Ancient Greece is the time of Greek history stretching from the twentieth to the fourth century BC
Ancient Greece Map
When we speak of Ancient Greece we are not referring to a unified country. They were actually a set of cities that shared language, customs, and some laws. However, many of them were even enemies to each other as was the case of Athens and Sparta.
However, in the Classic Period, the Greeks sought to cultivate beauty and virtue by developing the art of music, painting, architecture, sculpture, etc.
In this way they believed that citizens would be able to contribute to the common good.Thus, democracy was launched.
Each cop had its own social organization. Some, like Athens, admitted to slavery, by debt or wars. Sparta, meanwhile, had few slaves but owned state servants, which belonged to the Spartan government.
Both cities had an oligarchy that ruled them, which also owned the arable land.
Also in Athens we verify the figure of foreigners called metecos . Only citizens were born in the city, so foreigners could not participate in the political decisions of the police.
The Greek economy was based on handicrafts, agriculture and commerce.
The Greeks made products in choir, metal and cloth. These were a lot of work because all the production steps – from spinning to dyeing – were time consuming.
The crops were devoted to vineyards, olive trees and wheat. Added to this was the breeding of small animals.
Trade was present and affected every Greek society. In order to carry out trade, the ” drachma ” currency was used.
There was as much the small trade of the farmer, who carried his harvest to the local market, as the great merchant, who owned boats that ran the entire Mediterranean route.
Parthenon Temple, dedicated to the goddess Athens, protector of the city of the same name
The religion of Ancient Greece was polytheistic. Receiving the influence of various peoples, the Greeks were adopting gods from elsewhere to constitute the pantheon of gods, nymphs, humans who attained immortality and gods who lost their immortal condition.
The stories of the gods served as moral teaching to society, and also to justify acts of war and peace. The gods also interfered with everyday life, and there was practically a deity for every function.
Masks Used In Greek Theater
Greek culture is closely linked to religion. Literature, music, and theater told of the deeds of heroes and their relationship to the gods who lived on Olympus.
The plays were very popular and every city had its stage where tragedies and comedies were staged.
Music was important for celebrating civil banquets and accompanying religious acts. The main instruments were the flute, drums and harps. The latter was used to help poets recite their works.
Equally, sports were part of Greek daily life. Therefore, to celebrate the alliance between the different polis, competitions were organized in peacetime.
The first of these was held in 776 BC in the city of Olympia and hence would be known as the Olympic Games, or simply the Olympics .
The history of ancient Greece is divided into four periods :
- Pre-Homeric (20th – 12th centuries BC)
- Homeric (12th – 8th centuries BC)
- Ancient (8th – 6th centuries BC)
- Classical (5th – 4th centuries BC)
Pre-Homeric Period (20th – 12th centuries BC)
The first period of formation of Greece is called
Ancient Greece was formed from the miscegenation of Indo-European or Aryan peoples ( Achaeans , Ionians , Aeolians, Dorians ). They migrated to the southernmost region of the Balkan peninsula, between the Ionian, Mediterranean and Aegean seas.
It is believed that around 2000 BC came the Achaeans, who lived in a primitive community regime.
After establishing contact with the Cretans from whom they adopted writing, they developed, built palaces and fortified cities.
They organized themselves into various kingdoms led by the city of Mycenae. Hence the name Aqueia Civilization of Mycenae.
After annihilating the Cretan civilization, they dominated several Aegean islands. Destroyed Troia, rival city.
However, in the twelfth century BC was destroyed by the Dorians, who imposed a violent rule over the entire region, razed the cities of Hellas and caused the dispersion of the population, which favored the formation of several colonies. This fact is known as the 1st Greek Diaspora .
Homeric Period (12th – 8th centuries BC)
The Doric invasions set back the social and commercial relations between the Greeks.
In some regions the genos – community formed by numerous families, descended from the same ancestor, emerged.
In these communities the goods were common to all, the work was collective, they raised cattle and cultivated the land.
Everything was divided between them, who depended on the orders of the community chief named Pater , who had religious, administrative and legal functions.
With the increase in population and the imbalance between population and consumption, the genos began to disintegrate.
Many began to leave the genos and seek better survival conditions, starting the colonizing movement throughout much of the Mediterranean.
This movement that marks the disintegration of the gentile system is called the 2nd Greek diaspora .
This process resulted in the founding of several colonies, including:
- Byzantium, later Constantinople, and present-day Istanbul;
- Marseille and Nice, today in France;
- Naples, Taranto, Sybaris, Crotona and Syracuse, known together as Magna Grecia, in southern present-day Italy and Sicily.
Archaic Period (8th – 6th centuries BC)
Greek cop example where the temple was in the highest place in the city
The Archaic Period begins with the decay of the Gentile community. At this point the aristocrats decide to unite by creating the fraternities (brotherhoods of individuals of various genres).
These came together forming tribes. The tribes built, on high ground, the fortified cities called the acropolis. Greek cities – states (polis) were being born.
Athens and Sparta served as a model for the other Greek poles. Sparta was an aristocratic city, closed to foreign influences and an agrarian city.
Spartans valued authority, order, and discipline. It became a militaristic state and was a city of scarce intellectual achievement.
Athens, for its part, has long dominated trade between the Greeks, and in its political evolution has known various forms of government: monarchy, oligarchy, tyranny and democracy. Athens symbolized the cultural splendor of Ancient Greece.
Classical Period (5th – 4th centuries BC)
Ceramic fragment illustrating the medical wars
The beginning of the Classic Period was marked by the Medical Wars , between the Greek and Persian cities, which threatened the trade and security of the polis.
After the wars, Athens became leader of the Confederation of Delos, an organization made up of several city states. These should contribute ships and money to maintain naval resistance against a possible foreign invasion.
The period of Athenian hegemony coincided with the economic prosperity of Athens, with the cultural splendor of Greece. At this time, philosophy, theater, sculpture and architecture reached their greatest grandeur.
Intending to impose his hegemony on the Greek world as well, Sparta composed the Peloponnese League with other city states and declared war on Athens in 431 BC After 27 years of fighting, Athens was defeated.
Years later, Sparta lost hegemony to Thebes and during this period Greece was conquered by the Macedonian armies.
The period in which the Greeks were under the rule of the Macedonian Empire became known as the Hellenistic period .
Greece was ruled by Emperor Philip II and then by his son Alexander the Great , who conquered a great empire. The fusion of Greek and Western culture was named Hellenistic Culture.