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The History Of Ancient Greece

Unlike other nations that are unified under one ruler Ancient Greece was separated into a variety of governments that made it function poorly. In 900 B. C. E the Greeks ‘civilization began to emerge. The little towns slowly became cities, and the city prospered. Especially in 800 B. C. E when the Greeks created the Greek alphabet (O’Connell 20-21). Ancient Greece has multiple cities that each have its own government system. These cities are known as city-states or polis’ and each city-state acted as its own country. Ancient Greece had city-states due to people disagreeing on many issues.

Some people wanted a democracy, but others wanted a monarchy, or aristocracy (Mavommatis). The city-states were at odds with each other because they would abuse and take for granted one another’s resources such as; stealing goods and taking it to one’s homeland without ever paying for it (Mavommatis). Two of the most notorious city-states, which both were vastly different, were Sparta and Athens (O’Connell 41-43). For example, in an article written by Panayiotis P. Mavommatis, Mavommatis described the two city-states by pointing out “education was mostly about philosophy and arts in Athens, and solely military in Sparta” (Mavommatis).

Athens started off as a monarchy, changed to an aristocracy then later changed to a direct democracy. Athens’ democracy had an elected council of 500 men. Common citizens could vote only if they were part eighteen years old, and were men. Men that were thirty years old could join the jurors (O’Connell 44-45). Education and wealth was found important and essential to Athens culture. The women of Athens were no allowed to be a part of politics. Women were seen inferior to men and that men must guide women. Women’s jobs were to maintain the house, care for the children, and prepare cloths.

Women normally stayed home and stayed away from the public. The city-state Sparta was built by invaders called Dorians. The Dorians turned the people of Sparta into slaves so they could work on the lands. Sparta had a mixture of democracy, monarchy, and oligarchy. Sparta had a system called the “dual-king government”, which gave Sparta two rulers, who made the decisions for the state. Only men over the age of thirty could join the assembly of people (O’Connell 49-50). Military power was important and essential to Sparta’s culture.

By early ages of up to seven years old Spartan children started military training. For the rest of their lives they would train by exercise, strict diet, and strict discipline. The purpose of this was to create excellent soldiers. The women of Sparta were a part of the military. The women were required to exercise, produce good healthy sons, and even had the ability to maintain the land when the husband was absent. The men were still in charge and were the authority and women had to obey. Wars were another factor that impacted the city-states and Ancient Greece as a whole.

Even though city-states functioned independently it was not unlikely for city-states to form alliances to form alliances to unite to unite against a common enemy such as the alliance between Sparta and Athens during the Persian War (Mavommatis). Persia had conquered the city-state Ionia. The citizens of Ionia rebelled against the invaders and had help from the city-state Athens. Athens had sent ships to the Ionian rebels to aid them. The Persians were pushed back by the rebel cities. Darius the first, the leader of Persia, sent a force to Aegean because of Athens’ interference with Ionia. At Aegean Athens had been prepared to fight.

The battle was called the battle of Marathon. The Persians eventually had to withdraw from the battle. Later on Darius the first died and his son, Nerxes, took his place. Nerxes led an attack against Athens. Athens, this time, allied themselves with city-state Sparta. Sadly, Sparta was beaten by the Persians and the Persians burned the city Athens to the ground. Luckily not all hope was lost for the Athenians led the Persians to the shore were the Persians were destroyed with Athens impressive navy warships. After the Persian War Athens became the powerfullest city-state in Greece by forming the Delian League and creating an empire.

The Athens became power hungry and forced the other city-states to live the Athenian way. The city-states were soon at odds again when Sparta and Athens went to war, which was called the Peloponnesian War. The result of this war devastated Athens’ economy and population (Mavommatis). Sparta and the other city-states grew tired of Athens rule and formed an alliance called the Peloponnesian League. Sparta attacked Athens inland, which was Athens weak point because they could not use their navy. During the battle between Athens and Sparta Athens had a plague outbreak in the city, which weakened Athens significantly.

Even though Athens was weakened Sparta could not take Athens down so Sparta joined forces with Persia and both powers finally defeated Athens. The essential aspect of the city-states and wars was that it showed Ancient Greece and not a unified country. Due to the city-states being independent and separate cities with tendencies of battling each other, no one became aware of the upcoming threat that emerged from Macedonia. The new threat is an important factor that will forever reshape Ancient Greece for the better and for the worse.

Philip, the second, paved the way for Alexander the Great, who conquered most of Greece and united it under one nation then died leaving a divide in Greece that brings its downfall. With the city-states quarreling among each other it made it easier for Philip the second, king of Macedonia, to take over the northern Greek territory and expand (Guisepi). The battle of Chaeronea, in 338 B. C. E, was the battle that much of brought Ancient Greece under Macedonian rule. The battle of Chaeronea is also where Alexander, son of Philip the second, led a cavalry attack and showed himself to be a strong, adept leader in the military.

Philip the second had decided to attack the Persian Empire, but before he could advance further in his plan Philip the second was assassinated in a theatre at Aegaea (McGill). Before Alexander seized the throne, he had to deal with a competitor, who had made an accusation about him murdering his father and to establish a relationship with the people (Randall 24-26). An author named Bernard Randall wrote that “having come to the throne, Alexander had to secure his own position first” (Randall 29). Indicating that Alexander would not be able to rule over his kingdom until he settled all of the rebellions.

To establish his rule and dominance over the people Alexander went out to the rebels, like Thebes, and destroyed the city. Once the rebels were dealt with Alexander was able to take control of the army, he began his plans of conquering more lands to expand his empire. In an article written by Sarah Ann McGill, she notes that “Alexander the Great amassed an impressive empire that stretched from Greece to the Indus Valley” (McGill). Greece fought for Alexander to seek revenge against the Persians. “The Macedonian army as well as a number of Greek mercenaries were eager to fight the Persians (McGill).

Alexander gave the Greeks the opportunity of revenge against their enemy, the Persians (Guisepi). Every time Alexander conquered a land he would establish democracies, instill Greek culture like art, religion, knowledge, and allow intermarriages. During his travels, Alexander stopped in Gordion to untie the legendary knot where it was said that anyone who could untie the would be proven to be invincible. There is speculation as to rather Alexander untied the knot or cut the knot in half. In Syria Alexander and his troops fought the Persians a second time and won, but Persia’s ruler Darius the third escaped.

Alexander moved his troops to Phoenicia, and moved on to Egypt. In Egypt Alexander was quickly made Pharaoh, and Alexander constructed the city Alexandria. In Alexandria Alexander influenced much of the Greek culture, instilled education, and art. Alexander continued his journey to Gaugamela, where he fought and won another battle, Babylon, then to the town Susa where Athenians treasure, that was stolen by the Persians, was discovered. Leaving the town, Alexander and his men were attacked by the Persians, who’s surprise attack killed many of Alexander’s men.

Alexander regrouped his soldiers and divided them so the Persians were attacked on more than one side. This strategy proved to be effective against the Persians, who were defeated, and the Greeks had settled their revenge. Alexander’s men sought their revenge against the Persians and assumed that they would return home, but Alexander continued toward the Caspian Sea. “the Caspian Sea was the edge of the known world to the Greeks, who believed the body of water reached all the way to Britain on the other side.

The army continued on and discovered that there was much more land in the world than they realized” (McGill). This incident gave Greece knowledge that there was more to this world than they ever knew. During Alexander’s journey, some issues arose. One of the issues was when Alexander executed one of his best friend and friend’s son for not giving sufficient information. Next the army ran low on supplies and stopped in the town of Balkh where Alexander married Princess Roxana, which expanded the empire.

Alexander continued to conquer land, until 323 B. C. E when Alexander became ill with malaria and died. The death of Alexander left a huge impact on Greece. Alexander did not appoint an heir to take his place as ruler of Greece, which caused confusion as to who should become the ruler (McGill). The generals in Alexander’s military decided that Alexander’s bloodline should take the throne so they placed Alexander’s stepbrother, Philip Arrhidaeus, to take his place as ruler. Unfortunately, Philip was assassinated (McGill).

Then Alexander’s mother, Olympias, declared that Alexander the fifth, Alexander’s son, be ruler, but soon he and Olympias meant the same fate as Philip (Randall). As to what became Alexander’s empire, Sarah Ann McGill explains that “the generals then chose to divide the empire amongst themselves. The Ptolemaic Dynasty ruled over Egypt, the Seleucids took Asia, Syria, and Antingos took the lands around Greece” (McGill). Alexander was Greece’s hero. According to Sarah Ann McGill “Alexander was one of the first leaders of the ancient world to attempt to unite a vast territory under one culture known as Hellenization” (McGill).

Now that Greece is split once again it made it easier for the romans to invade and claim Alexander’s land. After the unfortunate split of the Greek nation Rome began expanding their empire, which eventually ended Ancient Greece’s era. Ancient Greece’s split made the nation weak because the nation was no longer united and working together. This proved to be a fault for Ancient Greece for a new empire called the Roman Empire was starting to expand by conquering lands in Italy. The Romans were fighting the Carthaginians for the sake of conquering their land.

The Greeks, in attempt to save their own land from the Romans, allied themselves with the Carthaginians, but lost (Carr). As punishment for helping the Carthaginians Rome began conquering lands in Greece. Soon after Greece was completely under Roman rule. Luckily, Greece adjusted well under Roman rule for the Romans adapted many of the Greek’s lifestyles such as; art, religion, and the Greeks culture and even found it beneficial by being given the ability to have peaceful trade, and being able to build more houses and buildings (Carr).

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