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Rise and Fall of Classical Civilizations in the Mediterranean


Rise and Fall of Classical Civilizations in the Mediterranean – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Rise and Fall of Classical Civilizations in the Mediterranean

Rise and Fall of Classical Civilizations in the
Rise and Fall of Greek Civilization
  • Greek civilization rose between 800 and 600
    B.C.E. due to the formation of strong
    city-states regional cities that served as
    provinces within the Greek country.
  • Greece reached its pinnacle under the leadership
    of Pericles, who led Athens to a golden age.
  • Greece fell into decline after the Peloponnesian
    Wars of 431-404 B.C.E., pitting Athens and Sparta
    against one another.
  • Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander
    conquered the Greek mainland in 338 B.C.E, adding
    it to their empire and commencing the Hellenistic

Greek Political Institutions
  • Athens pioneered the direct democracy- political
    decisions were made by general assemblies,
    although usually only a minority of the
    population attended.
  • Women, slaves, and foreigners had no rights to
    political participation- only male citizens were
    permitted to participate.
  • During the Peloponnesian Wars, Athens
    demonstrated the drawbacks of democracy, such as
    low-class citizens who encouraged a reckless
  • Despite its democracy, Athens engaged in an
    age-old oligarchy.

Greek Religion
  • Greece did not generate a major religion, but
    rather engaged in a form of polytheism
    characterized by gods who possessed human-esque
  • Regular ceremonies to the gods had real political
  • Greek religion tended to be more earthly in its
    approach, unlike monotheism.
  • However, it lacked the ability to spiritually
    satisfy the working class.

The Development of Philosophy
  • Where the Greeks failed in religion, they
    excelled in philosophy.
  • The philosopher Socrates developed the Socratic
    method- rational inquiry by means of skeptical
    questioning- which later became an imperative
    function in the heritage of Greek thinking.
  • Important Greek philosophers included Socrates,
    Plato, Aristotle.
  • Greek interest in rationality caused philosophers
    to classify much of the physical world.

Greek Cultural Contributions
  • Greeks did much for the arts, including
    contributing to literature and inventing drama.
    The Athenian dramatist Sophocles developed the
    theory of the Oedipus complex.
  • Epic literature flowered beneath the Hellenistic
    period, including the Iliad, the Odyssey, and
    Sophocles play Oedipus Rex.
  • Greeks also contributed much to architecture and

The Greek Economy
  • Greece harbored a substantial population of free
    farmers who sold their crops in the largely
    agricultural market.
  • The rise of commercial agriculture led to much of
    the success experienced in Greek city-states.
  • Leading merchants were typically foreigners-
    citizens were often farmers.
  • Slavery was a key element in the Greek economy,
    but unlike later societies, Greeks did not
    mistreat their slaves, but rather treated them as
    household servants.

Greek Society
  • Greek society emphasized a tight family structure
    with the husband and father figure firmly in
  • Women had vital economic functions, particularly
    in farming and artisan families, but were held
    inferior in law and culture.
  • Few farmers actively participated in democratic
    functions or cultural opportunities such as
  • Technological advancements made during the
    Hellenistic era paled in comparison to those of
    the Roman empire.

The Rise and Fall of Rome
  • The Roman republic was founded in 509 B.C.E.,
    although despite the republic, the position of
    emperor was maintained.
  • A strong military and a drive to conquer led to
    the attainment of vast territories that composed
    the Roman empire.
  • The Roman empire lasted for over 900 years before
    its collapse in 476 C.E.

Roman Political Institutions
  • The Roman republic encouraged citizens to gather
    in public assemblies to elect magistrates.
  • The first code of law, The Twelve Tables, was
    established in 450 B.C.E. as a prelude to the
    Roman constitution.
  • The Senate was the most important legislative
    body, composed largely of aristocrats.
  • Two consuls shared primary executive power, but
    in times of crisis, a dictator could be appointed
    by the Senate.
  • The republic developed numerous organizational
    capabilities due to the sheer size of the empire.
  • Local autonomy was maintained in conquered
    provinces, and there was considerable tolerance
    for indigenous customs.

Roman Religion
  • Rome began with firm support of polytheism,
    choosing to worship and rename the gods of their
    Greek ancestors while fusing them with Egyptian
    gods, as well.
  • As the concept of monotheism swept Europe, the
    emperor Constantine elected Christianity as the
    state religion in 313 C.E.
  • It was this upheaval between traditional and new
    that contributed to the toppling of the Roman

Roman Cultural Contributions
  • Where the Greeks succeeded in shipbuilding, the
    Romans excelled in engineering innovations, such
    as the aqueduct.
  • Writers such as Cicero philosophized extensively
    upon government, and Virgil penned The Aeneid
    during the decadence of the Roman empire.
  • The Romans expanded greatly upon Greek
    architectural advances.
  • The concept of public government buildings
    flourished in Rome.

The Roman Economy
  • The rise of commercial agriculture was one of the
    leading developments in the formation of an
  • Rome contained abundant slave labor, although
    considerably less kind than that of the Greeks.
  • Rome was especially interested and successful in
    technological developments pertaining to
    agriculture or manufacturing.
  • Rome imported numerous luxury goods from African
    and Chinese countries.

Roman Society
  • Rome emphasized a strong patriarchy, and women
    had little to no economic rights.
  • Early Roman law stipulated that the husband is
    the judge of his wife.
  • Rome had a highly stratified aristocracy, but men
    could attain greatness through military success.

The Evolution of Classical Civilizations
Development in Africa
  • During the rise of Rome, the kingdom of Kush in
    northern Africa was defeated by the kingdom of
  • Axum would ultimately fall to another regional
    kingdom, Ethiopia.
  • Axum and Ethiopia had active contacts in the
    Mediterranean until after the fall of Rome.
  • The activities of Jewish merchants in Africa
    brought some conversions to Judaism.
  • Greek-speaking merchants brought Christianity to

  • Japan developed in complete isolation, and their
    population formed sheerly due to migration.
  • Shintoism flourished at this point in time, and
    it became the sole national religion in 700 C.E.
  • Around 600 C.E., Japan began to make contact with

Decline in China and India
  • Han China suffered from numerous internal
    weaknesses, and Gupta India had yet to eliminate
    the countrys tendency to dissolve into regional
  • The Huns (a group from central Asia) overthrew
    the Gupta and Han dynasties, and with them
    brought plague to China..
  • Daoism and its leaders (the Yellow Turbans)
    created great strife in China.
  • Indian rulers were unable to regulate the
    rajputs- regional leaders whose efforts often
    undermined those of the emperor.

The Decline and Fall of Rome
  • A disastrous plague swept the city of Rome and
    eliminated almost 75 of the population.
  • Recruiting soldiers for the Roman legion became
    increasingly difficult.
  • Romes upper classes steadily sought more earthly
    pleasure and neglected to participate in
  • Cultural life decayed, and religious upheaval
    between pagans and Christians sapped the empires
  • The economy declined, and tax revenues plummeted.
  • German and Hun tribes pressured Rome until it
    fell, and the pinnacle of Roman civilization
    shifted from the West to the Eastern Byzantine
    empire in Constantinople.

The New Religious Map
  • Buddhism expanded from India to China, where it
    was modified into the Mahayana variant, and
    Daoism took root
  • Christianity flourished under the Roman empire,
    the first pope was appointed, and was
    consequently exported to Constantinople
  • Islam began to form and take hold in the Middle
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