• -Greece is a country in southeastern Europe, known in Greek
as Hellas or Ellada, and consisting of a mainland and an
archipelago of islands.
• -Greece is the birthplace of Western philosophy (Socrates,
Plato, and Aristotle), literature (Homer and Hesiod),
mathematics (Pythagoras and Euclid), history (Herodotus),
drama (Sophocles, Euripedes, and Aristophanes), the Olympic
Games, and democracy.
• -The concept of an atomic universe was first posited in Greece
through the work of Democritus and Leucippus. The process of
today's scientific method was first introduced through the
work of Thales of Miletus and those who followed him. The
Latin alphabet also comes from Greece,
• -The geography of Greece greatly influenced the culture in that,
with few natural resources and surrounded by water, the people
eventually took to the sea for their livelihood.
• -Greek history is generally divided into the
• Paleolithic (circa 400,000 – 13,000 BP)
• Mesolithic (circa 10,000 – 7000 BCE
• Neolithic (circa 7000 – 3000 BCE)
• Bronze Age (circa 3300 – 1150 BCE)
• Cycladic (circa 3300 – 2000 BCE)
• Minoan (circa 2600 – 1200 BCE)
• Helladic (circa 2800 – 1600 BCE)
• Mycenaean or Late Helladic (circa 1600 – 1100 BCE)
• Dark Ages (circa 1100 – 700 BCE)
• Archaic (circa 700 – 480 BCE)
• Classical (480 – 323 BCE)
• Hellenistic (323 – 30 BCE)
• -The Neolithic Age (c. 6000 - c. 2900
BCE) is characterized by permanent
settlements (primarily in northern
Greece), domestication of animals, and
the further development of agriculture.
• -Several Aegean civilization emerged
in and around the Aegean Sea beginning
• Minoan Civilization
• -The Minoan Civilization (2700-1500
BCE) developed on the island of Crete,
and rapidly became the dominant sea
power in the region.
• -The Minoans are considered to be the first advanced
civilization of Europe.
• -The Minoans developed a writing system known as Linear A
and made advances in ship building, construction, ceramics, the
arts and sciences, and warfare.
Around 1900 B.C., during the Middle Minoan period, Minoan
civilization on Crete reached its climax with the establishment of
centers, called palaces
-With the palaces came the development of writing, probably as
a result of the new record-keeping demands of the palace
• -The Minoans on Crete
employed two types of scripts,
a hieroglyphic script whose
source of inspiration was
probably Egypt, and a linear
script, Linear A, perhaps
inspired by the cuneiform of the
• -Archaeological and
geological evidence on Crete
suggests this civilization fell
due to an overuse of the land
causing deforestation though,
traditionally, it is accepted that
they were conquered by the
• - Either by fortune or force, the Mycenaeans outlasted
both the people of Cyclades and the Minoans, and by the end
of the 10th c. BCE expanded their influence over the Greek
mainland, the islands of the Aegean and Ionian seas, Crete, and
the coast of Asia Minor.
• -The Mycenaean Civilization (approximately 1900-1100
BCE) is commonly acknowledged as the beginning of Greek
- They are credited with establishing the culture owing
primarily to their architectural advances, their development of
a writing system (known as Linear B, an early form of Greek
descended from the Minoan Linear A), and the establishment,
or enhancement of, religious rites.
- By 1100 BCE the great Mycenaean
cities of southwest Greece were
abandoned and, some claim, their
civilization destroyed by an invasion
of Doric Greeks. Archaeological
evidence is inconclusive as to what
led to the fall of the Mycenaeans.
- What is known is that the extensive
damage done to the Mycenaean
civilization took three hundred
years to reverse.
-We call this period “the Greek
Dark Ages” partly because the
people of Greece fell into a period
of basic sustenance with no
significant evidence of cultural
THE BIRTH OF THE CITY-STATE
• -During the so-called “Greek Dark Ages” before the
Archaic period, people lived scattered throughout Greece
in small farming villages.
• -As they grew larger, these villages began to evolve.
Some built walls. Most built a marketplace (an agora) and
a community meeting place.
• -They developed governments and organized their
citizens according to some sort of constitution or set of
laws. They raised armies and collected taxes. And every
one of these city-states (known as poleis) was said to be
protected by a particular god or goddess, to whom the
citizens of the polis owed a great deal of reverence,
respect and sacrifice. (Athens’s deity was Athena, for
example; so was Sparta’s.)
• -They all had economies that were
based on agriculture, not trade: For
this reason, land was every city-
state’s most valuable resource. Also,
most had overthrown their
hereditary kings, or basileus, and
were ruled by a small number of
-These people monopolized political
power, and -Emigration was one way
to relieve some of this tension.
-Between 750 B.C. and 600 B.C.,
Greek colonies sprang up from the
Mediterranean to Asia Minor, from
North Africa to the coast of the Black
• 1. Athens:
• -Beginning around the 7th century B.C., ancient Athens was
in a state of crisis.
• -One cause of the economic crisis that plagued Athens in
the later seventh century may have been that the
precariousness of agriculture in this period could sometimes
lead to the gradual accumulation of the available farm land
in the hands of fewer and fewer people.
-Failed farmers had to borrow food and seed to survive.
When they could borrow no more, they had to leave their
land to find a job to support their families, most likely by
laboring for successful farmers.
-The crisis became so acute that impoverished peasants were
even being sold into slavery to pay off debts
Reforms of Solon
• -Classical Athenian society begins with the reforms of Solon,
beginning with the drafting of a new Athenian constitution around
• -In desperation, the Athenians in 594 B.C. gave Solon special
authority to revise their laws to deal with the economic crisis
and its dire social consequences that had brought their society to
the brink of internecine war.
-His famous “shaking off of obligations” somehow freed those farms
whose ownership had become formally encumbered without, however,
actually redistributing any land.
-He also forbade the selling of Athenians into slavery for debt and secured
the liberation of citizens who had become slaves4 in this way,
commemorating his success in the verses he wrote about his reforms: “To
Athens, their home established by the gods, I brought back many who
had been sold into slavery, some justly, some not ...”
• -Attempting to balance political
power between rich and poor, , Solon
ranked male citizens into four classes
according to their income:
• 1. “five-hundred-measure men”
(pentakosiomedimnoi , those with an
annual income equivalent to that
much agricultural produce),
• 2. “horsemen” (hippeis , income of
three hundred measures),
• 3. “yoked men” (zeugitai , two
• 4. and “laborers” (thetes, less than
two hundred measures).
-Political system divided into two parts:
• 1. assembly (ekklesia ),
• 2. a council (boule) of four hundred7 men to prepare an
agenda for the discussions in the assembly,
• -Equally important to restoring stability in a time of acute crisis
was Solon's ruling that any male citizen could bring charges on a
wide variety of offenses against wrongdoers on behalf of any
victim of a crime.
• -Furthermore, he provided for the right of appeal2 to the
assembly by persons who believed a magistrate had rendered
unjust judgments against them.
• -He balanced these judicial reforms
favoring the people, however, by
granting broader powers to the
“Council which meets on the Hill
of the god of war Ares,” the
Areopagus (meaning “Ares' hill”).
Archons became members of the
Areopagus3 after their year in
• -Another major contributor to the
development of Athethia
democracy was the hoplite. A
hoplite was the most common type
of heavily armed foot-soldier in
ancient Greece from the 7th to 4th
centuries BCE, and most ordinary
citizens of Greek city-states with
sufficient means were expected to
equip and make themselves
available for the role when
• -The Spartans made oligarchy the political base for a
society devoted to military readiness, and the
resulting Spartan way of life1
- Spartans retained not one but two hereditary military
leaders of high prestige, whom they called kings.
• -Spartan Oligarchy- The “few” (oligoi ) who made
policy in the oligarchy ruling Sparta were a group of
twenty-eight men over sixty years old, joined by the
-The distinctiveness of the Spartan way of life1 was
fundamentally a reaction to their living in the midst of
people whom they had conquered in war and enslaved
to exploit economically but who outnumbered them
• -To maintain their position of
superiority over their conquered
neighbors, from whom they derived
their subsistence, Spartan men had
to turn themselves into a society of
soldiers constantly on guard.
-They accomplished this
transformation by a radical
restructuring of traditional family
life enforced by strict adherence to
the laws and customs governing
practically all aspects of behavior.
-In their private lives, helots could
keep some personal possessions
and practice their religion, as could
slaves generally in Greece.
Publicly, however, helots lived
under the threat of officially
The Greco-Persian War
• -The Greco-Persian Wars are a sequence of wars fought
between the great empire of Persia and the coalition of Greek
city-states. It lasted for about half a decade from 499 BC to 488 BC.
• -The Ionian Revolt initiated the First Major Persian War. During
539 BC Cyrus The Great ruled Persia and most of West Asia. During
his reign his first captured Lydia, which lay along the coast of
• -Athens and Eretria had sent a small fleet in support of the
revolt, which Darius took as a pretext for launching an invasion of
the Greek mainland.
• -His forces advanced toward Europe in 492 BCE, but, when much
of his fleet was destroyed in a storm, he returned home. However,
in 490 a Persian army of 25,000 men landed unopposed on the
Plain of Marathon, and the Athenians appealed to Sparta to join
forces against the invader.
-After their defeat at Marathon the
Persians went home, but they
returned in vastly greater numbers
10 years later, led by Darius’
-On land the Persians attacked the
Greeks at Thermopylae for two
days but suffered heavy losses.
• The Spartan
general Leonidas dispatched most
of the Greeks south to safety but
fought to the death
at Thermopylae with the Spartan
and Thespian soldiers who
• -Although the Persian
invasion was ended by
at Plataea and Mycale,
fighting between Greece
and Persia continued for
another 30 years. Led by
the Athenians, the newly
League went on the
offensive to free
the Ionian city-states on
the Anatolian coast.
• -After heroic roles in the defeat of the Persians (480-
479 B.C.), for the next half-century Athens
and Sparta assumed preeminence among the city-states,
and their rivalry slowly led to the long-expected
• -Nurtured on the tribute of vassal states in the
Aegean, Athens did not mothball its triremes; instead,
they became a “benign” police force of sorts for its
Greek subject allies overseas.
• -Abandoning its countryside to Spartan invaders
(431-425 B.C.), Athens understandably refused pitched
battle with the crack hoplites of the Peloponnesian and
Alexander the Great and the
Coming of Rome
• The power vacuum left by the
fall of these two cities was filled
by Philip II of Macedon (382-336
BCE) after his victory over the
Athenian forces and their allies at
the Battle of Chaeronea in 338
BCE. Philip united the Greek city
states under Macedonian rule and,
upon his assassination in 336
BCE, his son Alexander assumed
• -Alexander the Great (356-323
BCE) carried on his father's plans
for a full scale invasion
of Persia in retaliation for their
invasion of Greece in 480 BCE.