Hellenistic Woman

Hellenistic Woman


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The Portrayal of Women in Hellenistic Art and Literature

Sep 25, 2003 #1 2003-09-25T01:57

From Courtesans to Cleopatra: The Portrayal of Women in Hellenistic Art and Literature (Author Unknown) Summary
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From Courtesans to Cleopatra:


The Portrayal of Women in Hellenistic Art and Literature

According to Polybius, Aphrodite was somewhat indignant when he saw a statue of herself in public. "Where did Praxiteles see me naked?" she fumed. One can come to tow conclusions about this statement. Either Aphrodite was mad because Praxiteles had, without permission, surreptitiously viewed her nakedness, or Praxiteles' rendition was incredibly true-to-form, publicly displaying all of Aphrodite's beauty and flaws.

Since Aphrodite was a Greek goddess, and Praxiteles was a Hellenistic sculptor, we can be sure that both conclusions are correct. It is the realism inherent in the second conclusion though, that gives rise to the main emphasis of this paper. How were women of the Hellenistic age depicted in art and literature? Moveover, what do these depictions reveal about the lives of Hellenistic women?

Women of the Hellenistic age were living in times of profound change. The evolution of Hellenistic art and literature, and thus the portrayal of women, should first be examined against the background of changing social, political and economic conditions. When Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C., and in his dying gasp bequeath the empire to the "strongest" he set in motion a turbulent chain of events which culminated in the establishment of new dynasties. The Antigonids, the Seleucids, and the Ptolemies and, finally, the Romans established cities which eclipsed the Hellenic city of Athens. The new cities, especially Alexandria, Pergamon, and Antioch, were cosmopolitan. International trade flourished, and the cities swarmed with people of diverse backgrounds. Diversity, however, led to insecurity.

The security and identity Greeks formerly received from the traditional polis were supplanted by insecurity with new monarchies. Remote kings were forever hiring new mercenary armies to overrun a city. Life was unpredictable.1 When life is changing and unpredictable, people have a tendency to turn inward and take care of themselves first and foremost. This follows closely with the Epicurean philosophy of achieving personal happiness by cultivating pleasure. The communal ideals of the Classical age, then, and the emphasis on participation (expcept for women and slaves) in the democratic workings of the polis were lost in the mobile populations of the Hellenistic age.2

Political strife was only part of the variations in the Hellenistic age. Economic flucuations played a large role in the unrest of the populace. Although international trade increased, the balace of trade had an adverse effect in certain areas. Athens lost citizens, who in response to economic hardship, emigrated to other areas.3

Other evidence of economic hardship in the Hellenistic age is seen through the articles produced for the "haves" and the "have-nots." Especially with the pottery one can see that high grade goods were produced for the affluent, and low-grade goods for the poor.4 Similiar to the reasons for the phenomenal growth of our ubiquitous, bargain-pricedWal-Mart stores, Hellenistic entrepeneurs knew that economic stress necessitated a new way of doing business.

The slave revolts and uprisings in Sicily in 135 B.C. were probably in response to economic hardships. Tiberius Gracchus' land reforem bill was an attempt in 133 B.C. to bring relief to Roman military veterans. In Asia and Egypt, public works projects for flood control and irrigation swallowed up a sizable amount of state expenditures.5 All things considered, the economy of the Hellenistic age was not consistently poor, but neither was it excellent. There were periods of prosperity, recession, and recovery.6 It makesa sense, then that the economic uncertainties of the time, and the attitudes that followed such unease, would eventually manifest themselves in the art and literature of the period.

Hellenistic art and literature moved away from the idealism of the Classical age. When one considers the turbulent nature of the times following the death of Alexander, it is easy to see why. When idealism fades, people become interested in "the variety of experiences."7 Therefore, what the individual experiences becomes much more interesting than what society as a whole experiences.8 In the Hellenistic age people started to notice others, women included. J.J. Pollitt cearly sums up this shift in attitudes:

Eventually this concentration of personal experience rather than cultural ideals as the principle subject of art led to a fundamental change in the nature of Greek artistic tradition. The exalted themes and traditional subjects of the culture of the polis were increasingly abandoned in favor of work which permitted a 'hard look' at contemporary social conditions or indulged a private, domestically oriented sense of amusement.9

The statuary of the Classical age reflected the 'cultural ideals' of the times. The nude male body was exalted in Greece as the highest king of beauty.10 In other ancient cultures nudity represented shame, defeat, or humiliation the Greeks were the first to glorify it.11 This is understandable when one considers the male-dominated culture of the Classical age. Men spend most of their time with other men--in the gymnasium, in political assemblies, on the battlefield, or at the symposia. It follows that the culture of homosexuality in the Classical age also played a part in the idealized male body.12

Nude women were also depicted in Classical Greek art, but not in the same idealized fashion of the male nude. Starting from around 530 B.C. naked women appeared with greater frequency on Attic vases however, these women were also hetairai(courtesans). Respectable women were never shown nude on vases. If they were on a vase, they were clothed.14

Attic vase painters were probably just producing the type of goods the market demanded. Since the market was predominantly a male population who attended the symposia and had drinking parties, pictures of courtesans in all types lewd poses were the choice. If men were not in the mood to look at other men, they wanted to see the "fast" women. Playboy Magazine was not available then, but Attic vase paintings served the purpose just as well.

Sometimes who were not hetairai were shown as partially naked on some vases. These were always in the context of mythological scenes. The scenes were often a potrayal of imminent rape, or some other harm. These women were always depicted as weak and vulnerable, or defenseless. And, in a sense, the naked hetairai were also vulnerable.15

It is evident in studying vases from the Classical age that women were not accorded with much respect. Naked courtesans graced the wine cups of men at the symposia. Old hetairai, often depicted as fat and ugly, were shown performing all sorts of degrading acts.16 Respectable women were shown in two contexts: in vulnerable and defenseless positions of imminent harm, or ideal and the 'exalted theme' of the male nude is clear dichotomy from the vulnerably naked or respectably clothed woman.

It was towards the middle of the fourth century B.C. that the portrayal of the female body changed radically.17 Praxiteles is the sculptor who brought the nude females to centerstage with his portrayal of the nude Aphrodite. His life-like rendition was placed in teh shine of Cnidus.18 Thereafter, Aphrodite became the choice of other artists who wanted to portray realistic and sensuous females. No other goddesses were depicted nude. It was safe to portray Aphodite in such manner though, since she was the goddess of love and sexual desire.19 Also there was the religious element of Aphrodite who, in a similar role as the Eastern goddess Ishtar, represented fertility. Nude Aphrodites were usually posed bathing or preparing for a bath probably because Aphrodite was reported to have come from the sea. Pomeroy explains that "With these statues the female nude finally took its place beside the male nude in Greek sculpture. These nude images operate operate on two levels: as the nude male embraced a medley of both homosexual and heroic, so the Aphrodite figure was sexually attractive while she simultaneously embodied religious ideas."20

Around the third century B.C., not long after the nude Aphrodite became common in Greek art, the hermaphrodite figure emerged.21 Hermaphrodite was depicted as a young male nude figure with female breasts. That hermaphrodite became a popular figure in art, especially for the upper classes, is significant. The Hellenistic age brought new ways of thinking and new ways of looking at women. Adding female characteristics to a "superior" male form showed that females were more and more looked upon as beautiful and sexually desirable.22

This shift--this greater emphasis on femal sexuality--coincided with a decline in homosexuality in the Hellenistic age. According to Grant, attitudes about homosexuality shifted for various reasons. Society had changed and men were less likely to be spending as much time together as had been the case in the Classical age. Professional soldiers replaced volunteers, so there was less opportunity for "romantic comraderie in the battlefront."23 Additionally, the frequency of interaction between men in athletics became the norm. Most men simply became spectators.

In the Hellenistic age there was less interest in the all-male experience, and more interest in the individual experience. The experiences and emotions of everyday people captivated Hellenistic artists. Varieties of people--old women, barbarian, fishermen, dwarves, and children--found expression in Hellenistic art. Famous Hellenistc statuary such as the well-to-do Drunken Woman, the Dying Gaul, or the Old Fisherman reveal a preoccupation with realism. Pollitt says that, in the Hellenistic age, "change and individuality became more attractive than perfection, and the result is realism."24 Often the realistic portrayals of diverse people evoked a strong pathos-an emotional and sometimes sympathetic response.25

This realism, this interest in everyday experience carried over in to the literature of the Hellenistic age. Hellenistic literature is full of common people, people who are easy to understand and easily recognizable. Theophrastus, well-known as a botanist who classified plants, also classified human in his work, The Characters. His typologizing of people relates to the realism evident in the visual arts.26 His student, Menander, drew from Theophrastus' example and presented a variety of characters from all walks of life as well.

Menander's contribution comes in the form of the New Comedy. He was thought by some of his contemporaries to "mirror life." While the Classical female characters of Greek Old Comedy react to the realities of politics and war, Menander's women of the New Comedy react to the realities of everyday life. Menander prefers to emphasize the domestic problems of life rather than the political ones. Grant makes the point that this disinterest in political activity is more realistic most people in everyday life are relatively detached from it.27

Peter Green dismisses Menander's work as a caving in to Athenian bourgeoisie who wanted not to be stimulated by political intrigue, but prefered instead soap opera-like plots and stereotypical characters.28 It is true, as Green says, Menander's plots seem "formulaic and artificial."29 His plots revolve around such stock themes as: misundersanding love, discovery of long-lost children, or caes of mistaken identity.30 But Menander's drama is unique because it reaches into the lives of everyday citizens and slaves. He draws from the lower social classes and thereby presents a wider range of experience.

Menander's plays did not win many awards, but then, when to critics every really agree with what the common people like? His plays appealed to people, because they were easy to understand(unlike Attic Old Comedy), they were not too crude, and they always had a happy ending. Plutarch relates a conversation in one of his Table talks in which Menander's New Comedy is analyzed. Although the comedies were written a couple hundred years before Plutarch, it is evident that Menander's popularity had not ceased. Diogenianus, Plutarch's dinner guest, provides the analysis of Menander's New Comedy:

"What objection, however, could anyone make to the New Comedy? It has become so completely a part of the symposium that we could chart our course more easily without wine than without Menander. The style, pleasant and unadorned, is spread upon the action in such a way as to be neither too low for the sober, nor too difficult for the tipsy. The blend of serious and humorous would seem to have no other poetic end in view than to combine pleasure with profit for men relaxing over their wine. Even the erotic element in Menander is appropriate for men who after their wine will soon be leaving to repose with their wives for in all those places there is no one enamored of a boy. Moreover, when virgins are seduced, the play usually ends with marriage while affairs with casual women. if these are aggressive and shameless, are cut short by some chastening experience or repentance on the young man's part, and good girls who give love for love either find again a father with legitimate status, or get a further dispensation of time for their romance. I cannot regard it as surprising that Menander's polished charm exercises a reshaping and reforming influence that helps to raise morals to a higher standard of fairness and kindness." (Plutarch, "Table Talk" VII. 8. 712)

Another popular literary style of the Hellenistic period is the mime. Mimes are short, dramatic representation of realistic and often urban scenes. Theocritus, born ca. 300 B.C., is well-known for his mimes and the interesting femal characters he portrays. Theocritus is also known as the inventor of the buccolic, or pastoral Idyll. His pastorcal Idylls glorified uncomplicated living in serene country settings. It is Idyll II, Idyll XIV, and Idyll XV, his "urban" Idylls, which are most pertinent to this paper.

How do Theocritus' Idylls and how do Menander's plays portray women of the Hellenistic age? If we look at the negative statements made to women or about women, it is clear that women were, despite their determination to make their own decisions, very much at the mercy of men. In Theocritus' Idyll XIV we see a young courtesan named Cynisca publicly humiliated by the brutish Aeschinas. He accuses her of being unfaithful (though they are not married), and slaps her a coulple of times in front of the other guests. Cynisca does indeed make the decision to leave Aeschinas, but it was not without pain.

In Menander's "The Samian Woman," we see very negative attitudes associated with courtesans. Men were willing to us them and abuse them. "Your type my girl, can only earn ten drachmas a time they trot around all the dinner parties and drink themselves to death with neat wine or if they can't manage that, they live and starve."31 In "The Dyskolos," Chaereas requests Sostrates' help in finding the girld he fell love with. Sostrates replies that he can find the girl in a flash, ". if she is one of them, I simply allow no argument. I get drink and burn the door down, swoop and carry her off."32 It looks as if the woman would have no say in the matter.

In contrast, one can find many examples in the works of Theocritus and Menander of women who were capable enough to make their own decisions despite pressure to do otherwise. Menander's play, "The Unkindest Cut," deals with a conflict between Glycera and her lover, Polemon. Polemon, suspecting Glycera of infidelity, unjustly cuts her hair very short. Glycera decides to leave him and stay with a neighbor, who as a friend to Polemon tries to persuade her to return. Pataicos says, "You ought to yield a little." Glycera's firm response, "I know what is best for me."

Theocritus, in Idyll II, shows us a very determined young woman in the character of Simaetha. Simaetha, upset over her abandonment by her playboy lover Delphis, vows she will "go tomorrow to Timaegestus' palestra to let him know his face how ill he uses me."33 Another determined young woman who happens to agree with the cosmopolitan views of the Cynics is resentful that her mother is so preoccupied with her marrying into a "good family." She protests such a narrow view men by saying, "Mother, if a man has a noble character which prompts him to lead a good life, then he is of noble birth, even if he is an African."34 Hellenistic authors are known for mimesis, or imitation of real life. Since that is the case then we can surmise that some women, who in resistance to other pressures, resolved to make their own decisions and follow through with them.

Women in the Hellenistic age still led limited social lives, and they prized the few opportunities they had to go out in public. Idyll XIV, Theocritus' mime, is about two married women who go to a religious festival--the Adonis show. What is significant and interesting here are the qualities of the two women, Praxinoa and Gorgo. They both speak condescendingly about their thick-headed husbands who buy the wrong items when shopping. Praxinoa complains, "Why, only the other day we told him, 'Buy some soday, Daddy, and some red dye from the store.' The godalmighty fathead brough back salt!"35 She goes so far as to frighten her child to dissuad him from tagging along. "I'm not taking you child. Bogey36 get yet. Horsey bite."37 These are women dying to get out of the house and enter the hustle and bustle of the city. Although they are anxious about the crowds ("Ye gods, what a frightful crowd! However are we to get through? They're just like ants, countless millions!"38), they are also assertive enough to stand up to the men in the city. Praxinoa lashes out at a careless man in the crowd, "Oh no! Torn my summer wrap in two! For God's sake, man, as you hope to prosper, have a care for my cloak!"39

Gorgo, with the same intensity with which Praxima chastised the careless man, gushes about a femal -- the one who sings the praises of Adonis at a festival. "Praxinoa, isn't she a wonder-woman! Marvellous, how much she knows -- perfectly marvellous how sweet she sings."40 We can see that these women in Theocritus' Idyll XIV were passionate about things. They were not content to be always at home, weaving the cloth and taking care of the children. They wanted to get dressed up and go out they wanted to experience life. Furthermore, these women identified with other women.

Literature of the Classical age was filled with passionate women as well. The passionate women in Classical tragedies and comedies though, were almost always giving in to their dominant Dionysian natures, a nature that was emotional, insensible, silly, or wild. One is reminded of Cassandra's plotting of revenge in Euripedes' "The Women of Troy," or the wild women in "The Bacchae," or Medea finally going beserk with jealousy and murdering her own children to hurt Jason. In Aristophanes' "Lysistrata," women's sexual passion seems to go hand-in-hand with underlying political objectives.

A woman's passionate love for men is a strong theme in Hellenistic literature. Medea's passion for Jason as portrayed in Apollonius Rhodius' epic story, Argonautica, reveals a new interest in the "psychology of passionate women."41 When Medea sees Jason speeding away we see a perfect example of first love:

"The shaft burnt beneath the maiden's heart like a flame, and ever she kept darting glances. and her heart was wildly beating in her breat in distress, and she remembered nought but him, and her sould was melting sweet sorrow."42

In Theocritus' Idyll II, we see a young single woman, Simaetha, who evidently lives with no male guardian, fall in love with a handsome young athlete named Delphis. Theocritus vividly describes Simaetha's physical anguish brought on by her longing for Delphis. ". [M]adness lit on me, and fire was laid to my heart, . my looks were a faded flower. a burning fever was shaking me, and I lay in my bed for all ten days and nights."43 The erotic descriptions on Simaetha's and Delphi's first night together is quite similar to the best-selling romance novels of our day. It follows then, since women were obviously so capable of receiving sexual pleasure, that a manual should be written on the best way to give it. The Roman poet Ovid was quite knowledgable about Hellenistic literature, having read Menader, Callimachus, and others. He wrote his Art of Love at the turn of the eras and described in exquisite detail the best way to give pleasure to a woman.

The mimes, plays, and poems in Hellenistic literature reveal, as does Hellenistic art, that women were considered individuals, and even interesting. We see the sexual attractiveness and passionate side of Hellenistic women portrayed quite differently from the courtesans of the fifth century vases. We see women still often at the mercy of men, but nevertheless daring to make some of their own decisions about personal happiness. We see women going out into the cities, discussing art, and standing up to men if the need arose. Do these women of that period? Or, are they ancient history's rendition of female personalities of the stage and screen?

According to Eva Cantarella, the real women of the Hellenistic age experienced a "growing respect, broader chances to participate in social life, and a perceptible extension of their legal capacities.44 We are able to piece together more easily the roles of the upper class women, and certainly the roles of Hellenistic queens. Primary source documents written on papyrus give us some information on marriage contracts, divorces, and private letters. However, non-Greek sources which provide information on lower class and native women have not been fully exploited by historians.45 Therefore, this summation on the lives of Hellenistic women will primarily be concerned with those of Greek descent.

It is interesting to consider that respect for women in the Hellenistic age increased when, at the same time, exposure of female infants was a very common practice. Girls were expensive to raise because one had to provide them with a dowry at marriage. Infant girls were much more likely to be put in a crock pot and left by the side of the road than infant boys.46 Nevertheless, respect for a least some women did increase.

One of the main reasons, perhaps, for this increase is the influence of the Hellenistic queens. Following the death of Alexander the Great ambitious women scrabled along side the men for positions of power. We are reminded of Eurydice (queen of Phillip Arrhidaeus, Alexander's brother), and how she dressed in full battle armor before going out to meet Olympias (queen of Macedonia and Alexander's mother), in a showdown for control over Macedonia. Although Olympias won by virtue of her intimidating majesty (Eurydice's Macedonian soldiers could not bring themselves to strike down the mother of Alexander),47 Eurydice's strength of resolve and pride spoke volumes to all who knew her.

Certainly Olympias was a female that no one took lightly. Antipater, regent of Macedonia, hated and feared Olympias. In fact, his dying words were a warning for his countrymen, "never to let a woman rule them."48 Cassander captured Olympias, but not before his long siege of Pydna, Olympias' holdout, turned people into cannibals.49 Olympias was not a woman to give up, and although she incurred the hatred of many of her countrymen, she also received their respect.

Arsinoë II, an Egyptian queen of Macedonian descent, is known as a great administrator and a politically astute woman. She broke Greek and Macedonian tradition by marry her brother, Ptolemy II. By doing so, she unleashed a flood of royal brother/sister marriages in Egypt. Arsinoë has the disntinct honor of being the first woman whose policy was published in one document as influencing the affairs of the state.50 Her policy of freedom for Greeks made her quite popular and although, like Olympias, she did not hesistate to sacrifice those who threatened her politically, she had many honors showered upon her by Greeks and Egyptians.51 Cities were named after her, statues were made of her. One statue was placed among the statues of Egyptian kings at Olympia. She was deified, and poets such as Theocritus and Callimachus (who had lived under her patronage), glorified her in their writings.

The most well-known Hellenistic queen is, of course, Cleopatra VII. She was the last of the royal Ptolemaic queens--the last Egyptian queen descended from the Macedonians. She was passionate but not promiscuous,52 charismatic, intelligent, and fluent in nine languages, including the native Egyptian. It was Cleopatra, not her younger brother, who was the real ruler of Egypt. She was even bold enough to drop her brother's name from official documents.53

Cleopatra used her wit, charm, and power in Egypt to secure alliances to the benefit of Egypt. She allied herself with Caesar, then Anthony, and even tried to win over the young Octavia. She proclaimed herself the New Isis and wore sacred clothing associated with Isis when she appeared in public. Cleopatra is clearly a woman who knew what she wanted, knew the best way to get it, and usually managed to achieve her goals.

Women in very powerful positions are rather rare today, and were even more so in the Hellenistic age. But the lives of great Hellenistic queens were public and must have had some impact on society's view of women in general. Nevertheless, other women of the Hellenistic age gained distinction, though not as great as that obtained by the queens. There was an increase in educational opportunities for women. ONe example is reflected in the re-emergence of poetesses.54 Ereena of Talo was gifted poetess who wrote about women and for women.55 Her touching poem, "The Distaff," mourns the loss of her childhood friend, Bankis, who died shortly after getting married.

We find another well-educated Hellenistic woman in Hipparchia, wife of the Cynic philosopher Crates. She went out in public with her husband, she attended dinner parties, and she must have been the talk of the town. But she was proud to be a philosopher -- proud of her education, and determined to use it.56

Like Hellenistic queens, more women of the period attempted to be assertive and make some decisions in their own self-interest. More women signed their own names to public documents, although most still had to rely on a mate to sign in their behalf.57 Ordinary women who were widowed, or who seemed to be living without men, sometimes wrote petitions to the government in their own behalf. They could do this without male guardians if it did not involve contracts or anything needing to be made public.58 One woman petitioned King Ptolemy for justice(a bath attendant had scalded her, and she wanted him to pay for it). Another woman wrote a letter to her husband, upbraiding him for using religious duties as an excuse for not coming home.59 These are women using the means available to them to do something better for their lives.

Some wealthy women even used their fortunes to help benefit the lives of others. Since the economy of the Hellenistic age was at times very poor, wealthy people were expected to help their communities. Phile of Priene was elected as a magistrate because she had, at her own expense, constructed a reservoir for her city.60 Papyri show women on the records of land sales, women "agreeing" to loans made by their husbands, or agreeing to contracts made by their husbands.61

These are women who are given more respect they are taken into account by the man around them. They are recognized and reckoned with. This all sounds very positive but in reality, it is a partial picture at best. Most Hellenistic women got little recognition at all. Most were not married to kings (obviously) or even in an elite position to finance public projects. Most women were not without male guardians -- men who had the final say in decisions, such as whom they married. Most were not educated, in fact, most could not even sign their names.

So the questions remain What was life really like for Hellenistic women, and does the art and literature of the time, with all its realism, paint an accurate picture? We must conclude that the answer is not definitive the questions, in effect, still remain. One thing can be said, though women of all shapes and sizes, with varied abilities and tempermants, were at least noticed as individuals. And there is something good in that.

1. Pollitt, J.J.Art in the Hellenistic Age. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.) p.1
2. Pomeroy, Sarah B.(Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken Books,1975.), p. 132.
3. Ferguson, John. (The Heritage of Hellenism: The Greek World from 323 BC to 31 BC. New York: Science HIstory Publications, 1973.), p. 48.
4. Ibid., p. 55.
5. Ibid., p. 56.
6. Ibid., p. 58.
7. Pollitt., Pg. 141
8. Ibid., p. 9.
9. Ibid., p. 10.
10. Bonfante, Larissa. "Nudity as a Costume in Classical Art." American Journal of Archeology. vol. 93. (1989): 546.
11. Ibid., p. 546.
12. Pomeroy, p. 142.
13. Ibid., p. 143.
14. Bonfante, p. 559.
15. Ibid., p. 560.
16. Pomeroy, p. 118.
17. Fantham, Elain, (et. al. Women in the Classical World: Image and Text. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.) p. 173.
18. Pomeroy, p. 145.
19. Fantham, p. 174.
20. Pomeroy, p. 145.
21. Green, p. 103.
22. Pomeroy, p. 146.
23. Grant, Michael. (From Alexander to Cleopatra: The Hellenistic World. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1982.) p. 203.
24. Pollitt, p. 141.
25. Ibid., p. 143.
26. Green, p. 68.
27. Grant, p. 160.
28. Green, p. 78-9.
29. Ibid., p. 67.
30. Pollitt, p. 5.
31. Menander. (Plays and Fragments. Translated by Phillip Vellacott. Second Ed. London: Penguin Books, 1973.) p. 200.
32. Menander, "Dyskolos," p. 69.
33. Theocritus. "Idyll," The Poems of Theocritus. Translated by Anna Rist. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1978.
34. Menander, p. 294.
35. Ibid., p. 137.
36. "In the fantasies of Greek children bogies were females, who, having lost their own children, desired to devour them." (Pomeroy, p. 138)
37. Theocritius, p. 138.
38. Ibid., p. 138.
39. Ibid., p. 139.
40. Ibid., p. 142.
41. Pomeroy, p. 147.
42. Appolonius, Rhodius. Argonautica: Jason and the Golden Fleece. Translated by Edward P. Coleridge. New York, NY: Heritage Press. 1960.) p. 160.
43. Theocritus, p. 42.
44. Cantarella, Eva. Pandora's Daughters: The Role and Status of Women in Greek and Roman Antiquity. Translated by Maureen B. Fant. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1987.), p. 90.
45. Fantham, p. 140.
46. Cantarella, p. 44.
47. Macurdy, Grace Harriet. Hellenistic Queens: A Study of Woman-Power in Macedonia, Seleucid Syria, and Ptolemaic Egypt. (The John Hopkins University Studies in Archeology, No. 14.) Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1932.
48. Ibid., p. 39.
49. Ibid., p. 43.
50. Ibid., p. 119.
51. Ibid., p. 123.
52. Green, p. 662.
53. Ibid., p. 663.
54. Fantham, p. 166.
55. Ibid., p. 164.
56. Pomeroy, p. 136.
57. Ibid., p. 137.
58. Ibid., p. 127.
59. Fantham, pp. 159-160.
60. Ibid., p. 156.
61. Pomeroy, p. 130.

Appolonius, Rhodius.Argonautica: Jason and the Golden Fleece. Translated by Edward P. Coleridge. New York, NY: Heritage Press. 1960.

Menander. Plays and Fragments. Translated by Phillip Vellacott. Second Ed. London: Penguin Books, 1973.

Ovid. The Art of Love, and Other Poems.(LCL) Translated by J.H. Mozley. London: William Heinemann, Ltd., 1961.

Theocritus. The Poems of Theocritus. Translated by Anna Rist. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1978.

Theophrastus. The Characters. Translated by Phillip Vellacott. Second Ed. London: Penguin Books, 1973.

Bonfante, Larissa. "Nudity as a Costume in Classical Art." American Journal of Archeology. p.93. (1989): 543-70.

Cantarella, Eva. Pandora's Daughters: The Role and Status of Women in Greek and Roman Antiquity. Translated by Maureen B. Fant. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1987.

Fantham, Elain, et. al. Women in the Classical World: Image and Text. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Ferguson, John. The Heritage of Hellenism: The Greek World from 323 BC to 31 BC. New York: Science HIstory Publications, 1973.

Grant, Michael. From Alexander to Cleopatra: The Hellenistic World. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1982.

Green, Peter. Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Macurdy, Grace Harriet. Hellenistic Queens: A Study of Woman-Power in Macedonia, Seleucid Syria, and Ptolemaic Egypt. (The John Hopkins University Studies in Archeology, No. 14.) Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1932.

Pollitt, J.J. Art in the Hellenistic Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken Books, 1975, 1995.


Women of Greek Mythology

Oh well. It was Pandora with her box of evil spirits that she released onto the world.

#2. Do you know who this is supposed to be?

Dang it. You made a mistake. Did you not recognize Leda and the swan? Leda was seduced by Zeus, disguised as a swan.

#3. Can you identify this woman?

Alas, this is Arachne. The mortal girl who was so good at weaving she challenged Athena to a contest. When Athena saw no flaw, she punished Arachne by turning her into a spider.

#4. Who are we looking for?

Hmmm, the bow really did give it away. Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, never goes anywhere without it.

#5. Who is this?

Well, I can understand your mistake here. You could have thought we were looking for one of the goddesses who thought they were the most beautiful (Aphrodite, Athena or Hera) and thus starting the Trojan War. However, many people tend to forget the goddess behind this little trick: Eris, who was offended she was not invited to the party.

#6. And this?

This is a difficult one. There are several possibilities, but the most important ones were:

  • Aphrodite, who was born from Kronos testicles after they were thrown into the sea by Zeus
  • Lysistrata, who urged the women of Athens to withhold from intercourse to end the Peloponnesian War in Aristophanes’ comedy.

#7. And finally, do you know who were are talking about?

Hmmm, did think this was Penelope? Good guess, but we were looking for Ariadne who helped Theseus cross the Minotaur’s labyrinth with her ball of string.


Contents

The word originated from the German term hellenistisch, from ancient Greek Ἑλληνιστής (Hellēnistḗs, "one who uses the Greek language"), from Ἑλλάς (Hellás, "Greece") as if "Hellenist" + "ic". [ citation needed ]

"Hellenistic" is a modern word and a 19th-century concept the idea of a Hellenistic period did not exist in ancient Greece. Although words related in form or meaning, e.g. Hellenist (Ancient Greek: Ἑλληνιστής , Hellēnistēs), have been attested since ancient times, [12] it was Johann Gustav Droysen in the mid-19th century, who in his classic work Geschichte des Hellenismus (History of Hellenism), coined the term Hellenistic to refer to and define the period when Greek culture spread in the non-Greek world after Alexander's conquest. [13] Following Droysen, Hellenistic and related terms, e.g. Hellenism, have been widely used in various contexts a notable such use is in Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold, where Hellenism is used in contrast with Hebraism. [14]

The major issue with the term Hellenistic lies in its convenience, as the spread of Greek culture was not the generalized phenomenon that the term implies. Some areas of the conquered world were more affected by Greek influences than others. The term Hellenistic also implies that the Greek populations were of majority in the areas in which they settled, but in many cases, the Greek settlers were actually the minority among the native populations. The Greek population and the native population did not always mix the Greeks moved and brought their own culture, but interaction did not always occur. [ citation needed ]

While a few fragments exist, there are no complete surviving historical works that date to the hundred years following Alexander's death. The works of the major Hellenistic historians Hieronymus of Cardia (who worked under Alexander, Antigonus I and other successors), Duris of Samos and Phylarchus, which were used by surviving sources, are all lost. [15] The earliest and most credible surviving source for the Hellenistic period is Polybius of Megalopolis (c. 200–118), a statesman of the Achaean League until 168 BC when he was forced to go to Rome as a hostage. [15] His Histories eventually grew to a length of forty books, covering the years 220 to 167 BC.

The most important source after Polybius is Diodorus Siculus who wrote his Bibliotheca historica between 60 and 30 BC and reproduced some important earlier sources such as Hieronymus, but his account of the Hellenistic period breaks off after the battle of Ipsus (301 BC). Another important source, Plutarch's (c. AD 50 – c. 120 ) Parallel Lives although more preoccupied with issues of personal character and morality, outlines the history of important Hellenistic figures. Appian of Alexandria (late 1st century AD–before 165) wrote a history of the Roman empire that includes information of some Hellenistic kingdoms. [ citation needed ]

Other sources include Justin's (2nd century AD) epitome of Pompeius Trogus' Historiae Philipicae and a summary of Arrian's Events after Alexander, by Photios I of Constantinople. Lesser supplementary sources include Curtius Rufus, Pausanias, Pliny, and the Byzantine encyclopedia the Suda. In the field of philosophy, Diogenes Laërtius' Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers is the main source works such as Cicero's De Natura Deorum also provide some further detail of philosophical schools in the Hellenistic period. [ citation needed ]

Ancient Greece had traditionally been a fractious collection of fiercely independent city-states. After the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC), Greece had fallen under a Spartan hegemony, in which Sparta was pre-eminent but not all-powerful. Spartan hegemony was succeeded by a Theban hegemony after the Battle of Leuctra (371 BC), but after the Battle of Mantinea (362 BC), all of Greece was so weakened that no one state could claim pre-eminence. It was against this backdrop that the ascendancy of Macedon began, under king Philip II. Macedon was located at the periphery of the Greek world, and although its royal family claimed Greek descent, the Macedonians themselves were looked down upon as semi-barbaric by the rest of the Greeks. However, Macedon controlled a large area and had a relatively strong centralized government, in comparison to most Greek states.

Philip II was a strong and expansionist king who took every opportunity to expand Macedonian territory. In 352 BC he annexed Thessaly and Magnesia. In 338 BC, Philip defeated a combined Theban and Athenian army at the Battle of Chaeronea after a decade of desultory conflict. In the aftermath, Philip formed the League of Corinth, effectively bringing the majority of Greece under his direct sway. He was elected Hegemon of the league, and a campaign against the Achaemenid Empire of Persia was planned. However in 336 BC, while this campaign was in its early stages, he was assassinated. [4]

Succeeding his father, Alexander took over the Persian war himself. During a decade of campaigning, Alexander conquered the whole Persian Empire, overthrowing the Persian king Darius III. The conquered lands included Asia Minor, Assyria, the Levant, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Media, Persia, and parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the steppes of central Asia. The years of constant campaigning had taken their toll however, and Alexander died in 323 BC.

After his death, the huge territories Alexander had conquered became subject to a strong Greek influence (Hellenization) for the next two or three centuries, until the rise of Rome in the west, and of Parthia in the east. As the Greek and Levantine cultures mingled, the development of a hybrid Hellenistic culture began, and persisted even when isolated from the main centres of Greek culture (for instance, in the Greco-Bactrian kingdom).

It can be argued that some of the changes across the Macedonian Empire after Alexander's conquests and during the rule of the Diadochi would have occurred without the influence of Greek rule. As mentioned by Peter Green, numerous factors of conquest have been merged under the term Hellenistic period. Specific areas conquered by Alexander's invading army, including Egypt and areas of Asia Minor and Mesopotamia "fell" willingly to conquest and viewed Alexander as more of a liberator than a conqueror. [16]

In addition, much of the area conquered would continue to be ruled by the Diadochi, Alexander's generals and successors. Initially the whole empire was divided among them however, some territories were lost relatively quickly, or only remained nominally under Macedonian rule. After 200 years, only much reduced and rather degenerate states remained, [9] until the conquest of Ptolemaic Egypt by Rome.

When Alexander the Great died (10 June 323 BC), he left behind a sprawling empire which was composed of many essentially autonomous territories called satraps. Without a chosen successor there were immediate disputes among his generals as to who should be king of Macedon. These generals became known as the Diadochi (Greek: Διάδοχοι , Diadokhoi, meaning "Successors").

Meleager and the infantry supported the candidacy of Alexander's half-brother, Philip Arrhidaeus, while Perdiccas, the leading cavalry commander, supported waiting until the birth of Alexander's child by Roxana. After the infantry stormed the palace of Babylon, a compromise was arranged – Arrhidaeus (as Philip III) should become king and should rule jointly with Roxana's child, assuming that it was a boy (as it was, becoming Alexander IV). Perdiccas himself would become regent (epimeletes) of the empire, and Meleager his lieutenant. Soon, however, Perdiccas had Meleager and the other infantry leaders murdered and assumed full control. [17] The generals who had supported Perdiccas were rewarded in the partition of Babylon by becoming satraps of the various parts of the empire, but Perdiccas' position was shaky, because, as Arrian writes, "everyone was suspicious of him, and he of them". [18]

The first of the Diadochi wars broke out when Perdiccas planned to marry Alexander's sister Cleopatra and began to question Antigonus I Monophthalmus' leadership in Asia Minor. Antigonus fled for Greece, and then, together with Antipater and Craterus (the satrap of Cilicia who had been in Greece fighting the Lamian war) invaded Anatolia. The rebels were supported by Lysimachus, the satrap of Thrace and Ptolemy, the satrap of Egypt. Although Eumenes, satrap of Cappadocia, defeated the rebels in Asia Minor, Perdiccas himself was murdered by his own generals Peithon, Seleucus, and Antigenes (possibly with Ptolemy's aid) during his invasion of Egypt (c. 21 May to 19 June, 320 BC). [19] Ptolemy came to terms with Perdiccas's murderers, making Peithon and Arrhidaeus regents in his place, but soon these came to a new agreement with Antipater at the Treaty of Triparadisus. Antipater was made regent of the Empire, and the two kings were moved to Macedon. Antigonus remained in charge of Asia Minor, Ptolemy retained Egypt, Lysimachus retained Thrace and Seleucus I controlled Babylon.

The second Diadochi war began following the death of Antipater in 319 BC. Passing over his own son, Cassander, Antipater had declared Polyperchon his successor as Regent. Cassander rose in revolt against Polyperchon (who was joined by Eumenes) and was supported by Antigonus, Lysimachus and Ptolemy. In 317 BC, Cassander invaded Macedonia, attaining control of Macedon, sentencing Olympias to death and capturing the boy king Alexander IV, and his mother. In Asia, Eumenes was betrayed by his own men after years of campaign and was given up to Antigonus who had him executed.

The third war of the Diadochi broke out because of the growing power and ambition of Antigonus. He began removing and appointing satraps as if he were king and also raided the royal treasuries in Ecbatana, Persepolis and Susa, making off with 25,000 talents. [20] Seleucus was forced to flee to Egypt and Antigonus was soon at war with Ptolemy, Lysimachus, and Cassander. He then invaded Phoenicia, laid siege to Tyre, stormed Gaza and began building a fleet. Ptolemy invaded Syria and defeated Antigonus' son, Demetrius Poliorcetes, in the Battle of Gaza of 312 BC which allowed Seleucus to secure control of Babylonia, and the eastern satrapies. In 310 BC, Cassander had young King Alexander IV and his mother Roxana murdered, ending the Argead Dynasty which had ruled Macedon for several centuries.

Antigonus then sent his son Demetrius to regain control of Greece. In 307 BC he took Athens, expelling Demetrius of Phaleron, Cassander's governor, and proclaiming the city free again. Demetrius now turned his attention to Ptolemy, defeating his fleet at the Battle of Salamis and taking control of Cyprus. In the aftermath of this victory, Antigonus took the title of king (basileus) and bestowed it on his son Demetrius Poliorcetes, the rest of the Diadochi soon followed suit. [21] Demetrius continued his campaigns by laying siege to Rhodes and conquering most of Greece in 302 BC, creating a league against Cassander's Macedon.

The decisive engagement of the war came when Lysimachus invaded and overran much of western Anatolia, but was soon isolated by Antigonus and Demetrius near Ipsus in Phrygia. Seleucus arrived in time to save Lysimachus and utterly crushed Antigonus at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC. Seleucus' war elephants proved decisive, Antigonus was killed, and Demetrius fled back to Greece to attempt to preserve the remnants of his rule there by recapturing a rebellious Athens. Meanwhile, Lysimachus took over Ionia, Seleucus took Cilicia, and Ptolemy captured Cyprus.

After Cassander's death in c. 298 BC , however, Demetrius, who still maintained a sizable loyal army and fleet, invaded Macedon, seized the Macedonian throne (294 BC) and conquered Thessaly and most of central Greece (293–291 BC). [22] He was defeated in 288 BC when Lysimachus of Thrace and Pyrrhus of Epirus invaded Macedon on two fronts, and quickly carved up the kingdom for themselves. Demetrius fled to central Greece with his mercenaries and began to build support there and in the northern Peloponnese. He once again laid siege to Athens after they turned on him, but then struck a treaty with the Athenians and Ptolemy, which allowed him to cross over to Asia Minor and wage war on Lysimachus' holdings in Ionia, leaving his son Antigonus Gonatas in Greece. After initial successes, he was forced to surrender to Seleucus in 285 BC and later died in captivity. [23] Lysimachus, who had seized Macedon and Thessaly for himself, was forced into war when Seleucus invaded his territories in Asia Minor and was defeated and killed in 281 BC at the Battle of Corupedium, near Sardis. Seleucus then attempted to conquer Lysimachus' European territories in Thrace and Macedon, but he was assassinated by Ptolemy Ceraunus ("the thunderbolt"), who had taken refuge at the Seleucid court and then had himself acclaimed as king of Macedon. Ptolemy was killed when Macedon was invaded by Gauls in 279 BC—his head stuck on a spear—and the country fell into anarchy. Antigonus II Gonatas invaded Thrace in the summer of 277 and defeated a large force of 18,000 Gauls. He was quickly hailed as king of Macedon and went on to rule for 35 years. [24]

At this point the tripartite territorial division of the Hellenistic age was in place, with the main Hellenistic powers being Macedon under Demetrius's son Antigonus II Gonatas, the Ptolemaic kingdom under the aged Ptolemy I and the Seleucid empire under Seleucus' son Antiochus I Soter.

Kingdom of Epirus Edit

Epirus was a northwestern Greek kingdom in the western Balkans ruled by the Molossian Aeacidae dynasty. Epirus was an ally of Macedon during the reigns of Philip II and Alexander.

In 281 Pyrrhus (nicknamed "the eagle", aetos) invaded southern Italy to aid the city state of Tarentum. Pyrrhus defeated the Romans in the Battle of Heraclea and at the Battle of Asculum. Though victorious, he was forced to retreat due to heavy losses, hence the term "Pyrrhic victory". Pyrrhus then turned south and invaded Sicily but was unsuccessful and returned to Italy. After the Battle of Beneventum (275 BC) Pyrrhus lost all his Italian holdings and left for Epirus.

Pyrrhus then went to war with Macedonia in 275 BC, deposing Antigonus II Gonatas and briefly ruling over Macedonia and Thessaly until 272. Afterwards he invaded southern Greece, and was killed in battle against Argos in 272 BC. After the death of Pyrrhus, Epirus remained a minor power. In 233 BC the Aeacid royal family was deposed and a federal state was set up called the Epirote League. The league was conquered by Rome in the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC).

Kingdom of Macedon Edit

Antigonus II, a student of Zeno of Citium, spent most of his rule defending Macedon against Epirus and cementing Macedonian power in Greece, first against the Athenians in the Chremonidean War, and then against the Achaean League of Aratus of Sicyon. Under the Antigonids, Macedonia was often short on funds, the Pangaeum mines were no longer as productive as under Philip II, the wealth from Alexander's campaigns had been used up and the countryside pillaged by the Gallic invasion. [25] A large number of the Macedonian population had also been resettled abroad by Alexander or had chosen to emigrate to the new eastern Greek cities. Up to two-thirds of the population emigrated, and the Macedonian army could only count on a levy of 25,000 men, a significantly smaller force than under Philip II. [26]

Antigonus II ruled until his death in 239 BC. His son Demetrius II soon died in 229 BC, leaving a child (Philip V) as king, with the general Antigonus Doson as regent. Doson led Macedon to victory in the war against the Spartan king Cleomenes III, and occupied Sparta.

Philip V, who came to power when Doson died in 221 BC, was the last Macedonian ruler with both the talent and the opportunity to unite Greece and preserve its independence against the "cloud rising in the west": the ever-increasing power of Rome. He was known as "the darling of Hellas". Under his auspices the Peace of Naupactus (217 BC) brought the latest war between Macedon and the Greek leagues (the Social War of 220–217 BC) to an end, and at this time he controlled all of Greece except Athens, Rhodes and Pergamum.

In 215 BC Philip, with his eye on Illyria, formed an alliance with Rome's enemy Hannibal of Carthage, which led to Roman alliances with the Achaean League, Rhodes and Pergamum. The First Macedonian War broke out in 212 BC, and ended inconclusively in 205 BC. Philip continued to wage war against Pergamum and Rhodes for control of the Aegean (204–200 BC) and ignored Roman demands for non-intervention in Greece by invading Attica. In 198 BC, during the Second Macedonian War Philip was decisively defeated at Cynoscephalae by the Roman proconsul Titus Quinctius Flamininus and Macedon lost all its territories in Greece proper. Southern Greece was now thoroughly brought into the Roman sphere of influence, though it retained nominal autonomy. The end of Antigonid Macedon came when Philip V's son, Perseus, was defeated and captured by the Romans in the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC).

Rest of Greece Edit

During the Hellenistic period the importance of Greece proper within the Greek-speaking world declined sharply. The great centers of Hellenistic culture were Alexandria and Antioch, capitals of Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria respectively. The conquests of Alexander greatly widened the horizons of the Greek world, making the endless conflicts between the cities which had marked the 5th and 4th centuries BC seem petty and unimportant. It led to a steady emigration, particularly of the young and ambitious, to the new Greek empires in the east. Many Greeks migrated to Alexandria, Antioch and the many other new Hellenistic cities founded in Alexander's wake, as far away as modern Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Independent city states were unable to compete with Hellenistic kingdoms and were usually forced to ally themselves to one of them for defense, giving honors to Hellenistic rulers in return for protection. One example is Athens, which had been decisively defeated by Antipater in the Lamian war (323–322 BC) and had its port in the Piraeus garrisoned by Macedonian troops who supported a conservative oligarchy. [27] After Demetrius Poliorcetes captured Athens in 307 BC and restored the democracy, the Athenians honored him and his father Antigonus by placing gold statues of them on the agora and granting them the title of king. Athens later allied itself to Ptolemaic Egypt to throw off Macedonian rule, eventually setting up a religious cult for the Ptolemaic kings and naming one of the city's phyles in honour of Ptolemy for his aid against Macedon. In spite of the Ptolemaic monies and fleets backing their endeavors, Athens and Sparta were defeated by Antigonus II during the Chremonidean War (267–261 BC). Athens was then occupied by Macedonian troops, and run by Macedonian officials.

Sparta remained independent, but it was no longer the leading military power in the Peloponnese. The Spartan king Cleomenes III (235–222 BC) staged a military coup against the conservative ephors and pushed through radical social and land reforms in order to increase the size of the shrinking Spartan citizenry able to provide military service and restore Spartan power. Sparta's bid for supremacy was crushed at the Battle of Sellasia (222 BC) by the Achaean league and Macedon, who restored the power of the ephors.

Other city states formed federated states in self-defense, such as the Aetolian League (est. 370 BC), the Achaean League (est. 280 BC), the Boeotian league, the "Northern League" (Byzantium, Chalcedon, Heraclea Pontica and Tium) [28] and the "Nesiotic League" of the Cyclades. These federations involved a central government which controlled foreign policy and military affairs, while leaving most of the local governing to the city states, a system termed sympoliteia. In states such as the Achaean league, this also involved the admission of other ethnic groups into the federation with equal rights, in this case, non-Achaeans. [29] The Achean league was able to drive out the Macedonians from the Peloponnese and free Corinth, which duly joined the league.

One of the few city states who managed to maintain full independence from the control of any Hellenistic kingdom was Rhodes. With a skilled navy to protect its trade fleets from pirates and an ideal strategic position covering the routes from the east into the Aegean, Rhodes prospered during the Hellenistic period. It became a center of culture and commerce, its coins were widely circulated and its philosophical schools became one of the best in the Mediterranean. After holding out for one year under siege by Demetrius Poliorcetes (305–304 BC), the Rhodians built the Colossus of Rhodes to commemorate their victory. They retained their independence by the maintenance of a powerful navy, by maintaining a carefully neutral posture and acting to preserve the balance of power between the major Hellenistic kingdoms. [30]

Initially Rhodes had very close ties with the Ptolemaic kingdom. Rhodes later became a Roman ally against the Seleucids, receiving some territory in Caria for their role in the Roman–Seleucid War (192–188 BC). Rome eventually turned on Rhodes and annexed the island as a Roman province.

Balkans Edit

The west Balkan coast was inhabited by various Illyrian tribes and kingdoms such as the kingdom of the Dalmatae and of the Ardiaei, who often engaged in piracy under Queen Teuta (reigned 231–227 BC). Further inland was the Illyrian Paeonian Kingdom and the tribe of the Agrianes. Illyrians on the coast of the Adriatic were under the effects and influence of Hellenisation and some tribes adopted Greek, becoming bilingual [31] [32] [33] due to their proximity to the Greek colonies in Illyria. Illyrians imported weapons and armor from the ancient Greeks (such as the Illyrian type helmet, originally a Greek type) and also adopted the ornamentation of ancient Macedon on their shields [34] and their war belts [35] (a single one has been found, dated 3rd century BC at modern Selce e Poshtme, a part of Macedon at the time under Philip V of Macedon [36] ).

The Odrysian Kingdom was a union of Thracian tribes under the kings of the powerful Odrysian tribe. Various parts of Thrace were under Macedonian rule under Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great, Lysimachus, Ptolemy II, and Philip V but were also often ruled by their own kings. The Thracians and Agrianes were widely used by Alexander as peltasts and light cavalry, forming about one fifth of his army. [37] The Diadochi also used Thracian mercenaries in their armies and they were also used as colonists. The Odrysians used Greek as the language of administration [38] and of the nobility. The nobility also adopted Greek fashions in dress, ornament and military equipment, spreading it to the other tribes. [39] Thracian kings were among the first to be Hellenized. [40]

After 278 BC the Odrysians had a strong competitor in the Celtic Kingdom of Tylis ruled by the kings Comontorius and Cavarus, but in 212 BC they conquered their enemies and destroyed their capital.

Western Mediterranean Edit

Southern Italy (Magna Graecia) and south-eastern Sicily had been colonized by the Greeks during the 8th century. In 4th-century BC Sicily the leading Greek city and hegemon was Syracuse. During the Hellenistic period the leading figure in Sicily was Agathocles of Syracuse (361–289 BC) who seized the city with an army of mercenaries in 317 BC. Agathocles extended his power throughout most of the Greek cities in Sicily, fought a long war with the Carthaginians, at one point invading Tunisia in 310 BC and defeating a Carthaginian army there. This was the first time a European force had invaded the region. After this war he controlled most of south-east Sicily and had himself proclaimed king, in imitation of the Hellenistic monarchs of the east. [41] Agathocles then invaded Italy (c. 300 BC ) in defense of Tarentum against the Bruttians and Romans, but was unsuccessful.

Greeks in pre-Roman Gaul were mostly limited to the Mediterranean coast of Provence, France. The first Greek colony in the region was Massalia, which became one of the largest trading ports of Mediterranean by the 4th century BC with 6,000 inhabitants. Massalia was also the local hegemon, controlling various coastal Greek cities like Nice and Agde. The coins minted in Massalia have been found in all parts of Liguro-Celtic Gaul. Celtic coinage was influenced by Greek designs, [43] and Greek letters can be found on various Celtic coins, especially those of Southern France. [44] Traders from Massalia ventured inland deep into France on the Rivers Durance and Rhône, and established overland trade routes deep into Gaul, and to Switzerland and Burgundy. The Hellenistic period saw the Greek alphabet spread into southern Gaul from Massalia (3rd and 2nd centuries BC) and according to Strabo, Massalia was also a center of education, where Celts went to learn Greek. [45] A staunch ally of Rome, Massalia retained its independence until it sided with Pompey in 49 BC and was then taken by Caesar's forces.

The city of Emporion (modern Empúries), originally founded by Archaic-period settlers from Phocaea and Massalia in the 6th century BC near the village of Sant Martí d'Empúries (located on an offshore island that forms part of L'Escala, Catalonia, Spain), [46] was reestablished in the 5th century BC with a new city (neapolis) on the Iberian mainland. [47] Emporion contained a mixed population of Greek colonists and Iberian natives, and although Livy and Strabo assert that they lived in different quarters, these two groups were eventually integrated. [48] The city became a dominant trading hub and center of Hellenistic civilization in Iberia, eventually siding with the Roman Republic against the Carthaginian Empire during the Second Punic War (218–201 BC). [49] However, Emporion lost its political independence around 195 BC with the establishment of the Roman province of Hispania Citerior and by the 1st century BC had become fully Romanized in culture. [50] [51]

The Hellenistic states of Asia and Egypt were run by an occupying imperial elite of Greco-Macedonian administrators and governors propped up by a standing army of mercenaries and a small core of Greco-Macedonian settlers. [52] Promotion of immigration from Greece was important in the establishment of this system. Hellenistic monarchs ran their kingdoms as royal estates and most of the heavy tax revenues went into the military and paramilitary forces which preserved their rule from any kind of revolution. Macedonian and Hellenistic monarchs were expected to lead their armies on the field, along with a group of privileged aristocratic companions or friends (hetairoi, philoi) which dined and drank with the king and acted as his advisory council. [53] The monarch was also expected to serve as a charitable patron of the people this public philanthropy could mean building projects and handing out gifts but also promotion of Greek culture and religion.

Ptolemaic Kingdom Edit

Ptolemy, a somatophylax, one of the seven bodyguards who served as Alexander the Great's generals and deputies, was appointed satrap of Egypt after Alexander's death in 323 BC. In 305 BC, he declared himself King Ptolemy I, later known as "Soter" (saviour) for his role in helping the Rhodians during the siege of Rhodes. Ptolemy built new cities such as Ptolemais Hermiou in upper Egypt and settled his veterans throughout the country, especially in the region of the Faiyum. Alexandria, a major center of Greek culture and trade, became his capital city. As Egypt's first port city, it became the main grain exporter in the Mediterranean.

The Egyptians begrudgingly accepted the Ptolemies as the successors to the pharaohs of independent Egypt, though the kingdom went through several native revolts. The Ptolemies took on the traditions of the Egyptian Pharaohs, such as marrying their siblings (Ptolemy II was the first to adopt this custom), having themselves portrayed on public monuments in Egyptian style and dress, and participating in Egyptian religious life. The Ptolemaic ruler cult portrayed the Ptolemies as gods, and temples to the Ptolemies were erected throughout the kingdom. Ptolemy I even created a new god, Serapis, who was a combination of two Egyptian gods: Apis and Osiris, with attributes of Greek gods. Ptolemaic administration was, like the ancient Egyptian bureaucracy, highly centralized and focused on squeezing as much revenue out of the population as possible through tariffs, excise duties, fines, taxes, and so forth. A whole class of petty officials, tax farmers, clerks, and overseers made this possible. The Egyptian countryside was directly administered by this royal bureaucracy. [54] External possessions such as Cyprus and Cyrene were run by strategoi, military commanders appointed by the crown.

Under Ptolemy II, Callimachus, Apollonius of Rhodes, Theocritus, and a host of other poets including the Alexandrian Pleiad made the city a center of Hellenistic literature. Ptolemy himself was eager to patronise the library, scientific research and individual scholars who lived on the grounds of the library. He and his successors also fought a series of wars with the Seleucids, known as the Syrian wars, over the region of Coele-Syria. Ptolemy IV won the great battle of Raphia (217 BC) against the Seleucids, using native Egyptians trained as phalangites. However these Egyptian soldiers revolted, eventually setting up a native breakaway Egyptian state in the Thebaid between 205 and 186/185 BC, severely weakening the Ptolemaic state. [55]

Ptolemy's family ruled Egypt until the Roman conquest of 30 BC. All the male rulers of the dynasty took the name Ptolemy. Ptolemaic queens, some of whom were the sisters of their husbands, were usually called Cleopatra, Arsinoe, or Berenice. The most famous member of the line was the last queen, Cleopatra VII, known for her role in the Roman political battles between Julius Caesar and Pompey, and later between Octavian and Mark Antony. Her suicide at the conquest by Rome marked the end of Ptolemaic rule in Egypt, though Hellenistic culture continued to thrive in Egypt throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods until the Muslim conquest.

Seleucid Empire Edit

Following division of Alexander's empire, Seleucus I Nicator received Babylonia. From there, he created a new empire which expanded to include much of Alexander's near eastern territories. [56] [57] [58] [59] At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir, and parts of Pakistan. It included a diverse population estimated at fifty to sixty million people. [60] Under Antiochus I (c. 324/323 – 261 BC), however, the unwieldy empire was already beginning to shed territories. Pergamum broke away under Eumenes I who defeated a Seleucid army sent against him. The kingdoms of Cappadocia, Bithynia and Pontus were all practically independent by this time as well. Like the Ptolemies, Antiochus I established a dynastic religious cult, deifying his father Seleucus I. Seleucus, officially said to be descended from Apollo, had his own priests and monthly sacrifices. The erosion of the empire continued under Seleucus II, who was forced to fight a civil war (239–236 BC) against his brother Antiochus Hierax and was unable to keep Bactria, Sogdiana and Parthia from breaking away. Hierax carved off most of Seleucid Anatolia for himself, but was defeated, along with his Galatian allies, by Attalus I of Pergamon who now also claimed kingship.

The vast Seleucid Empire was, like Egypt, mostly dominated by a Greco-Macedonian political elite. [59] [61] [62] [63] The Greek population of the cities who formed the dominant elite were reinforced by emigration from Greece. [59] [61] These cities included newly founded colonies such as Antioch, the other cities of the Syrian tetrapolis, Seleucia (north of Babylon) and Dura-Europos on the Euphrates. These cities retained traditional Greek city state institutions such as assemblies, councils and elected magistrates, but this was a facade for they were always controlled by the royal Seleucid officials. Apart from these cities, there were also a large number of Seleucid garrisons (choria), military colonies (katoikiai) and Greek villages (komai) which the Seleucids planted throughout the empire to cement their rule. This 'Greco-Macedonian' population (which also included the sons of settlers who had married local women) could make up a phalanx of 35,000 men (out of a total Seleucid army of 80,000) during the reign of Antiochus III. The rest of the army was made up of native troops. [64] Antiochus III ("the Great") conducted several vigorous campaigns to retake all the lost provinces of the empire since the death of Seleucus I. After being defeated by Ptolemy IV's forces at Raphia (217 BC), Antiochus III led a long campaign to the east to subdue the far eastern breakaway provinces (212–205 BC) including Bactria, Parthia, Ariana, Sogdiana, Gedrosia and Drangiana. He was successful, bringing back most of these provinces into at least nominal vassalage and receiving tribute from their rulers. [65] After the death of Ptolemy IV (204 BC), Antiochus took advantage of the weakness of Egypt to conquer Coele-Syria in the fifth Syrian war (202–195 BC). [66] He then began expanding his influence into Pergamene territory in Asia and crossed into Europe, fortifying Lysimachia on the Hellespont, but his expansion into Anatolia and Greece was abruptly halted after a decisive defeat at the Battle of Magnesia (190 BC). In the Treaty of Apamea which ended the war, Antiochus lost all of his territories in Anatolia west of the Taurus and was forced to pay a large indemnity of 15,000 talents. [67]

Much of the eastern part of the empire was then conquered by the Parthians under Mithridates I of Parthia in the mid-2nd century BC, yet the Seleucid kings continued to rule a rump state from Syria until the invasion by the Armenian king Tigranes the Great and their ultimate overthrow by the Roman general Pompey.

Attalid Pergamum Edit

After the death of Lysimachus, one of his officers, Philetaerus, took control of the city of Pergamum in 282 BC along with Lysimachus' war chest of 9,000 talents and declared himself loyal to Seleucus I while remaining de facto independent. His descendant, Attalus I, defeated the invading Galatians and proclaimed himself an independent king. Attalus I (241–197 BC), was a staunch ally of Rome against Philip V of Macedon during the first and second Macedonian Wars. For his support against the Seleucids in 190 BC, Eumenes II was rewarded with all the former Seleucid domains in Asia Minor. Eumenes II turned Pergamon into a centre of culture and science by establishing the library of Pergamum which was said to be second only to the library of Alexandria [69] with 200,000 volumes according to Plutarch. It included a reading room and a collection of paintings. Eumenes II also constructed the Pergamum Altar with friezes depicting the Gigantomachy on the acropolis of the city. Pergamum was also a center of parchment (charta pergamena) production. The Attalids ruled Pergamon until Attalus III bequeathed the kingdom to the Roman Republic in 133 BC [70] to avoid a likely succession crisis.

Galatia Edit

The Celts who settled in Galatia came through Thrace under the leadership of Leotarios and Leonnorios c. 270 BC . They were defeated by Seleucus I in the 'battle of the Elephants', but were still able to establish a Celtic territory in central Anatolia. The Galatians were well respected as warriors and were widely used as mercenaries in the armies of the successor states. They continued to attack neighboring kingdoms such as Bithynia and Pergamon, plundering and extracting tribute. This came to an end when they sided with the renegade Seleucid prince Antiochus Hierax who tried to defeat Attalus, the ruler of Pergamon (241–197 BC). Attalus severely defeated the Gauls, forcing them to confine themselves to Galatia. The theme of the Dying Gaul (a famous statue displayed in Pergamon) remained a favorite in Hellenistic art for a generation signifying the victory of the Greeks over a noble enemy. In the early 2nd century BC, the Galatians became allies of Antiochus the Great, the last Seleucid king trying to regain suzerainty over Asia Minor. In 189 BC, Rome sent Gnaeus Manlius Vulso on an expedition against the Galatians. Galatia was henceforth dominated by Rome through regional rulers from 189 BC onward.

After their defeats by Pergamon and Rome the Galatians slowly became hellenized and they were called "Gallo-Graeci" by the historian Justin [71] as well as Ἑλληνογαλάται (Hellēnogalátai) by Diodorus Siculus in his Bibliotheca historica v.32.5, who wrote that they were "called Helleno-Galatians because of their connection with the Greeks." [72]

Bithynia Edit

The Bithynians were a Thracian people living in northwest Anatolia. After Alexander's conquests the region of Bithynia came under the rule of the native king Bas, who defeated Calas, a general of Alexander the Great, and maintained the independence of Bithynia. His son, Zipoetes I of Bithynia maintained this autonomy against Lysimachus and Seleucus I, and assumed the title of king (basileus) in 297 BC. His son and successor, Nicomedes I, founded Nicomedia, which soon rose to great prosperity, and during his long reign (c. 278 – c. 255 BC ), as well as those of his successors, the kingdom of Bithynia held a considerable place among the minor monarchies of Anatolia. Nicomedes also invited the Celtic Galatians into Anatolia as mercenaries, and they later turned on his son Prusias I, who defeated them in battle. Their last king, Nicomedes IV, was unable to maintain himself against Mithridates VI of Pontus, and, after being restored to his throne by the Roman Senate, he bequeathed his kingdom by will to the Roman republic (74 BC).

Cappadocia Edit

Cappadocia, a mountainous region situated between Pontus and the Taurus mountains, was ruled by a Persian dynasty. Ariarathes I (332–322 BC) was the satrap of Cappadocia under the Persians and after the conquests of Alexander he retained his post. After Alexander's death he was defeated by Eumenes and crucified in 322 BC, but his son, Ariarathes II managed to regain the throne and maintain his autonomy against the warring Diadochi.

In 255 BC, Ariarathes III took the title of king and married Stratonice, a daughter of Antiochus II, remaining an ally of the Seleucid kingdom. Under Ariarathes IV, Cappadocia came into relations with Rome, first as a foe espousing the cause of Antiochus the Great, then as an ally against Perseus of Macedon and finally in a war against the Seleucids. Ariarathes V also waged war with Rome against Aristonicus, a claimant to the throne of Pergamon, and their forces were annihilated in 130 BC. This defeat allowed Pontus to invade and conquer the kingdom.

Kingdom of Pontus Edit

The Kingdom of Pontus was a Hellenistic kingdom on the southern coast of the Black Sea. It was founded by Mithridates I in 291 BC and lasted until its conquest by the Roman Republic in 63 BC. Despite being ruled by a dynasty which was a descendant of the Persian Achaemenid Empire it became hellenized due to the influence of the Greek cities on the Black Sea and its neighboring kingdoms. Pontic culture was a mix of Greek and Iranian elements the most hellenized parts of the kingdom were on the coast, populated by Greek colonies such as Trapezus and Sinope, the latter of which became the capital of the kingdom. Epigraphic evidence also shows extensive Hellenistic influence in the interior. During the reign of Mithridates II, Pontus was allied with the Seleucids through dynastic marriages. By the time of Mithridates VI Eupator, Greek was the official language of the kingdom, though Anatolian languages continued to be spoken.

The kingdom grew to its largest extent under Mithridates VI, who conquered Colchis, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, Bithynia, Lesser Armenia, the Bosporan Kingdom, the Greek colonies of the Tauric Chersonesos and, for a brief time, the Roman province of Asia. Mithridates, himself of mixed Persian and Greek ancestry, presented himself as the protector of the Greeks against the 'barbarians' of Rome styling himself as "King Mithridates Eupator Dionysus" [73] and as the "great liberator". Mithridates also depicted himself with the anastole hairstyle of Alexander and used the symbolism of Herakles, from whom the Macedonian kings claimed descent. After a long struggle with Rome in the Mithridatic wars, Pontus was defeated part of it was incorporated into the Roman Republic as the province of Bithynia, while Pontus' eastern half survived as a client kingdom.

Armenia Edit

Orontid Armenia formally passed to the empire of Alexander the Great following his conquest of Persia. Alexander appointed an Orontid named Mithranes to govern Armenia. Armenia later became a vassal state of the Seleucid Empire, but it maintained a considerable degree of autonomy, retaining its native rulers. Towards the end 212 BC the country was divided into two kingdoms, Greater Armenia and Armenia Sophene, including Commagene or Armenia Minor. The kingdoms became so independent from Seleucid control that Antiochus III the Great waged war on them during his reign and replaced their rulers.

After the Seleucid defeat at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC, the kings of Sophene and Greater Armenia revolted and declared their independence, with Artaxias becoming the first king of the Artaxiad dynasty of Armenia in 188 BC. During the reign of the Artaxiads, Armenia went through a period of hellenization. Numismatic evidence shows Greek artistic styles and the use of the Greek language. Some coins describe the Armenian kings as "Philhellenes". During the reign of Tigranes the Great (95–55 BC), the kingdom of Armenia reached its greatest extent, containing many Greek cities, including the entire Syrian tetrapolis. Cleopatra, the wife of Tigranes the Great, invited Greeks such as the rhetor Amphicrates and the historian Metrodorus of Scepsis to the Armenian court, and—according to Plutarch—when the Roman general Lucullus seized the Armenian capital, Tigranocerta, he found a troupe of Greek actors who had arrived to perform plays for Tigranes. [74] Tigranes' successor Artavasdes II even composed Greek tragedies himself.

Parthia Edit

Parthia was a north-eastern Iranian satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire which later passed on to Alexander's empire. Under the Seleucids, Parthia was governed by various Greek satraps such as Nicanor and Philip. In 247 BC, following the death of Antiochus II Theos, Andragoras, the Seleucid governor of Parthia, proclaimed his independence and began minting coins showing himself wearing a royal diadem and claiming kingship. He ruled until 238 BC when Arsaces, the leader of the Parni tribe conquered Parthia, killing Andragoras and inaugurating the Arsacid Dynasty. Antiochus III recaptured Arsacid controlled territory in 209 BC from Arsaces II. Arsaces II sued for peace and became a vassal of the Seleucids. It was not until the reign of Phraates I (c. 176–171 BC ), that the Arsacids would again begin to assert their independence. [75]

During the reign of Mithridates I of Parthia, Arsacid control expanded to include Herat (in 167 BC), Babylonia (in 144 BC), Media (in 141 BC), Persia (in 139 BC), and large parts of Syria (in the 110s BC). The Seleucid–Parthian wars continued as the Seleucids invaded Mesopotamia under Antiochus VII Sidetes (reigned 138–129 BC), but he was eventually killed by a Parthian counterattack. After the fall of the Seleucid dynasty, the Parthians fought frequently against neighbouring Rome in the Roman–Parthian Wars (66 BC – AD 217). Abundant traces of Hellenism continued under the Parthian empire. The Parthians used Greek as well as their own Parthian language (though lesser than Greek) as languages of administration and also used Greek drachmas as coinage. They enjoyed Greek theater, and Greek art influenced Parthian art. The Parthians continued worshipping Greek gods syncretized together with Iranian deities. Their rulers established ruler cults in the manner of Hellenistic kings and often used Hellenistic royal epithets.

The Hellenistic influence in Iran was significant in terms of scope, but not depth and durability—unlike the Near East, the Iranian–Zoroastrian ideas and ideals remained the main source of inspiration in mainland Iran, and was soon revived in late Parthian and Sasanian periods. [76]

Nabatean Kingdom Edit

The Nabatean Kingdom was an Arab state located between the Sinai Peninsula and the Arabian Peninsula. Its capital was the city of Petra, an important trading city on the incense route. The Nabateans resisted the attacks of Antigonus and were allies of the Hasmoneans in their struggle against the Seleucids, but later fought against Herod the Great. The hellenization of the Nabateans occurred relatively late in comparison to the surrounding regions. Nabatean material culture does not show any Greek influence until the reign of Aretas III Philhellene in the 1st century BC. [77] Aretas captured Damascus and built the Petra pool complex and gardens in the Hellenistic style. Though the Nabateans originally worshipped their traditional gods in symbolic form such as stone blocks or pillars, during the Hellenistic period they began to identify their gods with Greek gods and depict them in figurative forms influenced by Greek sculpture. [78] Nabatean art shows Greek influences and paintings have been found depicting Dionysian scenes. [79] They also slowly adopted Greek as a language of commerce along with Aramaic and Arabic.

Judea Edit

During the Hellenistic period, Judea became a frontier region between the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Egypt and therefore was often the frontline of the Syrian wars, changing hands several times during these conflicts. [80] Under the Hellenistic kingdoms, Judea was ruled by the hereditary office of the High Priest of Israel as a Hellenistic vassal. This period also saw the rise of a Hellenistic Judaism, which first developed in the Jewish diaspora of Alexandria and Antioch, and then spread to Judea. The major literary product of this cultural syncretism is the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible from Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic to Koiné Greek. The reason for the production of this translation seems to be that many of the Alexandrian Jews had lost the ability to speak Hebrew and Aramaic. [81]

Between 301 and 219 BC the Ptolemies ruled Judea in relative peace, and Jews often found themselves working in the Ptolemaic administration and army, which led to the rise of a Hellenized Jewish elite class (e.g. the Tobiads). The wars of Antiochus III brought the region into the Seleucid empire Jerusalem fell to his control in 198 BC and the Temple was repaired and provided with money and tribute. [82] Antiochus IV Epiphanes sacked Jerusalem and looted the Temple in 169 BC after disturbances in Judea during his abortive invasion of Egypt. Antiochus then banned key Jewish religious rites and traditions in Judea. He may have been attempting to Hellenize the region and unify his empire and the Jewish resistance to this eventually led to an escalation of violence. Whatever the case, tensions between pro- and anti-Seleucid Jewish factions led to the 174–135 BC Maccabean Revolt of Judas Maccabeus (whose victory is celebrated in the Jewish festival of Hanukkah).

Modern interpretations see this period as a civil war between Hellenized and orthodox forms of Judaism. [83] [84] Out of this revolt was formed an independent Jewish kingdom known as the Hasmonaean Dynasty, which lasted from 165 BC to 63 BC. The Hasmonean Dynasty eventually disintegrated in a civil war, which coincided with civil wars in Rome. The last Hasmonean ruler, Antigonus II Mattathias, was captured by Herod and executed in 37 BC. In spite of originally being a revolt against Greek overlordship, the Hasmonean kingdom and also the Herodian kingdom which followed gradually became more and more hellenized. From 37 BC to 4 BC, Herod the Great ruled as a Jewish-Roman client king appointed by the Roman Senate. He considerably enlarged the Temple (see Herod's Temple), making it one of the largest religious structures in the world. The style of the enlarged temple and other Herodian architecture shows significant Hellenistic architectural influence. His son, Herod Archelaus, ruled from 4 BC to AD 6 when he was deposed for the formation of Roman Judea.

The Greek kingdom of Bactria began as a breakaway satrapy of the Seleucid empire, which, because of the size of the empire, had significant freedom from central control. Between 255 and 246 BC, the governor of Bactria, Sogdiana and Margiana (most of present-day Afghanistan), one Diodotus, took this process to its logical extreme and declared himself king. Diodotus II, son of Diodotus, was overthrown in about 230 BC by Euthydemus, possibly the satrap of Sogdiana, who then started his own dynasty. In c. 210 BC , the Greco-Bactrian kingdom was invaded by a resurgent Seleucid empire under Antiochus III. While victorious in the field, it seems Antiochus came to realise that there were advantages in the status quo (perhaps sensing that Bactria could not be governed from Syria), and married one of his daughters to Euthydemus's son, thus legitimising the Greco-Bactrian dynasty. Soon afterwards the Greco-Bactrian kingdom seems to have expanded, possibly taking advantage of the defeat of the Parthian king Arsaces II by Antiochus.

According to Strabo, the Greco-Bactrians seem to have had contacts with China through the silk road trade routes (Strabo, XI.11.1). Indian sources also maintain religious contact between Buddhist monks and the Greeks, and some Greco-Bactrians did convert to Buddhism. Demetrius, son and successor of Euthydemus, invaded north-western India in 180 BC, after the destruction of the Mauryan Empire there the Mauryans were probably allies of the Bactrians (and Seleucids). The exact justification for the invasion remains unclear, but by about 175 BC, the Greeks ruled over parts of northwestern India. This period also marks the beginning of the obfuscation of Greco-Bactrian history. Demetrius possibly died about 180 BC numismatic evidence suggests the existence of several other kings shortly thereafter. It is probable that at this point the Greco-Bactrian kingdom split into several semi-independent regions for some years, often warring amongst themselves. Heliocles was the last Greek to clearly rule Bactria, his power collapsing in the face of central Asian tribal invasions (Scythian and Yuezhi), by about 130 BC. However, Greek urban civilisation seems to have continued in Bactria after the fall of the kingdom, having a hellenising effect on the tribes which had displaced Greek rule. The Kushan Empire which followed continued to use Greek on their coinage and Greeks continued being influential in the empire.

The separation of the Indo-Greek kingdom from the Greco-Bactrian kingdom resulted in an even more isolated position, and thus the details of the Indo-Greek kingdom are even more obscure than for Bactria. Many supposed kings in India are known only because of coins bearing their name. The numismatic evidence together with archaeological finds and the scant historical records suggest that the fusion of eastern and western cultures reached its peak in the Indo-Greek kingdom. [ citation needed ]

After Demetrius' death, civil wars between Bactrian kings in India allowed Apollodotus I (from c. 180/175 BC ) to make himself independent as the first proper Indo-Greek king (who did not rule from Bactria). Large numbers of his coins have been found in India, and he seems to have reigned in Gandhara as well as western Punjab. Apollodotus I was succeeded by or ruled alongside Antimachus II, likely the son of the Bactrian king Antimachus I. [86] In about 155 (or 165) BC he seems to have been succeeded by the most successful of the Indo-Greek kings, Menander I. Menander converted to Buddhism, and seems to have been a great patron of the religion he is remembered in some Buddhist texts as 'Milinda'. He also expanded the kingdom further east into Punjab, though these conquests were rather ephemeral. [ citation needed ]

After the death of Menander (c. 130 BC ), the Kingdom appears to have fragmented, with several 'kings' attested contemporaneously in different regions. This inevitably weakened the Greek position, and territory seems to have been lost progressively. Around 70 BC, the western regions of Arachosia and Paropamisadae were lost to tribal invasions, presumably by those tribes responsible for the end of the Bactrian kingdom. The resulting Indo-Scythian kingdom seems to have gradually pushed the remaining Indo-Greek kingdom towards the east. The Indo-Greek kingdom appears to have lingered on in western Punjab until about AD 10, at which time it was finally ended by the Indo-Scythians. [ citation needed ]

After conquering the Indo-Greeks, the Kushan empire took over Greco-Buddhism, the Greek language, Greek script, Greek coinage and artistic styles. Greeks continued being an important part of the cultural world of India for generations. The depictions of the Buddha appear to have been influenced by Greek culture: Buddha representations in the Ghandara period often showed Buddha under the protection of Herakles. [89]

Several references in Indian literature praise the knowledge of the Yavanas or the Greeks. The Mahabharata compliments them as "the all-knowing Yavanas" (sarvajñā yavanā) e.g., "The Yavanas, O king, are all-knowing the Suras are particularly so. The mlecchas are wedded to the creations of their own fancy", [90] such as flying machines that are generally called vimanas. The "Brihat-Samhita" of the mathematician Varahamihira says: "The Greeks, though impure, must be honored since they were trained in sciences and therein, excelled others. ". [91]

Hellenistic culture was at its height of world influence in the Hellenistic period. Hellenism or at least Philhellenism reached most regions on the frontiers of the Hellenistic kingdoms. Though some of these regions were not ruled by Greeks or even Greek speaking elites, certain Hellenistic influences can be seen in the historical record and material culture of these regions. Other regions had established contact with Greek colonies before this period, and simply saw a continued process of Hellenization and intermixing.

Before the Hellenistic period, Greek colonies had been established on the coast of the Crimean and Taman peninsulas. The Bosporan Kingdom was a multi-ethnic kingdom of Greek city states and local tribal peoples such as the Maeotians, Thracians, Crimean Scythians and Cimmerians under the Spartocid dynasty (438–110 BC). The Spartocids were a hellenized Thracian family from Panticapaeum. The Bosporans had long lasting trade contacts with the Scythian peoples of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, and Hellenistic influence can be seen in the Scythian settlements of the Crimea, such as in the Scythian Neapolis. Scythian pressure on the Bosporan kingdom under Paerisades V led to its eventual vassalage under the Pontic king Mithradates VI for protection, c. 107 BC . It later became a Roman client state. Other Scythians on the steppes of Central Asia came into contact with Hellenistic culture through the Greeks of Bactria. Many Scythian elites purchased Greek products and some Scythian art shows Greek influences. At least some Scythians seem to have become Hellenized, because we know of conflicts between the elites of the Scythian kingdom over the adoption of Greek ways. These Hellenized Scythians were known as the "young Scythians". [93] The peoples around Pontic Olbia, known as the Callipidae, were intermixed and Hellenized Greco-Scythians. [94]

The Greek colonies on the west coast of the Black sea, such as Istros, Tomi and Callatis traded with the Thracian Getae who occupied modern-day Dobruja. From the 6th century BC on, the multiethnic people in this region gradually intermixed with each other, creating a Greco-Getic populace. [95] Numismatic evidence shows that Hellenic influence penetrated further inland. Getae in Wallachia and Moldavia coined Getic tetradrachms, Getic imitations of Macedonian coinage. [96]

The ancient Georgian kingdoms had trade relations with the Greek city-states on the Black Sea coast such as Poti and Sukhumi. The kingdom of Colchis, which later became a Roman client state, received Hellenistic influences from the Black Sea Greek colonies.

In Arabia, Bahrain, which was referred to by the Greeks as Tylos, the centre of pearl trading, when Nearchus came to discover it serving under Alexander the Great. [97] The Greek admiral Nearchus is believed to have been the first of Alexander's commanders to visit these islands. It is not known whether Bahrain was part of the Seleucid Empire, although the archaeological site at Qalat Al Bahrain has been proposed as a Seleucid base in the Persian Gulf. [98] Alexander had planned to settle the eastern shores of the Persian Gulf with Greek colonists, and although it is not clear that this happened on the scale he envisaged, Tylos was very much part of the Hellenised world: the language of the upper classes was Greek (although Aramaic was in everyday use), while Zeus was worshipped in the form of the Arabian sun-god Shams. [99] Tylos even became the site of Greek athletic contests. [100]

Carthage was a Phoenician colony on the coast of Tunisia. Carthaginian culture came into contact with the Greeks through Punic colonies in Sicily and through their widespread Mediterranean trade network. While the Carthaginians retained their Punic culture and language, they did adopt some Hellenistic ways, one of the most prominent of which was their military practices. In 550 BC, Mago I of Carthage began a series of military reforms which included copying the army of Timoleon, Tyrant of Syracuse. [101] The core of Carthage's military was the Greek-style phalanx formed by citizen hoplite spearmen who had been conscripted into service, though their armies also included large numbers of mercenaries. After their defeat in the First Punic War, Carthage hired a Spartan mercenary captain, Xanthippus of Carthage, to reform their military forces. Xanthippus reformed the Carthaginian military along Macedonian army lines.

By the 2nd century BC, the kingdom of Numidia also began to see Hellenistic culture influence its art and architecture. The Numidian royal monument at Chemtou is one example of Numidian Hellenized architecture. Reliefs on the monument also show the Numidians had adopted Greco-Macedonian type armor and shields for their soldiers. [102]

Ptolemaic Egypt was the center of Hellenistic influence in Africa and Greek colonies also thrived in the region of Cyrene, Libya. The kingdom of Meroë was in constant contact with Ptolemaic Egypt and Hellenistic influences can be seen in their art and archaeology. There was a temple to Serapis, the Greco-Egyptian god.

Widespread Roman interference in the Greek world was probably inevitable given the general manner of the ascendancy of the Roman Republic. This Roman-Greek interaction began as a consequence of the Greek city-states located along the coast of southern Italy. Rome had come to dominate the Italian peninsula, and desired the submission of the Greek cities to its rule. Although they initially resisted, allying themselves with Pyrrhus of Epirus, and defeating the Romans at several battles, the Greek cities were unable to maintain this position and were absorbed by the Roman republic. Shortly afterwards, Rome became involved in Sicily, fighting against the Carthaginians in the First Punic War. The end result was the complete conquest of Sicily, including its previously powerful Greek cities, by the Romans.

Roman entanglement in the Balkans began when Illyrian piratical raids on Roman merchants led to invasions of Illyria (the First and, Second Illyrian Wars). Tension between Macedon and Rome increased when the young king of Macedon, Philip V, harbored one of the chief pirates, Demetrius of Pharos [103] (a former client of Rome). As a result, in an attempt to reduce Roman influence in the Balkans, Philip allied himself with Carthage after Hannibal had dealt the Romans a massive defeat at the Battle of Cannae (216 BC) during the Second Punic War. Forcing the Romans to fight on another front when they were at a nadir of manpower gained Philip the lasting enmity of the Romans—the only real result from the somewhat insubstantial First Macedonian War (215–202 BC).

Once the Second Punic War had been resolved, and the Romans had begun to regather their strength, they looked to re-assert their influence in the Balkans, and to curb the expansion of Philip. A pretext for war was provided by Philip's refusal to end his war with Attalid Pergamum and Rhodes, both Roman allies. [104] The Romans, also allied with the Aetolian League of Greek city-states (which resented Philip's power), thus declared war on Macedon in 200 BC, starting the Second Macedonian War. This ended with a decisive Roman victory at the Battle of Cynoscephalae (197 BC). Like most Roman peace treaties of the period, the resultant 'Peace of Flaminius' was designed utterly to crush the power of the defeated party a massive indemnity was levied, Philip's fleet was surrendered to Rome, and Macedon was effectively returned to its ancient boundaries, losing influence over the city-states of southern Greece, and land in Thrace and Asia Minor. The result was the end of Macedon as a major power in the Mediterranean.

As a result of the confusion in Greece at the end of the Second Macedonian War, the Seleucid Empire also became entangled with the Romans. The Seleucid Antiochus III had allied with Philip V of Macedon in 203 BC, agreeing that they should jointly conquer the lands of the boy-king of Egypt, Ptolemy V. After defeating Ptolemy in the Fifth Syrian War, Antiochus concentrated on occupying the Ptolemaic possessions in Asia Minor. However, this brought Antiochus into conflict with Rhodes and Pergamum, two important Roman allies, and began a 'cold war' between Rome and Antiochus (not helped by the presence of Hannibal at the Seleucid court). [4] Meanwhile, in mainland Greece, the Aetolian League, which had sided with Rome against Macedon, now grew to resent the Roman presence in Greece. This presented Antiochus III with a pretext to invade Greece and 'liberate' it from Roman influence, thus starting the Roman-Syrian War (192–188 BC). In 191 BC, the Romans under Manius Acilius Glabrio routed him at Thermopylae and obliged him to withdraw to Asia. During the course of this war Roman troops moved into Asia for the first time, where they defeated Antiochus again at the Battle of Magnesia (190 BC). A crippling treaty was imposed on Antiochus, with Seleucid possessions in Asia Minor removed and given to Rhodes and Pergamum, the size of the Seleucid navy reduced, and a massive war indemnity invoked.

Thus, in less than twenty years, Rome had destroyed the power of one of the successor states, crippled another, and firmly entrenched its influence over Greece. This was primarily a result of the over-ambition of the Macedonian kings, and their unintended provocation of Rome, though Rome was quick to exploit the situation. In another twenty years, the Macedonian kingdom was no more. Seeking to re-assert Macedonian power and Greek independence, Philip V's son Perseus incurred the wrath of the Romans, resulting in the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC). Victorious, the Romans abolished the Macedonian kingdom, replacing it with four puppet republics these lasted a further twenty years before Macedon was formally annexed as a Roman province (146 BC) after yet another rebellion under Andriscus. Rome now demanded that the Achaean League, the last stronghold of Greek independence, be dissolved. The Achaeans refused and declared war on Rome. Most of the Greek cities rallied to the Achaeans' side, even slaves were freed to fight for Greek independence. The Roman consul Lucius Mummius advanced from Macedonia and defeated the Greeks at Corinth, which was razed to the ground. In 146 BC, the Greek peninsula, though not the islands, became a Roman protectorate. Roman taxes were imposed, except in Athens and Sparta, and all the cities had to accept rule by Rome's local allies.

The Attalid dynasty of Pergamum lasted little longer a Roman ally until the end, its final king Attalus III died in 133 BC without an heir, and taking the alliance to its natural conclusion, willed Pergamum to the Roman Republic. [105] The final Greek resistance came in 88 BC, when King Mithridates of Pontus rebelled against Rome, captured Roman held Anatolia, and massacred up to 100,000 Romans and Roman allies across Asia Minor. Many Greek cities, including Athens, overthrew their Roman puppet rulers and joined him in the Mithridatic wars. When he was driven out of Greece by the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla, the latter laid siege to Athens and razed the city. Mithridates was finally defeated by Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) in 65 BC. Further ruin was brought to Greece by the Roman civil wars, which were partly fought in Greece. Finally, in 27 BC, Augustus directly annexed Greece to the new Roman Empire as the province of Achaea. The struggles with Rome had left Greece depopulated and demoralised. Nevertheless, Roman rule at least brought an end to warfare, and cities such as Athens, Corinth, Thessaloniki and Patras soon recovered their prosperity.

Contrarily, having so firmly entrenched themselves into Greek affairs, the Romans now completely ignored the rapidly disintegrating Seleucid empire (perhaps because it posed no threat) and left the Ptolemaic kingdom to decline quietly, while acting as a protector of sorts, in as much as to stop other powers taking Egypt over (including the famous line-in-the-sand incident when the Seleucid Antiochus IV Epiphanes tried to invade Egypt). [4] Eventually, instability in the near east resulting from the power vacuum left by the collapse of the Seleucid Empire caused the Roman proconsul Pompey the Great to abolish the Seleucid rump state, absorbing much of Syria into the Roman Republic. [105] Famously, the end of Ptolemaic Egypt came as the final act in the republican civil war between the Roman triumvirs Mark Anthony and Augustus Caesar. After the defeat of Anthony and his lover, the last Ptolemaic monarch, Cleopatra VII, at the Battle of Actium, Augustus invaded Egypt and took it as his own personal fiefdom. [105] He thereby completed both the destruction of the Hellenistic kingdoms and the Roman Republic, and ended (in hindsight) the Hellenistic era.

In some fields Hellenistic culture thrived, particularly in its preservation of the past. The states of the Hellenistic period were deeply fixated with the past and its seemingly lost glories. [107] The preservation of many classical and archaic works of art and literature (including the works of the three great classical tragedians, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides) are due to the efforts of the Hellenistic Greeks. The museum and library of Alexandria was the center of this conservationist activity. With the support of royal stipends, Alexandrian scholars collected, translated, copied, classified, and critiqued every book they could find. Most of the great literary figures of the Hellenistic period studied at Alexandria and conducted research there. They were scholar poets, writing not only poetry but treatises on Homer and other archaic and classical Greek literature. [108]

Athens retained its position as the most prestigious seat of higher education, especially in the domains of philosophy and rhetoric, with considerable libraries and philosophical schools. [109] Alexandria had the monumental museum (a research center) and Library of Alexandria which was estimated to have had 700,000 volumes. [109] The city of Pergamon also had a large library and became a major center of book production. [109] The island of Rhodes had a library and also boasted a famous finishing school for politics and diplomacy. Libraries were also present in Antioch, Pella, and Kos. Cicero was educated in Athens and Mark Antony in Rhodes. [109] Antioch was founded as a metropolis and center of Greek learning which retained its status into the era of Christianity. [109] Seleucia replaced Babylon as the metropolis of the lower Tigris.

The spread of Greek culture and language throughout the Near East and Asia owed much to the development of newly founded cities and deliberate colonization policies by the successor states, which in turn was necessary for maintaining their military forces. Settlements such as Ai-Khanoum, on trade routes, allowed Greek culture to mix and spread. The language of Philip II's and Alexander's court and army (which was made up of various Greek and non-Greek speaking peoples) was a version of Attic Greek, and over time this language developed into Koine, the lingua franca of the successor states.

The identification of local gods with similar Greek deities, a practice termed 'Interpretatio graeca', stimulated the building of Greek-style temples, and Greek culture in the cities meant that buildings such as gymnasia and theaters became common. Many cities maintained nominal autonomy while under the rule of the local king or satrap, and often had Greek-style institutions. Greek dedications, statues, architecture, and inscriptions have all been found. However, local cultures were not replaced, and mostly went on as before, but now with a new Greco-Macedonian or otherwise Hellenized elite. An example that shows the spread of Greek theater is Plutarch's story of the death of Crassus, in which his head was taken to the Parthian court and used as a prop in a performance of The Bacchae. Theaters have also been found: for example, in Ai-Khanoum on the edge of Bactria, the theater has 35 rows – larger than the theater in Babylon.

The spread of Greek influence and language is also shown through ancient Greek coinage. Portraits became more realistic, and the obverse of the coin was often used to display a propagandistic image, commemorating an event or displaying the image of a favored god. The use of Greek-style portraits and Greek language continued under the Roman, Parthian, and Kushan empires, even as the use of Greek was in decline.

Hellenization and acculturation Edit

The concept of Hellenization, meaning the adoption of Greek culture in non-Greek regions, has long been controversial. Undoubtedly Greek influence did spread through the Hellenistic realms, but to what extent, and whether this was a deliberate policy or mere cultural diffusion, have been hotly debated.

It seems likely that Alexander himself pursued policies which led to Hellenization, such as the foundations of new cities and Greek colonies. While it may have been a deliberate attempt to spread Greek culture (or as Arrian says, "to civilise the natives"), it is more likely that it was a series of pragmatic measures designed to aid in the rule of his enormous empire. [20] Cities and colonies were centers of administrative control and Macedonian power in a newly conquered region. Alexander also seems to have attempted to create a mixed Greco-Persian elite class as shown by the Susa weddings and his adoption of some forms of Persian dress and court culture. He also brought Persian and other non-Greek peoples into his military and even the elite cavalry units of the companion cavalry. Again, it is probably better to see these policies as a pragmatic response to the demands of ruling a large empire [20] than to any idealized attempt to bringing Greek culture to the 'barbarians'. This approach was bitterly resented by the Macedonians and discarded by most of the Diadochi after Alexander's death. These policies can also be interpreted as the result of Alexander's possible megalomania [111] during his later years.

After Alexander's death in 323 BC, the influx of Greek colonists into the new realms continued to spread Greek culture into Asia. The founding of new cities and military colonies continued to be a major part of the Successors' struggle for control of any particular region, and these continued to be centers of cultural diffusion. The spread of Greek culture under the Successors seems mostly to have occurred with the spreading of Greeks themselves, rather than as an active policy.

Throughout the Hellenistic world, these Greco-Macedonian colonists considered themselves by and large superior to the native "barbarians" and excluded most non-Greeks from the upper echelons of courtly and government life. Most of the native population was not Hellenized, had little access to Greek culture and often found themselves discriminated against by their Hellenic overlords. [112] Gymnasiums and their Greek education, for example, were for Greeks only. Greek cities and colonies may have exported Greek art and architecture as far as the Indus, but these were mostly enclaves of Greek culture for the transplanted Greek elite. The degree of influence that Greek culture had throughout the Hellenistic kingdoms was therefore highly localized and based mostly on a few great cities like Alexandria and Antioch. Some natives did learn Greek and adopt Greek ways, but this was mostly limited to a few local elites who were allowed to retain their posts by the Diadochi and also to a small number of mid-level administrators who acted as intermediaries between the Greek speaking upper class and their subjects. In the Seleucid Empire, for example, this group amounted to only 2.5 percent of the official class. [113]

Hellenistic art nevertheless had a considerable influence on the cultures that had been affected by the Hellenistic expansion. As far as the Indian subcontinent, Hellenistic influence on Indian art was broad and far-reaching, and had effects for several centuries following the forays of Alexander the Great.

Despite their initial reluctance, the Successors seem to have later deliberately naturalized themselves to their different regions, presumably in order to help maintain control of the population. [114] In the Ptolemaic kingdom, we find some Egyptianized Greeks by the 2nd century onwards. In the Indo-Greek kingdom we find kings who were converts to Buddhism (e.g., Menander). The Greeks in the regions therefore gradually become 'localized', adopting local customs as appropriate. In this way, hybrid 'Hellenistic' cultures naturally emerged, at least among the upper echelons of society.

The trends of Hellenization were therefore accompanied by Greeks adopting native ways over time, but this was widely varied by place and by social class. The farther away from the Mediterranean and the lower in social status, the more likely that a colonist was to adopt local ways, while the Greco-Macedonian elites and royal families usually remained thoroughly Greek and viewed most non-Greeks with disdain. It was not until Cleopatra VII that a Ptolemaic ruler bothered to learn the Egyptian language of their subjects.

Religion Edit

In the Hellenistic period, there was much continuity in Greek religion: the Greek gods continued to be worshiped, and the same rites were practiced as before. However the socio-political changes brought on by the conquest of the Persian empire and Greek emigration abroad meant that change also came to religious practices. This varied greatly by location. Athens, Sparta and most cities in the Greek mainland did not see much religious change or new gods (with the exception of the Egyptian Isis in Athens), [115] while the multi-ethnic Alexandria had a very varied group of gods and religious practices, including Egyptian, Jewish and Greek. Greek emigres brought their Greek religion everywhere they went, even as far as India and Afghanistan. Non-Greeks also had more freedom to travel and trade throughout the Mediterranean and in this period we can see Egyptian gods such as Serapis, and the Syrian gods Atargatis and Hadad, as well as a Jewish synagogue, all coexisting on the island of Delos alongside classical Greek deities. [116] A common practice was to identify Greek gods with native gods that had similar characteristics and this created new fusions like Zeus-Ammon, Aphrodite Hagne (a Hellenized Atargatis) and Isis-Demeter. Greek emigres faced individual religious choices they had not faced on their home cities, where the gods they worshiped were dictated by tradition.

Hellenistic monarchies were closely associated with the religious life of the kingdoms they ruled. This had already been a feature of Macedonian kingship, which had priestly duties. [117] Hellenistic kings adopted patron deities as protectors of their house and sometimes claimed descent from them. The Seleucids for example took on Apollo as patron, the Antigonids had Herakles, and the Ptolemies claimed Dionysus among others. [118]

The worship of dynastic ruler cults was also a feature of this period, most notably in Egypt, where the Ptolemies adopted earlier Pharaonic practice, and established themselves as god-kings. These cults were usually associated with a specific temple in honor of the ruler such as the Ptolemaieia at Alexandria and had their own festivals and theatrical performances. The setting up of ruler cults was more based on the systematized honors offered to the kings (sacrifice, proskynesis, statues, altars, hymns) which put them on par with the gods (isotheism) than on actual belief of their divine nature. According to Peter Green, these cults did not produce genuine belief of the divinity of rulers among the Greeks and Macedonians. [119] The worship of Alexander was also popular, as in the long lived cult at Erythrae and of course, at Alexandria, where his tomb was located.

The Hellenistic age also saw a rise in the disillusionment with traditional religion. [120] The rise of philosophy and the sciences had removed the gods from many of their traditional domains such as their role in the movement of the heavenly bodies and natural disasters. The Sophists proclaimed the centrality of humanity and agnosticism the belief in Euhemerism (the view that the gods were simply ancient kings and heroes), became popular. The popular philosopher Epicurus promoted a view of disinterested gods living far away from the human realm in metakosmia. The apotheosis of rulers also brought the idea of divinity down to earth. While there does seem to have been a substantial decline in religiosity, this was mostly reserved for the educated classes. [121]

Magic was practiced widely, and this, too, was a continuation from earlier times. Throughout the Hellenistic world, people would consult oracles, and use charms and figurines to deter misfortune or to cast spells. Also developed in this era was the complex system of astrology, which sought to determine a person's character and future in the movements of the sun, moon, and planets. Astrology was widely associated with the cult of Tyche (luck, fortune), which grew in popularity during this period.

Literature Edit

The Hellenistic period saw the rise of New Comedy, the only few surviving representative texts being those of Menander (born 342/341 BC). Only one play, Dyskolos, survives in its entirety. The plots of this new Hellenistic comedy of manners were more domestic and formulaic, stereotypical low born characters such as slaves became more important, the language was colloquial and major motifs included escapism, marriage, romance and luck (Tyche). [122] Though no Hellenistic tragedy remains intact, they were still widely produced during the period, yet it seems that there was no major breakthrough in style, remaining within the classical model. The Supplementum Hellenisticum, a modern collection of extant fragments, contains the fragments of 150 authors. [123]

Hellenistic poets now sought patronage from kings, and wrote works in their honor. The scholars at the libraries in Alexandria and Pergamon focused on the collection, cataloging, and literary criticism of classical Athenian works and ancient Greek myths. The poet-critic Callimachus, a staunch elitist, wrote hymns equating Ptolemy II to Zeus and Apollo. He promoted short poetic forms such as the epigram, epyllion and the iambic and attacked epic as base and common ("big book, big evil" was his doctrine). [124] He also wrote a massive catalog of the holdings of the library of Alexandria, the famous Pinakes. Callimachus was extremely influential in his time and also for the development of Augustan poetry. Another poet, Apollonius of Rhodes, attempted to revive the epic for the Hellenistic world with his Argonautica. He had been a student of Callimachus and later became chief librarian (prostates) of the library of Alexandria. Apollonius and Callimachus spent much of their careers feuding with each other. Pastoral poetry also thrived during the Hellenistic era, Theocritus was a major poet who popularized the genre.

This period also saw the rise of the ancient Greek novel, such as Daphnis and Chloe and the Ephesian Tale.

Around 240 BC Livius Andronicus, a Greek slave from southern Italy, translated Homer's Odyssey into Latin. Greek literature would have a dominant effect on the development of the Latin literature of the Romans. The poetry of Virgil, Horace and Ovid were all based on Hellenistic styles.

Philosophy Edit

During the Hellenistic period, many different schools of thought developed, and these schools of Hellenistic philosophy had a significant influence on the Greek and Roman ruling elite.

Athens, with its multiple philosophical schools, continued to remain the center of philosophical thought. However, Athens had now lost her political freedom, and Hellenistic philosophy is a reflection of this new difficult period. In this political climate, Hellenistic philosophers went in search of goals such as ataraxia (un-disturbedness), autarky (self-sufficiency), and apatheia (freedom from suffering), which would allow them to wrest well-being or eudaimonia out of the most difficult turns of fortune. This occupation with the inner life, with personal inner liberty and with the pursuit of eudaimonia is what all Hellenistic philosophical schools have in common. [125]

The Epicureans and the Cynics eschewed public offices and civic service, which amounted to a rejection of the polis itself, the defining institution of the Greek world. Epicurus promoted atomism and an asceticism based on freedom from pain as its ultimate goal. The Cyrenaics and Epicureans embraced hedonism, arguing that pleasure was the only true good. Cynics such as Diogenes of Sinope rejected all material possessions and social conventions (nomos) as unnatural and useless. Stoicism, founded by Zeno of Citium, taught that virtue was sufficient for eudaimonia as it would allow one to live in accordance with Nature or Logos. The philosophical schools of Aristotle (the Peripatetics of the Lyceum) and Plato (Platonism at the Academy) also remained influential. Against these dogmatic schools of philosophy the Pyrrhonist school embraced philosophical skepticism, and, starting with Arcesilaus, Plato's Academy also embraced skepticism in the form of Academic Skepticism.

The spread of Christianity throughout the Roman world, followed by the spread of Islam, ushered in the end of Hellenistic philosophy and the beginnings of Medieval philosophy (often forcefully, as under Justinian I), which was dominated by the three Abrahamic traditions: Jewish philosophy, Christian philosophy, and early Islamic philosophy. In spite of this shift, Hellenistic philosophy continued to influence these three religious traditions and the Renaissance thought which followed them.

Sciences Edit

Hellenistic culture produced seats of learning throughout the Mediterranean. Hellenistic science differed from Greek science in at least two ways: first, it benefited from the cross-fertilization of Greek ideas with those that had developed in the larger Hellenistic world secondly, to some extent, it was supported by royal patrons in the kingdoms founded by Alexander's successors. Especially important to Hellenistic science was the city of Alexandria in Egypt, which became a major center of scientific research in the 3rd century BC. Hellenistic scholars frequently employed the principles developed in earlier Greek thought: the application of mathematics and deliberate empirical research, in their scientific investigations. [127] [128]

Hellenistic Geometers such as Archimedes (c. 287–212 BC ), Apollonius of Perga ( c. 262 – c. 190 BC ), and Euclid ( c. 325–265 BC ), whose Elements became the most important textbook in Western mathematics until the 19th century AD, built upon the work of the mathematicians of the Classical age, such as Theodorus, Archytas, Theaetetus, Eudoxus, and the so-called Pythagoreans. Euclid developed proofs for the Pythagorean Theorem, for the infinitude of primes, and worked on the five Platonic solids. [129] Eratosthenes measured the Earth's circumference with remarkable accuracy. [130] He was also the first to calculate the tilt of the Earth's axis (again with remarkable accuracy). Additionally, he may have accurately calculated the distance from the Earth to the Sun and invented the leap day. [131] Known as the "Father of Geography", Eratosthenes also created the first map of the world incorporating parallels and meridians, based on the available geographical knowledge of the era.

Astronomers like Hipparchus ( c. 190 – c. 120 BC ) built upon the measurements of the Babylonian astronomers before him, to measure the precession of the Earth. Pliny reports that Hipparchus produced the first systematic star catalog after he observed a new star (it is uncertain whether this was a nova or a comet) and wished to preserve astronomical record of the stars, so that other new stars could be discovered. [134] It has recently been claimed that a celestial globe based on Hipparchus' star catalog sits atop the broad shoulders of a large 2nd-century Roman statue known as the Farnese Atlas. [135] Another astronomer, Aristarchos of Samos, developed a heliocentric system.

The level of Hellenistic achievement in astronomy and engineering is impressively shown by the Antikythera mechanism (150–100 BC). It is a 37-gear mechanical computer which computed the motions of the Sun and Moon, including lunar and solar eclipses predicted on the basis of astronomical periods believed to have been learned from the Babylonians. [136] Devices of this sort are not found again until the 10th century, when a simpler eight-geared luni-solar calculator incorporated into an astrolabe was described by the Persian scholar, Al-Biruni. [137] [ failed verification ] Similarly complex devices were also developed by other Muslim engineers and astronomers during the Middle Ages. [136] [ failed verification ]

Medicine, which was dominated by the Hippocratic tradition, saw new advances under Praxagoras of Kos, who theorized that blood traveled through the veins. Herophilos (335–280 BC) was the first to base his conclusions on dissection of the human body and animal vivisection, and to provide accurate descriptions of the nervous system, liver and other key organs. Influenced by Philinus of Cos (fl. 250 BC ), a student of Herophilos, a new medical sect emerged, the Empiric school, which was based on strict observation and rejected unseen causes of the Dogmatic school.

Bolos of Mendes made developments in alchemy and Theophrastus was known for his work in plant classification. Crateuas wrote a compendium on botanic pharmacy. The library of Alexandria included a zoo for research and Hellenistic zoologists include Archelaos, Leonidas of Byzantion, Apollodoros of Alexandria and Bion of Soloi.

Technological developments from the Hellenistic period include cogged gears, pulleys, the screw, Archimedes' screw, the screw press, glassblowing, hollow bronze casting, surveying instruments, an odometer, the pantograph, the water clock, a water organ, and the Piston pump. [138]

The interpretation of Hellenistic science varies widely. At one extreme is the view of the English classical scholar Cornford, who believed that "all the most important and original work was done in the three centuries from 600 to 300 BC". [139] At the other is the view of the Italian physicist and mathematician Lucio Russo, who claims that scientific method was actually born in the 3rd century BC, to be forgotten during the Roman period and only revived in the Renaissance. [140]

Military science Edit

Hellenistic warfare was a continuation of the military developments of Iphicrates and Philip II of Macedon, particularly his use of the Macedonian phalanx, a dense formation of pikemen, in conjunction with heavy companion cavalry. Armies of the Hellenistic period differed from those of the classical period in being largely made up of professional soldiers and also in their greater specialization and technical proficiency in siege warfare. Hellenistic armies were significantly larger than those of classical Greece relying increasingly on Greek mercenaries (misthophoroi men-for-pay) and also on non-Greek soldiery such as Thracians, Galatians, Egyptians and Iranians. Some ethnic groups were known for their martial skill in a particular mode of combat and were highly sought after, including Tarantine cavalry, Cretan archers, Rhodian slingers and Thracian peltasts. This period also saw the adoption of new weapons and troop types such as Thureophoroi and the Thorakitai who used the oval Thureos shield and fought with javelins and the machaira sword. The use of heavily armored cataphracts and also horse archers was adopted by the Seleucids, Greco-Bactrians, Armenians and Pontus. The use of war elephants also became common. Seleucus received Indian war elephants from the Mauryan empire, and used them to good effect at the battle of Ipsus. He kept a core of 500 of them at Apameia. The Ptolemies used the smaller African elephant.

Hellenistic military equipment was generally characterized by an increase in size. Hellenistic-era warships grew from the trireme to include more banks of oars and larger numbers of rowers and soldiers as in the Quadrireme and Quinquereme. The Ptolemaic Tessarakonteres was the largest ship constructed in Antiquity. New siege engines were developed during this period. An unknown engineer developed the torsion-spring catapult (c. 360 BC ) and Dionysios of Alexandria designed a repeating ballista, the Polybolos. Preserved examples of ball projectiles range from 4.4 to 78 kg (9.7 to 172.0 lb). [141] Demetrius Poliorcetes was notorious for the large siege engines employed in his campaigns, especially during the 12-month siege of Rhodes when he had Epimachos of Athens build a massive 160 ton siege tower named Helepolis, filled with artillery.

Art Edit

The term Hellenistic is a modern invention the Hellenistic World not only included a huge area covering the whole of the Aegean, rather than the Classical Greece focused on the Poleis of Athens and Sparta, but also a huge time range. In artistic terms this means that there is huge variety which is often put under the heading of "Hellenistic Art" for convenience.

Hellenistic art saw a turn from the idealistic, perfected, calm and composed figures of classical Greek art to a style dominated by realism and the depiction of emotion (pathos) and character (ethos). The motif of deceptively realistic naturalism in art (aletheia) is reflected in stories such as that of the painter Zeuxis, who was said to have painted grapes that seemed so real that birds came and pecked at them. [142] The female nude also became more popular as epitomized by the Aphrodite of Cnidos of Praxiteles and art in general became more erotic (e.g., Leda and the Swan and Scopa's Pothos). The dominant ideals of Hellenistic art were those of sensuality and passion. [143]

People of all ages and social statuses were depicted in the art of the Hellenistic age. Artists such as Peiraikos chose mundane and lower class subjects for his paintings. According to Pliny, "He painted barbers' shops, cobblers' stalls, asses, eatables and similar subjects, earning for himself the name of rhyparographos [painter of dirt/low things]. In these subjects he could give consummate pleasure, selling them for more than other artists received for their large pictures" (Natural History, Book XXXV.112). Even barbarians, such as the Galatians, were depicted in heroic form, prefiguring the artistic theme of the noble savage. The image of Alexander the Great was also an important artistic theme, and all of the diadochi had themselves depicted imitating Alexander's youthful look. A number of the best-known works of Greek sculpture belong to the Hellenistic period, including Laocoön and his Sons, Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

Developments in painting included experiments in chiaroscuro by Zeuxis and the development of landscape painting and still life painting. [144] Greek temples built during the Hellenistic period were generally larger than classical ones, such as the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the temple of Artemis at Sardis, and the temple of Apollo at Didyma (rebuilt by Seleucus in 300 BC). The royal palace (basileion) also came into its own during the Hellenistic period, the first extant example being the massive 4th-century villa of Cassander at Vergina.

This period also saw the first written works of art history in the histories of Duris of Samos and Xenocrates of Athens, a sculptor and a historian of sculpture and painting.

There has been a trend in writing the history of this period to depict Hellenistic art as a decadent style, following the Golden Age of Classical Athens. Pliny the Elder, after having described the sculpture of the classical period, says: Cessavit deinde ars ("then art disappeared"). [145] The 18th century terms Baroque and Rococo have sometimes been applied to the art of this complex and individual period. The renewal of the historiographical approach as well as some recent discoveries, such as the tombs of Vergina, allow a better appreciation of this period's artistic richness.

The focus on the Hellenistic period over the course of the 19th century by scholars and historians has led to an issue common to the study of historical periods historians see the period of focus as a mirror of the period in which they are living. Many 19th-century scholars contended that the Hellenistic period represented a cultural decline from the brilliance of classical Greece. Though this comparison is now seen as unfair and meaningless, it has been noted that even commentators of the time saw the end of a cultural era which could not be matched again. [146] This may be inextricably linked with the nature of government. It has been noted by Herodotus that after the establishment of the Athenian democracy:

the Athenians found themselves suddenly a great power. Not just in one field, but in everything they set their minds to . As subjects of a tyrant, what had they accomplished? . Held down like slaves they had shirked and slacked once they had won their freedom, not a citizen but he could feel like he was labouring for himself [147]

Thus, with the decline of the Greek polis, and the establishment of monarchical states, the environment and social freedom in which to excel may have been reduced. [148] A parallel can be drawn with the productivity of the city states of Italy during the Renaissance, and their subsequent decline under autocratic rulers. [ citation needed ]

However, William Woodthorpe Tarn, between World War I and World War II and the heyday of the League of Nations, focused on the issues of racial and cultural confrontation and the nature of colonial rule. Michael Rostovtzeff, who fled the Russian Revolution, concentrated predominantly on the rise of the capitalist bourgeoisie in areas of Greek rule. Arnaldo Momigliano, an Italian Jew who wrote before and after the Second World War, studied the problem of mutual understanding between races in the conquered areas. Moses Hadas portrayed an optimistic picture of synthesis of culture from the perspective of the 1950s, while Frank William Walbank in the 1960s and 1970s had a materialistic approach to the Hellenistic period, focusing mainly on class relations. Recently, however, papyrologist C. Préaux has concentrated predominantly on the economic system, interactions between kings and cities, and provides a generally pessimistic view on the period. Peter Green, on the other hand, writes from the point of view of late-20th-century liberalism, his focus being on individualism, the breakdown of convention, experiments, and a postmodern disillusionment with all institutions and political processes. [16]


Hellenistic Woman - History

The oracles of Greece and the sibyls of Rome were women chosen by the gods through which divine advice would be spoken through them. They were popular throughout the great empires and pilgrims would make their way from far off places just to ask them a question and receive the answer of a god. Although many accounts show that their prophecies were true, this is a bit skewed. They were not infallible and many texts refused to mention the errors that the oracles and sibyls made. They were not perfect and gave false information on occasions, but they were still a central part of the Greek and Roman religions.

The most famous of the oracles was the oracle of Apollo, the god of the sun, at Delphi. She was named Pythia. Travelers would ask her questions, many quite personal, such as those dealing with love and marriage, and she would go into a sort of trance and spew out rhymes and riddles for the traveler to ponder. These riddles were supposedly the words of Apollo himself. She would also receive prophecies from dreams. Science has revealed that a possibility for the trances that Pythia would enter was caused by inhalation of large amounts of carbon dioxide, which would produce hallucinations. The release of the large amounts of carbon dioxide was due to volcanic faults that ran underneath the temple at Delphi.

One of the oldest oracles in Greece was the oracle of Zeus in Dodona, which was located in northern Greece. Priestesses, called the Peleiades, would translate the oracle sent by Zeus. They listened to the sounds of pots hanging in the trees, the sounds of the wind, and other sounds of nature. They would then translate these noises into a prophecy from Zeus. They believed that Zeus' voice could be heard through the wind. Plato mentioned an account that he had with the Peleiades in his speech, Phaedrus. Herodotus also has mentioned accounts with these priestesses.

Epidaurus was the site of an oracle of Asclepios, the son of Apollo. The oracle was a man named Aelius Aristides. Pilgrims would go to him to ask questions that dealt with medicine, disease, and healing. He was said to give medical advice, and many of the pilgrims hoped to be cured miraculously. Aelius also made prophecies based on his dreams, much like Pythia at Delphi. Rituals were performed before the travelers received an answer or cure from Asclepios. These rituals included some sort of sacrifice, and abstinence and fasting. Those awaiting miracles were recorded to have gone into a hallucinogenic trance during their slumber. This was supposedly the sign that a miraculous healing was taking place.

The oracles were constantly turned to in times of crises. These ranging from medical epidemics and plagues, to wars and invasions. The Delphic oracle was mostly consulted with such issues as these. She told leaders to invade certain areas on many occasions, usually Roman cities or provinces. They did as they were told, although she was not correct every time. The army also turned to Pythia during the wars with Persia. She had predicted defeat for the Greek army. This prophecy was incorrect, because the Greeks defeated the Persians. The influence of the oracles began to wane, although not completely obsolete until the fourth century AD.

The sibyls were the Roman equivalents of the Greek oracles. The origin is a prophetess named Sibyl, who like the oracle at Delphi, spoke the words of Apollo by going into a trance. The tradition went on, and women were chosen by the gods to become sibyls. The most famous was the sibyl of Cumae, who wrote nine books of prophecy called the Oracula Sibyllina. These books ultimately predicted the fall of the Roman Empire.

The oracles and the sibyls were very controversial figures in Greek and Roman religions, because on many occasions their predictions and prophecies were not correct, and they were proven fallible. Even so, they remained to be significant in the religions and beliefs of those of some of the greatest civilizations in the world. The question of whether their riddles and predictions were of divine origin or substance-induced hallucinations will remain a mystery for now.

Annotated Bibliography

Archaeonia. Ancient Greek Oracles . No date. <http://www.archaeonia.com/religion/oracles.htm>(18 December 2005).
This was a great website. It not only supplied interesting information on the oracles, but on other aspects of Greek religion, such as the cosmogony, the gods, rituals, and cults. The website also contains information of Greek philosophy, art, sports, history, and lifestyle. The website was easy to read and the purpose was to educate. This site is highly recommended for research.

Aset, Sabrina. Pagan Gods and Goddess of the Dodona Oracle . 1997. <http://www.goddess.org/vortices/notes/dodona.html>(18 December 2005).
The site offered good information. It contained the methods of divination used by the priestesses and also some primary sources of prophecies made by them. This site was also not difficult understand.

Boardman, John, Griffin, Jasper, and Murray, Oswyn. , eds. The Oxford History of the Greek and Hellenistic World . New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
The source did not have much information dealing with the oracles. The only information relevant were the basic purposes of the oracles. The book contains mostly information on politics and militaristic issues. The book could be used for someone on a secondary educational level. Is a good book if looking for basic information on the Ancient Greek empire.

Boardman, John, Griffin, Jasper, and Murray, Oswyn. , eds. The Oxford History of the Roman World . New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
The only information about the sibyls in this book was an excerpt from the Sibylline Books. The rest of the book was just basic information such as political, military, and economic aspects of the Roman empire. Nice resource if just doing research on Rome in general.

Cartledge, Paul, ed. Cambridge Illustrated History: Ancient Greece . New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
This was a decent source. It offered some information on the oracles, such as the beliefs and fallibility of them. This also offered a lot of general information on many facets of Greek society, such as theatre and the arts, politics, philosophy, and so on. This is good starting point for research.

Easterling, P.E., and Muir, J.V., eds. Greek Religion and Society . New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
There was not much information on the oracles in this book surprisingly. The information that was available discussed the involvement of the Pythia in military issues such as the Persian War. This is not the best book to use when researching the oracles, but good if doing research on mythology or the Greek pantheon. Also this book was not easy to read.

Flaceliere, Robert. Greek Oracles . New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1965.
This was a great source. It discussed in detail the different oracles of Greece and their functions. The book also went into detail on the political and philosophical issues facing the oracles and their followers. The book was somewhat easy to read, but great for research on this topic.

Freeman, Charles. Egypt, Greece, and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
The source was not very helpful on the topic of oracles and sibyls, but it contains a lot of information on political and economic issues of these great empires. It also discusses other civilizations such as Assyria, Mesopotamia, and the Levant. This book is good when looking for political or economic information. This book is not meant for anyone below a college level.

Hale, John R., a da Boer, Jellezeiling, Chanton, Jeffrey P., and Spiller, Henry A. Questioning the Delphic Oracle . Scientific American. August 2003.
This source dealt with the scientific explanations of the Pythia's trance like states. The information was interesting and useful. This is a difficult read for those not familiar with scientific terms and principles. Good source for research on the Delphic oracle.

Martin, Thomas R. Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Time . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000.
The source does not contain much information on the oracles. It discusses more political or social issues, and does not focus on too much religion. Good if doing research on the politics, or Greece in general. This book was very easy to read.


Cultural Achievements of the Hellenistic Age

While the culture of ancient Greece was disseminated East and West, the Greeks adopted elements of eastern culture and religion, especially Zoroastrianism and Mithraism. Attic Greek became the lingua franca. Impressive scientific innovations were made in Alexandria where the Greek Eratosthenes computed the circumference of the earth, Archimedes calculated pi, and Euclid compiled his geometry text. In philosophy, Zeno and Epicurus founded the moral philosophies of Stoicism and Epicureanism.

In literature, New Comedy evolved, as did the pastoral idyll form of poetry associated with Theocritus, and the personal biography, which accompanied a movement in sculpture to represent people as they were rather than as ideals, although there were exceptions in Greek sculpture -- most notably the hideous depictions of Socrates, although even they may have been idealized, if negatively.

Both Michael Grant and Moses Hadas discuss these artistic/biographical changes. See From Alexander to Cleopatra, by Michael Grant, and "Hellenistic Literature," by Moses Hadas. Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 17, (1963), pp. 21-35.


Difference Between Hellenistic and Classical Art

When talking about Hellenistic and classical art, both arts are known for displaying human anatomy.

In Hellenistic art, one can see that the art forms went beyond understanding human anatomy and looked at how the body moved and how it looked when in action. The Hellenistic art looked at how the muscles bulged or the torsos twisted when in action. But in classical art, one cannot see the emotions or the actions of the body it is just the anatomy.

The Hellenistic art form is seen to be depicting more emotions portraying the dramatic features that are filled with happiness, anger, agony, and humor. The classic sculptures do not come with these emotions but were idealized or static.

The classical art form originated well ahead of the Hellenistic period. The Hellenistic period began in 323 BC with the death of Alexander the Great and ended with the battle of Actio in 31 BC.

The Hellenistic art had borrowed many concepts from the classical art forms. The Hellenistic art form had a dramatic transformation from the classic art. The Hellenistic art form had borrowed many concepts from the classical art forms, such as depicting lines, shadows, emotions, and showing the dramatic poses and the light used.

In classic art forms, one can see more of rules and conventions. On the other hand, much freedom could be seen in the Hellenistic art forms. In Hellenistic forms, the artists had freedom with their subjects. In classical art forms, one can come across more religious and naturalistic themes. On the contrary, the Hellenistic art forms came out with more dramatic expressions of the spiritual as well as the preoccupation. There were more female nude statues in Hellenistic art.

1.In Hellenistic art, one can see that the art forms went beyond understanding human anatomy and looked at how the body moved and how it looked when in action. In classical art, one cannot see these aspects.
2.The Hellenistic art form is seen to be depicting more emotions portraying the dramatic features that are filled with happiness, anger, agony, and humor. The classic sculptures do not come with these emotions but were idealized or static.
3.In classic art forms, one can see more of rules and conventions. On the other hand, much freedom could be seen in the Hellenistic art forms.
4.In classical art forms, one can come across more religious and naturalistic themes. On the contrary, the Hellenistic art forms came out with more dramatic expressions of the spiritual as well as the preoccupation.


1,700-year-old statue of a female from the Hellenistic period in the ancient Greek city of Perge

Archeologists uncovered a 1,700-year-old statue of a female from the Hellenistic period in the ancient city of Perge, now in Turkey’s Mediterranean Antalya province, on Monday.

“First sculpture of 2020 found in Perge excavations,” Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism posted on Twitter.

Perga or Perge was an ancient Greek city in Anatolia, once the capital of Pamphylia Secunda, now in Antalya Province on the southwestern Mediterranean coast of Turkey.

The account shared separate photographs of the full-body statue of a dressed woman, and her broken head.

The excavations in Perge are headed by Sedef Cokay Kepçe, an archeology professor at Istanbul University, the ministry said, adding that the 3rd-century figure will be placed in the Antalya Museum once the work is complete.

The archaeological site in the ancient city has been excavated systemically by Istanbul University since 1946, and was added to the UNESCO Tentative Heritage list in 2009.


Hellenistic Greek Sculpture (c.323-27 BCE)

For other forms of sculpture from the wider Aegean area,
see the Art of Classical Antiquity (c.1000 BCE - 450 CE).

Note: among the most famous items of Hellenistic Greek sculpture was the Colossus of Rhodes (292-280 BCE) - one of the Seven Wonders of the World, as compiled by the Greek poet Antipater of Sidon.

The Hellenistic Styles

The era of Hellenistic Art (323-27 BCE) occupied a time-span nearly as long as that of all previous Greek sculpture put together.

Since it was no longer in fashion when serious academic study began and is also bewilderingly diverse, its course is much less understood. At the beginning there was some continuation and development of Late Classical trends, in the middle the so-called Pergamene school shows an originality that may loosely be described as baroque, and towards the end a Classicizing movement became strong. But these distinct styles are not confined each to one part of the period and there is much more that has to be fitted in. Nor can the confusion be explained away by different local traditions: although Athens, it seems, tended to be conservative and at Alexandria some use was made of stucco, a material which invites soft modelling, still sculptors travelled as much as or more than before and Athenians, for example, could work in the full Pergamene style. 'Pergamene', incidentally has here a stylistic and not a local sense. The Hellenistic kings of Pergamum, who grabbed much of western Asia Minor, were patrons of sculpture, collecting old works and commissioning new ones and the style of the most famous of their new monuments has been called after them, though that style was not peculiar to Pergamum nor the only style fostered there.

Subjects were as diverse as styles, and the extremes of the Laocoon and the sitting Boy with a Goose, one a demonstration of heroic agony and the other of sentimental innocence, do not give its full range. Traditional figures of deities and athletes continue. There are realistic studies, straight or comic, of lower class life - the old fisherman, for instance, or the drunken old woman - of ethnic types, of Satyrs and other sub-human creatures, and even of animals. Personifications, as of the Muses, become commoner. Coy, playful and erotic figures (including the young hermaphrodite) cater for other tastes.

Portraiture flourished more freely. This enlargement of the sculptor's repertory and aims is often said to reflect the spiritual changes that followed Alexander's conquest of the Persian Empire. Big centralized monarchies superseded independent city states, the centres of power and wealth shifted from European Greece to the new capitals in Asia and Egypt, old notions of political equality gave way to a more rigid stratification of classes, and ordinary people turned from civic to personal interests. Yet there is no reason to suppose that the course of Greek sculpture would have been much different if the old order had continued. The Hellenistic rulers were determined for political reasons to spread traditional Greek culture. In Greece itself, the city states (which still kept considerable autonomy) looked conscientiously towards the past, and sculptors had a bigger market for their work. Nor does it seem that demand for sculpture in private houses affected the creation of new types and versions. The Boy with a Goose may look as if it was designed specifically for domestic enjoyment. Yet according to Herondas, who was writing in the first half of the third century, a statue at least of this type was on view in a sanctuary of Asklepios. And around 100 BCE the statues fashionable in houses on Delos included copies of reputable old masters. A style as confident and powerful as that of Classical sculpture is likely to have had its own momentum, and the Hellenistic styles can he explained as proceeding from the Classical tradition by evolution or reaction. After all, tendencies to naturalism, expression of emotion, and sentimentality are visible already in the fourth century.

Whatever one may think of the aesthetic value of their products, the leading Hellenistic sculptors were more accomplished than their Classical predecessors and added substantially to the knowledge they inherited. They improved the understanding of anatomy, both in the detailed configuration of the surface of the body and also in its response to tension and relaxation, but this understanding was used selectively according to the subject and character of the work. In the late fourth and early third centuries the followers of Praxiteles achieved an even softer modelling of flesh, which continued to be a favourite technique where sensuous or sentimental effects were wanted - for instance, in female nudes, hermaphrodites and small children. Other early
Hellenistic sculptors concentrated on the type of the athletic male as remodelled by Lysippus or his contemporaries and, though they kept the lean forms and the leathery appearance of the skin, sometimes enlivened the effect by a dose of pathos. This type, of course, remained useful for commemorative nude statues of victors in the games, of heroic princes and notables, and even of private individuals, though later on there was competition from a revived Polykleitan standard. Another trend which developed in the early third century was towards a dry unclassical style that relied for emphasis on linear design rather than modelling, but this was more suited to drapery and portrait heads, than to naked bodies. More ambitious was the attempt to re-use old Classical forms and devices for violently dramatic effects, most notably on the main frieze of the Pergamon Altar of Zeus, where on some of the torsos the musculation looks like a kind of cuirass. This Pergamene style of Hellenistic sculpture had its beginning well back in the third century, but blossomed in the second and, to judge by Laocoon and His Sons, was still practised in the middle of the first. For cult statues of gods, Classical types had always had a continuing influence and finally, in the later second century, a reaction set in and many sculptors turned back to works of the fifth and fourth centuries as models of correctness.

[Note: for architectural styles of Ancient Greece, see: Greek Architecture].

In the rendering of anatomy, Hellenistic sculptors did not often escape from Classical formulas, since these were already fairly true to nature and there was no need to make a fresh start. Nor did they alter the systems of proportions for the male figure, though soon an alternative female canon was accepted, with narrower shoulders, higher waist and broader hips. In drapery there was more radical change. Here High Classical sculptors had worked out a system of devices which elucidated the forms and action of the body but, while optically effective, did not conform closely to nature. And this system remained valid in the fourth century, in spite of tendencies to arrange folds more naturally and to give the drapery importance in itself. These tendencies were taken further by some early Hellenistic sculptors, and there seems even to have been a deliberate rejection of Classical standards, perhaps more for novelty than from artistic principle.

NOTE: For later sculptors and movements inspired by the Hellenistic sculpture of ancient Greece, see: Classicism in Art (800 onwards).

In a favourite scheme, still popular in late Hellenistic statuary, the female figure is dressed in a chiton, often hiding the feet, and a fine tightly stretched cloak which runs diagonally from below one knee to above the other, is gathered in at the hip, and either rolls up across the waist or chest or - more often - covers the shoulders and sometimes the head as well. This cloak is patterned with thin sharp ridges, in part radiating from the hip, in part erratic and casually interrupted and if there is a roll, it is usually narrow and twisted like a rope. In contrast the folds of the chiton are mostly close and vertical and, with a dexterity that becomes hackneyed, they are prolonged to show, suitably a little blurred, through the cloak that covers them. At the same time a basically Classical tradition persisted, especially in statues of gods. This tradition was re-used eclectically by sculptors of the Pergamene style and revived with more fidelity by the Classicizers of the later second and the first centuries.

The Classical masters had preferred to suggest emotion by simple gestures and, though by the middle of the fourth century some intensity of aspect was allowed, it was left to the minor craftsmen who carved grave reliefs to show faces contorted with grief. Hellenistic sculptors had other standards. In work of traditional character they kept the old impassivity, but where the aim was naturalistic or dramatic they enjoyed their virtuosity. Pain, fear, pleasure, amusement, drunkenness, lassitude, sleep and death were within their range by the second century, so too were all the gradations of age and, when they wanted, they could produce plausibly differentiated racial types. As might be expected, portraiture became more vivid, though of course some regard for dignity was usually expected by the customer.

[Note: For biographies of important sculptors from ancient Greece, see: Phidias (488-431 BCE), Myron (Active 480-444), Polykleitos/Polyclitus (5th century), Callimachus (Active 432-408), Skopas/Scopas (Active 395-350), Lysippos/Lysippus (c.395-305 BCE), Praxiteles (Active 375-335), Leochares (Active 340-320).]

The wider range of subjects needed a wider range of poses. So there appear sprawling, crouching and lying figures for upright figures momentary or trivial attitudes become more usual. And in the Pergamene style violent contortions were welcomed. Many of these poses had been used by Classical or even Archaic sculptors in pediments, but not in free-standing statuary, where the standard of decorum had been strict. Groups too became commoner and more systematically designed. But the most radical innovation was in composition. Classical statues had normally been constructed from a front and a side elevation, so that they presented four distinct principal views. And though during the fourth century, there was some tentative variation of the strictly frontal view, as in the Apoxyomenos, this was managed primarily by the placing of the arms. Hellenistic sculptors thought more deeply. Their first solution was to give a spiral twist to the figure, so that from any point of view some important part of it appeared more or less in frontal or profile elevation. Yet, effective as it is, so strong a twist is not easily justified, if one expects the action of a statue to have a logical purpose. Dancing and fighting offer satisfactory reasons, but for some spiralling Hellenistic figures the only excuse is flippant, as in Aphrodite lifting her skirt to contemplate her bottom or the young Satyr who tries to inspect his tail. By the beginning of the second century a more sophisticated formula had been found, by which the spiral is reversed or stopped at the waist. The Venus de Milo is the most famous example here. Still, at all times most Hellenistic statues were designed in the old way, with emphasis on the frontal view.

The Classical revival of Greek art during the later second century not only produced new interpretations and adaptations of Classical forms, such as the Venus di Milo, but led also to an industry of copying that lasted through the era of Roman art till the fourth or even the fifth century CE. From the Archaic period onwards, duplicates had been made, like Kleobis and Biton, and the Penelope, but the habit of reproducing masterpieces of the past seems to have started in the early or middle second century, when the kings of Pergamum, who were the first great collectors of works of Greek art, supplemented the acquisition of earlier originals by commissioning copies. Their example was followed by private individuals, including many Romans and Italians, who were in sympathy with the Classicizing trend but hankered after old masters. The copies found at Pergamum, even when in spirit fairly true to the originals, render detail freely and in a contemporary manner and were evidently carved by sculptors capable of independent work. But later, a more mechanical style and technique became regular, with craftsmen working from a master copy. Master copies could be made either from memory and sketches, as must have been those of the cult statue of Athena in the Parthenon or, if the original was accessible, molds might be taken from it, whether partial or complete, and casts made from the molds. For copies of bronze sculpture, this system could, by recasting, provide exact replicas of the original, and for that reason it is difficult or impossible - and probably unimportant - to distinguish by style between an original and a good copy.

For copies of stone sculpture (mainly marble), a pointing process was in use by the early first century. The copyist set up an open framework round his model and an identical one round the block he was working on, measured the distance from the framework of chosen points on his model and again by measurement marked their position on or in his block, and then carved by eye the surfaces between the points, more or less completing one part of the figure before going on to the next. Since ancient copyists used far fewer points than their modern counterparts, the accuracy of the detail was less. There are a few excellent marble copies, but most are hackwork, harshly neglecting all subtleties in the modelling of the surface.

Presumably for cheapness, bronze originals were often reproduced in marble, with some consequent adjustments. Since the lashes of the eye cannot be carved in marble, the edges of the lids were made heavier, tufts of hair tended to be flattened, and probably the musculation was given higher relief. Possibly too, some poses were modified, though the copyists were free enough in their use of struts and stumps, as much for safety in transport as to give stability to the figure or to prevent outstretched parts from breaking by their unsupported weight. To judge by the location of their originals and by the kinds of marble that were used, most of the earlier copies were made in Greece and the Aegean, particularly at Athens.

For a list of the best statues, statuettes and reliefs produced during the period of Classical Antiquity, see: Greatest Sculptures Ever. For a guide to Neoclassicism, see: Neoclassical sculptors.

Hellenistic sculptors made no change in the technique of carving marble, except for the new procedure for working from a model, which may in the first century have been used for some original works as well as for copies. At its best, the standard of finish was still equal to that of Classical work, though the marks of the running drill often show more obtrusively. With minor sculpture much more negligence was tolerated, in design as well as in execution, partly perhaps because the Italian and Roman customers, who were becoming important in the later second century had little artistic experience or discrimination. For the colouring of marble there is evidence from sarcophagi and caskets (or 'urns') made in Etruria and Carthage, and from Greek statues and reliefs found in Delos and Alexandria. As might be expected, practice was not uniform some sculpture was fully coloured, some more discreetly, and it seems that the two systems were concurrent. There was also more gilding of marble, especially for hair. (See: Metalwork for more on gilding.) In bronze statuary the only innovation claimed, is that in some bronze portrait heads the features show the effects of modelling rather than of carving, and from this it has been inferred that a softer medium than before was used in the preliminary work.

[Note: For information about ceramics from ancient Greece, including the Geometric, Black-figure, Red-figure and White-ground technique, see: Greek Pottery: History & Styles.]

Dating and Chronology

As with much ancient art, we are short of fixed dates for Classical sculpture, but shorter still for Hellenistic. Nor have we as much information recorded about sculptors and their works, since Pliny leaves a gap in his account between 296 and 156 BCE, when he says the art was in abeyance. The Tyche (or Fortune) of Antioch, of which we have three miniature versions, should have been made very soon after the foundation of that city in 300 BCE. The marble statue of Themis from Rhamnus, an original work of Chairestratos, son of Chairedemos, may be put in the late fourth or early third century, if (as is likely) it was the sculptor's father who is mentioned in an inscription of 315 BCE. The posthumous portrait of Demosthenes, of which copies have survived, was made around 280 BCE, according to literary sources. The seated Dionysus from the monument of Thrasyllos at Athens ought to be a dedication for a victory in the dramatic festival of 271 BCE. The Nike of Samothrace was set up about 200 BCE, to judge by pottery found round its base, and some fragments of pedimental sculpture from the same island have been dated, also by pottery, to the later second century. Delos acquired a sudden prosperity after 166 BCE and still more after 146, and was sacked in 88 and ruined finally in 69, so that much of its sculpture can be dated to the late second or early first century and some of it because of inscriptions still more closely. The sculptors of the Laocoon, unless there was an improbably complex repetition of names, were (so inscribed records show) well known by 21 BCE.

Note About Art Evaluation
In order to appreciate Greek sculptors, see: How to Appreciate Sculpture. For later works, please see: How to Appreciate Modern Sculpture.

A little help, especially for draped female statues, can be obtained from comparisons with terracotta figurines found in datable contexts, and there is some vague utility in the style of lettering on bases of statues and for architectural sculpture in the style of the buildings they adorned. All considered it is not surprising that, at present, experts may differ by a hundred years or more in their dating of particular pieces, and because of the character of much Hellenistic production it would even be suspicious if there was ever full agreement.

Resources
For articles about the visual arts of Ancient Greece, see:

• For the origins and evolution of three-dimensional art, see: Sculpture History.
• For more about the evolution of the visual arts, see: History of Art.
• For more about Hellenism in Ancient Greek sculpture, see: Homepage.


In Summary

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Watch the video: Women in Ancient Greece