Ancient Greece

By Grace and Aaliyah

Greek Society

The Hellenistic Age marks the start of the transformation of Greek society from the localized and withdrawn and shy city-states to an open, cultured, and at times exuberant culture that spread throughout the entire eastern Mediterranean, and Southwest Asia. While the Hellenistic world included and inspired a number of different people,

Major components of economy

The economy of ancient Greece was largely defined by the region's dependence on imported goods, with the poor quality of Greece's soil rendering agricultural trade of particular importance.

Greek Historical Figures

Greek Religion

Greek religion was a mixture of old Minoan beliefs, Like all of those people, people in ancient Greece believed that there were invisible, powerful gods and spirits that could control what happened to you and stuff around you. Most people also thought that you could control those gods and spirits through sacrifice, prayer, and living a good life. The most important spirits and gods were natural things like rain and how plants grew. If you controlled these successfully, you would have enough food, and if not, you might starve. People also tried to control other natural forces like earthquakes, volcanoes, ocean storms, and plagues. And they prayed to win battles and wars. In your own family, you prayed and sacrificed for a safe trip, or success in a race or at school. Most people thought it mattered how you behaved, too - good people had good things happen to them, and bad things happened to bad people. People told stories about the gods to teach children how to behave.

Divisions Of Classes

Although the male citizen had by far the best position in Greek society, there were different classes within this group. Top of the social tree were the ‘best people’, the aristoi. Possessing more money than everyone else, this class could provide themselves with armour, weapons, and a horse when on military campaign. The aristocrats were often split into powerful family factions or clans who controlled all of the important political positions in the polis. Their wealth came from having property and even more importantly, the best land, i.e.: the most fertile and the closest to the protection offered by the city walls.

A poorer, second class of citizens existed too. These were men who had land but perhaps less productive plots and situated further from the city, their property was less well-protected than the prime land nearer the city proper. The land might be so far away that the owners had to live on it rather than travel back and forth from the city. These citizens were called the periokoi (dwellers-round-about) or even worse ‘dusty-feet’ and they collected together for protection in small village communities, subordinate to the neighbouring city. As city populations grew and inheritances became ever more divided amongst siblings, this secondary class grew significantly.

A third group were the middle, business class. Engaged in manufacturing, trade, and commerce, these were the nouveau riche. However, the aristoi jealously guarded their privileges and political monopoly by ensuring only landowners could rise into positions of real power. However, there was some movement between classes. Some could rise through accumulating wealth and influence, others could go down a class by becoming bankrupt (which could lead to a loss of citizenship or even being enslaved). Ill-health, losing out on an inheritance, political upheavals, or war could also result in the ‘best’ getting their feet a little dusty.

Importance Of Architecture

Much artwork was government sponsored and intended for public display. Therefore, art and architecture were a tremendous source of pride for citizens and could be found in various parts of the city. Typically, a city-state set aside a high-altitude portion of land for an acropolis, an important part of the city-state that was reserved for temples or palaces. The Greeks held religious ceremonies and festivals as well as significant political meetings on the acropolis.

Historical Events

750 BC 750 -700 BC: Homer writes the Iliad and the Odyssey

386 BC Plato founds the Academy

384 BC Aristotle is born

356 BC Alexander the Great, son of King Philip II, is born

333 BC Alexander the Great defeats the Persians at Issus and is given Egypt by the Persian Satrap where he builds a capital at Alexandria and founds the great library

323 BC Alexander the Great dies at Babylon

323 BC 323 -31 BC: The Hellenistic Period

Importance of Art

The arts reflect the society that creates them. Nowhere is this truer than in the case of the ancient Greeks. Through their temples, sculpture, and pottery, the Greeks incorporated a fundamental principle of their culture: arete.