Ancient History/Greece

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Introduction - Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece has left an indelible mark on European history. The foundations of democracy, philosophy, theater and science can be traced back through thousands of years of European history to the warring city states of Ancient Greece. This fractious period of expansion and contraction gave rise to an explosion of creativity and invention throughout the Aegean and Mediterranean. Out of the mist shrouded mythological Bronze Age of Homer and Hesiod arose a new way of thinking about mankind's relationship to the physical and metaphysical world. This brief dawn of Ancient Greece would soon be eclipsed by the rise of Rome who after conquering the Greeks were themselves conquered by the culture of the Hellenes.

Map of Greece

Chapter 1 - The Minoans 3000-1100 BCE

Minoan culture has given us the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. That everyone knows the Athenian hero, Theseus, defeated the monstrous Minotaur in the labyrinth of King Minos is testament to the effectiveness of myth as a cultural medium. The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur is set on Crete which is the largest island in the Aegean at the apex of the sea routes to Asia Minor and Greece. The visible ruins of the great palaces had left only a trace of Minoan power and wealth. It would take the investigations of Sir Arthur Evans before the world discovered the true extent of Minoan civilization. The labyrinth of rooms at the Place of Knossos and the fresco of a young man somersaulting over an unfettered bull gives credence to Sir Arthur Evans decision to name this civilization after King Minos.

A Minoan vase

Chapter 2 - The Mycenaeans 1600-1100 BCE

Heinrich Schliemann held in his hands a gold burial mask and declared to the world "I have looked on the face of Agamemnon". The German industrialist had already uncovered the city of Troy and now believed he held the death mask of that city's destroyer, Agamemnon of Mycenae, king of all the Greeks, who had led a thousand ships to the Trojan city of King Priam. The wife of Agamemnon's brother Menelaus, Helen of Sparta, had eloped with Paris, a son of King Priam. Agamemnon called upon the greatest Greek warriors to follow him to Troy to avenge his brother. They would come from all over Greece to honour their oath of allegiance. Achilles from Argos, Ajax from Salamis and Odysseus from Ithaca. This is the Bronze Age of Homer when heroes duel for spear-won honour.

Funeral mask of Agamemnon

Chapter 3 - The Greek Dark Ages 1100-750 BCE

from the decline of Greece to the rebirth of writing

Dorian hoplite

Chapter 4 - Classical Greece 750-336 BCE

from the rise of the polis to the conquests of Macedon

The Parthenon

Chapter 5 - The Hellenistic Period 336-146 BCE

from the empire of Alexander the Great to the Roman conquest

Alexander the Great

Chapter 6 - Greek Culture

The cradle of the Western Civilization

Parthenon, Greece

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