The History of the Greeks: Hellenic and Hellenistic

6253 Words Apr 7th, 2005 26 Pages
The History of the Greeks: Hellenic and Hellenistic

The Hellenic Age and the Hellenistic Age are the two main periods in Greek history. The Hellenic Age is significantly different from the Hellenistic Age. The Hellenic period saw the rising and falling of the polis while Hellenistic period was plagued by warfare among the remaining dynasties. Despite the differences between the Hellenic and Hellenistic periods, the one thing that remained consistent in both periods was the Greeks' ability to not only advance science and philosophy but to strive for excellence in everything that they undertook including their ability to deemphasize the role of the gods in their lives.

The first period that shaped Greek history was the Hellenic (c.750-323
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While the Spartans were trained to be warriors and only warriors, the citizens of Athens were vastly different.

Athens was the largest polis in Greece. Its population was over five times as great as the other small city-states. Athens stood out from Sparta as well as the other city-states not only because of its immense population but also because it was the commercial leader of Greece and was home to a great navy. The Athenians valued their political freedom and free thought. Like the Spartans they too wanted to protect their state but unlike the Spartans, the Athenians strove for excellence not only in being warriors but also in their everyday lives. Since the Spartans were only concerned with being great warriors, the Athenians became the cultural center of Greece during the Hellenic period. Athens original government was a monarchy ruled by one king, however, the king's influence began to diminish with the changing times and soon Athens was under the rule of an oligarchy.

The oligarchy consisted of wealthy aristocrats who

"...gradually became very wealthy, particularly off of the cash crops of wine and olive oil, both of which require great wealth to get started. As their wealth increased, the nobles slowly stripped the king of power until Athenian government imperceptibly became an oligarchy." (Hooker)

As the aristocrats grew in power and wealth, they asserted their dominance over the peasants and lower class citizens. The wealthy

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