Classical Greece Time Line
2000 B.C. Minoan
civilization prospers on
thrives on Greek
About 1200 B.C.
Trojan War takes
750 B.C. Greek
479 B.C. Greece triumphs
in Persian Wars.
starts to build
Classical Greece, 2000 B.C. –300 B.C.
• A rugged Greek landscape causes the creation
• They fight one another but unite to fight
invaders from Persia
• Athens becomes the home of culture, but it’s
empire collapses after years of war from
• Alexander conquers Greece, the Persian
Empire and Egypt
• After His death a new culture blends
influences from territories he conquered
Greece is rocky, with high mountains and deep valleys
making it difficult to move over the land.
• Greeks living in different areas could not be easily united
• Good farm land covered only a small portion of Greece
and could not support many people.
• They did have easy access to the sea
• They became excellent sailors
• Trade became important
• The climate is mild which allowed Greek men to spend
much time outdoors
• They attended public events
• Were active in civic life
Landscape Affects Life
POLIS: The city-state was primary
political unit in ancient Greece
Each city controlled 50 to 500
A polis was made up of a city and
its surrounding countryside which
included numerous villages
Greek’s identified themselves more
with their local city-state and less with
their shared culture.
This created rivalries among them and
the Greeks constantly fought one
Can you name any Greek City-States?
The polis were often
no larger than 20,000
citizens and on a
fortified hilltop, called
an acropolis, male
citizens gathered to
This is the most
famous of the
Acropolis’ found in
Mycenaean Civilization Develops
Mycenaeans-from Mycenae (main city)
• The Mycenaeans were Indo-Europeans that migrated to the
Greek peninsula around 2000 B.C.
• They built their main city of Mycenae on a rocky ridge
surrounded by a 20 foot thick wall. It could withstand almost
• The warrior kings ruled the city and the surrounding villages
and farms. Mycenaean palace-forts dotted the southern part of
• These warrior Kings won their enormous wealth by controlling
local production and commercial trade. Their armies were in
constant search of plunder. The early Mycenaeans were from
the Bronze age (2000-1100 BC).
• Fortified city of Mycenae
--steep rocky ridge
Trojan War - 1200 BC 10 yr war
• Mycenaeans vs Troy
• Trojans kidnapped Helen, wife of Greek
• The Trojan Horse was famous in this war
• The poem “The ILIAD” tells of the war of
• Historians: battle for waterway control in
Mycenaean Collapse – 1200 B.C.
• Around 1200 BC the Mycenaean
civilization collapses. Sea raiders attack
Mycenaean cities, destroying many of the
• Greeks valued their military
• Iron made weapons affordable to
• The new army of the Greeks
now was made up of common
citizens-merchants, artisans, and
• Soldiers are known as Hoplites
• They stood in the fearsome
phalanx formation—side by
side, holding a spear in one hand
and shield in another. Phalanx (FAY-lanks)
Religion in Greek Society
• The people of ancient Greece shared
stories called myths about the gods,
goddesses, and heroes in which they
• Each god or goddess was worshipped
as a deity and ruled over certain areas
of the Greeks’ lives.
• Greeks had a God for nearly
• These exciting stories explained natural
phenomena that could not be explained
by science in the ancient world.
• Examples: Lightning, reflections, echoes,
fire, death, etc.
Political Systems in Greek City-States
Governments: 4 types
• (1) monarchy - king or monarch
• (2) oligarchy - small group of elites
• (3) Tyrants - Gained control by
appealing to poor and discontent citizen-
• (4) Democracy - rule by the
King Phillip II of Macedonia
Athens Builds a Limited Democracy
Why democracy in Athens?
• In Athens, there was power
struggle between the rich and the
poor. But the Athenians avoided
civil war by embracing new
• One particular reform was the idea
of democracy around 460 BC.
• Athenians opened the assembly
where laws were discussed and
approved to all Athenian citizens
• Not everyone participated. Only
free adult males. Women, slaves and
foreigners were excluded
• In Greek the word demos means
people, and kratia means power.
• Later reforms would include the “Council of 500”.
• These members were elected officials that proposed
laws and advised the assembly (similar to the Senate)
Sparta Builds a Military State
Sparta in Peloponnesus
• Sparta is located on Peloponnesus,
a peninsula in southern Greece
• Rival kingdoms cause Sparta to
build and maintain a powerful army
• (1) Assembly: Elected officials
voted on major issues
• (2) Council of Elders:
• Two Kings ruled the military
• Citizen landowners (free) ruled
• Non-citizen workers (usually foreigners, free)
• Helots (low class)
• At one time, Sparta had 25,000 citizens and 500,000
• Education – boys’ entered into military
programs called the agoge
• Training begins at 7y/o
• Boys were beaten, starved
• Taught to put Sparta before family
• Women— Spartan women had no formal education, ran
the farms/businesses so their husbands were free to serve
in the army, participated in sports
The Persian Wars
• The Greeks and the Persians
were long rivals and have a
great history of wars fought
• Persians had conquered Greek
lands around 520 B.C.
• Ionia in Anatolia (modern day Turkey)
• The Ionians revolted against the
Persians. Athens supported the
Greek colonies along Anatolia
and sent aid to them. King
Darius crushed the revolt and
sought revenge against Athens.
• Thus started the Persian Wars.
The Battle of Marathon
• Darius plans to destroy Athens.
• An army of 25,000 Persians set
• The Persians landed at Marathon
where 10,000 Greeks waited in
• The Athenians were greatly
• Although they were highly
outnumbered, the Persians were
no match for the disciplined
Athenian phalanx and the
Persians were defeated.
Did You Know?
• According to legend, following
the Battle of Marathon, a young
runner name Pheidippides ran
back to Athens to tell them of
the Persian defeat.
• He ran non-stop for 26 miles
from Marathon to Athens.
• Upon reaching Athens he
proclaimed, “Nike!” (victory)
and then fell dead.
• This is why modern day
marathons are run at 26.2
Greece vs. Persia
• 10 years later following the
Persian defeat at Marathon,
Darius’ son, Xerxes, mounts a
massive army (100k-300k) and
marches towards Athens.
• Xerxes is dedicated to
finishing what his father could
not, destroying Athens.
• At this time, the Greeks were
not one nation but still many
independent city states that
constantly fought one another.
Greece vs. Persia
• Athens calls for aid while it
mounts its own army to
• Few Greeks respond.
• Xerxes marches his army
towards Athens but is blocked
at the Thermopylae Pass
where 7,000 Greeks, including
300 Spartans stand in the
• The battle lasts 3 days and the
Greeks inflict heavy losses on
the Persians before they are
Greece vs. Persia
• Xerxes continues his
march towards Athens.
• The Athenians are forced
to flee and their city is
burnt to the ground.
• The Greeks eventually
make a naval stand at
Salamis and destroy
• The Spartans then defeat
the Persians once and for
all at Plataea (pluh-tee-uh)
The Persian Wars Timeline
Battle at Marathon
Outcome of the Persian Wars
• With the Persian threat
ended, all Greek city-states
felt a new sense of
confidence and freedom.
• Athens became the leader
of an alliance of 140 city-
states called the Delian
League that drove the
Persians from the
Greece and ushered in the
golden era for Athens.
A Leader for Athens
• During Greece’s Golden
Age, democratic ideas and
Greek culture flourished
• Athens chose Pericles as
• Served for more than 3
• He took many steps to
make Athens better and
he had 3 main goals that
Pericles’ Three Goals for Athens
Increased number of paid
officials, increased citizen
participation Hold and strengthen
Built navy through Delian
League’s funds, protected
Brought gold, ivory and
marble to Athens. Hired
artists, built architectural
projects and the
The three goals of Pericles:
1. He wanted Athens to be more democratic: he created
more positions in government and paid a salary. Poor
people could hold these jobs
2. He wanted to make Athens stronger: the city was the
head of a group of more than 140 Greek city-states
called the Delian League. He used the league’s
money to make sure they had the strongest navy in
3. He wanted to make Athens beautiful: he used the
Delian League money to fund a great building program
for his city: Parthenon, Statue of Athena
The Peloponnesian War
• Peloponnesian war was a war
fought between Sparta and
Athens for control of Greece.
• Tension had been building for
• Sparta did not like how
prosperous Athens had become
through the Delian League
• The war lasts 27 years.
• Fought to control the Greek
region and the prosperous trade.
Spartans and Athenians Go to War
- Sparta: Strengths
- Strong land-based army
- Advantage: Athenian navy could
not attack Sparta was too far
- Strong navy
- Attack Sparta’s allies
- Sparta marches on Athens
- Pericles brings citizens into city
- Sparta burns countryside (food)
- Athens would be spared as long
as ships sailed into harbor
The War Ends
• The war would not go well
• Athens suffers 2 major
• A terrible plague strikes the
city killing a large portion of
the people, including Pericles
• Athens suffers several military
defeats, including a loss of
most all its navy in a battle
with Sparta’s ally Syracuse
• Athens finally surrenders
and Athen’s Golden Age is
In the time of uncertainty after Athens defeat
several great philosophers appeared
• They tried to understand human life
• Socrates: believed deeply in truth and justice,
but many people did not trust him. He was
accused of corrupting the youth of Athens,
convicted of treason and forced to drink poison.
• Plato: a pupil of Socrates, he studied roles and
class in Greek society. He recorded many of his
ideas and became an important thinker in his own
• Aristotle: a student of Plato and teacher of
Alexander the Great, he wrote books that
summarized all things known to the Greeks at
that time. He also invented a way of thinking
logically and his work was very influential for
A Weakened Greece
• Following the Peloponnesian
War, the Greek city-states were
weakened from years of fighting.
• To the north of Greece lay a
small territory called Macedonia.
• The Greeks looked down upon
the Macedonians because they
lacked the great culture of
• The Macedonians were tough
fighters and they had a strong
ruler named Phillip II.
Macedonia Takes Control
• Philip II decides to invade
Greece using his strong army
and superior phalanx
• Greece is unable to unite and
fight off the Macedonians.
• Macedonia conquers Greece
and Greek independence is
• Philip II has high ambitions and
sets his sights towards the
long time Greek enemy of
Alexander’s Rise to Power
• Two years after Philip II conquers
Greece, he is murdered by an
assassin at his daughter’s
• This makes Alexander, Philip’s 20
year old son, the new king of
Macedonia and Greece.
• Alexander is a brilliant leader and
excellent warrior, like his father.
• He had been taught well and
prepared to carry out his father’s
dream of conquering Persia.
Alexander the Conqueror
• Alexander invades Persia in
• He defeats the Persians in
• Persian Emperor Darius III
flees the battle of Issus in fear
• Alexander then defeats
Darius III and the Persians
once and for all at the Battle
of Gaugamela (Iraq).
• With his defeat of Persia,
Alexander is named King of
Alexander the Pharaoh?
• While conquering Persia,
Alexander moved south into
the Persian territory of Egypt.
• The Egyptians hated the
Persians and saw them as
• The Egyptians welcome
Alexander as their liberator
and they crown him as their
pharaoh, the God King of
Alexander the Great
• Alexander would continue on his
conquest after Persia.
• He would push farther and farther east
conquering one land after another.
• Alexander conquers all the way to the
Indus Valley in India.
• With every land he conquered, he
treated the people with respect and
honor, (that is, as long as you didn’t
make him angry).
• He let them keep traditions and also
treated them as equals.
• This was not popular amongst his
Greek soldiers who felt that they were
superior to those they conquered.
• By this time, his soldiers grew
tired and had low morale.
• They had been following
Alexander for 7 years by now.
• They wanted to return home.
• Alexander reluctantly agrees to
• On the way back to Greece,
Alexander falls ill after a night of
drinking and dies in Babylon (Iraq).
• Possibly due to sickness from an infection
or possibly poisoned by his own men.
• Alexander was only 32 years old at
the time of his death.
"I would rather live a short life of glory than a long
one of obscurity."
• Alexander’s conquest took 11 years and over 11,000 miles!
• For most of Alexander's army these
miles were traveled on foot.
• There's speculation that some of the
grueling miles weren't even necessary,
except to confirm Alexander's status as
• For example, in 324 B.C., Alexander
decided to march his army through the
barren wasteland of the Gedrosian
desert in present-day Iran. Some say he
could have made this trip easy by sailing
his troops through the Persian Gulf
instead, but he decided to go through
the desert as a challenge. Why? --
because no one had ever successfully
brought an army through it.
The Siege of Tyre
• Sometimes, battles weren’t even necessary.
• Take for example, the famous siege of the island
city of Tyre.
• Alexander had stopped and wanted to pray at
the city’s temples.
• When they refused to let him in, this infuriated
• Without a navy, Alexander had his engineers
build a land bridge to the island so his army
• The whole operation took around 9-10 months.
• Alexander was so enraged with the Tyrians that
he destroyed the city and took its inhabitants as
slaves, more than 30,000 of them.
Tyre - Today
Alexander the Great – Quick Facts
• Born in Pella, Macedon on July 20th
• Believed he was actually
descendants of gods.
• Tamed a wild horse at 10 years old.
• Was privately tutored by Aristotle
and was considered a genius.
• Became a military commander at
• Became king at age 20.
• Was undefeated in battle. He
never experienced a loss.
Alexander’s Empire is Split
• Following his death,
three of Alexander’s
generals divided the
• One ruled Macedonia
• Another took control
• The Third became ruler
of the lands that used
to be the Persian
Did You Know?
• The Egyptian pharaoh
Cleopatra was a
descendant of Ptolemy,
good friend and general for
declared himself pharaoh
• Therefore, Cleopatra is in
fact Greek, not Egyptian.
• After Alexander died his
empire was not long lasting
but it had important effects
• The people of all the
different lands that
Alexander had conquered
blended Greek culture with
• This starts a new era of
Greek influence known as
the Hellenistic Era.
Alexandria, Iskandariya, Bucephala, etc.
• For his greater glory, Alexander
founded some 70 cities in the lands
he conquered and ordered them
named after himself.
• The most famous, of course, is
Alexandria in Egypt.
• In India, when his beloved horse
Bucephalus died, he ordered a city
to be built named Bucephala.
• Although Alexander did not conquer
North America it's interesting to
note that there are nearly two
dozen cities and towns here named
Alexander or Alexandria.
Alexandria, Iskandariya, Bucephala, etc.
• Iskandariya, Iraq
• Alexandria Asiana, Iran
• Alexandria Ariana, Afghanistan
• Alexandria Bucephalous, Pakistan, on the Jhelum
• Alexandria on the Caucasus, Afghanistan
• Alexandria on the Oxus, Afghanistan
• Alexandria Arachosia, Afghanistan now called Kandahar
• Alexandria on the Indus, Pakistan
• Alexandria Eschate, "the Farthest", Tajikistan
• Alinda, Alexandria on the Latmos
• Cebrene, formerly Alexandria
• Alexandria Troas, Turkey
• Merv, Turkmenistan, also called Alexandria
The Hellenistic Era
• Alexander’s influence lived on
long after his death.
• Greek ideas were brought to
many countries conquered by
Alexander the Great.
• Greek customs and culture
blended with other local
influences in Egypt, Persia and
India thus creating a new
culture: The Hellenistic Culture.
• It flourished throughout
Greece, Egypt and Asia.
Greek Influence - Egypt
• Temple of Sobek
Greek Influence – Persia
• The Theatre of Miletus
Greek Influence - India
The Greek titan
Atlas supporting a
Buddha wearing a Greek toga-
like robe. Before the Greeks,
he was always portrayed
wearing a dhoti loincloth
• The center of Hellenistic
Culture was the city of
Alexandria in Egypt: located
on the mouth of the Nile
River delta along the
• Alexandria was a large,
beautiful city with a large
population of people from
• Given its location, it had a
large harbor and trade was
• Alexandria also had a magnificent
lighthouse that towered over the
harbor providing light to oncoming
• It’s famous museum had rooms
with works of arts, a zoo and a
• It’s magnificent library had ½ a
million scrolls of papyrus that
contained everything known in the
Hellenistic world: It was the first
true research library.
• Alexandria became a center for
science and research.
Achievements in the Hellenistic Era
• Scientists observed the stars and
made advances in astronomy.
• The theory that the earth was the center of
the universe would dominate for the next
• Advances were also made in
• Euclid wrote a book on geometry
• Archimedes discovers Pi (diameter)
• New schools of philosophy arose
• There were several notable
achievements in art
• Sculptors started to create statues more realistically
instead of ideal or perfect form
Colossus at Rhodes
• The largest known Hellenistic
statue was created on the
island of Rhodes.
• This statue was dedicated to
the Greek sun god Helios.
• It was made of bronze and
stood more than 100ft. high.
• It was said to straddle the
harbor entering the city.
• It was known as one of the 7
Wonders of the Ancient
World before it toppled over
in an earthquake in 225 B.C.
Achievements in the Hellenistic Era
Disproved the belief that the sun was smaller than
Greece, advanced the theory that earth revolves
Realism in sculpture, Colossus of
Euclid’s The Elements, calculation of pi