(See Main Article: The Greeks – Discover Ancient Greece’s Timeline and History)
The Ancient Greeks, or Hellenes, are the natives of Greece and other countries around the Mediterranean Sea like Cyprus, southern Albania, Italy, Turkey, and Egypt. Ancient Greek civilization, the period following Mycenaean civilization (which ended about 1200 BCE) lasted up to the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE. It was a period of political, philosophical, artistic, and scientific achievements that formed a legacy with unparalleled influence on Western civilization.
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The Ancient Greeks
Of the Indo-European tribes of European origin, the Ancient Greeks were foremost as regards both the period at which they developed an advanced culture and their importance in further evolution. The Greeks emerged in the course of the 2nd millennium BCE through the superimposition of a branch of the Indo-Europeans on the population of the Mediterranean region during the great migrations of nations that started in the region of the lower Danube.
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(See Main Article: Ancient Greece Timeline- The Greeks)
“The Greek Military Owned The Ancient World. Why Did They Roll Over For the Romans?”
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|Wandering tribes begin to settle in Greece
|Bronze Age Greece was inhabited by the Mycenaean people. They took their name from the capital city of their land, Mycenae.
|The Trojan war between the Greeks and the Trojans (inhabitants of Troy) began
|The Trojan war ended when the Ancient Greeks used a wooden horse to invade and overrun the Trojan city of Troy
|Mycenaean Greece was invaded by Dorian tribesmen from the north. The Dorians had iron weapons which they use to good effect to defeat and conquer the Mycenaeans.
|c. 850 BCE
|The Greek alphabet was developed from the Phoenician alphabet.
|c. 800 BCE
|Homer composed his poems – the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Iliad is an epic poem set in the Trojan War while the Odyssey tells the story of the adventures of Odysseus on his return from the Trojan war.
|First Olympic Games
|First recorded Olympic games. The games were held at Olympia. There was one event – the men’s 200m sprint.
|First Messenian War
|This was a disagreement between the Messenians and the Spartans that led to war
|First Messenian War
|The first Messenian war ended in victory for the Spartans
|Rise of the Tyrants
|The rule of aristocratic leaders was challenged by lesser aristocrats or wealthy tradesmen who wanted to overthrow the monopoly of the aristocrats. Known as tyrants they seized power from the aristocracy and took over rule in their stead.
|Draco’s Code of Law
|The laws of Athens had previously been a set of oral laws. Draco introduced a new set of harsher laws which were written down for all to read. For many crimes the punishment was death.
|The first Greek coins appeared.
|Democracy began in Athens.
|The philosopher and mathematician, Pythagoras, died in Metapontum.
|First Persian War
|The First Persian war began when Persia sent an invasion force into Athens in retaliation for its participation in a Greek raid on Persia.
|Battle of Marathon
|The Greeks defeated the Persians in the Battle of Marathon
|Second Persian War
|The Second Persian war began when Persia’s King Xerxes led an invasion force into Greece.
|August/September 480 BCE
|Battle of Thermopylae
|The Persians defeated the Greeks in the Battle off Thermopylae
|September 480 BCE
|Battle of Salamis
|The Greeks defeated the Persians in the Battle of Salamis
|The Parthenon was completed. The temple was built in Athens to house a statue of Goddess Athena so that she could watch over the city.
|The Peloponnesian wars between Athens and Sparta.
|Athens lost the Peloponnesian Wars. The Athenian democratic government was removed and replaced by a ruling body of 30 tyrants.
|Democracy was restored to Athens.
|The philosopher Socrates, founder of philosophy, was charged with impiety (being disrespectful to the Gods) he was found guilty and executed.
|The philosopher Plato, student of Socrates, founded the Academy in Athens.
|Philip II became King of Macedon
|The philosopher, Plato, student of Socrates, founder of The Academy and author of The Republic died in Athens.
|The Catapult was invented at Syracruse
|Battle of Chaeronea
|Philip II, King of Macedon conquered Greece
|League of Corinth
|The League of Corinth, a federation of Greek states, was founded by Philip II to boost support against Persia.
|Alexander the Great
|Philip II, King of Macedon was assassinated – his son Alexander became King of Macedon. He was later known as Alexander the Great
|Aristotle founded the Lyceum in Athens.
|Alexander conquered the Persians and declared himself King of Persia.
|Alexander conquered Egypt and made Alexandria the capital of his newly gained land
|Alexander the Great
|Alexander the Great died. His son had not yet been born so his conquered lands were divided between his top generals.
|Aristotle, philosopher, mathematician, student of Plato, tutor of Alexander died in Euboea.
|c. 265 BCE
|Euclid, the inventor of geometry, died.
|The mathematician and engineer, Archimedes, was assassinated in Syracuse.
|The Romans defeated the Greeks at the Battle of Corinth and Greece became part of the Roman Empire
“The Life and Times of Aristotle, and How His Philosophy Conquered the World—Lantern Jack from the Ancient Greece Declassified Podcast”
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(See Main Article: Ancient Greece – Ancient Olympics)
The Ancient Olympics were held at Olympia, one of the sacred places of the ancient god Zeus.
The earliest known record of an Olympic competition is 776BCE but it is thought that some kind of event may have been held for many years before that.
One legend states that the games were started by Heracles while another states that they were started by a king who wanted to bring peace to the region.
Women did not compete in the ancient Olympics and married women were not even allowed to attend as spectators.
The male athletes did not wear any clothes and competed naked.
At the first Olympic Games in 776BCE there was just one event – the Stade – a 200 metre (222 yard) race.
Other events were added over time and by 100BCE the games lasted for five days.
The Greeks: Ancient Olympic Events
|Stade/Stadion – 200 metresDialous – 400 metres
Dolichos – 4800 metres
Hoplitodromos – 400 or 800 metres in full armour
Pankration – violent martial arts style
|Chariot Racing – The winner was the owner of the chariot rather than the riderPentathlon – Wrestling, Stadion, Long Jump, Javelin, Discus
Winning an Olympic event was considered to be the greatest sporting achievement. The winner of each event was presented with an olive branch as a token of this achievement.
The Ancient games began to decline around 424BCE when Greece was at war with the Spartans and many young men had to go to war rather than devote themselves to athletics.
The games continued when the Romans invaded and conquered Greece but when Emperor Theodosius came to power he banned all non-Christian events including the Olympic Games.
The Greeks: How The Mythical Odysseus Tricked Troy
(See Main Article: How The Mythical Odysseus Tricked Troy)
Odysseus, the legend, the myth, the hero, and the king. Odysseus was known as an excellent speaker and a brilliant strategist. You have probably heard about him from the story of the Trojan horse. It is the stunning story of Agamemnon’s armies and their use of deception. Agamemnon sought revenge because the Trojan prince Paris took the wife of his brother, king Menelaus of Sparta. They fought for years against the Trojans, but the war seemed lost for Agamemnon and his allies. That is until Odysseus came to the rescue. Here’s his story.
Let’s start with the man behind this myth. Odysseus grew up as the son of Laertes and Anticlea. According to the myths Odysseus was the king of Ithaca and the leader of the Kephallenians. He was married to Penelope and had a son, named Telemachos. Odysseus was fortunate enough to be the favorite of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and battle. She was his savior many times and helped him through impossible situations. Athena also had a soft spot for Odysseus’ son, Telemachos, but Odysseus was her clear favorite. Odysseus can be described as ‘patient-minded’ and even as Zeus alike. Contrary to most thinkers, Odysseus was also a warrior, and a good one.
The Trojan war is one of the most popular myths about ancient Greece. Let’s start with how the Trojan war began. Like many things in Greek mythos, it began with the gods.
The queen of Troy, Hecuba, gave birth to a child. She called him Alexander. After the birth, Hecuba dreamed about the downfall of Troy because of her newborn baby. She had to give him away, and wolves took him to a shepherd. He grew up as a part of that Shepard family under the name ‘Paris’. Paris was chosen to decide whom to give a golden apple. He could choose from three goddesses: Hera queen of the gods, Athena, goddess of war, or Aphrodite, goddess of love. The last one promised him the most beautiful woman alive. He chooses Aphrodite. The other ones were furious and wanted to get revenge.
His destiny found him and he arrived at the city of Troy, where he challenged Prince Hector of Troy. He lost that duel and Hector were going to kill Paris when Hecuba saw the birthmark on Paris’ chest. He was taken into the family and the downfall of Troy began.
After that Paris went to Sparta to strengthen their bonds with king Menelaus. The woman promised by Aphrodite was queen Helen of Sparta, Menelaus’ wife. They fell madly in love and Paris took her. Menelaus was furious and so was his brother, Agamemnon. Menelaus wasn’t much of a fighter; he didn’t even win Helen himself: Agamemnon did that for him. So Agamemnon went with his allies, to retrieve Helen through diplomatic solutions. Paris wasn’t willing to let her go. So Agamemnon gathered his allies, the Achaean kings; Achilles, Idomeneus, Ajax, and of course, Odysseus.
The Trojan war lasted for nine years, Agamemnon and his armies couldn’t take Troy because of the strategic location, thick walls, and impressive army, so they besieged it. Achilles and Ajax’s armies raided Trojan allies and farmers. Homerus said that Achilles conquered around 11 cities and 12 islands.
After nine years of besieging Troy, the armies mutinied because they wanted to go home. Paris eventually fought a duel with Menelaus. Menelaus was winning and Aphrodite snatched him away from the battlefield, against all agreements between the gods. Because of that, the armies went fighting again.
So all seemed lost, and Troy seemed invincible until Odysseus came with one brilliant, final plan – the Trojan horse, a giant wooden horse. They left it at the beach with the inscription: ‘The Greeks dedicate this thank-offering to Athena for their return home’. The Trojans had to think that the armies were leaving and admitted that they could never conquer Troy. But in fact, it was filled with soldiers led by Odysseus himself. The rest of the armies burned down the camp and sailed away. The trick worked exactly as planned… Troy took the horse inside of their walls and started feasting, not knowing that they had just brought in their deaths. While all soldiers were getting themselves drunk, Odysseus and his soldiers got out of the horse and opened the gates just when Agamemnon’s whole army had returned.
A great massacre happened that night and day, and Troy was fallen thanks to the ingenious strategist Odysseus, king of Ithaca.
Engines of Destruction, The Evolution of Siege Warfare: Alexander the Great
(See Main Article: Engines of Destruction, The Evolution of Siege Warfare: Alexander the Great)
In January 332 B.C., Alexander began the Siege of Tyre. While the rest of the cities on the coast of modern Lebanon had surrendered to Alexander, he could not leave Tyre in the hands of the Persian fleet in his rear as he took his army to Egypt. Capturing Tyre was a strategic necessity for Alexander’s war plans.
Tyre, however, was seemingly impregnable. The massively fortified city was built on an island a half mile off the coast across from the old city on shore. The island had two natural harbors, one on each side. The landward walls towered 150 high. The Tryians knew Alexander was coming: they had evacuated the women and children and brought in food to sustain a siege. For the next seven months, a siege is what they got.
When Alexander could get his ships up to the walls, he set them to pounding the walls with battering rams and artillery from on-ship siege towers. While he sent some ships to create a diversion, Alexander took two ships with bridging equipment to the breached south wall. There the Macedonians swarmed over the bridge to the walls and forced a way into the city. Hundreds more soldiers followed and Tyre fell to Alexander in July 332 B.C.
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