Ancient Greece—Hellenistic Era
336 to 146 B.C.
Reign of Alexander to Rome Destroys Corinth
Era Summary—Hellenistic Era
died shortly after the battle of Chaeronea leaving his young son to the throne. The Greeks, led by Thebes, immediately tried to throw off the Macedonian garrison, but Alexander, only twenty years old at the time, quickly put down all revolts with an iron hand. He razed Thebes to the ground, sold their citizens into slavery, and prevented a revolution in Athens by a combination of threats and diplomacy.
The story of Alexander’s conquest of Persia is full of interest, but boils down to several large scale battles, in each of which the Macedonian forces prevailed over a vastly larger Persian host. The four great battles of Alexander’s conquest of Persia were Granicus, Issus, Guagamela, and Hydaspes, which won for him the Near East, Syria, Media, and Hindustan respectively. The entire conquest took only seven years and was completed before Alexander’s 30th birthday. It was his very youth that caused his downfall however, not to a conqueror, but to dissipation. Only a few years after returning from his farthest campaign in India he succumbed to an illness undoubtedly brought on by excessive drink.
The results of Alexander’s conquests were enormous both culturally and politically, but when he died, he left neither a legitimate heir, nor an outstanding general strong enough to hold his empire together. It was therefore divided, after, between four of his generals. The main divisions early in the wars were in Egypt, in the Far East, in the Near East, and in Macedonia and Greece, but in the final settlement, the descendents of Antipater lost their kingdom to those of Antigonus. The kingdoms were all of the traditional despotic variety, with no pretense of self-rule or democratic government.
The cultural effects of Alexander’s conquests were, therefore, much more striking than his political legacy. Alexander, who had grown up withas a tutor, believed that Greek culture was superior to any other and did all he could to spread the Greek language and learning throughout the regions he conquered. Both Alexander and his generals founded many new cities based on the Greek model, with streets laid out in grids, market places, gymnasiums, theatres, council halls, and baths. The Greek language became the one used for education and higher learning. Libraries and schools of learning were maintained in most major cities. In the east, many of the towns founded by the Macedonians never really took root, but in the Mediterranean regions, Greek culture became dominant, and prevailed until the of the seventh century.
The first phase of theoccurred during the Second Punic War, and the last, culminating in the Battle of Pydna, resulted in the complete overthrow of Macedonian rule over mainland Greece. About this time, several of the city-states in the Peloponnese fought a series of to defend their interests. Their intrigues led to an uprising in 146 BC against Roman rule, and as a result, a Roman army invaded Greece and destroyed the city of Corinth. After this, mainland Greece was ruled as a Province of the Roman Empire.
The influence of Greek culture on that of Rome was tremendous. Even before the Roman conquest of Greece, Greek scholars and teachers were very influential in Rome, since Greek was the language of learning throughout the Mediterranean. The Roman religion, art, philosophy, literature, and even the formalization of Latin grammar was heavily influenced by Greek culture. Educated Greek slaves were very expensive and sought after by aristocratic Romans families as teachers for their children. But just as in Classical Greece, where there was tension and distrust between stoic Sparta, and cultured Athens, the Greek influence was resisted by stoic Romans, such as, who feared its decadent influence.
Eventually Rome conquered the eastern portion of the territory that was once part of Alexander’s Hellenistic empire. By that time, however, Greek culture was so well-established that it remained the language of commerce and learning in the eastern Mediterranean long after Rome’s political domination of the area. It was only the western part of the Empire, including Italy, Gaul, and Britain, where Latin became the predominant language. The Greek centers of learning in the east, including Athens, Alexandria, Rhodes, Ephesus, Tarsus, Perganum, continued to prosper under the Pax Romana, and produced many of the greatest scholars of Roman times, in the fields of literature, medicine, geography, astronomy, philosophy, and many others. Among them were, one of the greatest scientists of Ancient times, , the great biographer, Eratosthenes, who correctly measured the size of the earth, Galen, who made great advances in medicine, and Hypatia, a female philosopher and teacher. In addition, Christianity thrived in the eastern empire, and produced many of the most important early saints and missionaries of the time.
Age of Alexander
|Greatest general of ancient times. Conquered Persian Empire with 40,000 soldiers.|
|Chief general of both Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great. Eventually killed by Alexander.|
|One of Philip's most trusted generals. Left in charge of Macedonia during Alexander's conquests.|
|Wife of Philip of Macedon. Alexander's mother. Quarreled with Antipater over charge of Macedonia.|
|Last king of Persia, overthrown by Alexander the Great.|
|Proud King of India, defeated by Alexander, but then restored as Satrap of the region.|
Diadochi - Early Division of Empire
|Took over the empire of Alexander at his death, but couldn't keep it.|
|General of Alexander, founded Egyptian Dynasty that lasted for 300 years.|
|Enemy of Antigonus, allied with Perdiccas; controlled Asia Minor until killed by Antigonus.|
|Allied with Antipater and Ptolemy I in early Diadochi Wars. Won control of Asia Minor and Syria.|
|Son of Antipater. Wrestled control of Macedonia from Polyperchon. Enemy of Olympias.|
|Bodyguard of Alexander. Took control of Thrace on his death. Engaged in Wars of Diadochi.|
Later Hellenistic Empires
|Son of Antigonus, active in the wars of the Diadochi.|
|Son of a general of Alexander. Founded Seleucid Dynasty, in Syria and Central Asia.|
|Renowned general, won victories in Macedon, Italy, and Greece, but failed to follow up wins.|
|Minister of Thessaly, and friend and advisor of Pyrrhus of Epirus.|
|Son of Demetrius. After many battles, ended with control of Macedon and established Antigonid Dynasty.|
|King of Syria who warred with Rome in Thrace and Asia Minor.|
|Lead a Jewish rebellion during the reign of the Syrian King Antiochus V.|
Sparta vs. Achaean League
|King who tried to reform Sparta and return to laws of Lycurgus. Killed for his efforts.|
|Successfully implemented many reforms in Sparta, but was resisted by Achaean League.|
|Leader of Achaean League; First resisted Macedonia, then forced an alliance to defeat Sparta.|
|Lead the Achaean League. Tried to unite Greeks, shortly before Greece fell to Rome.|
Hellenistic Era Science
|Most eminent mathematician of his age, wrote Elements of Geometry.|
|Eminent scientist and inventor. Held off Roman siege of Syracuse with clever defenses.|
|Early Greek scientist from Alexandria who correctly predicted the precise size of the earth in 200 BC.|
|Taken as Greek hostage during Macedonian wars; historian of Punic Wars.|
Greco-Roman Science and Literature
|Greek Geographer and philosopher. Well known for a 17 volume geographic history of the world.|
|Most outstanding moralist and biographer of ancient times. Wrote Lives of Greeks and Romans.|
|Greatest map-maker of Roman times. Renowned expert in Astronomy and Geography.|
|Renowned physician and philosopher whose works on the human body were studied until the 17th century.|
|Philosopher and teacher who lived in Alexandria.|
|335||Alexander destroys Thebes when it rebels against Macedonia.|
|334||Alexander invades Persia. Battle of the Granicus delivers Asia Minor.|
|333||Alexander cuts Gordian Knot; Victory at Battle of Issus delivers Syria.|
|332||Siege of Tyre ends in a hard-won victory. Egypt opens its doors to Alexander.|
|331||Alexander meetsin Battle of Guagamela (aka Arabela) —conquers all of Persia.|
|327||Alexander invades central Asia and conquers India at the Battle of Hydaspes.|
|323||Death of Alexander and the division of his Empire.|
|322||kills himself after failure of .|
|fought among Alexander's generals over control of his empire.|
|331||wins control of Egypt at the Battle of Pelusium.|
|302||wins control of Syria at the Battle of Ipsus, is killed.|
|281-271||and much of Greece but fails to hold his territory.|
|are fought for control Greece.|
|197||Romans punish the Macedonians for supporting Hannibal at the Battle of Cynoscephalae.|
|168||Romans, underconquer Macedonia at the Battle of Pydna.|
|are fought among Greek city states for control of the Peloponnese.|
|226||Spartans, underdestroy the Achaean league capital of Megalopolis.|
|221||The Achaeans, led by, ally with Macedonia to defeat Sparta.|
|183||Achaean League underdefeats Nabis, the tyrant of Sparta.|
|146||Achaean League resists Roman domination and is defeated. Corinth is destroyed.|
Recommended Reading—Hellenistic Era
Read chapters from "core" texts before reviewing study questions.