Greek History can be divided into 4 eras:
- The Dark Ages, c. 1300 - 900 BC.
- The Archaic (or Ancient) Period, c. 900 - 500 BC.
- The Classical Period, c. 500 - 360 BC.
- The Hellenistic Period C. 360 - 146 BC
The early Mediterranean civilizations had already built up a fairly developed infrastructure by the Middle Bronze Age.
However, the entire Meditarranean area suffered a massive collapse during the latter part of the Bronze age, (c. 1100 BC) Scholars can
only wonder at the causes of this collapse, but
generally agree that it was sudden, violent and cataclysmic. They cite a combination of factors,
including marauding Sea Peoples, plagues, famine, and earthquakes. This sudden collapse led to the Dark Ages, a time of decreased literacy, population, and industry.
It would take several centuries for these civilizations to recover and begin to reach their fromer level of population and production.
But by the the 8th century BC, several Greek city-states such as Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebe, began to form.
This colonization of the Mediterranean Basin ushered in the Archaic Period of Ancient Greece.
The Archaic Period covered the time of Greek history from the Dark Ages, to the Classical Period.
The Greek Dark Ages of the 13th–9th centuries BC was also known as the Homeric Age, after the
Greek poet, Homer. He was most famous for his epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey.
Greek politics, economics, international relations, warfare, and culture were being developed suring the Archaic perios, and
would be further refined during the following Classical period.
The Classical period of Greek history began with the Greco-Persian Wars (c.499 -449 BC)
and lasted most of the 5th to 4th centuries BC. This Classical period saw Greece becoming subject to the Persian (Archaemenid) Empire.
Classical Greece had a powerful influence on the later Roman Empire and is considered the foundations of western civilization.
Even to this day, much of our modern Western politics, architecture, sculpture,
scientific thought, theatre, literature, and philosophy derives from this period of Greek history.
The Classical period followed the Archaic period, and was in turn followed by the Hellenistic period, ushered in by Alexander the Great.
Prior to the 4th century BC, Macedonia was only a small kingdom dominated by the greater city-states of
Athens, Sparta, and Thebes. Macedonia had also been briefly subordinate to Achaemenid Persia. However,
Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, led massive military campaigns and eventually subdued mainland Greece and Thrace.
He also defeated the old powers of Athens and Thebes.
Later, Alexander accomplished his father's objective of commanding the whole of Greece when he
put down another rebellion in Thebes, utterly destroying that city.
Under Alexander the Great, Hellenistic civilization flourished. His kingdom spread from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea.
In subsequent military campaigns, he succeeded in overthrowing the Achaemenid Empire, thus reigning territory that stretched as far as the
Indus River. For a brief period, his Macedonian empire was the most powerful in the world.
It ws during Alexander's reign that Greek arts and literature were at their finest . Advances in philosophy, engineering,
and science spread throughout much of the rest of the world. The wise Greek philopsopher Aristotle, who tutored the young Alexander, was
an major contributor to the development of Western philosophy.
The Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquest of Greece by the Roman Empire in 146 BC
Kings of the Greek Empire, from the beginning of the Hellenistic age:
I. Phillip II – 359-336 BC: Philip was the youngest son of the king Amyntas III and Eurydice I.
As a young man Philip was held as a hostage in Thebes, where he received a military and diplomatic education. Philip returned to Macedon.
In 364 BC.
Following the deaths of his elder brothers, King Alexander II and Perdiccas III.
he was appointed regent for his infant nephew Amyntas IV, who was the son of Perdiccas III, Philip succeeded in taking the kingdom for himself
that same year, becoming king of Macedonia in 359 BC. Philip II was twenty-four years old when he acceded to the throne
Philip had married Audata, great-granddaughter of the Illyrian king of Dardania, Bardyllis, and the mother of Cynane. However, this did not prevent him from marching against
the Illyrians in 358 and crushing them in a ferocious battle in which some 7,000 Illyrians died.
In 357 BC, Philip married the Epirote princess Olympias, who was the daughter of the king of the Molossians, and the mother of Alexander the Great and Cleopatra.
Alexander was born in 356, the same year as Philip's racehorse won at the Olympic
Games. Philip's other wives included: Phila of Elimeia;
Nicesipolis of Pherae, Thessaly, mother of Thessalonica;
Philinna of Larissa, mother of Arrhidaeus (who was later called Philip III of Macedon);
Meda of Odessos, daughter of the king Cothelas, of Thrace; and
Cleopatra, daughter of Hippostratus and niece of general Attalus of Macedonia (whom Philip renamed Cleopatra Eurydice of Macedon).
In 342 BC, Philip II was off for three years of hard fought military campaigns, resulting in his
conquering all of the Greek city-states. successfully uniting all of Greece under his rule. While he was away, he appointed Antipater
to govern Macedon as his regent.
Antipater started as a great friend to both the young Alexander and the boy's mother, Olympias. After Philip's assissination in 336 BC.
Anitpater was instrumental in helping the 20-year-old Alexander in the struggle to secure his succession.
The young Alexander had been educated by the finest Greek teachers, including the
great philosopher Aristotle, and was already a seasoned warrior, having accompanied his father on military campaigns as a cavalry commander.
However, Phillip II had chosen to exclude Alexander from this invasion of Asia, instead leaving him behind to act as regent of Greece. This,
coupled with the fact that there was a strong possibility of Phillip II having another son with his new wife, Cleopatra Eurydice, caused many
to speculate that Alexander and his mother Olympias were involved in some manner in the assassination of Philip II. There was never any proof of such an accusation,
and most historians do not believe either of them were complicit in Philip's murder.
II. Alexander III The Great 336–323 BC: Son Of Philip II, Alexander the Great is credited for ushering in what is
known as the Hellenistic Age, the era of the Greek Empire’s greatest contributions to the world.
After his successful military campaigns in Asia, Alexander encouraged his men to marry native women in Asia.
Continuing the polygamous habits of his father, He himself married first Roxana, a Sogdian princess, then Stateira II, eldest daughter of Darius III, and Parysatis II, youngest daughter of
Artaxerxes III. Despite having several wives, he was accompanied on his poitical campaigns by a woman named Thais, who was a hertairai (a class of educated and refined upper-class
prostitutes) from the city of Athens. Whether or not she was his mistress is not clear, but she had enough influence to incite him to destroy the
Medo-Persian capital city of Persepolis as retribution for Xerxes' burning of the old Temple of Athena in 480 BC during the Persian Wars.
Thais was also a mistress of Ptolemy I, one of Alexander's generals who later inherited by part of the Greek Empire.
Alexander the Great died of a fever in
Babylon in 323 BC. His mother accused Antipater of poisoning him, but this was never determined. He left no legitimate heir, as his son Alexander IV by Roxane was not born until after his death.
By the time of his death, Alexander ruled over an empire consisting of mainland Greece, Asia Minor, the Levant,
ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, and much of Central and South Asia (i.e. modern Pakistan) . Throughout his military career, Alexander won
every battle that he personally commanded. Historians tell us that after conquering all the known worlds, us he wept, because there were no more
worlds for him to conquer.
After his victory in Egypt, Alexander began claiming
that his real father was Zeus, rather than Philip II.
Upon Alexander's death with no heir, the Macedonian military command became split, with one side proclaiming
Alexander's half-brother Philip III Arrhidaeus (r. 323 – 317 BC) as king and another siding with Alexander's infant son with Roxana, Alexander IV
(r. 323 – 309 BC) Eventually his empire was divided between
four of his generals, and many long years of fighting followed. These four generals were Lysimachus, Cassander, Seleucus, and Ptolemy. Lysimachus
received Thrace and most of Asia Minor. Cassander obtained Macedonia and Greece. Ptolemy was given Egypt, Palestine, Cilicia, Petra, and
Cyprus, while Seleucus controlled the rest of Asia: Syria, Babylon, Persia, and India. Two of the generals, Ptolemy and Seleucus, formed their own
dynasties. Ptolemy established the Ptolemy Dynasty in Egypt, and Seleucus took the Asian lands to form the Seleucid Dynasty.
III. Philip III (Arrhidaios) 323–317 BC: Son of Philip II and half brother of Alexander, Philip III was poisoned by
Alexander’s mother Olympias to eliminate him as her son’s rival and secure his claim to the throne. He survived the poisoning, but it left him mentally
and physically disabled. He reigned in name only, having no real political power. That belonged to the commander of the cavalry, Perdiccas, who served as Regent during this time.
IV. Alexander IV 323–310 BC: Infant son of Alexander Great and Roxanne, who was not born yet at the time of Alexander's
Because Roxana was pregnant when her husband died and the sex of the baby was unknown,
there was a power struggle in the Macedonian army regarding the order of succession. While the infantry supported the baby's uncle,
Philip III (who was physically and mentally disabled due to a failed poisoning assassignation attempt),
another faction led by Perdiccas, the commander of the elite Companion cavalry, persuaded them to wait in the hope that Roxana's unborn child would be male.
The factions compromised, deciding that Perdiccas would rule the Empire as regent while Philip would reign as king,
but only as a figurehead with no real power. If the child was male, he would then become king.
Alexander IV was born in August, 323 BC, and became king at that time, nominally reigning for the next 13 years.
V. Olympias 317–316 BC: Mother of Alexander, she ordered the murder of his half brother Arrhidios to secure her son’s throne. She also had his mother Eurydice (another wife of Philip II) and sister burned alive. She was a devout member of the snake-worshiping cult of Dionysus.
VI. Cassander 323–297 BC: One of the four generals of Alexander the Great who split his empire between themselves after his death.
Son of Antipater, the trusted friend of both Philip II and Alexander the Great.
Antiper served as regent of the entire Greek area under Philip II. died at the age of eighty in 319 BC, with his son Cassander by his side.
Controversially, Antipater did not appoint Cassander to succeed him as regent,
citing as the reason for his decision Cassander's youth (at the time of Antipater's passing, Cassander was in his 30s).
Instead, Antipater appointed the aged officer Polyperchon as regent, over his own son.
Cassander became indignant at this, believing that he'd earned the right to become regent by virtue of his loyalty and experience.
Thus he appealed to general Antigonus to assist him in overthrowing Polyperchon for the regency.
In 317 BC, after two years of war with Polyperchon, Cassander emerged victorious. Cassander would go on to rule Macedonia for nineteen years,
first as regent and later as king. He declared himself king in 305, after killing all the remaining members of Alexander’s family, including his mother Olympias, his wife Roxane, his son Alexander IV, and his illegitimate son Heracles.
VII. Ptolemy 323-283 BC: The second of Alexander the Great's four generals. Later given the surname “Soter”, meaning “Savior”, for his role in saving Egypt. Ruled Egypt at first in the name of the joint kings Philip III (Alexander’s half brother) and Alexander IV (Alexander’s infant son, who had not been born yet at the time of his death). He took the title of king in 305 BC,
establishing the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which would reign in Egypt for the nexxt three centureis.
VIII. Lysimachus 323 -281 BC:Lysimachus was born in 361 BC (or 355 BC) His father was a nobleman of high rank who was an intimate friend of Philip II of Macedon,
Lysimachus and his brothers grew up with the status of Macedonians; he and his brothers enjoyed prominent positions in Alexander III's circles,
and, like him, were educated at the Macedonian court in Pella. The third of Alexander's generals, he founded Lysimachia in 309 BC,
declaring himself king in 305 BC.
Lysimachus was first married c. 321 BC. to
Nicaea, daughter of the powerful Regent Antipater. They had three children: a son, Agathocles, and two daughters, Eurydice and Arsinoe I.
He then married the Persian Princess Amastris. in 302 BC, whom he divorced her in 300/299 BC.
He then married Arsinoe II in c. 300 BC, who remained with him until his death in 281 BC.
Arsinoe II bore Lysimachus three sons. Ptolemy I Epigonos, Lysimachus, and Philip. He also had a son by his concubine.
VIII. Seleucus 323-281 BC: The last of the generals, who was later given the surname “Nicator”, meaning “victor”, for his defeat of Antigonus in 301 BC. He founded the Seleucid Dynasty in Asia Minor. At his death, his son, Antiochus I succeeded to the throne.