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and Alexander the Great
Greek Culture - Religion
• Religion was pervasive in
Greek Society.
• Greeks considered
religion necessary for the
well-being of the state.
• Temples, like the
Parthenon in Athens,
were the major buildings
in Greek cities.
Most important were the 12 gods and goddesses that were believed to live on
Mount Olympus, the tallest mountain in Greece.
Zeus: chief god and father of the gods
Athena: goddess of wisdom and crafts
Apollo: god of the
sun and poetry
god of the sea
Greek religion was not based on morality, or doing the right thing;
it was focused on pleasing the gods to bring good fortune.
After death, spirits went to a gloomy underworld ruled by Hades.
To know what the gods wanted, the Greeks consulted oracles.
The most famous oracle was at the shrine to Apollo at Delphi.
Oracle at Delphi Video Clip
Religious festivals
including athletic events
such as the Olympic
games were used to
honor the gods and
The Greeks created Western drama.
The original Greek dramas
were tragedies, presented
in trilogies around a
common theme.
Greek tragedies dealt with
the nature of good and
evil, the rights of the
individual, the role of the
gods in life, and human
Three famous playrights:
Aeschylus (Oresteia trilogy)
Sophocles (Oedipus Rex)
• History: Greeks were the first in the Western world
to present history to analyze past events.
• Philosophy (comes from the Greek word that
means “love of wisdom”): Organized system of
– Pythagoras: geometry
– Socrates: taught students to live by code of ethics
• Socratic Method of Teaching (law schools use this extensively)
– Plato: wrote “The Republic” – ideas about government
– Aristotle: wrote “Politics” – 3 forms of government are
• Monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy
II. Alexander the Great
Because of their advanced culture, the Greeks viewed the Macedonians,
a rural people, as barbarians.
By the end of the 5th century BC, however,
Macedonia was a powerful kingdom.
In 359 BC, Philip II of Macedonia
formed a league of Greek city-states.
In 338 BC, the Macedonians crushed
the Athenians and their Greek allied
states at the Battle of Chaeronea near
Thebes (northwest of Athens), thus
taking control of all of Greece.
Philip’s next goal was to conquer
Before he could fulfill his goal,
he was assassinated.
Philip’s son, Alexander the Great,
became king of Macedonia at age 20.
He modeled himself on Achilles,
the Greek hero of the Trojan War
featured in Homer’s Iliad.
Alexander wanted to fulfill his father’s dream of conquering Persia.
Alexander also sought glory in building an empire.
By 331 BC, Alexander had conquered the Persian Empire.
Alexander marched his army through Persia,
founding cities like Alexandria(s) and spreading Greek culture.
In 326, Alexander crossed the Indus River and entered India.
His soldiers refused to march on and Alexander agreed to return home.
In 323 BC, at the age of 32,
Alexander died in Babylon,
exhausted from wounds,
fever, and alcohol.
Alexander created a new age,
called the Hellenistic Era.
Hellenistic means
“to imitate Greeks.”
He encouraged the blending of
Greek and local culture, as well as
intermarriage of his soldiers with
local women.
After Alexander’s death,
four Hellenistic kingdoms emerged:
Macedonia, Syria,
Pergamum, and Egypt.
All would eventually be conquered
by the Romans.
The Hellenistic Era
• Arts & Literature:
• Apollonius: (Argonautica – Jason and
the Magic Fleece)
• Science & Philosophy:
– Eratosthenes: earth round &
estimated circumference within 185
miles of actual figure
– Euclid: Geometry book
– Archimedes: mathematics /
established value for pi
– Epicurus: Epicureanism.
Happiness is goal in life.
– Zeno: Stoicism. Find happiness
through good relationship with God.
Crash Course In History
• Alexander The Great