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The first Greek-speaking tribes are generally thought to have arrived in the Greek mainland between the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC where various pre-Greek people had already been practicing agriculture since the 7th millennium BC. The earliest civilizations to appear were the Minoan civilization on Crete (2700 BC to 1450 BC), and the Early Helladic period on the Greek mainland (2800 BC to 2100 BC). They were eventually invaded by the Mycenaeans from mainland Greece around 1400 BC. Mycenaean Greece lasted from the arrival of the Greeks in the Aegean around 1600 BC to the collapse of their civilization around 1100 BC. A Bronze Age culture, it provided the historical setting for the epics of Homer. Around 1400 BC the Mycenaeans extended their control to Crete. Around 1100 BC the Mycenaean civilization collapsed as a result of the introduction of iron weapons. The Greek Dark Ages existed from the end of the Mycenaean civilization in the 11th century BC to the rise of the first Greek city-states in the 9th century BC. It was characterized by a reduced population and a loss of literacy. At the end of this period of stagnation, writing was relearned from the Phoenicians. The Ancient Greek period followed. It lasted from the date of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC through the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. Most of the Greek names known to modern readers flourished in this age including the poets, Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Sappho; politicians including Themistocles, Pericles, Lysander, Epaminondas, Alcibiades, Philip II of Macedon, and his son Alexander the Great; and philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, Democritus, Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon. Almost all of the mathematical knowledge formalized in Euclid's Elements was developed in this era. Two major wars shaped the Ancient Greek world. The Persian Wars (500–448 BC) are recounted in Herodotus' Histories. Notable battles of this war include Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea. Athens founded the Delian League in 477 BC. In 458 BC war broke out between the Delian League and the Peloponnesian League, comprised of Sparta and its allies. After inconclusive fighting, the two sides signed a peace in 447 BC. That peace was to last thirty years: instead it held only until 431 BC with the onset of the Peloponnesian War, discussed in Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War and Xenophon's Hellenica. The first stage of the war lasted until 421 BC with the signing of the Peace of Nicias. The Peace of Nicias concluded with Sparta recovering its hostages and Athens recovering the city of Amphipolis. Those who signed the Peace of Nicias in 421 BC swore to uphold it for fifty years. The second stage of the Peloponnesian War began in 415 BC when Athens embarked on the Sicilian Expedition. Athens finally surrendered in 404 BC, ending the Peloponnesian War. The Theban general, Epaminondas, crushed Sparta at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC. The basic unit of politics from that point was the empire, and the Hellenistic Age had begun. The Hellenistic period of Greek history begins with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and ends with the annexation of the Greek peninsula and islands by Rome in 146 BC. Athens and her allies revolted against Macedon upon hearing that Alexander had died, but were defeated within a year in the Lamian War. The break-up of Alexander's empire established of a number of new kingdoms. Ptolemy was left with Egypt, Seleucus with the Levant, Mesopotamia, and points east. Control of Greece, Thrace, and Anatolia was contested, but by 298 BC the Antigonid dynasty had supplanted the Antipatrid. Macedonian control of the Greek city-states was intermittent. Athens, Rhodes, Pergamum and other Greek states retained substantial independence and joined the Aetolian League as a means of defending it. The Achaean League, controlled most of southern Greece. Sparta remained independent, refusing to join any league. In 267 BC, Ptolemy II persuaded the Greek cities to revolt against Macedon, in what became the Chremonidean War. The cities were defeated and Athens lost her independence and her democratic institutions marking the end of Athens as a political actor. In 225 Macedon defeated the Egyptian fleet at Cos and brought the Aegean islands, except Rhodes, under its rule. Sparta remained hostile to the Achaeans, and in 227 BC invaded Achaea and seized control of the League. The remaining Acheans allied with Macedon. In 222 BC the Macedonian army defeated the Spartans and annexed their city, the first time Sparta had ever been occupied by a foreign power. Philip V of Macedon instituted the Peace of Naupactus (217 BC) bringing conflict between Macedon and the Greek leagues to an end. Rome promptly lured the Achaean cities away from their nominal loyalty to Philip, and formed alliances with Rhodes and Pergamum, now the strongest power in Asia Minor. The First Macedonian War broke out in 212, and ended inconclusively in 205. In 202 BC Rome defeated Carthage, and was free to turn her attention eastwards. Philip's allies in Greece deserted him and in 197 he was decisively defeated at the Battle of Cynoscephalae by the Roman proconsul Titus Quinctius Flaminius. Philip surrendered his fleet and became a Roman ally. The establishment of Roman rule marked the end of Greek political independence. Militarily, Greece declined to the point that the Romans conquered the land (168 BC onwards). Although the period of Roman rule in Greece is conventionally dated as starting from the sacking of Corinth by the Roman Lucius Mummius in 146 BC, Macedonia had already come under Roman control with the defeat of its king, Perseus in 168 BC. The Romans left local administration to the Greeks without making any attempt to abolish traditional political patterns. Caracalla's decree in 212 AD, the Constitutio Antoniniana, extended citizenship to all free adult males in the entire Roman Empire. The Byzantine Empire followed. In the Byzantine era, (approximately 6th to the 12th centuries) the empire was attacked by Persians, Langobards, Avars, Slavs, Arabs and Bulgarians. From the late 8th century, the Empire began to recover from the devastating impact of successive invasions, and the reconquest of Greece began. Greeks from Sicily and Asia Minor were brought in as settlers. The Slavs were either driven out or assimilated and the Sclavinias were eliminated. By the middle of the 9th century, Greece was Greek again, and the cities began to recover. The 11th and 12th centuries are said to be the Golden Age of Byzantine art in Greece. Then the Ottomans arrived, two Greek migrations occurred. The first migration entailed the Greek intelligentsia migrating to Western Europe and influencing the advent of the Renaissance. The second migration entailed Greeks leaving the plains of the Greek peninsula and resettling in the mountains. The Ottomans ruled Greece until the early 19th century. On March 25, 1821 the Greeks rebelled and achieved independence in 1829. The Ionian Islands were returned by Britain in 1863, and Thessaly was ceded by the Ottomans without a fight. As a result of the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 Epirus, southern Macedonia, Crete and the Aegean Islands were annexed into Greece. Greece made a decisive contribution to the Allied efforts in World War II. At the start of the war Greece sided with the Allies and refused to give in to Italian demands. Italy invaded Greece via Albania on October 28, 1940, but Greek troops repelled the invaders after a bitter struggle. Adolf Hitler stepped in and launched the Battle of Greece. Troops from Germany, Bulgaria, and Italy successfully invaded Greece, via Yugoslavia, overcoming Greek, British, Australian, and New Zealand units. German occupation of Greece ended October 1944. British troops landed on 4th October in Patras, and entered Athens at October 13th. The Greek Civil War was fought between 1944 and 1949 between the Governmental forces and the Democratic Army of Greece; the military branch of the Greek communist party. The victory of the government forces led to Greece's membership in NATO and helped to define the ideological balance of power in the Aegean for the entire Cold War.
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