LA 171 De Anza College History Geek Classical Society Discussion


you discuss the question by submit an original composition and responding to three other posts from different people.
This week you have a choice. Please respond to either A or B (not both):
Option A: What political factors allowed the Greeks to first formulate the notion of freedom? How were these notions expressed in their political systems? What did freedom mean to the various city-states? Be specific and include three examples of Greek city-states to illustrate your points.
Option B: In what ways did Greek society change from the Hellenic to the Hellenistic eras? Do you think the average citizen living on mainland Greece would have noticed a difference in their daily life? How does Athens during the 5th century compare to a Hellenistic city like Alexandria? Be specific and give examples.

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From ALex
3.1 [Discussion] Greek Classical Society
Options B:
The Greek society changed from Hellenic to Hellenistic era after Alexander the Great died in 323 BC. His death had
then shifted Hellenistic to combining Greek, Persian and Asian cultures together. During Alexander’s reign, he
influenced the Hellenistic era by introducing languages, literature and arts after he conquered multiple territories. He
also founded Alexandria based in Egypt located near the Nile River for easily accessible trade with other cultures.
Alexandria was also a place that held studies from areas such as mathematics, geography, astronomy, medicine,
chemistry and more. Before Alexander ruled, the Hellenic era (507 BCE-323 BCE) was in the process of developing a
democracy in Athens with the help of several philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. They also had many artists
involved, mathematics, writers, playwrights and scientists to further their development. As well as memorable
literature works from Homer, Iliad and the Odyssey. I think the average citizen would notice the difference in their
daily lives because of the cultural differences and change in atmosphere around the surrounding environment.
From Ricardo
3.1 [Discussion] Greek Classical Society [Option A]
As we look back into the history of the Greeks and understand how freedom came to be within the Greek culture. We
have to first look at the laws there were placed by the Council as this was an administrative body, creating policies to
be passed by their ruler if the laws deem fit. Although the idea of freedom was given its name through this form of law
under the governing system at a time which was democracy. However, how do we define freedom in a nation? Given
the idea of freedom is given to those who have control over their actions without consequences. And the term for
freedom is defined differently amongst the Greek leaders. And introduces freedom through laws setting certain
guidelines for citizens to follow. Starting in 594 BCE, Solon reformed the current laws to better suit the consequences
that were too harsh as humans lived a short life. And such consequences were changed to taking away the freedom
of those who broke the laws.
For example, Sparta is one of the many city-states that is under Greek rule. However, their policies and laws contrast
the current rules that are set in place for the current governing system. As their laws are governed by those who were
strong setting sights on conquest and providing funding towards training and military. All citizens needed to pay taxes
and perform military service if need be. As for the Spartans or military personnel did not need to pay taxes. Given that
Sparta set their own rules and standards based on their military to set on growing and increasing their strengths. As
for learning science, literature, and any other form of culture aside from the military was frowned upon in the Spartan
culture. As they only believed in the art of war.
Given that Sparta believed in the art of war is aligned with the strength that they demonstrate to conquer. However,
given this fact, their views solely focus on war and nothing else which is a completely separate ideology from the
greek culture. As they weren’t influenced by other cultural views as they do not maintain contact with other city-states.
Unlike Sparta, the city of Athens was more culturally invested in its citizens, nobles, and laws. Athens was the center
of Greek culture. As they governed power, technology, literature, and overall setting sights on becoming a cultural
powerhouse in their era. As culture flowed and flourished through Athens the citizens were influenced by this wave of
culture and embraced it. As they felt safe and free while living in Athens as they followed their forms of laws and
system. Athens was the center of a culture bloom as they expressed their own forms of literature, Technological
advancements, and Architectural marvels.
However, none of this would even be possible without the help of all of the surrounding city-states that provided
tangible and intangible objects to trade to other cities. As it was the main aspect that made Greece a well-developed
culture. However, this peace ended after the Persian War when the two factions of Pro-war led by the Spartans and
with other city-states called the Peloponnesian League and Anti-war led by Athens and other city-states that aligned
with their faction as they waged in civil war. After this dispute, Greece never did forge back to the nation it once was
as Spartans had governed their society. However, this leads to new influences in other city-states such as Thebes as
they exserted their own influences and try to gain back control to obtain the influence that the Greek nation once had.
But after defeating the weakened Spartan Army that dream never came to fruition they couldn’t reclaim the freedom
they once had through politics.
From Chaos Mi
I choose A question.
The Greeks were able to develop the concept of freedom in part because of their mountainous geographical location
and their proximity to the sea. The Greek peninsula was the mainland of Greece and was located in the center of the
country. Due to the mountainous terrain, Greece was divided into Northern Greece, Central Greece, and Southern
Greece, and in these three areas there were almost all uneven mountains, so they can not develop in one place. In
addition, transportation was extremely inconvenient because of the obstruction of these mountains. Therefore, the
unique geography of Greece contributed to the way of life of the ancient Greeks, and each of their regions could only
be divided into city-states. Another reason was their political system, the city-state system, sovereignty over the
citizens, and direct democracy. First of all, the city-states of ancient Greece were composed of free citizens,
noncitizen freemen, gentiles, and city slaves, in which citizens could participate in deliberations and judgment
functions, so it was the existence of this power that gave citizens the ability to rule their own destiny and be their own
masters. Second, because of the small population of the Greek city-states, democracy emerged. Democracy means
that the political sovereignty of a city-state belongs to its citizens. The citizens could participate directly in the
governance of the city-state instead of forming a council to govern the state by electing representatives, a system in
which the majority of the citizens and the minority of the nobility needed to consult and resolve together. In addition,
the city-state had its own rules and regulations. For example, the laws governing citizenship, civil rights and duties,
the selection of administrative bodies, councils and tribunals, property, succession, contracts, etc. These regulations
were the first signs of a sense of the rule of law. Freedom for each city-state meant that it could have its own way of
governing and building its own institutions.
Athens, represented by democracy among many city-states, was the best-developed city-state in Greece. In a
democratic political environment, the citizens were allowed to think freely. People were able to use their own
intelligence to offer various opinions and views about the world. As a result, a number of schools of thought emerged,
each pursuing the truth through free debate. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were among the philosophers who have
influenced the world to this day. Freedom was a prerequisite and basis for Athens to develop rapidly. Athens reached
the peak of its democracy after the end of the royal era, after the reforms of Thoreau and Cleisthenesis, and after the
reforms of Buricles. Under the premise of the city-state system, they began to live freely and democratically, and it
was only later that Socrates and Plato, the best philosophers, came into being. Freedom for Athens was a
prerequisite and a basis for rapid development, and when the city-state was free enough, the talents of each
individual could be brought to their fullest.
The Spartan city-state system was different from the Athenian city-state system. The Spartan city-state system
practiced oligarchy, and Sparta had its own king, which was typical of the aristocracy. Part of what made Sparta
different from other city-states was that they had well-developed agriculture. Secondly, freedom developed differently
for each city-state, and each city-state had its own method of governance. Whereas Athens emphasized the
development of a sense of citizen participation in politics, Sparta placed more emphasis on the development of a
militaristic mindset among its citizens. Although Sparta’s political performance was out of step with the mainstream of
Greece as a whole, they still did not depart from the direction of city-state development. Another representative
city-state was Corinth, which practiced tyranny, which was actually a political system more commonly taken for
granted by the Greeks. Originally, tyranny was a neutral word, but by the Middle Ages, it began to become a word
with negative connotations such as tyrant and unqualified ruler. Corinth was the only city-state after Greece and
Sparta, and during the time of tyranny, Corinth flourished in trade, currency, and became an important transportation
These three Greek city-states with different political systems arose in large part because of the unique Greek
city-state system, which gave each city-state its own path of development and provided much of the direction of
reference for later Western development.
LA 171 – OL1: Western Civilization
Athens: Development of a
Democratic City-State
Map of ancient Greece
Athens, in east central Greece on the Attic
peninsula, was the leading Greek city-state.
After 750 BCE, Athens slowly moved
through the following systems of rule:
1. Monarchy: Rule by one person, the king,
who inherited power by family succession
2. Aristocracy: Rule by a small group of
nobles who wrested power from the king
3. Tyranny: Rule by one person, the tyrant,
who seized power and generally favored the
4. Democracy: Rule by the people.
Athenian democracy encouraged similar reforms in a number of Greek city-states.
These four political terms—monarchy, aristocracy, tyranny, and democracy—are all derived from the
Greek language.
Young warrior being welcomed by Athenian king Aegeus, as depicted on an Apulian red figure krater, circa 405 BCE
Discontent in Athens
One of the principle causes of political strife
was economic hard times. The small farmers,
unable to compete with low-priced grain
imports, were stricken with poverty. They
borrowed money from the wealthy nobles and
mortgaged their land as security. The
following took place when they were unable to
pay their debts:
● their land was confiscated

sometimes, the farmers were sold
into slavery
There were also serious political fissures
growing in the structure of Athenian society.
The common people had no voice in the
government. As the king lost power, control
passed entirely into the hands of the
Whole again but for its missing head, a statue of a woman nursing twins was jackhammered into more than 900
pieces at a construction site being cleared above a Greek necropolis at Megara Hyblaea. Called one of the most
original pieces of Sicilian Greek art, the restored 30-inch-tall statue, carved in limestone, was likely a grave marker.
The sculpture may represent the allegorical figure of Night feeding her children, Sleep and Death.
Greek Timeline: 1500 BC-300 AD
Athenian pottery shards used for ostracism
In our modern societies, we are familiar with the practice of criminals being exiled. The Athenian
experience with popular despots seizing power led them to exile popular figures after decision by ballot.
These hastily scrawled clay fragments were the method of casting votes. Aristides, a hero of the Persian
Wars, was ostracized in this manner out of fear that he might parlay his public popularity into a potent
political force.
As the nobles gradually responded to the people’s demand for reforms, Athens advanced toward
democracy. Leadership was provided by the following men, all drawn from the aristocratic class:

In 621 BCE, Draco codified the existing Athenian laws. Limited by this code, the judges, who
were nobles, could no longer interpret unwritten laws to favor their own class at the expense of
the common people. The code provided severe punishment for crimes; death was the penalty for
even a minor offense.

In 594 BCE, Solon rewrote the laws to:

cancel mortgages on land

free persons enslaved for debt

limit the amount of land owned by one person

allow all male citizens to serve on juries

grant male commoners the right to vote in the legislature, the assembly
Thus, for the first time, the common man gained a voice in the government. Women were excluded from
I grow old ever learning many things.
Solon (fragment)
Despite Solon’s reforms, the wealthy retained control of the government. Only they could gain
membership in the policymaking and administrative body, the council. Only they could serve as chief
In 508 BCE, Cleisthenes expanded democracy by extending citizenship to more males and permitting
male citizens of all economic classes to serve in the council. Under Cleisthenes’s leadership, the
assembly adopted the practice of ostracism, banishing for 10 years any citizen deemed dangerous to the
state. Ostracism was intended to prevent the rise of a new Athenian tyrant.
From 461 to 429 BCE, Pericles headed the Athenian
government. This great orator and popular leader
accomplished the following:

He removed the remaining restrictions on holding
public office, thereby opening government service to all
male citizens.

He paid salaries to public officials, thus enabling
poor male citizens to accept jury duty and other
government service
Pericles expressed his democratic ideals in his famed
Funeral Oration. Honoring the Athenian war dead,
Pericles described their receptiveness to new ideas, their
love of liberty, and their willingness to sacrifice their lives
for freedom. (As an enduring wartime statement of
democratic principles, Pericles’s Funeral Oration is often
compared to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.)
The years of Pericles’s leadership—known as the Age of
Pericles or the Golden Age of Athens—marked the height
of Athenian democracy. Arts and sciences thrived,
manufacturing and trade prospered, and the city was
beautified as never before.
From 461 to 429 BCE, Pericles headed the Athenian government.
The Acropolis of Athens, at night. The public area
known as the Agora appears in the foreground.
The Closed Society of
Ancient Peloponnese peninsula showing Sparta
Sparta was situated in Southern Greece, on the Peloponnese peninsula. Sparta’s population consisted of:

a small number of Spartan citizens

the landowning and ruling nobility

a large number of slaves (helots) who worked the land
Fearing helot rebellion, the Spartans maintained an
aristocracy in the belief that such a government could act
more effectively than a democracy to suppress uprisings.
As an aristocracy, Sparta resisted political change,
maintained inflexible institutions, and sought cohesion and
stability. Unlike most other Greek city-states, Sparta did not
develop trade and industry, but remained agricultural.
The Spartans emphasized military might and made Sparta
an armed camp. The government regulated all aspects of
people’s lives. Spartan boys, taken from their homes at the
age of seven, received a strict military education. Spartan
girls underwent vigorous physical training for motherhood.
Sparta exemplified the autocratic, or totalitarian, philosophy
that the individual exists to serve the state.
The Spartans were the greatest warriors of ancient Greece.
Their emphasis on militarism, however, caused them to
neglect art, literature, and science. Sparta exemplified a
monolithic, or uniform and unvarying, culture.
Red figure vase depicting a soldier from Sparta
Progress Question
You must answer the following question before proceeding.
Under Cleisthenes’s leadership, the assembly adopted the practice of ostracism.
Correct Answer:
Great job!
What Made the Greeks
At the ruins of the Oracle of Delphi, a priestess spoke in the role of oracle, with an authority that echoed throughout
Greece. Alexander is thought to have received notice of his invincibility from the oracle, before his invasion of Persia.
The exquisite style of this 4th-century BCE Greek wall
painting of a woman had been known primarily from
descriptions in ancient Greek literature and from Roman
reproductions—until the Vergina tombs were unearthed in the
20th century. The delicately drawn figures depict the drama of
the myth of Hades abducting Persephone while Demeter, her
horrified mother, watches helplessly.
This bronze statue was recovered from a shipwreck in 1929, about 75 miles north of Athens. There is some dispute as
to whether this is the image of Zeus (king of the gods) or Poseidon (god of the seas).
Although divided into several hundred independent city-states, the Greeks were united by common
cultural factors, including:

Language and Literature: The people spoke dialects of the Greek language and shared Greek
literature, especially the stories of Homer.

Religion: The Greeks shared a polytheistic religion. Their most important deities were Zeus, the
chief god; Apollo, the sun god; Athena, goddess of wisdom; and Aphrodite, goddess of love.
These divine beings supposedly dwelt in northeastern Greece, on top of Mount Olympus. The
Greeks attributed human appearance and characteristics to their gods. Rather than being
paragons of virtue, the gods’ messy personal lives, vindictive rivalries, and often unfair
participation in human matters are a feature of ever-popular Greek mythology. The Greeks
believed that priests could receive prophecies from the gods at holy places, called oracles.
People from all over Greece sought advice at the famous oracle of Apollo at Delphi.
Mount Olympus
Greek wrestlers
Additional shared interests across Greek city-states included:

Olympic Games: The Greeks shared an interest in the Olympic games, held to honor the gods,
especially Zeus. These athletic contests, attracting many spectators, were conducted every four
years in Southern Greece, at the city of Olympia. The finest Greek athletes competed in racing,
jumping, discus throwing, boxing, and wrestling. All Greeks acclaimed the victors, often in songs
and poems.

Fear of Persia: The Greeks feared that the mighty Persian Empire planned to conquer them.
When the Persians attacked, most Greek city-states temporarily cooperated to preserve their
Conscious of these unifying bonds, the Greeks felt superior to non-Greek peoples and referred to them as
Greco-Persian Wars
(500–479 BCE)
The Parthenon, Athens
The Persians controlled the entire Middle East, including the Greek colonies on the coast of Asia Minor. In
500 BCE, these colonies revolted and received military aid from Athens. After suppressing the revolt,
Darius, king of Persia, was determined to punish Athens and annex all of Greece.
In 490 BCE, Darius’s huge army invaded Greece but was defeated by a smaller Athenian force at the
Battle of Marathon. Carrying the glad news, a Greek messenger ran the 26 miles from Marathon to
The Acropolis of Athens, as seen from the air. The Amphitheater of Dionysus, situated in the Agora, appears
in the lower righthand corner.
Led by Themistocles, Athens prepared to repel further Persian attacks. Themistocles rushed the
construction of 200 additional warships (triremes) for the Athenian navy and organized most Greek
city-states, including Sparta, into a defensive alliance.
Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jaques-Louis David
In 480 BCE, King Xerxes, the son of Darius, launched another Persian invasion. At the Pass of
Thermopylae in northern Greece, the Persians overwhelmed a small band of gallant Spartan warriors led
by King Leonidas. The Persians then marched southward and captured Athens.
Although Greece seemed doomed, the Greeks rallied their forces to win two great naval
engagements off Salamis (480 BCE) and Mycale (479 BCE) and a land battle at Plataea (479
BCE). The Persians withdrew, and Greece was saved.
By repelling the Persian forces, the Greeks preserved their political independence and individual freedom.
Unlike Persian monarchy, Greek democracy, typified by Athens, permitted individuals to develop their
abilities and interests. With the Persian threat removed, the Greeks directed their energies to building a
rich and varied civilization.
King Darius I of Persia is seated on his throne. Standing behind him is his son, Xerxes. This relief is located
on a column in the ruins of Persepolis, the ancient Persian capital.
Progress Question
You must answer the following question before proceeding.
In ancient Greek mythology, the gods were paragons of virtue.
Correct Answer:
Nice work!
The Persian War Is
Followed By Greek
A view of the Temple of Athena Nike (an aspect of the goddess Athena) situated in the Agora, at the foot of the
Athenian Acropolis.
After the Persian War, Athens and Sparta bitterly vied for control of Greece. Athens dominated a city-state
alliance, the Delian League. Sparta headed an opposing alliance, the Peloponnesian League. Athens and
Sparta engaged in a long and costly struggle, the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BCE). Sparta eventually
Sparta’s victory provides a warning that, in a struggle between autocracy and democracy, democratic
people cannot assume they will retain their freedom. Despite its victory, Sparta was so weakened by the
war and so detested for its anti-democratic policies that it was unable to unite Greece.
Literature of the Hellenic
Odysseus and the Cyclops
For the pleasure of the Emperor Tiberius and his guests: a recreation, in marble, of a famous scene from the
celebrated Odyssey, by the Greek poet Homer. Here we can see Odysseus and his men preparing to blind the one-eyed
giant, Polyphemus. This sculpture set, found broken into bits, was excavated in 1957.
Taking a page from legend, Theseus carries off Helen of Sparta. Pottery is the medium in which most surviving Greek
painting appears.
Literature of the Hellenic Period
The Hellenic period refers approximately to the five centuries preceding the conquests of Alexander the
Great. Hellenic culture reached its height in Athens during the Age of Pericles (461–429 BCE). By its
many contributions to civilization, Athens reflected the values of its society: free, individualistic, changing,
experimental, and diverse. Athenians boasted that Athens was the educator of Greece, or, as Pericles put
it in the Funeral Oration, “the school of Hellas” (Greece).
This amphitheater, from the 5th century BCE, is located at the ruins of the Greek city of Epidaurus. Designed with a
practical knowledge of acoustics, actors on the center stage could be heard clearly in the top row.
Aeschylus (525–456 BCE) wrote Agamemnon, Prometheus Bound, and The Persians. He argued that
the gods ultimately provide human justice.
Sophocles (495–406 BCE) wrote Oedipus Rex, Antigone, and Electra, dramatic plays dealing with the
conflict between a person’s will and fate.
Red figure krater (a wide-mouthed vase) depicting a scene from Medea by Euripides.
Euripides (480–406 BCE) wrote Medea and Orestes.
He realistically examined social and political ideas
and vigorously criticized war, prejudice, hypocrisy, and
The outstanding Greek playwright of comedies
Aristophanes (446­–385 BCE) satirized the political
and cultural leadership of Athens in his plays
Lysistrata and The Frogs.
Homer (9th century BCE) wrote the Iliad and the
Greek writers of poetry selected themes from Greek
history, legend, and heroes, and also from the lives
and ideals of ordinary people.
Hesiod (750–700 BCE) wrote poems about farm life
and hard labor.
Sappho (600 BCE) wrote beautiful lyric love poems.
Pindar (522–443 BCE), the great lyric love poet, wrote odes honoring the victorious athletes at the
Olympic games.
Philosophy of the Hellenic
A sculpture of the goddess Athena in a
plumed military helmet. Her eyes are insets of semi-precious stones. This method of detailing the eyes of a statue was
common. The loss of so many of these inserts to thieves and misadventure has given us the caricature of Greek
statuary with black, hollow eye sockets. Many bronze statues of this period were subsequently melted down so that
the metal could be used to forge weapons. This particular piece was buried in a warehouse fire in 86 BCE, and so
escaped that fate.
Philosophers seek to understand individuals in their
relationships with God, nature, and other individuals
and to determine the meaning of such human ideals
as justice, morals, and success.
Socrates (469–399 BCE) advocated the maxim
“Know thyself.” He sought truth through persistent
questioning—an approach called the Socratic
method. Tried and convicted for corrupting the minds
of youth, Socrates was put to death by poison. He
left no written works. His philosophy is contained in
the writings of his students, especially Plato.
This Roman mosaic depicts Plato teaching students at his academy.
Plato (427–347 BCE) wrote many fascinating discussions of ethics, religion, beauty, and logic, called
dialogues. In the dialogue The Republic, Plato described his ideal government: not democracy, but
aristocracy of intelligence trained to rule. His most famous student was Aristotle.
Aristotle (384–322 BCE) wrote learned treatises on philosophy, science, government, and literature. His
encyclopedic works strongly influenced European thinking for almost 2,000 years. Among his important
books were Logic and Politics. Aristotle served as personal tutor to the young Alexander and stimulated
the future leader’s interest in Greek culture.
The Greeks held to the ideal of a well-rounded
individual, expressed by the philosophy “a sound
mind in a sound body.” They considered both
mental and physical faculties to be essential for a
happy and useful life.
While there had been factual writing before the
Greeks, they did invent the writing form we call
“history,” meaning a sequential narration with an
attempt to understand the causes of events.
Herodotus (484-424 BCE), the “father of history,”
described the Persian invasions of Greece. He
embellished facts with fable, superstition, and
Thucydides (471–400 BCE), the “first scientific
historian,” wrote an accurate and impartial
account of the Peloponnesian War.
Progress Question
You must answer the following question before proceeding.
Hesiod wrote about __________.
Your Choice:
political life
Correct Answer:
farm life
Please go back and review the material leading up to this question.
Architecture and Sculpture
of the Hellenic Period
The Greeks constructed many public buildings using marble. These buildings featured slender,
well-proportioned columns. The Parthenon, the most famous building of ancient Greece, was a
magnificent marble temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. Considered one of the world’s most
beautiful structures, the Parthenon was erected during the Age of Pericles, on a hilltop in Athens—the
This Greek classical statue of Nike loosening a sandal is a famous example of
the naturalistic style pursued by Greek sculptors.
The god Hermes, as executed in marble by the Greek sculptor
Praxiteles, is considered one of the finest pieces attributed to that artist. It was unearthed in Olympia in 1877.
Riace Bronzes, unknown artist, Greek, Classical Era. Discovered in 1972 by Stefano Mariottini off the coast of
southern Italy, these works are considered some of the finest examples of original ancient Greek sculpture ever found.
They were probably on a ship bound for a Roman market or buyer when they sank.
Greek sculptors embodied their city-state ideals in their works,
emphasizing simplicity, dignity, restraint, and patriotism. In many statues of
gods and athletes, these skillful sculptors realistically depicted the human
body. They utilized various materials such as ivory, gold, bronze, and
marble. Their works, designed mainly for public exhibition, have served as
models and inspirations for subsequent sculptors—even to this day.
Phidias (500–432 BCE), the greatest sculptor of ancient Greece, carved
the majestic statue of the goddess Athena for the Parthenon and the
marble frieze (ornamental band) that extends along the Parthenon’s walls.
Athena Parthenos by Phidias, as it would have looked in the Parthenon
Roman copy of Discus-Thrower by Myron
Roman copy of Aphrodite of Knidos by Praxiteles
Myron (about 450 BCE) created the Discus-Thrower, a statue portraying strength and motion.
Praxiteles (364–330 BCE) carved lifelike statues of gods and goddesses.
Science and Mathematics
of the Hellenic Period
Pythagoras (582–507 BCE), a philosopher and mathematician, discovered important mathematical
principles still studied in geometry.
The Pythagorean theorem, first formulated in the West in ancient Greece, had been communicated to all
corners of the globe by 160. (The dates associated with the six texts are not necessarily the earliest time
the theorem was known in that region. Actually, it appears that the Chinese knew of it at about the same
time as Pythagoras.) The Greeks initiated the beginning of science in the sense of attempting to
understand systematic causes of natural phenomena without resorting to claims of supernatural
Hippocrates (460–377 BCE), a physician called the “father of medicine,” attributed disease to
natural—not supernatural—causes. The Hippocratic oath to uphold medical standards is still taken by
medical students upon graduation.
Democritus (460–362 BCE), a philosopher and scientist, advanced the theory that all matter is
composed of small, indivisible atoms.
It is possible that the Western Greeks were
famous for their medical skill, because they tended to the Olympic athletes. An excavation from a grave yielded a
thighbone which had been expertly set and knit perfectly (second bone from top). The thighbone beneath it was not
set after breaking, and healed poorly.
Progress Question
You must answer the following question before proceeding.
The majestic sculpture of Athena placed in the Parthenon was created by __________.
Your Choice:
Correct Answer:
Please go back and review the material leading up to this question.
Philip of Macedonia Unites
Conquests of Philip II
The Macedonians, living north of Greece, were a less civilized, warlike people related to the Greeks.
In 359 BCE, Philip, an admirer of Greek culture, became king of
Macedonia. He formed a powerful army and resolved to unify the
Greek city-states by force. Because he threatened Greek
independence, Philip was often denounced by an Athenian
orator, Demosthenes. However, Demosthenes’s warnings to the
Greek city-states went unheeded. (Our word philippic, derived
from these speeches against Philip, means “a bitter verbal
Philip conquered the city-states at the Battle of Chaeronea (338
BCE), united them militarily (except Sparta), and planned to
attack Persia.
Before Philip could proceed, he was assassinated. His throne,
his armies, and his ambitions were inherited by his 20-year-old
son, Alexander.
This one-inch-high ivory carving bears a strong resemblance to the
likeness of Philip II that can be found on some ancient medallions.
Philip’s son, Alexander, rose to power after the assassination of his father.
The body armor of a Macedonian soldier. Relatively intact after 2,400 years, it is photographed just as it was first
found in the 1970s, in a royal tomb near Mount Olympus.
Conquests of Alexander
the Great (336–323 BCE)
Conquests of Alexander the Great
his mosaic, from the House of the Faun in Pompeii, depicts Alexander the Great routing Darius III of Persia.
Alexander can be seen on the left-hand side, facing right, near the chipped gray area. Darius is on the right,
prominently on horseback, facing to the left. This battle of 333 BCE ended with Darius fleeing in a panic, abandoning
his family, his concubines, and his treasure. The Battle of Issus exemplified the success that enabled Alexander to
conquer most of the known civilized world in the short span of 13 years.
Alexander, leading Macedonian and Greek troops, won great victories at Granicus River, Issus, and
Arbela. He conquered the entire Persian Empire, Asia Minor, Egypt, the Fertile Crescent, and Persia. He
then subjugated the Indus River region in India. Alexander’s empire, encompassing these territories plus
Macedonia and Greece, was the greatest then known. Suddenly, at age 33, Alexander fell ill and died.
Alexander’s achievements—so many in so little time, at such a young age—make Alexander a
remarkable figure in world history. Within his empire, he opened the way for a fusion of Greek and Middle
Eastern cultures; he also maintained peace and unity—ideals that later influenced the Romans.
Hellenistic Kingdoms
The likeness of Alexander the Great appears on a coin, circa
3rd century BCE, depicting Alexander with small curved horns near his ears to indicate his divine ancestry in the
horned Egyptian god Ammon.
A second-century BCE bust of Alexander the Great, executed in
marble by an unknown artist. It is possible that this was based
on a contemporary portrait.
After Alexander’s death, his empire was divided into
three major kingdoms, each ruled by one of his

Macedonia, including part of Greece, was
governed by Antigonus.

Syria, including most of southwestern Asia, was
governed by Seleucus.

Egypt was governed by Ptolemy.
These kingdoms maintained their independent
existences until, in the second and first centuries BCE,
they fell under the rule of Rome.
Progress Question
You must answer the following question before proceeding.
Philip of Macedon’s hatred of Greek culture motivated him to conquer Greece.
Your Choice:
Correct Answer:
Please go back and review the material leading up to this question.
Important Greeks of the
Hellenistic Period
Artistic rendering of Alexandria, Egypt during the
Hellenistic Period. This was one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the ancient world.
The Hellenistic Period starts with the conquests of Alexander the Great and ends late in the first century
BCE. Hellenistic culture fused Greek with Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and Near Eastern cultures.
In the lands he conquered, Alexander did the following:

He introduced Greek language, literature, and art.

He founded many cities to serve as centers of Greek culture. In Egypt he founded Alexandria.
Famed for its marble buildings, museum, and library, it was the greatest Hellenistic city.
Hellenistic theater at Hierapolis, modern day Turkey.
Built around 200 BCE, this well-preserved theater demonstrates the continued growth of Greek culture even after
the traditional Greek city-states had lost their independence.
Egyptian fragment of Euclid.
This papyrus fragment of Euclid’s Elements contains Proposition 5 from Book II. It was found about 100 miles south
of Cairo, Egypt, and is thought to date from about 75 BCE.
Discontent with the old ideas and old gods, Hellenistic peoples sought new philosophies to guide them in
their daily living.
Diogenes (412–323 BCE), a leader in the Cynic school of philosophy, taught that to achieve contentment,
individuals should practice self-control and independence. He rejected society’s accepted values—wealth,
power, pleasure, social position, and patriotism. (In modern usage, the word cynic describes “one who
sneeringly distrusts people’s motives, attributing their actions wholly to self-interest.”)
Zeno (342–270 BCE), the founder of Stoicism, urged individuals to live according to reason and be
indifferent to pleasure or pain. (Our word stoic means “one who calmly accepts pleasure without rejoicing
and endures pain without flinching.”)
Epicurus (341–270 BCE) believed that people should seek pleasure and happiness. However, he
emphasized that pleasures should be temperately chosen in order to attain a balanced, moral life. (Today,
an epicure is “one who displays a highly refined taste in eating, drinking, and other pleasures.”)
Roman marble copy of the bronze Dying Gaul, circa 220 BCE
Hellenistic sculptors carved realistic statues, including the Venus de Milo, the Laocoön, the Dying Gaul
(pictured), and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Unfortunately, the names of the sculptors of most of
these pieces have not survived.
Aristarchus (310–230 BCE), an astronomer, concluded that the
earth revolves about the sun.
Euclid (about 300 BCE), a mathematician, systematized the subject matter of
Archimedes (287–212 BCE), a mathematician and physicist, discovered
important principles regarding the lever, the pulley, and specific gravity.
Eratosthenes (276–195 BCE), a geographer, believed the earth to be round and very accurately estimated its
Ancient Greece is a fascinating example of a civilization that maintained a cultural identity despite lacking
an overarching political authority. Although the Greeks did unite against the threat of Persia, it should also
be remembered that the Athenian and Spartan allies warred with each other as well.
Compared to Sparta, Athens can be seen as the more durable model for a society. For the most part,
Athens was as secure as Sparta, while also being able to enjoy the benefits of the arts and fledgling
sciences. In Sparta, people could only do and explore what the Spartan leadership thought they should.
In Athens, an environment of intellectual freedom allowed people to create and allowed all citizens to
share in the benefits. Consequently, all Athenians had the ability to see geometry as Euclid did, see love
as Sappho did, or see their leaders as Aristophanes did, by sharing in the work of those artists and

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