Unit 3: Ancient Greece
2.2. The Archaic Age: colonisation
Between the 8th and the 6th centuries the poleis were governed by the chiefs
or kings, but they gradually lost power to the aristocracy, who hold public
Aristocracy oppressed the weakest social groups and tyrants took power by
Tyrants took away the citizens’ rights and freedom, although they introduced
some economic reforms.
As population grew there was not enough farmland to grow crops. Merchants
and artisans expanded their trade. Consequently Ancient Greeks started to
establish colonies around the Mediterranean Sea. They also began to produce
2.3. The Classical Age
This was the most splendid period, from the 5th to the 4th century BC. The most
important poleis were:
Peasant and other groups protested against
the abuse of power by the governing
Some reforms were introduced, such as
giving political power to the Ekklesia
(Citizens’ Assembly). This measure was
introduced by Solon (lawmaker).
Democracy was established in Athens.
o Citizens held the power
Voted from laws
Decided whether to go to
war or not and make peace
The Ekklesia elected magistrates and voted
on the laws. These magistrates carried out
the assembly’s decisions. The members of
the Council, who prepared the laws, were
chosen among the Assembly by casting or
drawing of lots.
Oligarchical system: power hold by a small
group of people.
Sparta poleis were ruled by two kings, 28
elders (Gerousia) and five officials (ephors).
The king performed civil and religious
According to Spartan tradition, Lycurgus
the Lawmaker wrote the laws that
In this period the Greeks took part in several wars.
In the Persian Wars (494-479 BC), they fought the Persians over control of the coasts
of Asia Minor. Athens organized an association of city states called the Delian
League and sent a powerful fleet to conquer the Persians.
In the Peloponnesian Wars (431-404 BC), the Greek city states fought each other.
Athens. Athens wanted to control the Delian League’s treasure and forced other
poleis to stay in the association.Sparta was opposed to this and tensions started
between the poleis. Sparta won and imposed an oligarchy on Athens.
2.4. The Hellenistic Age
From the 4th century, Macedonia (North of Greece) began to conquer the Greek city
Macedonia was governed by a hereditary monarchy.
In 359 BC, Philip II came to the throne and the expansion began.
His son Alexander the Great created the largest empire the Ancient World had ever
seen. He took control of the rest of Greece, Syria, Egypt and Mesopotamia. He
conquered the Persians and went as far as India.
After his death, the generals shared out his empire. It was divided into:
o Macedonia and Greece
o Asia Minor, Syria, Mesopotamia and the old Persian Empire
o Egypt (Where Alexandria was founded).
Between the 2nd and the 1st centuries BC, Rome formed a new huge empire and
conquered these territories.