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Ancient Greece
Seafaring to World Power
2000 BC- 300 BC
Essential Questions
• How did the geography of Greece affect the
development of civilization
• Explain the role of war in Greece’s history.
(Persian, Peloponnesian, etc.)
• How is mythology an important part of Greece’s
• What influence did the Greeks have on art,
literature, philosophy and sport?
• Who are some of the philosophers that influenced
western civilization and are still studied today?
• Why did the Greeks enjoy cul
• tural growth and leave lasting mark on
•The Greek civilization was preceded by an advanced
civilization located on the lands surrounding the Agean Sea.
•This civilization was known as the Minoan civilization which
peaked at about 2000 BC and then suddenly collapsed around
1200 BC. This may have happened due to volcanic activity or
tidal waves…this civilization was lost!
•The civilization was centered on the island of Crete and is
called Minoan after the legendary King Minos.
•The Minoan civilization spread from Crete to the Agean
Islands, the coast of Asia Minor, and mainland Greece.
•After 1450 BC the center of Agean political power moved to
Mycenae on the Greek mainland and was called the
Mycenaean civilization.
•The Minoan economy was based on large scale trade that
ranged from Troy to Egypt and from Sicily to Syria.
•Minoan exports included olive oil, wine, metalware and beautiful
•All trade was under the monopoly of the efficient and heavily
bureaucratized government.
•The great palace of Minos was located in Knossos which was
the dominant city in Crete after 1700 BC. The palace of Minos is
one of the most beautiful architectural achievements of the
ancient world.
•In many of the Minoan art works women are shown enjoying a
freedom and dignity unknown anywhere in the ancient world.
•There were advanced sewer systems, running water and an
extensive and well paved road network.
Part of this culture and worship included the sport of bull-leaping (see above pic). Women as well
as men performed this gymnastic feat, which seems to have had religious significance. Bull
leaping competitions were held in connection with bull worship rituals. Some commentators say
that's a lot of bull--that it is impossible to do what Minoan iconography depicts. But many
statuettes and paintings very convincingly portray the tense muscle structures and the postures of
the bull jumpers and convey the impression that the artists had observed carefully these details in
real life. Leaping over the bull courts death, which can be an assertion of life and a prayer for the
continuation of the potency and fertility represented by the bull. The Minoans sacrificed bulls,
probably seeing in the bull's blood and death the seed of rebirth. Dueling with the bull is an
ancient tradition in the Mediterranean basin and the Near East, and continues today with Spanish
bullfights and the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona.
Geography’s impact on political
• The mountainous topography & the many
islands created unique sub cultures within
the Greek empire.
• Each “polis” or city state had their own
• Government varied with the needs of the
people, their culture and their history.
Government by a few, especially by a small faction of persons or
1. A hereditary ruling class; nobility.
2a. Government by a ruling class. b. A state or country having this form of government.
3a. Government by the citizens deemed to be best qualified to lead. b. A state having such
a government.
1. Government by a monarch.
2. A state ruled or headed by a monarchy
A democracy in which the power to govern lies directly in the hands of the
people rather than being exercised through their representatives.
(Pure democracy)
The voting is done by a “selected” group of people.
A state or government under dictatorial rule. Absolute control or power
• Around 1700 BC: Aegean Sea/Troy (Asia Minor)
• Participants: Troy vs. Sparta (Greeks)
• History part: A Trojan prince, Paris kidnaps a Spartan
king’s Wife…this sparks a war
• Helen: “The face that launched a thousand ships”
• The Spartans rally and sent the “Trojan Horse” filled w/
warriors to recapture Helen.
• Outcome: Troy was defeated…Helen returns…this is
the basis for The Iliad
• The Iliad- epic poem written by Homer. This details the war…
• The Odyssey- epic poem (Homer) that details Odysseus’ King of
Ithaca’s voyage home from Trojan War.
Five Ephors: unlimited power.
Council of Elders: 28 members all over 60 years of age; proposed laws on which the
Assembly voted.
Kings: two kings elected by the Assembly; served as high priests, judges, and army
Assembly: all citizens over 30 years of age; elected the officials and voted on major
Assembly: all male citizens over 20 years of age; enjoyed full and final power.
Council of Five Hundred: citizens over 30 years of age; chosen by lot, fifty from each
tribe; proposed laws to the Assembly.
Court: chosen by lot from the citizens; no judge; juries were very large; each juror
voted by secret ballot.
Archons: nine citizens who at one time were all-powerful, but after reforms the Council
of Five Hundred took over most of their powers.
The ancient Greeks (mainly the Athenians) were a unique people. They believed that
individuals should be free as long as they acted within the laws of Greece. This allowed
them the opportunity to excel in any direction they chose. Individuality, as the Greeks
viewed it, was the basis of their society. The ability to strive for excellence, no matter
what the challenge, was what the Athenians so dearly believed in. This strive for
excellence was the method from which they achieved such phenomenal
accomplishments. These accomplishments astound us to this day. They also believed in
the balance of mind and body. Although many of them strove to become soldiers and
athletes, others ventured into philosophy, drama, pottery and the arts. The two most
important concepts which the ancient Greeks followed were found inscribed on the great
shrine of Delphi, which read "Nothing in excess" and "Know thyself". This philosophy
greatly impacted the Greek civilization.
Athens was the intellectual center of Greece. It was one of the first city-states of its
time, and is still world renowned as one of the most famous cities in the world. It was
named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom and the city's patron. In 508 BC, Athens
became one of the first societies in ancient times to establish democracy. Democracy
came from the Greek words, demos, meaning people, and kratein, meaning to rule. This
form of government was used at a meeting place which the Greeks called the Assembly.
Here the citizens of Athens met monthly and discussed the affairs of state. There were
no decisions made by government without first asking the Assembly.
Persian Wars
• Around 500 BC between the Greeks and the
• The Persians began to invade Greek city-states of
the north.
• King Darius asks for the surrender of all of the
city states…there was a minor revolt in Ionia..
• Persians attempt to crush the Greeks w/ new
weapons and a battle on the seas…. More….
• In 490 BC at the plains of Marathon, the
Athenians need to help from the Spartans to fight
off the Persians…they send a runner
(Pheilippides) to call for assistance…after a round
trip run of 240 miles…he fights in the Battle of
Marathon and then RUNS…24 miles back to
Athens and says…. “Nike” or
“Rejoice…victory”…he croaks of exhaustion.
• He thus sets the frame work for all
marathons…God… I love that guy!
By 480 BC, Xerxes, son of Darius attempts to conquer
Greece again… (Sparta…Athens)
He was successful early…but then at the Battle of
Salamis…(a naval battle) the Athenians flip the boats and
drowned their enemies…
1. Athens and Sparta become the most powerful citystates.
2. The Dilian League is formed (an early form of the
United Nations…kind of)
3. Athens becomes very powerful during this time. It
is called the “Age of Pericles”, a golden age of
Greece occurs…but hark…other city states grew
Peloponnesian Wars: Civil Wars of Ancient
Greece. (around 431 BC-404BC) 27 years
Main idea of the Conflict:
1. Disagreements between Athens and Sparta
2. Athens was in the Delian League and gained
political domination of the Mediterranean Sea.
3. Sparta and others attacked Athens
4. Pericles and Athens surrounded…then a disease
befalls Athens killing 1/3 of the city…it was
swift and over…
Outcomes…next slide!
Outcome of the war
Athens’ Navy is destroyed
End to democratic forms of Gov’t
End of the Athenian Golden Age
Pericles’ death
Athens was no longer the political and
social center.
Greek Architecture
• The Ancient Greeks, especially Athenians, were blessed with close
marble quarries. In comparison, the Romans had to go great distances
to bring marble into their capital of Rome.
• The marble was very strong and could hold very large loads of
weight. Because of this the Greeks were able to build beautiful temples
and buildings which are copied or imitated even to present day. The
architecture of the temples took three major forms; the Doric, Ionic and
• All three styles can be quickly identified by the top of the columns.
• The Doric columns are a circular ring under a square piece of
marble which supports the cross beam.
• The Ionic column tops appear to have two scrolls on either side of the
column right below the cross beam.
• The Corinthian is an out growth of the Ionic.
• It takes the simple scroll look of the Ionic and dresses it up in much
more ornamental designs.
• The Corinthian style also differs in that the temple is set up in a
circle. In comparison the Doric and Ionic are in shapes of squares and
rectangles. The following pictures show the clear distinctions between
the styles
Temple of Poseidon
'Death of Socrates', painted by Jacques Louis David (1787):
The scene portrays the execution of Socrates by hemlock
poisoning after he was found guilty as charged by the Athenian
court in 399 B.C.
• Philosophy
Greek philosophers, or "lovers of
wisdom," used observation and reason to
study the world around them. This spirit of
inquiry led to advancements in the arts and
sciences, as well as examining the best
form of government for men to live
under. Famous philosophers include
Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
• Socrates “Know thyself”
Greek Philosophers:
Sophists: Men of Wisdom
The “big” three
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle
Socrates: 469-399 BC
He actually wrote nothing, but his works/ideas saved
by his student Plato.
Socratic Method- Questioning to obtain the answers.
At the age of 70 put on trial for failure to respect the
Gods: The Trial of Socrates I.F. Stone details his
trial and death.
He drank hemlock
Famous for The Apology which he values Greek
ideas even though he will die because of his
• Plato (427-347) BC
Socrates’ famous student
He had ideas about gov’t and an ideal society
The Republic
He rejected pure democracy. It would led to
mob rule. An enlightened ruler/dictator was
fine w/ him.
He felt gov’t should run people’s lives
Women should have some rights, 3 classes:
worker, philosophers and soldiers.
He helped run the Academy after Socrates’
• Aristotle 384-322 BC
Founder of “western” philosophy
He created the school of the Lyceum
He followed Plato’s teachings
He tutored Alexander the Great
He too was suspicious of pure democracy
A strong virtuous leader was important to him.
He wrote about logic, ethics, mathematics and
• The Scientific Method is one of his legacies…
Wrote The
Developed ideas
Method of
on government
questioning as a Favored a strong, Favored the one
learning tool.
strong and wise
rule as best form.
Considered to be Society has three
first western
Soldiers, and
Human Reason
was the key to
• Hellenistic :
Time period from the late 4th century BCE
to the 1st century CE that was characterized
by Greek achievement and a blending of
Persian, Egyptian, Greek, and Indian
cultures due to the empire of Alexander the
• Background
Ancient Greek and Hellenistic cultural achievements span
two different eras. The Ancient Greek golden age occurs
under the leadership of Pericles in the 5th century
BCE. These achievements were mainly confined to the
city-state of Athens, where a strong economy and good
government created the conditions necessary for such
advancements. The Hellenistic golden age occurs under the
leadership of Alexander the Great, who conquered an
empire stretching from the Greek mainland all the way to
the Indus River Valley. Hellenistic society was a
blending of Greek, Egyptian, Persian, and many other
cultures that gave rise to advancements in math, science,
art, and literature.
The Death of Alexander...
The death of Alexander the Great is still shrouded in mystery to this day. It seems hard to believe that a 33year-old man could die of natural causes that spring up out of the blue, and consequently, modern historians
have made many attempts to explain exactly what happened. According to Plutarch, the events leading up to
his death are as follows:
Alexander proceeded to Babylon, even after receiving word of several bad omens, such as ravens fighting
each other over the city wall with some falling dead right in front of him, a man with a deformed liver being
sacrificed in the king's honor, and his best lion was kicked to death by an ass. The god Serapis told a man to
put on the king's robes and sit upon the throne. These all served as warnings to Alexander about what may lie
in store for him, but they did not deter him.
Once in Babylon, he drank heavily at several banquets. One such banquet was hosted by his friend, Medius.
In the Armenian version of the story, Psuedo-Callisthenes wrote that this banquet was a conspiracy involving
Iollas, Cassander, and others who were unhappy with Alexander. They gave him poisoned wine, and
immediately after drinking it, Alexander felt as if he had "been hit in the liver with an arrow." When he tried
to throw it back up, he was given a poisoned feather, which ensured that the poison would reach his blood
stream. He proceeded to get very sick and his condition deteriorated until his death. Plutarch did not believe
this version, saying the sudden pain Alexander felt after drinking was a detail "with which certain historians
felt obliged to embellish the occasion, and thus invent a tragic and moving finale to a great action.
Aristobulus tells us that he was seized with a raging fever, that when he became thirsty he drank wine which
made him delirious."
We will probably never know the truth, even though new theories are still coming out. We do know that
on the 7th of June, 323 BC, the Macedonians were allowed to file past their leader for the last time and
finally, three days later, he succumbed to the illness. Thus, on June 10, 323 BC, Alexander the Great
died at the age of 33.