by their broken, moountainous interiors, and long stretches of inhospitable desert separate the Niley valley from the habilitale coastal plateaus of Tunisa and Algeria. Some commodities, including marble, ivory, timber, bullion, and other metals, and perhaps even wheat, could be loaded directly into ship hulls. Others, such as finished textures, flax, animal hides, wools, fruits, and legumes, needed to be bailed up or bagged before shipment by sea. On the hand, many products need packing in individual containers both for shipping and for land transport in wagons or on the backs of pack animals. These included dried fish, cheeses, spices, pitch, drinking water, wine, oil and perfume. One delivered, grains and other commodities shipped in bulk required storage containers.

It is here, in the absence of wooden casks which only appear during the Roman period, that pottery played such a versatile and important role. Terracotta_ containers ranged from enormous grain storage jars or pithoi tailler than a man to tiny perforum flaks. Oils and wine were shipped in a large plain transport amphora. By the 7th century BC it becomes possible to distinguish the containers of the various wine and oil producing center.

Finally, Greek vases were traded as objects of beauty, independent of the value of whatever they carried. The finely decorated Corinthian vases that turn up everywhere in 8th and 7th centuy contexts around the Mediterranean and Black Sea clealrly posesses their own commercial value. So too did the Athenian Black and Red Figure vessesl that flooded the ancient world in the 6th and 5th centuries To attempt to estimate the price of these vases is extremely risk, but at a time when at Athenian workman could expect to be paid six obols a day for his labor, large painted Attic vases seem to have cost between three and a half to seven obls a piece. Actual production costs are almost impossible to calculate owing to the widespread use of slaves.

1.5   Slavery

"The English word slave comes from Old French sclave, from the Medieval Latin sclavus, from the Byzantine Greek σκλάβος, which, in turn, comes from the ethnonym Slav, because in some early Medieval wars many Slavs were captured and enslaved" Also who do you think the majority of the classical Roman and Greek slaves were? Fun slavery fact (?!?) ancient Egypt didn't have slavery as we might think of it but rather a form of "indebted servitude" - a process whereby a person could sell themselves into slavery for a fixed term to, for example, pay off debts.

1.6   Trade & Manufacturing

When Mycenaean society broke up around 110 BC, the commercial routes that had linked mainland Greece with the rest of the Mediterranean were severed. After a period of prolonged recovery, the Greeks began colonized the shore regions of the Mediterranean and Black Sea. This movement (ca. 750-550 BC) was propelled by the need for living space for a rapidly expanding population and for new markets.

Although the Greek homeland often lacked adequate supplies of many agricultural commodities and basic raw materials, the colonies had access to unrestricted native markets and were able to supply Greece with wheat, meat, dried fish, hides, wool, timber, and basic metals in exchange for mainland finished products, olive oil and wine. A second important result of trade was to expose Greek domesticated markets to imported luxury products from Egypt, the Levant, Asia Minor and elsewhere. This had an important impact on Greek art during its formative years (750-600 BC), when sculpture and painting were absorbing numerous foreign influences.

From the 7th through the 5th centuries BC, mainland Greece trading centers as well as the major port cities of Asia Minor, Sicily, and souther Italy, gradually wrested control of Mediterranea-wide commerce from their traditional Phoenician, Etruscan, and Cathaginian competitors. By 300 BC, Greek manufactured goods were freely circulating to North Africa, Spain, the Rhone Valley, the Balkans, and as far east as India.

Manufacturing absorbed small numbers of worked who operated with little mechanical assistance. By modern standards, productivity was extremely low. The two largest industrial establishments in Athens for which we have any record employed no more than about 50 and 120 workers respectively. Of these, a significant number must have been slaves. Since no free man worked for wages unless driven to it by poverty. It has been estimated that only about 500 potters and painters were active in 5th century Athens at a time when the city supplied most of the luxury tableware for the entire Greek world. Despite their pre-Industrial Age character, manufacturing, transport, and food production required a broad range of skills. The stone, clay, and metal trades needed quarrymen, masons, sculptors, potters, painters and foundry workers; the clothing industry, weaves, dyers, and fullter; the leather trade, tanners and cobblers; construction, stone cutters, carpenters, and architects; maritime transport, ship-builders, dock-loaders and sailors; food production, anything from farmers, herdsmen, bee-keepers and fishermen to bakers and cooks.

2   Cities

3   History

In all history, nothing is so surprising or so difficult to account for as the sudden rise of civilization in Greece. The Greeks invented mathematics, science, and philosophy. They first wrote history as opposed to mere annals; they speculated freely about the nature of the world and the ends of life, without being bound in the fetters of any inherited orthodoxy. What occurred was so astonishing that, until very recent times, men were content to gape and talk mystically about the Greek genius. [2]

In Babylon, Ishtar, the earth-goddess, was supreme among female divinities. Throughout western Asia, the Great Mother was worshipped under various names. When Greek colonist in Asia Minor found temples to her, they named her Artemis and took over the existing cult. This is the origin of "Diana of the Ephesians". Christianity transformed her into the Virgin Mary, and it was a Council at Ephesus that legitimated the title "Mother of God" as applied to Our Lady. [2]

Through association with government, the gods also became associated with morality. Lawgivers received their codes from a god; thus a breach of the law became an impiety. The oldest lega code still known is that of Hammurabi, king of Babylon, around 2100 B.C.; this code was asserted by the king to have been delivered to him by Marduk. [2]

A new element came with the development of commerce, which was at first almost entirely maritime. Weapons, until about 1000 BC were made of bronze, and nations which did not have the necessary metals on their own territory were obliged to obtain them by trade of piracy. In commerce, the island of Crete seems to have been the pioneer. For about eleven centuries, from 2500 BC to 1400 BC, an artistically advanced culture, called the Minoan, existed in Crete. [2] It was a maritime civilized in close touch with Egypt. From Egyptian pictures, it is evident that the very considerable commerce between Egypt and Crete was carried on by Cretan sailors; this commerce reached its maximum about 1500 BC. The center of the Cretan civilization was the so-called "palace of Minos" at Knossos, of which memories lingered in the traditions of classical Greece. [2]

The Cretans worshiped a goddess, or perhaps several goddesses. The most indubitable goddess was the "Mistress of Animals" who was a huntress, and probably the source of the classical Artemis. (She has a male twin or consort, the "Master of Animals", but he is less prominent. It was at a later date that Artemis was identified with the Greater Mother of Asia Minor.)

3.1   Ancient Greece


3.1.1   Mycenaean Greece (1400 BC - 1110 BC)


Mycenaean Greece refers to the last phase of the `Bronze Age`_ in Ancient Greece. Among the centers of power emerged the most notable were that of Pylos, Tiryns, Midea in Peloponnese, Orchomenos, Thebes, Athens in Central Greece and Iolcos in Thessaly. The most prominent site was Mycenae, in Argolid, to which the culture of this era owes its name.

Before the destruction of the Minoan culture, it spread, about 1600 BC to the mainland of Greece, where it survived, through gradual stages of degeneration until about 900 BC. This mainland civilization is called the Mycenaean; it is known through the tombs of kings, and also through fortresses on hill-tops, which show more fear of war than had existed in Crete. The Mycenaean civilization, seen through a haze of legend is that which is depicted in Homer. [2]

There is much uncertainty concerning the Mycenaeans. In uncertain whether they owe their civilization to being conquered by Crete or if they spoke Greek. It seems probably that they were conquerers who spoke Greek, and that at least the aristocracy consisted of fair-handed invaders from the North, who brought the Greek language with them. The Greeks came to Greece in three successive waves, first the Ionians, then the Achaeans, and last the Dorians. The Ionians, appears, though conquerers, to have adopted the Cretan civilization pretty completely, as later the Romans adopted the civilization of Greece. But the Ionians were disturbed and largely dispossess by their success, the Achaeans. The Achaeans are known, from the Hittitte tables found at Boghaz-Keui, to have had a large organized empire in the fourteenth cenutry BC. The Mycenaean civilization, which had been weakened by the warfare of the Ionians and Achaeans, was practically destroyed by the Dorians, the last Greek invaders. Whereas previous invaders had largely adopted the Minoan religion, the Dorians retained the original Indo-European religion of their ancestors. The religion of Mycenaean times, however, lingered on, especially in the lower classes, and the religion of classical Greece was a blend of the two. [2]

Both during the later part of the Mycenaean age and after its end, some of the invaders settled down and became agriculturists, while some pushed on, first into the islands and Asia Minor, then into Sicily and southern Italy, where they founded cities that lived by maritime commerce. It was in these maritime cities that the Greeks first made qualitatively new contributions to civilization; the supremacy of Athens came later, and was equally associated, when it came, with naval power. [2]

The mainland of Greece is mountainous and largely infertile. But there are many fertile valleys, with easy access to the sea, but cut off by the mountains from easy land communication with each other. In these valleys little separate communities grew up, living by agriculture, and centering round a town, generally close to the sea. In such circumstances it was natural that, as soon as the population of any community grew too great for its internal resources, those who could not live on the land should take to seafaring. The cities of the mainland founded colonies, often in places where it was much easier to find subsistence than it had been at home. Thus in the earliest historical period the Greeks of Asia Minor, Sicily, and Italy were much richer than those of the Greek mainland. [2]

Troy_ fell in 1220 BC.

3.1.2   Greek Dark Ages (1100 BC - 800 BC)

The Greek Dark Age or Ages and Geometric or Homeric Age (ca. 1100–800 BC) 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 1100 BC, to the first signs of the Greek poleis in the 9th century BC.

3.1.3   Archaic Period (800 BC - 480 BC)


Greek territories and colonies during the Archaic period (750-550 BC).

The end of the Dark Ages is traditionally dated to 776 BC, the year of the first Olympic Games. The Iliad and the Odyssey, the foundational texts of Western literature, are believed to have been composed by Homer in the 8th or 7th centuries BC.

The city-states of Greece continued to flourish in the Archaic period, although internal and political and social unrest are felt in many. By the 6th century B.C., a majority of the most important and powerful city-states are ruled by tyrants. It is under the auspices of these more or less benevolent dictators that commerce and the arts flourish. Corinth prospers during the regime of the Kypeselids, sending out colonies, securing its financials stability, and making itself wealthy and powerful.

During the tyrannical rule of the Peisistratids in Athens (560-510 BC), the social and financial benefits for the peoples of Athens and the region of Attica are many. In Athens itself a massive building program is undertaken with a focus on the Acropolis, the fortified rocky height devoted to the worship of Athena. Attica achieves an international reputation with widespread trade contacts, as witnessed by the extent of its pottery exports. The high quality of this pottery, with its unique and inventive decorated scenes, ensures Attica's dominance in the pottery market for about a century and a half.

The origins of democracy can be traced to Athens in the years following the fall of the Peisistratids. In 508 BC, an aristocratic politician, Kleisthenes, proposed a series of reforms which included the establishment of a city council. The council's 500 members were to be chosen annual by lots from newly formed tribes. It is to Kleisthenes that we attribute the first true constitutional government.

The availability throughout Greece of high-quality marble from the Aegean allows the production of large-scale works of sculpture to decorate temples and adorn sanctuaries. By the begininning of the Archaic period large statues of nude males (kouroi) and draped females (Korai*) are produced as dedications for sanctuaries and as markers for graves. Colossal marble temples to house huge cult images of the gods are built in various parts of the Greek world and speak ot the grandeur of artistic achievements in the Archaic period.

Yet, external troubles comes from both west and east in this period. In the wester Mediterranean, the Carthaginians and Etruscans attempt to check the expansion of the Greeks (540 BC), though the Greeks are finally victorious (474 BC). In the east, the powerful Persian Empire attempts to extend its control over the Greeks in Asia Minor. The Greeks respond and the Persian Wars follow (490-479 BC). The final victory of the Greeks over the Persians has a long lasting political and social impact on Greece and is celebrated in Greek art and literature as a symbol of the triumph of civilized peoples over the forces of barbarism.

3.1.4   Classical Greece (510 BC - 323 BC)


Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, and philosophy derives from this period of Greek history.

In 480 BC, Xerxes_, the king of Persia_, invaded Greece with an army of nearly two million men.

Historia Civilis. The Destruction of Thebes. March 20, 2018.

The first year of Alexander's reign was chaotic. A King had been assassinated, a civil war had been narrowly avoided, and rebellions in the north and west had been stamped out. While Alexander was preoccupied, his enemies had been busy.

When the Athenian assembly heard the new of Phillip's death, they voted for a public day of Thanksgiving. Within a matter of day, the entire city was on the verge of open rebellion against Macedonian hegemony.

When Alexander consolidated power, he marched south. Athens and Thebes made it known to the rest of Greece that they would participate in a general uprising, but when it became clear no other city-states were interested they reluctantly acknowledge Alexander's supremacy.

While this was going on, Demosthenes was secretly communicating with the Macedonian army in Asia Minor, which was preparing for a full-scale invasion of Persia. This army was 10,000 strong and led by named Attalus. Demosthenes pledged Athenian support if Attalus agreed to march against Alexander. Attalus was open to the idea, but wanted to wait in case Macedon fell into a civil war on its own.

Alexander discovered the plot and sent a message of his own to one of his father's old generals that was serving with Attalus, named Parmenion. Parmenion acted decisively, and Attalus was killed by his own men. Parmenion took command of the Macedonian army in Asia.

When Alexander when on campaign in the rebellious hinterlands, Demosthenes started a rumor that Alexander had been killed at the Danube. Thebes took this opportunity to arrest and execute two commanders of a nearby Macedonian garrison, forcing the garrison to withdraw. The Athenian assembly voiced support for Thebes and voted to send a military expedition to assist them against the inevitable backlash. The measure was handed off to Athens' 10 generals (straegoi) for implementation, but they dragged their heels as they did not want to face off against the Macedonians.

When Alexander finished the siege against the Illyrians, the Macedonians did a forced march from Illyria to Thebes in two weeks. Alexander demanded that Thebes turn over its leader. Thebes refused. So began the siege of the Thebes.

Three days into the siege, the army of Thebes began asking themselves where there Athenians were. Now that Alexander was in the area was a Macedonian army, public opinion had cooled.

Left to face the Macedonian alone, Thebes decided they were more likely to succeed in battle on a full stomach than endure the siege. On the third day, the army of Thebes left the safety of their city and prepared to do battle. The two armies clashed and for a long time the two sides were evenly matched. In an effort to turn the tide, Alexander committed the elite shield bearers, but despite this Thebans continued to hold their ground.

Later in the day, Alexander noticed that one of the seven gates into Thebes had been left undefended. He ordered one of his phalanx commander to take his men around and force their way into the city. They were successful. Once the phalanx was inside, they started burning buildings and killing everybody in sight. The Theban army quickly realized that the city was under attack, and many ran bank to find their families. Slowly the Theban army began to lose ground. Groups began to surrender and in time they were defeated.

We are told the Macedonians lost 500 men, Alexander's heaviest losses to date.

Now that Thebes was under Macedonian control, Alexander summoned representatives from small central Greek cities that had suffered under the regional domination of Thebes and asked what he should do with the city. They asked him to destroy the city.

All 30,000 Theban citizens were rounded up and sold into slavery. The money that this generated would finance the Macedonian military for the next six months. (Alexander had abolished taxation back home.) With Thebes empty, its neighbors began the slow process of dismantling the city.

Alexander then turned an eye toward Athens. He ordered Athens to turn over their ten most anti-Macedonian politicians including Demosthenes. This did not go over well. Demosthenes argued that rounding up Athenian citizens and turning them over would set a bad precedent. Since Athens was still a soverign state, they agreed with Demosthenes and begged Alexander to let them deal with this within their own legal system. Alexander agreed.

In Athens, there was a legal mechanism called ostracism which allowed the city to expel any citizen for any reason. Together the Athenian assembly ostracized one anti-Macedonian politician.

With Phillip dead for a year, Alexander was firmly in control of Macedon. Alexander met with the Hellenic League and told them to prepare the Greek armies because next spring he was going to fulfill his father's pledge to invade the Persian Empire and liberate the Greeks living there.

Alexander's closest advisor, Antipater, who represented the old guard argued that if Alexander left the country without naming an heir, a civil war would result. Alexander disagreed, arguing that if he left a child behind in Macedon, revolt would be more likely. Alexander made Antipater regent of Macedon, solving the issue.

Alexander also needed to reward Parmenion, for preventing a civil war. This was a delicate matter. Parmenion was well-connected, he had served with Phillip and the old guard so the military loved him, and he was also wealthy. If Alexander became unpopular, Parmenion was exactly the kind of person that his enemies would turn to, so Parmenion needed to be kept happy, but he couldn't necessarily be trusted. Alexander made Parmenion his second-in-command. Further, Parmenion's eldest son would lead the companion calvary, and his youngest would lead the shieldbearers. Minor positions were also handed out to Parmenion's cousins and nephews.

The next spring Alexander marched east, with a loan from some Macedonian barons and fourteen thousand soldiers. Alexander would lead an army of around 37 thousand into Asia.

Alexander's mother Olympius accompanied her son from the capital to the Dardanelles. On the way, she revealed to Alexander "the mystery of his birth", probably that his father was one of the gods. Alexander seemed to believe the story. When he reached the coast, he built altars to Zeus, Athena, and Heracles. When he crossed the straits by boat, Alexander scarified a bull to the gods of the sea, and when the army disembarked he built a second set of altars.

Before starting his campaign, Alexander made a pilgrimage to Troy. He went to the tomb of Achielles and took for himself several religious artifacts. Alexander as a gift to the vilalge bestowed up them a democratic political system, which made Troy the first Greek settlement to be personally liberated by the Macedonian king.

Alexander had only enough money to sustain one month of warfare. For his plan to work, he would need to confront Persia early. Defeat would mean financial ruin and probably civil war.

The end of the Persian Wars marks the beginning of the classical period. The Greeks form the Delian League, a confederation of city-states whose purpose is to ensure that the Persians never again threaten Greece. Athens uses its position as head of this League to strength its finances and power base, and the Athenian empire eventually emerges. It is in this period that Athens reaches its great political and cultural heights: the full of development of the democracy_ under the Athenian statesman Pericles (460-429 BC); the building of the Parthenon on the Acropolis (begins 447 BC); the creation of the tragedies of Sophocles_, Aeschylus_, and Euripedes_; and the founding of the philosophical schools of Socrates and Plato. In Athens, the layout of the Greek city-state or polis achieves its evolved form. It includes defensive walls; the Acropolis and lesser sanctuaries; burial grounds, such as the Kerameikos; the Agora as the political, commercial, and social center with its stoas (long colonnaded buildings), law courts, and shrines; the Pnyx hill where the Assembly met; athletic facilities; and theaters.

The Peloponnesian Wars (431-421 BC; 415-405 BC) in which Athens and Sparta clash cause turmoil throughout the Greek world. A remarkable firsthand history of the wars, written by the Athenian Thucydides, chronicles the tragic events: the death of Pericles from plague (429 BC), and a distratrous naval expedition to Sicily in which the Athenians were resoundingly defeated. After the surrender of the Athenians and a brief interlude, democracy is restored. Meanwhile in Sicily and Italy, a conflict is being played out between the Cathaginians and the Greeks of the region. By the end of the 5th century, the Cathaginians and their main adversary, the Syarcusans, arrived a truce.

During the 4th century, Athens, Sparta, and Thebes vie for political dominance of Greece, with the Persiands lending support to first one, then another. Peace is finally established, the "King's Peace", in which Spata backed by Persia wins control.

In the second half of the 4th century BC, a divided Greece and the decline of the polis give rise to the powerful Macedonian state under Phillip II and his son, Alexander the Great. In 334 BC, Alexander of Macedon sets out to conquer Asia Minor. After bring all of the eastern world to the continent of India under his control, he dies in Babylon at the age of 32 (323 BC). By the time of his death, Hellenism has reached much of the known world and the Classical period is over.   The Battle of Potidaea (432 BC)

The Battle of Potidaea was one of the catalysts of the Peloponnesian War. It was fought near Potidaea between Athens and a combined army from Corinth and Potidaea.   The Peloponnesian War (431 - 404 BC)

The Peloponnesian War was an ancient Greek war fought by Athens and its empire against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta.

Athens, the strongest city-state in Greece prior to the war's beginning, was reduced to a state of near complete subjection, while Sparta became established as the leading power of Greece. The economic costs were felt all across Greece; poverty became widespread in the Peloponnese while Athens found itself completely devastated and never regained its pre-war prosperity.

Athens was ruled by an oligarchy_ known as the "Thirty Tyrants" after it's defeat. They remained in power for thirteen months and were led by Critias, a former pupil of Socrates. Though brief, their reign result in the killing of 5% of the Athenian population, the confiscation of property, and the exile of democratic supports.   The Corinthian War (395 - 387 BC)

The Corinthian War was an ancient Greek war pitting Sparta against a coalition of four allied states, Thebes, Athens, Corinth, and Argos, which were initially backed by Persia.

3.1.5   Hellenistic Period (323 BC - 31 BC)

Following the death of Alexander the Great and a period of turmoil, his conquered kingdom is split into three major divisions by his generals. The Antigonid dynasty, based at the old Macedonian capital of Pella, maintains control of mainland Greece. The Seleucids with their capital at Antioch on the Orontes River (Syria) govern the entire eastern empire, the largest portion of the territory, while the Ptolmies rule the land of ancient Egypt from their capital at Alexandria. Cleopatra VII was the last and perhaps most famous of the Ptolemies. Her defeat at the hands of the Romans (31 BC) marks the end of the Hellenistic Age.

The Hellenistic period is an international cosmopolitan age. Commercial contacts are widespread and people of many ethnic and religious backgrounds merge in populous urban centers. In this milieu advances are made in various fields of scientific inquiry, including engineering, physics, astronomy, and mathematics.

In the 2nd century BC, a list of the Seven Wonders of the World is compiled by a Greek historian, Antipastros. It includes such engineering feats as the Great Pyramid of Giza (2580 BC) and an enormous bronz status of the sun god Helios_ - the Colossus of Rhodes (280 BC) - which stood astride the harbor of Rhodes. Great libraries are founded in Alexandria, Athens, and the independent kingdom of Pergamum. These provide a stimulating environment for creative scholarly activity, especially the literary arts.

In the real of religion, the old beliefs in the Olympian gods are infused with foreigh elements, especially from the east; "Oriental" ecstatic cults, such as those of Cybele, Isis, and Mithras, become popular in the Hellenized world.   Annexation by the Roman Republic (146 BC)

The history of the Hellenistic Age from the 3rd century BC on is the story of the rise of ancient Rome and its attempt to bring a divided Greek world under its control. After securing most of the Italic peninsula, Rome enters into a protracted conflict with the Cathaginians for control of Sicily, Spain, and the other reigions of Punic domination in the `Punic Wars`_. The former empire of Alexander is taken steadily and methodically into Roman hands.

The Greek peninsula came under the rule of Rome during the 146 BC conquest of Greece after the Battle of Corinth. Macedonia became a Roman province while southern Greece came under the surveillance of Macedonia's prefect; however, some Greek poleis managed to maintain a partial independence and avoid taxation. The Aegean islands were added to this territory in 133 BC. Athens and other Greek cities revolted in 88 BC, and the peninsula was crushed by the Roman general Sulla_. 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, as the Roman culture had long been in fact Greco-Roman. The Greek language served as a lingua franca in the East and in Italy, and many Greek intellectuals such as Galen would perform most of their work in Rome.

The final stages of conquest witness the great city of Corinth destroyed (146 BC) Athens captured by Sulla (86 BC), and Cleopatra and Mark Antony defeat by Octavian_ (later Augustus) at the Battle of Actium (31 BC).

4   Further reading

5   References

[2](1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) Bertrand Russel. 1945. The History of Western Philosophy.
[3]Peter Lynch. June 21, 2018. Optical Refinements at the Parthenon.


Greece was divided into a large number of small independent states, each consisting of a city with some agricultural territory surrounding it. The level of civilization was very different in different parts of the Greek world, and only a minority of cities contributed to the total of Hellenic achievement. Sparta, of which I shall have much to say later, was important in a military sense, but not culturally. Corinth was rich and prosperous, a great commercial centre, but not prolific in great men


There was, however, in ancient Greece, much that we can feel to have been religion as we understand the term. This was connected, not with the Olympians, but with Dionysus, or Bacchus, whom we think of most naturally as the somewhat disreputable god of wine and drunkenness. The way in which, out of his worship, there arose a profound mysticism, which greatly influenced many of the philosophers, and even had a part in shaping Christian theology, is very remarkable, and must be understood by anyone who wishes to study the development of Greek thought.

Dionysus, or Bacchus, was originally a Thracian god. The Thracians were very much less civilized than the Greeks, who regarded them as barbarians. Like all primitive agriculturists, they had fertility cults, and a god who promoted fertility. His name was Bacchus. It was never quite clear whether Bacchus had the shape of a man or of a bull. When they discovered how to make beer, they thought intoxication divine, and gave honor to Bacchus. When, later, they came to know the vine and to learn to drink wine, they thought even better of him. His functions in promoting fertility in general became somewhat subordinate to his functions in relation to the grape and the divine madness produced by wine.

The success of Bacchus in Greece is not surprising. Like all communities that have been civilized quickly, the Greeks, or at least a certain proportion of them, developed a love of the primitive, and a hankering after a more instinctive and passionate way of life than that sanctioned by current morals. To the man or woman who, by compulsion, is more civilized in behaviour than in feeling, rationality is irksome and virtue is felt as a burden and a slavery. This leads to a reaction in thought, in feeling, and in conduct. It is the reaction in thought that will specially concern us, but something must first be said about the reaction in feeling and conduct.

The civilized man is distinguished from the savage mainly by prudence, or, to use a slightly wider term, forethought. He is willing to endure present pains for the sake of future pleasures, even if the future pleasures are rather distant. This habit began to be important with the rise of agriculture; no animal and no savage would work in the spring in order to have food next winter, except for a few purely instinctive forms of action, such as bees making honey or squirrels burying nuts. In these cases, there is no forethought; there is a direct impulse to an act which, to the human spectator, is obviously going to prove useful later on. True forethought only arises when a man does something towards which no impulse urges him, because his reason tells him that he will profit by it at some future date. Hunting requires no forethought, because it is pleasurable; but tilling the soil is labour, and cannot be done from spontaneous impulse.

Civilization checks impulse not only through forethought, which is a self-administered check, but also through law, custom, and religion. This check it inherits from barbarism, but it makes it less instinctive and more systematic. Certain acts are labelled criminal, and are punished; certain others, though not punished by law, are labelled wicked, and expose those who are guilty of them to social disapproval. The institution of private property brings with it the subjection of women, and usually the creation of a slave class. On the one hand the purposes of the community are enforced upon the individual, and, on the other hand the individual, having acquired the habit of viewing his life as a whole, increasingly sacrifices his present to his future.

It is evident that this process can be carried too far, as it is, for instance, by the miser. But without going to such extremes, prudence may easily involve the loss of some of the best things in life. The worshipper of Bacchus reacts against prudence. In intoxication, physical or spiritual, he recovers an intensity of feeling which prudence had destroyed; he finds the world full of delight and beauty, and his imagination is suddenly liberated from the prison of every-day preoccupations. The Bacchic ritual produced what was called "enthusiasm," which means, etymologically, having the god enter into the worshipper, who believed that he became one with the god. Much of what is greatest in human achievement involves some element of (mental) intoxication, some sweeping away of prudence by passion. Without the Bacchic element, life would be uninteresting; with it, it is dangerous. Prudence versus passion is a conflict that runs through history. It is not a conflict in which we ought to side wholly with either party.

In the sphere of thought, sober civilization is roughly synonymous with science. But science, unadulterated, is not satisfying; men need also passion and art and religion. Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination. Among Greek philosophers, as among those of later times, there were those who were primarily scientific and those who were primarily religious; the latter owed much, directly or indirectly, to the religion of Bacchus. This applies especially to Plato, and through him to those later developments which were ultimately embodied in Christian theology.

The worship of Bacchus in its original form was savage, and in many ways repulsive. It was not in this form that it influenced the philosophers, but in the spiritualized form attributed to Orpheus, which was ascetic, and substituted mental for physical intoxication.

Orpheus is a dim but interesting figure. Some hold that he was an actual man, others that he was a god or an imaginary hero. Traditionally, he came from Thrace, like Bacchus, but it seems more probable that he (or the movement associated with his name) came from Crete. It is certain that Orphic doctrines contain much that seems to have its first source in Egypt, and it was chiefly through Crete that Egypt influenced Greece. Orpheus is said to have been a reformer who was torn to pieces by frenzied Maenads actuated by Bacchic orthodoxy. His addiction to music is not so prominent in the older forms of the legend as it became later. Primarily he was a priest and a philosopher. Whatever may have been the teaching of Orpheus (if he existed), the teaching of the Orphics is well known. They believed in the transmigration of souls; they taught that the soul hereafter might achieve eternal bliss or suffer eternal or temporary torment according to its way of life here on earth. They aimed at becoming "pure," partly by ceremonies of purification, partly by avoiding certain kinds of contamination. The most orthodox among them abstained from animal food, except on ritual occasions when they ate it sacramentally. Man, they held, is partly of earth, partly of heaven; by a pure life theheavenly part is increased and the earthly part diminished. In the end a man may become one with Bacchus, and is called "a Bacchus." There was an elaborate theology, according to which Bacchus was twice born, once of his mother Semele, and once from the thigh of his father Zeus.

Greece thus entered the 4th century under a Spartan hegemony, 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 (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 in 371 BC. The Theban general Epaminondas 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 thus established was short-lived; at the Battle of Mantinea in 362 BC, Thebes lost its key leader, Epaminondas, and much of its 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, led by Philip II. In twenty years, Philip had unified his kingdom, expanded it north and west at the expense of Illyrian tribes, and then conquered Thessaly and Thrace. 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), 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, 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 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.


Zen of Elea presents his paradoxes in 450 BC

Plato founded his Academy in Athens in 387 BC.

Euclid gives a systematic development of geometry in his Stoicheion (The Elements) in 300 BC.

Dominic Frisby. June 2, 2017. Voluntary taxation: a lesson from the Ancient Greeks.

The Greeks put taxation in the field of ethics: the liberty or despotism of a society could be measured by its system of taxes. We should admire them not so much for the way that they taxed, but the way that they didn’t. There was no tax on income. Taxes were not the way by which the wealth of the rich was shared with the people. Instead, this was achieved by a voluntary alternative: liturgy.

The word liturgy – from the ancient Greek leitourgia – means ‘public service’ or ‘work of the people’. The idea of benefaction was embedded in the ancient Greek psyche, and had roots in mythology. The Titan Prometheus created humanity and was its greatest benefactor, giving the gift of fire, which he stole from Mount Olympus. The Goddess Athena gave the citizenry the olive tree, symbol of peace and prosperity, and so the city of Athens was named after her.

The philosopher Aristotle developed the theme. His ‘magnificent man’ gave vast sums to the community. But poor men could never be ‘magnificent’ because they did not have the financial means. True wealth consists in doing good, Aristotle argued in the Art of Rhetoric: in handing out money and gifts, and helping others to maintain an existence. The physician Hippocrates, the founder of medicine, was another who believed in this social responsibility, advising doctors: ‘Sometimes give your services for nothing, calling to mind a previous benefaction or present satisfaction. And if there be an opportunity of serving one who is a stranger in financial straits, give full assistance to all such.’

The Panathenaic Games were funded by the rich and donated to the city, as was the theatrical festival of Dionysia.

Many of the buildings of ancient Greece were also constructed by benefactors competing for honour. The Stoa Poikile or Painted Porch of Peisianax in Athens, for example, where stoicism was taught and many paintings displayed, alongside spoils of war. Many works on the Acropolis, possibly even the Parthenon, were also funded by liturgy. Although firm evidence on the latter is lacking, the chryselephantine cult statue of Athena by the sculptor Phidias, who also supervised the construction of the Parthenon in which it was housed, was there through liturgy. (It cost more to build than the Parthenon itself.)

The most prestigious and important liturgy – and by far the most expensive – was the navy, known as ‘trierarchy’. The trierarch had to build, maintain and operate a warship – a ‘trireme’. Triremes kept the Athenian navy strong and shipping lanes free from pirates. Given that Athens was a trading centre (indeed, taxes on trade were another source of government revenue), their role was essential. In many cases, the trierarch was also expected to take command of the ship, unless he chose to pay a concession and leave the fighting to a specialist.

There were anywhere between 300 and 1,200 liturgists in Athens – depending on need (in times of war the number went up) – and the liturgical class was constantly being renewed. Those who were responsible for liturgy volunteered in most cases, although some were assigned by the state.

In Turkey, see:

Selime Monastery Cappadocia, Turkey