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Classical Greece


Mycenaean Civilization Develops Some of the Indo-Europeans settled in Greece. They were known as Mycenaeans, from their capital city Mycenae. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Classical Greece

Classical Greece
  • 2000 BC-300 BC

Geography Shapes Greek Life
  • Greece consists of a mountainous peninsula
    jutting out into the Mediterranean, as well as
    2000 islands in the Aegean and Ionian seas.
    Lands on the eastern edge of the Aegean were also
    considered part of ancient Greece.
  • The Greeks basically lived around a sea the
    farthest they had to travel was 85 miles to see
    the ocean a little over an hours drive by
    todays standards.
  • The Aegean, Ionian, and Black Seas were important
    transportation and trade routes that linked
    Greece with neighboring kingdoms.
  • Trade was very important because Greece was
    lacking in natural resources such as timber,
    metals, and usable farmland

Geography Cont.
  • Mountains covered ¾ of Greece these mountain
    ranges divided Greece into many different
    regions, which impacted political life. Instead
    of a unified government, the Greeks gave their
    loyalty to their small local community.
  • Tiny areas of farmland made it next to impossible
    for Greece to support a large population no
    more than a million people at any one time.
  • The moderate climate supported an outdoor life
    for the Greeks.

Greek Mythology
  • The Greeks began developing myths around this
    time. Homer and the works of another author,
    Hesiod, are the source of much mythology.
  • The Greeks attributed human nature to the gods,
    such as love, hate, jealousy, and all the other
    things that make soap operas fun.

Mycenaean Civilization Develops
  • Some of the Indo-Europeans settled in Greece.
    They were known as Mycenaeans, from their capital
    city Mycenae.
  • This was located in southern Greece on a steep,
    rocky ridge and was surrounded by a protective
    wall around 20 ft. thick. This citys
    warrior-kings dominated Greece from 1600-1100 BC.

Contact with Minoans
  • Around 1500 BC, the Mycenaeans came into contact
    with the Minoans, from whom they learned the
    value of seaborne trade.
  • The Mycenaeans also adopted the Minoan writing
    system to the Greek language, as well as aspects
    of religion, art, politics, and literature.

The Trojan War
  • During the 1200s BC, the Mycenaeans fought a
    ten-year war against Troy.
  • According to Greek legend, an army besieged and
    destroyed Troy because a Trojan prince kidnapped
    Helen, the beautiful wife of a Greek king.
  • It made matters worse that Paris, the young
    prince that captured her, was more attractive
    than her husband, who was probably 20 years older

The Trojan War
  • For many years, historians thought that the
    Trojan War was a myth.
  • During the 1870s, however, excavations discovered
    that the cities existed, and that the actual
    events probably did happen, although the story of
    Helen and Paris cannot be supported by fact.

Greek Culture Declines Under the Dorians
  • After the fall of the Mycenaean civilization, the
    Dorians moved into the region. They were
    actually less advanced than the Mycenaeans the
    economy collapsed and trade stopped. No written
    records exist from their time period.
  • This lack of writing made oral storytelling very
    important. Homer, a blind storyteller, is noted
    for the Iliad and Odyssey, both composed between
    750 and 700 BC.
  • Doh!

The Development of Classical Greece
Rule Order in Greek City States
  • By 750 BC, the city-state (or polis) was the main
    political unit in ancient Greece. Most contained
    50-500 square miles of territory.
  • Citizens met at the acropolis to discuss
    government. The type of government depended on
    the type of city-state. Some were monarchies,
    others aristocracies. Occasionally an oligarchy,
    or rule by a few powerful people, arose.

Tyrants Seize Power
  • Clashes between rulers and commoners happened in
    many city-states. Occasionally tyrants, or
    wealthy citizens who gained control through the
    support of commoners, arose. They were not
    necessarily cruel and harsh they were
    considered leaders who would work for the
    peoples best interests.

The Persian Wars
  • The shift to iron weapons from more expensive yet
    inferior bronze led to the creation of a larger
  • The foot soldiers stood side by side, each
    holding a spear in one hand and a shield in the
    other. This square self-protecting fighting
    force was known as the phalanx.

The Persian Wars
  • The Persian Wars began in Ionia on the Anatolian
    coast. Greeks had settled there, but around 546
    BC the Persians invaded.
  • When Ionian Greeks revolted, Athens sent troops
    to their aid. The rebels were defeated, but the
    Persian king vowed to defeat the rebels in
  • In 490 the Persians sailed to Greece and landed
    on the Marathon plain. 10,000 Athenians, in
    phalanxes, awaited them and defeated them easily.
  • Persian Losses 6000
  • Greek 200

Battle at Marathon
Battle at Marathon
The Persian Empire
  • Largest empire up to this point in history
  • Stretches from Turkey to India
  • Darius the Great wants to add Greek trade to his
    tax base

The Persian Wars
  • Ten years later, Darius the Greats son Xerxes,
    assembled a huge fighting force to invade Athens.
    Thanks to a disagreement among the other city
    states as to what to do about the Persian
    problem, Xerxes had no resistance on his way to
  • When he came to a narrow mountain pass at
    Thermopylae, 7000 Greeks (300 Spartans) blocked
    their way the only reason the Athenians lost
    was thanks to a traitor who tipped off the
  • The 300 Spartans held off the Persians to buy
    time with the other forces retreated to help
    evacuate Athens
  • Xerxes was disappointed to find the city
    deserted, but he burnt it anyway.
  • Xerxes forces were defeated by smaller, faster
    Greek ships at the Battle of Platea. Soon after,
    the Greeks put the Persians on the defensive.

Battle of Thermopylae
  • Darius son Xerxes inherits the Persian empire
    and the need to punish the Greeks
  • Digs a channel, builds up provisions, and builds
    two bridges (Hellespont) to march 300,000 men
    from 46 nations to Greece escorted by 1200 ships
  • Thrace and several other Greek poleis ally with

Battle of Thermopylae
  • 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians defend the narrow
    pass at Thermopylae
  • Mountains and sea create a natural bottleneck to
    force Persians to attack head-on without support
    of light cavalry
  • Persians are victorious, but take heavy losses
  • Greeks fight to the last man

Battle of Thermopylae
Fantasy vs. Reality
Fantasy vs. Reality
After Thermopylae
  • The Persians captured and burned Athens but were
    defeated by the Athenian navy at Salamis
  • In 479 the Persians were defeated at Plataea and
    forced back to Anatolia

Democracy and Greeces Golden Age
Athens Builds a Limited Democracy
  • In Athens, the idea of a representative democracy
  • In 954, a ruler by the name of Draco decreed that
    all Athenians were equal under the law. His code
    dealt very harshly with criminals, making death
    the punishment for every crime. It also upheld
    practices as debt-slavery, where debtors worked
    as slaves (literally) to pay off their debts.
  • In 621, Solon came to power, outlawing the debt
    slavery concept, and organized all into 4 social
    classes according to wealth. Those in the top 3
    classes were allowed to hold office.

Athens Builds a Limited Democracy
  • Around 500 BC, Cleisthenes introduced more
    reforms like reducing the power of the nobility
    by getting rid of the wealth classes and
    replacing these with a system based on where they
  • There was a Counsel of 500, who could propose
    laws these delegates were selected at random.
  • Citizenship was restricted to only free adult
    male property owners born in Athens. Everyone
    else had few rights.

Pericles Plan for Athens
  • Pericles ruled Athens for 32 years, from 461-429
  • Stronger democracy through paid officials and
    direct democracy (citizens rule directly)
  • Athenian Empire Athens was seen as the center
    of the Greek world thanks to military and naval
  • Glorification of Athens through art and

Whats so Special about Athens?
  • Athenians culture laid foundation for Western
  • Western Civilization Medicine, architecture
    anatomy, science, math, alphabet, philosophy all
    came from the Greeks and primarily from Athens

  • Founded western philosophy
  • Socratic Method, which led to Scientific Method
  • Found guilty of corrupting the youth, and
    executed by poisoning

Socrates Legacy
  • Student, Plato, writes of Socrates life, spreads
    and furthers philosophical thinking
  • Founds the Academy in Athens
  • Platos student, Aristotle, would be the personal
    tutor of Alexander the Great
  • Aristotle furthered science significantly

Sparta Builds a Military State
  • Sparta was cut off from the rest of Greece by the
    Gulf of Corinth. It contrasted sharply with the
    other city-states, especially in the fact that it
    chose to create a military form of government.
  • Around 725 BC, the Spartans conquered the
    Messenians, turning them into helots, which were
    forced laborers. Each year, the Spartans
    demanded half of their crops. In 650 they
    revolted, but the outnumbered Spartans managed to
    crush the rebellion. This was the wake-up call
    that led to the strengthening of their military.

Spartas Government and Society
  • There was an assembly which was composed of all
    Spartan citizens, which voted on major issues.
    The Counsel of Elders were made up of 30 older
    citizens, proposed these laws. Five elected
    officials carried out these laws, and two kings
    ruled over the military.
  • There was a three-tiered social class citizens
    descended from the original inhabitants of the
    region, free non-citizens who worked in
    agriculture and industry, and the helots, who
    basically had no rights.

Warring City-States
Athenians and Spartans Go To War
  • Leaders in both cities wanted war, b/c they felt
    their cities had the advantage.
  • When the Peloponnesian War began, Athens had the
    stronger navy, while Sparta had the stronger
    army. Its inland position also made attack by
    sea difficult.
  • The Spartans marched into Athens, burning food
    supplies a plague that killed a third of the
    people in Athens helped the Spartans win.

Sparta Gains Victory
  • In 421 BC, the two sides signed a truce because
    they were exhausted. That truce was broken in
    415, when the Athenians sent a huge fleet sailing
    to Sicily to destroy Syracuse, one of Spartas
    allies. The idea backfired badly their whole
    fleet and army were demolished.
  • The surrendered in 404 BC, losing their power and

Enter the Macedonians
Enter the Macedonians
  • Philip II was raised in Thebes (as a hostage)
    educated to be Greek
  • When returned to Macedonia, wanted to unify the
    warring Greek cities
  • Uses divide-and-conquer tactics to take over one
    city at a time
  • Assassinated, leaving empire to his son Alexander

Warfare in the Age of Alexander
  • Phalanx A formation of infantry carrying
    overlapping shields and long spears, developed by
    Philip II and used by Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great
  • Alexander, King of Macedonia, 20 years old
  • Invades Persia, and defeats Darius III, conquers
    all of the Persian empire and expands it further
  • Spreads Greek language, philosophy, civilization
  • Ushers in the Hellenistic Period

Conquests of Alexander
  • Ionia and Anatolia 333
  • Syria, Palestine, Egypt 332
  • Mesopotamia 331
  • Persepolis 331
  • King of Persia 330
  • India 327
  • Returns to Susa 324
  • Dies (age 33) 323

After Gaugamela
  • Darius escape frustrated Alexander because it
    prevented him from full claim to being king of
  • Eventually Darius followers assassinated him
  • As Alexander became king of Persia and continued
    to advance east, he took on an increasingly
    Oriental attitude

Alexanders Conquests
Alexanders Legacy
  • Alexander dies at age 33 (records say from a high
    fever, but he was probably poisoned)
  • His empire is split between his generals
  • Succeeding empires
  • Antigonid Empire Macedonia, Greece, and Asia
  • Seleucid Empire Persia, Mesopotamia, and Turkey
  • Ptolemaic Empire Egypt

Division of Alexanders Empire
After Alexander
  • After Alexander died, his generals jockeyed for
    power and by 275 they had divided up his kingdom
    into three large states
  • Antigonus took Greece and Macedon
  • Ptolemy took Egypt
  • Seleuces took the former Achaemenid empire
  • The period of Alexander and his successors is
    called the Hellenistic period to reflect the
    broad influence of Greek culture beyond Greeces