13.5.16

Ancient Greece




Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC[citation needed] to the end of antiquity (c. 600 AD). Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in ancient Greece is the period of Classical Greece, which flourished during the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Classical Greece began with the repelling of a Persian invasion by Athenian leadership. Because of conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedonia, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea.

Classical Greek culture, especially philosophy, had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of the Mediterranean Basin and Europe. For this reason Classical Greece is generally considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of modern Western culture and is considered as the cradle of Western civilization.



In the 8th century BC, Greece began to emerge from the Dark Ages which followed the fall of the Mycenaean civilization. Literacy had been lost and Mycenaean script forgotten, but the Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet, modifying it to create the Greek alphabet. From about the 9th century BC written records begin to appear.[9] Greece was divided into many small self-governing communities, a pattern largely dictated by Greek geography: every island, valley and plain is cut off from its neighbors by the sea or mountain ranges.[10] , The Lelantine War (c. 710 – c. 650 BC) is the earliest documented war of the ancient Greek period. It was fought between the important poleis (city-states) of Chalcis and Eretria over the fertile Lelantine plain of Euboea. Both cities seem to have suffered a decline as result of the long war, though Chalcis was the nominal victor.

A mercantile class arose in the first half of the 7th century, shown by the introduction of coinage in about 680 BC. This seems to have introduced tension to many city-states. The aristocratic regimes which generally governed the poleis were threatened by the new-found wealth of merchants, who in turn desired political power. From 650 BC onwards, the aristocracies had to fight not to be overthrown and replaced by populist tyrants. This word derives from the non-pejorative Greek τύραννος tyrannos, meaning 'illegitimate ruler', and was applicable to both good and bad leaders alike. 

A growing population and a shortage of land also seem to have created internal strife between the poor and the rich in many city-states. In Sparta, the Messenian Wars resulted in the conquest of Messenia and enserfment of the Messenians, beginning in the latter half of the 8th century BC, an act without precedent or antecedent in ancient Greece. This practice allowed a social revolution to occur.[14] The subjugated population, thenceforth known as helots, farmed and labored for Sparta, whilst every Spartan male citizen became a soldier of the Spartan Army in a permanently militarized state. Even the elite were obliged to live and train as soldiers; this commonality between rich and poor citizens served to defuse the social conflict. These reforms, attributed to the shadowy Lycurgus of Sparta, were probably complete by 650 BC.

Athens suffered a land and agrarian crisis in the late 7th century, again resulting in civil strife. The Archon (chief magistrate) Draco made severe reforms to the law code in 621 BC (hence "draconian"), but these failed to quell the conflict. Eventually the moderate reforms of Solon (594 BC), improving the lot of the poor but firmly entrenching the aristocracy in power, gave Athens some stability.


A map showing the Greek territories and colonies during the Archaic period.
By the 6th century BC several cities had emerged as dominant in Greek affairs: Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes. Each of them had brought the surrounding rural areas and smaller towns under their control, and Athens and Corinth had become major maritime and mercantile powers as well.

Rapidly increasing population in the 8th and 7th centuries had resulted in emigration of many Greeks to form colonies in Magna Graecia (Southern Italy and Sicily), Asia Minor and further afield. The emigration effectively ceased in the 6th century by which time the Greek world had, culturally and linguistically, become much larger than the area of present-day Greece. Greek colonies were not politically controlled by their founding cities, although they often retained religious and commercial links with them.

The emigration process also determined a long series of conflicts between the Greek cities of Sicily, especially Syracuse, and the Carthaginians. These conflicts lasted from 600 BC to 265 BC when Rome entered into an alliance with the Mamertines to fend off the hostilities by the new tyrant of Syracuse, Hiero II and then the Carthaginians. This way Rome became the new dominant power against the fading strength of the Sicilian Greek cities and the Carthaginian supremacy in the region. One year later the First Punic War erupted.

Main article: Greek–Punic Wars
In this period, there was huge economic development in Greece, and also in its overseas colonies which experienced a growth in commerce and manufacturing. There was a great improvement in the living standards of the population. Some studies estimate that the average size of the Greek household, in the period from 800 BC to 300 BC, increased five times, which indicates[citation needed] a large increase in the average income of the population.

In the second half of the 6th century, Athens fell under the tyranny of Peisistratos and then of his sons Hippias and Hipparchos. However, in 510 BC, at the instigation of the Athenian aristocrat Cleisthenes, the Spartan king Cleomenes I helped the Athenians overthrow the tyranny. Afterwards, Sparta and Athens promptly turned on each other, at which point Cleomenes I installed Isagoras as a pro-Spartan archon. Eager to prevent Athens from becoming a Spartan puppet, Cleisthenes responded by proposing to his fellow citizens that Athens undergo a revolution: that all citizens share in political power, regardless of status: that Athens become a "democracy". So enthusiastically did the Athenians take to this idea that, having overthrown Isagoras and implemented Cleisthenes's reforms, they were easily able to repel a Spartan-led three-pronged invasion aimed at restoring Isagoras.  The advent of the democracy cured many of the ills of Athens and led to a 'golden age' for the Athenians.


Archaic Greece
  • Archaic Period (800 BC – 480 BC).

776 Traditional date for the first historic Olympic games.
757 The First Messenian War starts. (Date disputed by Jerome, Pausanias and Diodorus; this estimate is based on a reading of Diodorus' Spartan king lists and Pausanias' description of the war).
757 Athens: Office of Archon reduced to 10 years. Members of the ruling family to possess the office starting with Charops. (Dating based on Pausanias).
754 Polydorus becomes king of Sparta.
738 Alternate date for the end of the first Messenian war.
735 Perdiccas I of Macedon flees from Argos to Macedonia and conquers the land.
734 Polydorus sends colonists to Italy.
727–717 Hippomenes, archon of Athens, kills his daughter's adulterer by yoking him to his chariot and then locks his daughter in with a horse until she dies. (Pausanias and Aristotle).
c. 725 Lelantine War between Chalcis and Eretria. Many Greek cities are allied with one or the other. Dates before this time uncertain.
719 Polydorus, king of Sparta, is murdered by Polymarchus.
716 According to legend: The reign of the Heraklids over Lydia is ended when Candaules, known as Myrsilus to the Greeks, is murdered by Gyges because of his wife’s anger.
690 Pheidon becomes tyrant of Argos.
687 Annual office of Archon established in Athens. Any Athenian citizen can be elected to the office if they have the qualifications. Creon elected first annual archon. (Dating based on Pausanias).
685 The second Messenian war begins.
665 The second Messenian war ends.
656 Cypselus subjects Corinth to tyranny.
645–560 Spartan wars with Tegea all unsuccessful.
642 or 634 Battus establishes a Greek colony in Cyrene in Libya.
632 Cylon, Athenian noble, seizes Acropolis and tries to make himself king, fails.
630 Formal pederasty is introduced, first in Crete, as a means of population control and an educational modality.
621 Draco, Athenian lawgiver, issues code of laws, with many crimes punishable by death.
594 Solon, Athenian statesman, becomes Archon pre-582BCE (cf. ML6 (death of Kypselos 585BCE) and Plutarch Sol. 14), captures Salamis from Megarians—later, when member of the Areopagus is appointed to effect social reforms in order to preserve order in Athens, which include the abolition of the security of debts on a debtor's person (Aristotle Ath. Pol. 6), returning exiled Athenian slaves (Solon fr. 4 in Ath. Pol. 12), changing the value of weights and measures to the Korinthian standard, prohibiting the export of grain from Attica and encouraging the planting of olives (Plut. Sol. 22-4), established the property classes (Ar. Ath. Pol. 7) and the council of 400 (Ar. Ath. Pol. 8).
590 Sappho, Greek poetess, flourishes on island of Lesbos.
585 The philosopher Thales of Miletus predicts a solar eclipse that occurs during the Battle of Halys.
569 Pythagoras is born.
565 Peisistratos, Athenian general, organizes Diakrioi, party of poor people.
510 Pythagoras establishes his own school.
500 Pythagoras dies in Crotona, Italy, when he was in Metapontum.


  • Late Archaic Period

561 Peisistratos takes power in Athens for first time.
555 Peisistratos driven out by Lycurgus who is commander of nobles.
549 Peisistratos restored by help of Megacles.
546 Croesus, rich king of Lydia, captured at Sardis by Persians.
542 Peisistratos expelled, makes fortune from Thracian mines.
532 Peisistratos restored by Thessaly and Lygdamis of Naxos.
527 Peisistratos dies, succeeded by sons Hippias and Hipparchus.
525 Persian Cambyses II, son of Cyrus the Great takes Egypt.
515 Hippias becomes sole ruler after the death of Hipparchus.
508 Hippias is forced to leave Athens.
507 Cleisthenes, Greek reformer, takes power, increases democracy.
490 Themistocles and Miltiades, Athenians, defeat Darius at Marathon, Phidippides runs with news.
484 Aeschylus, Athenian playwright wins his first victory at the City Dionysia.


Classical Greece

  • Classical period (480 BC – 323 BC).

480 Leonidas, Spartan, sacrifices 300 Spartan soldiers at the Battle of Thermopylae so main force can escape; Xerxes son of Darius is commanding the Persians.
480 Simultaneous with Thermopylae, the Greeks and Persians fight to a draw in the naval Battle of Artemisium.
480 Battle of Salamis: Themistocles, Athenian general, lures Persians into Bay of Salamis, Xerxes loses and goes home, leaves behind Mardonius.
479 Pausanias, Greek general routs Mardonius at the Battle of Plataea.
479 Battle of Mycale frees Greek colonies in Asia. After the Battle of Salamis, Athens initiated the Delian League, with treasury initially on island of Delos, a confederacy of cities around the Aegean Sea. It was intended as a military defense association against Persia but became controlled by the Athenians, who collected tribute and decided policy. Sparta formed rival Peloponnesian League.
476–462 Cimon elected general each year, he was victorious over Persia and then enforced military power on Delian League.
474 Pindar, Greek poet relocates to Thebes (in Greece) from court at Syracuse.
471 Themistocles ostracized.
468 Sophocles, Greek playwright, defeats Aeschylus for Athenian Prize for drama.
461 Cimon ostracized.
457 Pericles, Athenian statesman begins Golden Age, he was taught by Anaxagoras, who believed in dualistic Universe and atoms.
456 Aeschylus dies.
449 Herodotus, Greek Historian, writes History of Greco-Persian War from 490–479.
448 Ictinus and Callicrates, Greek architects rebuild Acropolis from Persian destruction.
441 Euripides, Greek playwright, wins Athenian prize.
440 Heraclitus, Greek philosopher, teaches that everything is mutable.
435 Phidias, Greek sculptor, completes statue of Zeus at Elis, 1 of 7 wonders of the world.
433 Corinth, Sparta, Megara and Aegina ally against Corfu, Athens, Rhegium, and Leontini.
432 End of "Golden Age", Athens under Pericles blockades Potidaea (Battle of Potidaea), Corfu declares war on Corinth (Battle of Sybota).
431 Sparta commanded by King Archidamus II prepares to destroy Athens thus starting the Peloponnesian War.
431 Empedocles, Greek doctor, believes body has Four Temperaments.
430 Failed peace mission by Athens, bubonic plague year, Sparta takes no prisoners.
430 Leucippus, Greek philosopher, believes every natural event has natural cause. Athenian Plague begins in Athens.
429 Phormio, Athenian admiral, wins the Battle of Chalcis.
429 Pericles dies of Athenian Plague, possibly typhus or bubonic plague.
429 Hippocrates, Greek doctor, believes diseases have physical cause.
428 Plato born.
428 Mytilene rebels, chief city of Lesbos.
427 Archidamus II dies, Alcidas, Greek admiral sent to help Lesbos, raids Ionia and flees after seeing Athenian might. Athenian Plague returns.
427 Mytilene surrenders to Athens, Plataeans surrender to Athens.
427 Aristophanes, Greek playwright, wins Athenian Prize.
426 Corfu secures island for Athens.
426 Demosthenes, Athenian general, and Cleon, Athenian demagogue, revitalizes Athenian forces, makes bold plans opposed by Nicias, his first military campaign barely succeeds.
425 Athenian fleet bottles up Spartan navy at Navarino Bay, Nicias resigns.
424 Syracuse sends Athenians home.
424 Pagondas of Thebes (in Greece) crushes Athenian army at the Battle of Delium, Brasidas a Spartan general makes a successful campaign, Cleon exiles Thucydides for 20 years for arriving late.
423 Truce of Laches supposed to stop Brasidas but doesn't, Nicias commands Athenian forces in retaking Mende.
422 Cleon meets Brasidas outside of Amphipolis, both are killed (Battle of Amphipolis).
421 Peace of Nicias brings temporary end to war, but Alcibiades, a nephew of Pericles, makes anti-Sparta alliance.
420 Quadruple alliance of Athens, Argos, Mantinea, and Elis confronts Spartan-Boeotian alliance.
419 King Agis II of Sparta attacks Argos, makes treaty.
418 Battle of Mantinea, greatest land battle of war, gives Sparta victory over Argos, which violated treaty, Alcibiades thrown out, alliance ended.
416 Alcibiades makes plans, is restored to power.
416 Massacre of the Melians.
415 Hermai statues are mutilated in Athens, Alcibiades accused, asks for inquiry, told to set sail for battle (Sicilian Expedition), is condemned to death in absentia, he defects to Sparta.
414 Lamachus, Athenian commander killed at Syracuse.
413 Nicias and Demosthenes killed at Syracuse.
412 Alcibiades is expelled from Sparta, conspires to come back to Athens.
411 Democracy ends in Athens by Antiphon, Peisander, and Phrynichus (oligarch), overthrown by Theramenes, Constitution of the 5000, Athenian navy recalls Alcibiades, confirmed by Athenians.
410 After several successes, Athenian demagogue Cleophon rejects Spartan peace offers.
409 Byzantium recaptured by Alcibiades for Athens.
408 Alcibiades reenters Athens in triumph, Lysander, a Spartan commander, has fleet built at Ephesus.
407 Lysander begins destruction of Athenian fleet, Alcibiades stripped of power.
406 Callicratides, Spartan naval commander, loses Battle of Arginusae over blockade of Mitylene harbor, Sparta sues for peace, rejected by Cleophon.
405 Lysander captures Athenian fleet, Spartan king Pausanias besieges Athens, Cleophon executed, Corinth and Thebes demand destruction of Athens.
404 Athens capitulates April 25. Theramenes secures terms, prevents total destruction of Athens, Theramenes and Alcibiades are killed.
401 Thucydides, Greek historian, leaves account of "Golden Age of Pericles" and Peloponnesian War at his death (History of the Peloponnesian War).
400 Democritus, Greek philosopher, develops Atomic theory, believes cause and necessity, nothing comes out of nothing
399 Socrates, Greek philosopher, condemned to death for corrupting youth.
387 Peace of Antalcidas concluded between the Greeks and the Persians.
347 Plato, Greek philosopher, founder of Academy, dies.
342 Aristotle, Greek philosopher, begins teaching Alexander, son of Philip of Macedon.
338 King Philip II of Macedon defeats Athens and Thebes at Battle of Chaeronea August 2 and establishes League of Corinth during winter of 338 BC/337 BC.
336 Alexander succeeds father Philip II, who was assassinated by Pausanias of Orestis.
333 Alexander defeats Persians at Battle of Issus, Oct, but Darius III escapes.
332 Alexander conquers Egypt.
331 at Battle of Gaugamela October 1, Alexander ends Achaemenid Dynasty and conquers Persian Empire.
329 Alexander conquers Samarkand.
327 Alexander invades northern India, but his army is despondent and refuses to march further eastwards.

Hellenistic Greece

  • Hellenistic period (323 BC – 146 BC).

323 King Alexander dies, his generals vie for power in Wars of the Diadochi:Antigonus—Macedon, Antipater—Macedon, Seleucus—Babylonia and Syria, Ptolemy—Egypt, Eumenes—Macedon, Lysimachus, later Antipater's son Cassander also vies for power.
323–322 Lamian War.
322–320 First War of the Diadochi.
320 Partition of Triparadisus.
320–311 Second War of the Diadochi.
316 Menander, Greek playwright, wins Athenian prize.
310 Zeno of Citium founds his stoic school in Athens.
307 Epicurus founds his philosophic school in Athens.
301 Battle of Ipsus.
300 Euclid, Greek mathematician, publishes Elements, treating both geometry and number theory (see also Euclidean algorithm).
295 Athens falls to Demetrius, Lachares killed.
281 Creation of the Achaean League.
280–275 Pyrrhic War.
279 Gallic invasion of the Balkans.
274–271 First Syrian War.
267–262 Chremonidean War.
265 Archimedes, Greek mathematician, develops Archimedes' screw, specific gravity, center of gravity; anticipates discoveries of integral calculus.
260–253 Second Syrian War.
246–241 Third Syrian War.
219–217 Fourth Syrian War.
214–205 First Macedonian War.
203–200 Fifth Syrian War.
200–196 Second Macedonian War.
192–188 Roman–Syrian War.
172–167 Third Macedonian War.
170–168 Sixth Syrian War.
150–148 Fourth Macedonian War.

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