Chapter 1


"Famous men have the whole earth as their memorial. "

-attributed to Pericles

F or as long as history has been recorded, mankind has always been prideful of being the first and best to achieve something, whether it is a goal, task or invention. Men and women remain famous long past their deaths by being the first person to do something, such as Charles Lindbergh being the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Collectively, no group achieved as many firsts as the Ancient Greeks from about 800 - 100 B.C.E.

The Greeks' record of firsts is too long to list. When looking at a sample of the values, knowledge and studies that people today hold dear, the Greeks invariably invented, mastered or refined them. During the "Golden Age" of Ancient Greece alone, Greek inventors, philosophers, mathematicians, engineers, and artists invented or mastered nearly every skill, study, and trade. While some Greeks pontificated about life and rational thought, others were constructing buildings with pillars for the first time. While some Greeks were forming the first representative government in history, others were accurately calculating the circumference of the Earth. And in addition to mastering humanities and science, the Greeks also revolutionized warfare, inventing an infantry technique that would influence army formations into the 20th century.

This Vook documents the rise and fall of the Ancient Greeks, beginning with the establishment of the first traces of Greek culture around 800 B.C.E., as seafaring civilizations such as the Minoans began to settle Greece and its surrounding islands. As the different tribes settled into the lands of Greece, they began to form the first city-states, which are compared and contrasted in depth throughout this Vook.

Ancient Innovators

The Ancient Greeks are most famous for their inventions in a vast array of fields, including education, culture, and government. Most of these inventions took place during the "Golden Age" of Ancient Greece. While the Athenians invented the first free society with a direct democratic government, other famous Greeks like Socrates and Archimedes were advancing the studies of philosophical thought, art, science, math, and technology.

Though the Ancient Greeks were innovators of the arts and government, they were also among the ancient world's fiercest warriors. The Greeks would influence the way ancient wars were fought and develop tactics that would be used over 2,000 years later. Furthermore, the Greeks were involved in some of history's most famous wars, including the Persian Wars that saved Ancient Greece and the Peloponnesian War that started its decline. Given their ingenuity in

other fields, it is not surprising that the Greeks managed to revolutionize warfare along the way, especially in the militaristic society of Sparta.

After the end of the Golden Age, Ancient Greece began its decline. Eventually, foreign conquerors such as the Macedonians under Alexander the Great and the Romans subdued the entire state. However, in both cases, the foreign conquerors actually spread Greek culture, ensuring its survival in subsequent centuries. When Greek culture was "rediscovered" during the Renaissance, it revitalized Western Civilization and helped set Europe and the West on the path to prosperity. This is the story of that culture.


Homer as History

Homer immortalized the Trojan War in The Iliad and The Odyssey but for centuries it was treated as wholesale fiction. If the Trojan War actually happened, it would have occurred right around the time Greek civilization began to take shape. Nobody was sure Troy had even existed until it was found by Heinrich Schliemann in the 19th century. Archaeologists have since determined that Troy was the site of several cities built over itself, and they discovered evidence of the sacking of at some of Troy's cities.

Regardless, the famous phrase "beware of Greeks bearing gifts" is a reference to the infamous Trojan Horse. In The Iliad, the Greeks constructed a large wooden horse and hid soldiers inside it. When the Trojans brought the horse into the city, the hidden Greeks crept out and opened the gates for the Greek army, sacking the city.

Scholars have since tried to determine whether Homer's story contained elements of truth. While they are pretty sure Apollo did not actually guide Paris' arrow into Achilles' heel, educated guesses have been made as to what the Trojan Horse actually may have been. For example, some think the Trojan Horse was a battering ram or another type of siege weapon.

Whatever it was, Troy-much like your computer in the modern age-would have been better off keeping the Trojan Horse away.

Chapter 2

An Emerging Civilization

"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others. "

-attributed to Pericles

T he beginning of Ancient Greek civilization as it is now identified began with the fall of the Mycenaeans around 1200 B.C.E. The Mycenaeans had settled throughout mainland Greece and had built an empire that stretched across the land and was divided into different settlements. It is not entirely clear what caused their decline, though historians assume that warfare throughout the Mediterranean states during that time period contributed to the decline of several civilizations. Whatever the cause, Mycenaean settlements began to vanish.

The Dark Ages

In the wake of the Mycenaeans' fall, mainland Greece was inhabited by various small groups and tribes. This period is now known as the "Dark Ages" of Ancient Greece. In this case, the "Dark Ages" is not meant to be a derogatory term, but rather one that indicates historians and scholars have not been able to fill in the historical record as clearly as the periods preceding and succeeding it. It is quite possible that tribes inhabiting Greece during the "Dark Ages" were just as advanced as the Mycenaean civilization they replaced.

Some historians have theorized that the Mycenaeans were invaded by other seafaring tribes. While that is not definitively settled, what is known is that seafaring tribes did indeed sail to Greece and its surrounding islands, and they settled in the land over the next several centuries. Among the tribes near the Mediterranean Sea in that time period, historians determined that Minoans and Phoenicians constructed settlements in Greece.

How do historians know which tribes settled in Greece during this period? As it turns out, certain tribes in the area had already crafted unique architecture and pottery. Their style of art gave nomenclature to the next period of early Grecian history.

The Archaic Ages

While not much is known about the "Dark Ages," historians know that the "Archaic Ages" witnessed the formation of settlements throughout Greece that would give rise to Greece's well known city-states. The rise of the city-states during the "Archaic Ages" is discussed more in depth next chapter.

In addition to the eventual rise of the city-states, other hallmarks of Ancient Greek culture began to take shape during the "Archaic Ages," particularly within the arts. From about 800 - 500 B.C.E., Greek tribes began to improve their sculpting, making more advanced sculptures with geometric shapes. Sculptures and buildings from this era also included intricate designs, often depicting a mythical god or king or soldier.

The most famous art produced during the "Archaic Ages" include sculptures and statues that included the "Archaic smile." Around the sixth century B.C.E., Greek artists began to design human faces with emotions, particularly smiles. Some historians believe that the "Archaic smile" is indicative of a civilization that recognized and thought about the importance of human emotions, one of the foundations of philosophy.

Regardless of whether the "Archaic smile" was actually a sign of emphasis upon emotion and philosophy, the "Archaic Ages" unquestionably put in place the building blocks of the "Golden Age," which would set Ancient Greece on a path toward glory.


The Olympics

Of all the Greeks' inventions, the Olympic games are probably the best known around the world. The reason for that is quite simple: a sporting competition that initially included participants from a handful of city-states is now a worldwide event including participants from more than 100 nations.

The first Olympic games were held at stadiums in Olympia, and the location of the ancient games still exists today. It is believed the first Olympic games were held in 776 B.C.E. because there are inscriptions listing winners of sporting competitions every four years, starting in 776 B.C.E. The ancient Olympic games involved footraces, chariot races, wrestling, and several events still prominent in track and field today, including jumping events, discus events and javelin events.

As the Ancient Greeks declined, so did the Olympics, which disappeared in the fourth century B.C.E. The Olympics would not be revived for another 2,200 years.

Chapter 3

The Rise of the City-States

"The walls of Sparta were its young men, and its borders the points of their spears. "

-attributed to King Agesilaus of Sparta

Unlike the Mycenaean settlements, which were all part of one empire, different tribes established their own distinct settlements during the" Archaic Ages." While these tribes would share a few things in common, such as the creation of similar pottery (as discussed in Chapter 2), the people and cities had different traits and values. From about 800-500 B.C.E., these different settlements became independently autonomous city-states, some of which would earn immortality.

Cultural Centers

The Greek city-state, known as a polis, was obviously not the first example of a city-state that was its own independent entity. Two characteristics separated the polis from all previous citystates. The first is that these city-states mostly were not run by royals or oligarchies, a fact discussed at great length when Chapter 5 analyzes Athenian democracy. The second characteristic is that the polis consisted not merely of one city but of all the surrounding regions and cities that identified themselves as being ethnically similar to the people of that polis. The best example of this characteristic is the city-state of Sparta. The Spartans consisted of citizens located not just in the City-state of Sparta but also smaller settlements throughout the Peloponnese peninsula, much like today's suburbs.

The different City-states had many similarities and differences. The buildings and contents within each city-state were remarkably similar. Generally, each city-state had temples and altars to similar gods, as Greek mythology had taken shape several hundred years earlier. For defense, many city-states had an acropolis, which consisted of fortified structures sitting atop nearby hills. Of course, Athens' Acropolis is the most famous example, but every City-state used commanding heights for defense. And as the arts and games became an even bigger factor in Grecian life during the "Golden Age," each polis built gymnasiums, theaters, and other stadiums. The city-states also had their own coins for currency. And despite all their rivalries and differences, most City-states would band together to fight foreign threats, indicating a shared sense of nationalism.

Regional Identity

At the same time, the City-states were markedly different. Many differences were based on location: for example, the City-state of Corinth was located on an isthmus and thus relied

heavily on sea trade. This made Corinth a natural rival of Athens, whereas it never rivaled Sparta despite its close proximity to that city-state. The city-state of Thebes opposed Athens so fervently that they actually fought with the Persians during the second of the Persian Wars.

The most unique city-state in Ancient Greece was Sparta, which continues to fascinate contemporary society. It is not entirely clear why Sparta placed such a great emphasis on having a militaristic society, but the result was that military fitness was a preoccupation from birth. If a Spartan baby did not appear physically fit at birth, it was left to die. Spartan children underwent military training around the age of seven years old, and every male had to join the army around the age of 18. Interestingly, Spartan females were formally educated, which was a rarity among the city-states.

These different Greek city-states fostered all the accomplishments of the Ancient Greek civilization, but warfare among them would also begin the decline of Ancient Greece.


Australians and Germans Fight the Battle of Thermopylae in 1941.

The Battle of Thermopylae is probably the most famous battle in Greek history, and it was very recently glorified in the movie 300, which derived its title from the famous unit of 300 Spartans that held the mountain pass and sacrificed themselves against a vastly superior Persian force during the Second Persian War, allowing other Greek soldiers time to escape and regroup.

The Battle of Thermopylae was fought where it was based on the fact that narrow mountain passes in the area made it a perfect spot to fight defensively. For that reason, there have been several battles at Thermopylae.

During the first two years of World War II, Nazi Germany conquered much of West em Europe. In 1941, the Germans invaded Greece, and Allied forces-comprising New Zealanders and Australians-found themselves defending the very same mountain passes at Thermopylae against the Nazis. Like its more famous predecessor, in this battle the Allied forces were fighting a holding action to allow time for other Allied forces to escape. During a day-long battle, the Allied forces successfully defended the passes. They withdrew from Thermopylae later that night.

Chapter 4

A Military Legacy

"We were victorious!"

-attributed to the runner Pheidippides after the Battle of Marathon

During the last 2,000 years, Western Civilization imported a great deal of culture from the Ancient Greeks, ranging from art, math, and architecture to philosophy, astronomy, and engineering. However, Western Civilization may have borrowed most heavily from the Greeks' innovations in warfare.

Most historians believe that the hop lite became the dominant infantry soldier in nearly all the Greek city-states around the eighth century B.C.E. In Ancient Greece the hoplite was responsible for obtaining his own equipment, so not every hoplite was equally armed. But generally, each individual hoplite was armed with a spear up to nine-feet long, heavy armor covering his head and chest, and a long shield. As a secondary weapon, most hoplites would carry swords that could be used in close combat.

The Phalanx

For the Greeks, a hoplite was only as strong as the hoplite next to him, because the hoplites' effectiveness was rooted in their phalanx formation. The Greeks' use of the phalanx formation was one of the most important innovations in the history of warfare. In the phalanx formation, hoplites in each line would lock their shields together for defense, while each hoplite in the first few rows of the formation would stick their long spears out over the top of the first row's shields. This had the advantage of heavily defending each soldier while also allowing more than the front line to engage in an attack. The phalanx advanced slowly to maintain its tight formation and unit cohesion, speeding up in unison just before reaching combat.

Once the phalanx was in combat, the first line of hoplites, while holding out their shields, would use their short swords to stab at the enemy in front of him, while the rows behind the first line would slash at enemies with their spears over the top of the first line. The rows in back of the first line would also use their shields to help hold up the hoplites in the front and help them maintain their balance. The formation and method of attack was designed to physically overpower the enemy and scare them, lowering their morale.

The phalanx formation fell out of favor by the height of the Roman Empire, but the principles behind it remained in use for subsequent infantry formations lasting past the American Civil War. Even during the age of gunpowder, infantry formations relief on tight unit cohesion. To accomplish this, infantry units were massed shoulder to shoulder, advancing slowly to maintain

formation, and were often sped up to a "quick march" or "double march" as they neared battle. As the Greeks relied on the hoplite to defend other hoplites and concentrate their attack, infantry units in the Civil War relied on concentrated gunfire to stun and scare the enemy. And as military commanders learned time and again throughout the ages, if soldiers were not packed shoulder to shoulder in a tight formation, they were far more likely to flee.

In addition to deciding the Greeks' wars, the phalanx also helped decide every other major infantry battle over the next 2,500 years.


The Phalanx on Film

In 2004, Brad Pitt starred as Achilles in Troy, and in 2006 Gerard Butler portrayed Spartan King Leonidas in 300. Both movies are replete with fighting scenes that depict hoplites fighting in phalanx formation. But how accurate were they?

In reality, the Trojan War was fought before the hoplite became a mainstream infantry unit, and Homer's story describes several individual warrior heroes on each side often fighting out of formation. That was actually common during the age of the Trojan War, before shields became a staple of infantry units. In Troy, the Greek soldiers are heavily armored like hop lites, but most of the fighting involves heroes like Achilles and Hector breaking formation and fighting off several men singlehandedly.

Conversely, in 300 the battle scenes very accurately portray the phalanx formation, the proper use of shields, the slow advance, and even the proper use of swords in the front line and spears in ranks behind the front line. But the movie was based on a comic book portrayal of the battle, in which the Spartans fight while practically naked. That said, it is difficult to tell whether the actual hoplites breastplate would offer as much protection as Gerard Butler's abs.

Chapter 5

The Birth of Democracy

"The secret of happiness is freedom. "


L ike every power before them, the Greek city-states were at first ruled by a select few people, whether in the form of oligarchies or absolute rulers like despots or kings. In 514 B.C.E., Athens was ruled by an unpopular dictator named Hippias, who was eventually overthrown. After Hippias' overthrow, the Athenians attempted the most important experiment in self-government of all time.

Around 508 B.C.E., the Athenians created democracy, which as an abstract concept would have been a great influence on the world by itself. But Athens' brand of democracy was remarkably free, even by modern standards. Their practices have been replicated or refined in all subsequent representative governments.

A Blueprint for Democracy

The most noteworthy characteristic of Athenian democracy is that it was a direct democracy. Today, most representative governments are republican in nature, with citizens electing representatives who cast votes on their behalf. In Athens, however, a citizen could literally vote on anything and everything that came up for a vote.

In Athens, only adult males who had completed military training could be citizens. However, unlike most self-representative governments before the 19th century, Athenian democracy did not require that citizens own property, making it a more open class of citizenry than most governments that followed it. In the same vein, Athenian citizenship did not depend on reaching a certain economic class. Athenians could also have their citizenship suspended, much in the same way felons in the modern United States cannot vote.

In Athenian democracy, the bodies of power were an Assembly, a council, and courts. Any citizen could attend and vote in the Assembly, which had what today would be considered both legislative and executive duties, from passing bills to declaring war. Thousands of Athenians would gather at Assembly meetings, where individual citizens could make speeches in favor or opposition of something to be voted upon. The Council was an executive body with rotating members that had less influence than the Assembly. The Athenians ensured that every office and leadership position consisted of more than one individual, both to prevent concentration of power and to prevent incompetent leadership. Despite having a direct democracy, it does not appear as though large political parties were ever established.

Athenian courts established the rule of law, introducing concepts that are still central to European and American legal systems. Members of the Athenian courts were considered representatives of the People. In Athenian courts, jurors swore oaths, and each side was allowed to state its case. The Athenians even devised a system in which verdicts could be overturned if one of the witnesses in the case was later prosecuted. All of these features have found their way into the West's legal systems.

Throughout the "Golden Age," Athens' democracy remained stable, surviving the Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War. Eventually, Athens' democracy would fall at the hands of foreign conquerors, starting with Alexander the Great in the middle of the fourth century B.C.E.

By then, the genie was out of the bottle.


Socrates on Trial

Athenians may have created the original representative government, but their democratic practices were far from perfect. Judging from the case of Socrates' famous trial, it seems the Athenians did not yet recognize freedom of speech.

Socrates is one of the most famous philosophers of all time, and in the wake of Athens' loss in the Peloponnesian War, he apparently had no trouble voicing criticism of Athenian democracy and praise for the Spartan enemy.

In 399 B.C.E., Socrates was put on trial for various offenses, including corruption. He was given a death sentence in the form of drinking hemlock. Socrates faced his death stoically. but his followers were irate. Plato, who made Socrates famous through his writings on Socrates' dialogues. would bitterly oppose Athenian democracy for the rest of his life. In one of Plato' s writings, Socrates would mock the Athenians as being childlike.

Chapter 6

The Golden Age

"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence"

-attributed to Aristotle

I n conjunction with the founding of democracy, Athens ushered in the "Golden Age" of the Ancient Greeks. During the Golden Age, the Greeks invented or mastered many fields of studies, engineering, art and poetry. The Greeks' achievements during the "Golden Age" continue to influence nations all across the world today.

From 500 - 350 B.C.E., the Ancient Greeks invented much more than democracy. Additionally, the Ancient Greeks were the forefathers of mathematics, philosophy, science, art, poetry, engineering, and architecture. In each of these fields, modern societies continue to use Ancient Greek technology and teachings.

Hellenic Ingenuity

During the "Golden Age," Greek architects mastered the use of pillars and columns to support buildings, the most famous of which is the Parthenon. Buildings all across North America and Europe bear the hallmarks of Ancient Greek architecture, most notably the use of marble and pillars. In the United States, the White House, as well as congressional buildings, courthouses and libraries still employ Ancient Greek architecture in their designs.

One of the most famous Ancient Greeks is Archimedes, who was an engineer, mathematician, physicist, scientist and astronomer all at once. Archimedes was the first to determine a way to measure an object's mass. Archimedes was also the first to realize that refracting the Sun's light could burn something, theorizing the existence of lasers over two millennia before they existed. We still use the design of the Archimedes' screw in water pumps today.

The Ancient Greeks also passed on their mastery of philosophy, art, and technology. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were among the first to refine philosophical thought, and Socrates is credited with devising the Socratic Method as a way to argue and debate points rationally. The Ancient Greek philosophers further stressed the importance of virtue and stoicism, advocating the improvement of one's self through constant learning and knowledge. These teachings and practices formed the foundation for philosophy and psychology as fields of study.

Sophocles and Euripides were among the first playwrights, creating complex dramas, tragedies and comedies meant to elicit emotional reactions from viewers. Mixing poetry, acting, and

storytelling, the Ancient Greeks developed an art form that William Shakespeare would master almost 2,000 years later.

Grecian developments in math and science continue to be used today. The Greeks' teachings on geometry remained the leading source on that field of mathematics well into the 19th century. The Greeks were among the first to study and calculate angles, which they were then able to apply to everything from physics to engineering to art design. Every child in school still learns the Pythagorean Theorem, named after the sixth-century mathematician Pythagoras. Euclid, also known as the "Father of Geometry," produced work on angles, spheres, and cones, remaining the authority on geometric shapes into the 19th century. This work was applied to Greek study of astronomy, allowing astronomers in the third century B.C.E. to accurately determine the size of the Earth, and also determine that the Sun was larger than the planets.

Given how much of this early innovation is still in use today, it does not seem surprising that the Ancient Greeks' technological advances would not be surpassed until 1,500 years after the civilization's decline.


The Legend of the "Archimedes Heat Ray"

Archimedes lived in the city of Syracuse, which was located on the island of Sicily, during the third century B.C.E., technically after the "Golden Age" of Ancient Greece. But he was second to no Greek in terms of ingenuity. When the Romans attempted to invade Syracuse in the third century B.C.E., they apparently had to deal with Archimedes, who helped devise several weapons of war, including siege weapons.

Accounts from Roman historians gave birth to legends of a fanciful device they called the "Archimedes Heat Ray." According to these writers, Archimedes figured out a way to focus sunlight on Roman ships and burn them. The idea of a "heat ray" captured the imagination of people as far back as the Renaissance. Rene Descartes himself considered the possibility of the heat ray before finding it implausible.

The "Archimedes Heat Ray" has been tried several times by enterprising students and the popular show Mythbusters, which concluded that the heat ray weapon almost certainly did not exist.

Though it is unlikely Archimedes designed a "heat ray," the theory that the Sun's light could be intensified by curving and bending it would prove accurate.

Chapter 7

The Price of War

"The Spartans do not enquire how many the enemy are but where they are. "

-attributed to Spartan King Agis II

A 11 good things come to an end at some point, and the civilization of Ancient Greece was no exception. The Ancient Greeks are celebrated for all of their incredible accomplishments, but in reality they were in frequent conflict with each other, even at the height of the "Golden Age." Eventually, the infighting would start an irreversible decline, punctuated by the Peloponnesian War.

From the "Archaic Ages," the Greek city-states were constantly battling themselves. In particular, the city-states of Thebes, Corinth, Athens, and Sparta all formed different alliances and rivalries throughout the centuries as circumstances dictated. Ironically, the overthrow of the Athenian dictator Hippias was accomplished with the help of a Spartan army, making Athenian democracy possible in the first place.

The Persian War

Generally, the Greek city-states would put their infighting on hold when it became clear that they all faced a common enemy. The most famous examples of this "nationalism" were the cooperation of the city-states during the Persian Wars, which threatened to make the "Golden Age" a stillborn movement in the early fifth century B.C.E.

In 490 B.C.E., the Persian Empire, led by Darius II, invaded Greece. The Persians were defeated at Marathon, prompting Pheidippides to run 26.2 miles back to Athens to tell of victory. A mere seven years later, Darius' son Xerxes led an invasion of Greece. After the famous Battle of Thermopylae, Xerxes advanced all the way to Athens and occupied the city for a time. The Persians were defeated at the naval battle of Salamis by a mostly Athenian fleet in 480 B.C.E., saving Greece a second time.

The Peloponnesian War

However, the Greeks could not be saved from themselves. Athens had gained power and influence during the "Golden Age," becoming the most powerful city-state in Greece. But around 430 B.C.E., they entered the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and its allies in the Peloponnesian League. The War would continue off and on for nearly 30 years, enveloping Greece in civil war.

As each side grew more desperate for victory, the contest turned into total warfare between Athens and Sparta, with each side decimating the others and targeting economic resources. In 405 B.C.E., Athens surrendered. By the end of the war, Athens' pre-war prosperity was completely gone, as was its prestige. For its part, the city-states of the Peloponnesian League were completely broke. Sparta was now the strongest city-state in Greece, but its victory in the Peloponnesian War would ultimately prove to be a Pyrrhic victory. The Peloponnesian War had ended the Greeks' "Golden Age," aptly symbolized by Sparta's insertion of a puppet government in place of Athens' democracy.

A Weary Civilization

Even after the Peloponnesian War had devastated Greece, the city-states continued to fight each other. In 395 B.C.E., Sparta fought the Corinthian War against Athens, Thebes, Argos and Corinth. Sparta also fought Thebes at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 B.C.E. Ironically, around that same time Thebes was holding a young Macedonian hostage. That Macedonian would become Phillip II, and his conquest of Greece a few decades later would mark the beginning of the end of Ancient Greece.

Despite intermittent resistance from the Thracians and Athenians, Macedonian rule under Phillip II and his famously "great" son, Alexander, effectively marked the decline of classic Greek civilization.


All's Fair in War and ... Water?

When Xerxes I succeeded his father as leader of the Persian Empire, he wasted no time plotting another invasion of Greece. To help move his large army into Greece, Xerxes was determined to build two long bridges across the Hellespont (now known as the Dardanelles), a strait separating the Persian Empire from Europe. In some places, the strait is more than 30 miles wide.

According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the "Father of History," Xerxes' bridges were destroyed by a storm in 492 B.C.E .. Xerxes was so upset that he ordered his soldiers to whip the Hellespont 300 times. But that was not enough punishment for the poor Hellespont: Xerxes also ordered his soldiers to shout at the water and brand it with hot irons.

After administering these punishments, Xerxes' army successfully built a bridge across the Hellespont by tying boats together all the way across the strait.

Chapter 8

The Fall of Ancient Greece

"How great are the dangers I face to win a good name in Athens. "

-attributed to Alexander the Great

I n the middle of the fourth century B.C.E., Phillip II of Macedon became the first foreign conqueror to subdue all of Greece in at least 800 years. Over the next 250 years, Greece would be conquered by his successor, Alexander the Great, and the Romans, bringing the Hellenic age to an end. Ironically, the conquer of Greece by these foreign empires would spread Greek culture far further than the city-states ever would have, given their preoccupation with fighting each other.

Though he was held in captivity as a child, Phillip II was in fact the young son of a Macedonian king. After Phillip II was freed from captivity in Thebes, he eventually became the leader of Macedon. From about 356 - 340 B.C.E., Phillip II led the Macedonians in a series of battles throughout Greece. When Phillip II was assassinated in 336 B.C.E., his young son, Alexander, would eventually ascend to power. In a mere 13 years, Alexander the Great would lead armies across much of the known world, spreading east across Asia Minor into India, while also reaching as far south as Africa.

While Alexander was spreading his empire, he was also spreading the Greeks' culture. Though Macedonia was not technically part of Greece, it shared Greece's Hellenic culture and the Greek language. As an adolescent, Alexander was tutored by Aristotle, a disciple of Plato and Socrates. Alexander's most trusted generals were his childhood friends from Macedonia, including Ptolemy, Hephaistion, and Cassander.

When Alexander died in 323 B.C.E., he had already greatly succeeded in "Hellenizing" Persia and Asia Minor. For example, anthropologists have noted the first Buddha statues constructed in India bear a striking similarity to Ancient Greek depictions of Apollo. At his death, his generals split the empire into three parts, one part being ruled by Ptolemy from Alexandria, Egypt, a city which Alexander himself founded. Ptolemy's line maintained the Hellenistic ways of the Greeks while ruling over Egypt. Mostly marrying within their family lines, these pharaohs kept their Hellenistic origins all the way to the end of Ptolemy's line, which died with Cleopatra in 30 B.C.E.

Much of Alexander's old empire was conquered during the last two centuries before Christ by the Roman Empire, including Cleopatra's Egypt. But instead of ending the influence of the Ancient Greeks, the Roman Empire bolstered it. Having conquered Greece itself around 100 B.C.E., the Roman Empire heavily adopted and assimilated Greek culture. The Romans'

language, Latin, was an offshoot of the Greeks' language; the Romans' mythology was nearly identical to the Greeks'; and the Romans borrowed heavily from Grecian poetry, literature, and art. Virgil's Aeneid, considered the most epic Roman poetry, was very much like The Iliad and The Odyssey.

The Roman Empire would last nearly 600 years after it conquered Greece and assimilated its culture. In that time, they had consolidated one of the greatest empires in history, entrenching the Ancient Greek and Roman culture throughout Europe. Rome fell in the fifth century C.E., but the culture of antiquity would remain, waiting to be "rediscovered" during the Renaissance.


The History of Alexander the Great's Tomb

Alexander the Great died near Babylon under mysterious circumstances in 323 B.C.E., when he was only in his mid-30s. Though his generals were unsure what killed him, they did realize the value of his body. According to ancient historians, Ptolemy managed to come into possession of Alexander's body and brought it with him into his empire. At some point, Alexander's sarcophagus made its way to Alexandria, where it remained for at least the next 300 years.

Alexander's tomb became something of a tourist destination during the rest of antiquity. Eventually his gold sarcophagus was replaced with a glass casing, allowing people to view his body. These historians claim that several famous Romans took advantage of the opportunity during the first century B.C.E., as Rome was in the midst of conquering the Ptolemaic empire.

Apparently, the Romans' visits produced strange results. History has it that both Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar viewed Alexander's body in Alexandria, without incident. However, when Caesar Augustus visited Alexander's tomb, he is said to have accidentally knocked Alexander's nose off his body. Making matters worse, it was said that the Roman Emperor Caligula, known today for being crazy, took Alexander's breastplate from the tomb and used it as his own.

The last known date in which a Roman emperor visited Alexander's tomb was in 200 C.E. After that, it is unknown what happened to Alexander's tomb, and its location is lost to history.

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Ancient Greece 101: The TextVook

by Dr. Vook, Ph.D and Charles River Editors

Archimedes said: "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." Welcome to Ancient Greece! Whether you're a history buff or always wanted to know more about this fascinating period of history, "Ancient Greece 101: The TextVook" is the newest, most engaging way to learn it all. This Vook presents Ancient Greece in an exciting

and easy-to-follow format. In "Ancient Greece 101: The TextVook," Dr. Vook, Ph.D, covers the key places, figures and events in eight chapters that will leave you inspired and help you retain all that you've learned. Take a leap back to the birth of Western Civilization's roots with Dr. Vook, and explore the bravery, artistry, innovation, and romance of Ancient Greece. You'll encounter the incredible personalities, cultures and wars that influence today's great societies,

and all in a format that's easy to follow and never boring.

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Compilation copyright © 2011 Vook, Inc.

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