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Overlooked Athens: 5 Ancient Sites › Origins

Ancient Civilizations

Author: Jasmine Sahu

For centuries, the Parthenon has been Athens ' biggest tourist magnet. Pausanias gushed over it in the 2 nd century CE, Elgin coveted it, Byron mourned for it, and countless tour groups and camera-toting enthusiasts swarm over it today. But stunning as it undoubtedly is, there are other sites dotted around the city which almost no one takes the time to visit. Un-ticketed and largely deserted, these offer you a more intimate experience of the ancient city.

Excavation under the Acropolis Museum


The remains of Koile Deme, one of the ancient districts of the city, can be seen on the west side of Filopappou Hill. You can reach it from the drop off point beneath the Parthenon by putting the Acropolis behind you and walking up the beautifully paved path directly ahead. After a short climb, you come across two paths on the right. Take the second and turn immediately left down a rocky, sandy path. This is Koile.
At first glance, there might not seem to be much there, but when you look closer you'll see the remains of a road with grooves cut into it for the passage of wagon wheels and a water channel running alongside. Further down the slope there's the unmistakable shape of houses carved into the sides of the valley and even a staircase. There are no ropes separating you from the remains here – you can wander about freely, trying to imagine this bustling street at its height. It was once protected by the Long Walls, a set of fortifications established by Themistocles to guard the route from the Acropolis to the port of Athens at the Piraeus, hence the remains of the road you can see.

Koile Deme

After the war with Sparta the walls were torn down and when the next threat appeared, namely Philip II of Macedon ( Alexander the Great ’s Dad), Koile was left outside the new defences and abandoned. It was later used as a burial site and you can also make out the remains of graves, sometimes overlapping the walls of houses. The path leading down the valley is dotted with several information boards to help you make out what you can see.


If you return up the slope from Koile, you'll see a rock-cut tomb ahead of you on the main pathway. This is the tomb of Cimon (Kimon), a victor in the chariot -races at the Olympic Games in 536, 532 and 528 BCE. Legend (and Herodotus ) has it that he was murdered by Athens' last tyrants, Hippias and Hipparchus, but there is some doubt over whether this is true. He was (definitely) the father of Miltiades (famous for his part in the victory at Marathon ) and grandfather of the Athenian general Cimon (also famous for victories over the Persians). The tomb is empty now, but if you imagine the road through Koile passing by it, you can imagine how prominent a position it would have had in ancient times. No sign of the Olympic winning horses that were supposed to be buried opposite him though.

Cimon's Tomb


Turning with your back to Cimon's tomb, you'll see another path leading up the hill ahead of you, to the right of the turning you took to Koile. If you follow this path up and take a right through a gate (which stands permanently open) you will find yourself on the Pnyx. Follow the path as it rises through trees until you see an open plateau on your right. The view of the Acropolis is utterly stunning from here and you get a true sense of how it rises dramatically above the city.

View of the Acropolis from Pnyx

This plateau is actually the assembly of the people, as a small information panel will tell you. You can see a speaker's platform cut into the rock with some steps leading up to it. From this spot, Themistocles argued for building the fleet that would eventually win the Battle of Salamis, defeating the might of the Persian navy. From here Pericles won approval to rebuild the Acropolis, creating the monument we can (sort of) see today. It is a truly magnificent spot. Some pictures on the information panel help you to reconstruct the semi-circular seating that would once have faced the speaker's platform. Unfortunately, the platform is the only part of the monument that you can't walk on, but I recommend standing at its base and looking out – the power of the position is overwhelming.

Speaker's Platform at the Athenian Assembly


If you return down the path towards Cimon's tomb and turn left, you will soon see another little path going off to your right. This leads towards what is reputed to be the prison in which Socrates was held. On the spot, you are faced with three cave-like openings in the rock face which have been sealed off with iron bars. Shallow square holes in the façade suggest buildings once projected outwards, supported by timber – as indeed an information panel to the left will tell you. The designation as the prison of Socrates, the philosopher who was notoriously tried for 'corrupting the youth of Athens and denying the existence of the Gods', found guilty and executed with hemlock poisoning in 399 BCE, is rather late in origin, making it highly questionable.Nevertheless, it is only a small detour on your route and worth looking at, if only to mitigate the awe you might feel at the assembly and the Agora. Athenian democracy may have been a fantastic innovation, but it had its nasty side as well.

Socrates' Prison


Returning to the drop off point below the Acropolis, you can turn right and follow the Dionysiou Areopagitou along the bottom of the south slope towards the Acropolis Museum. The museum itself is a triumph. It is beautifully arranged inside and also very mindful of the landscape on which it rests, despite its ultra-modern look. For, underneath the museum, are the remains of another deme of the city which was excavated in 1997 when the Museum was about to be built. The area makes visible several different periods of Athens' history, although the late antique period is most obvious, with several rooms displaying intricate mosaic flooring. Unfortunately, you need to go inside the museum to get much information about the site, but as entry is only €5 the inconvenience is slight.
Look out for the round room with a circular pool in the middle that is directly in front of the museum entrance, the entrance hall of a building from the 7 th century CE. Tourists annoyingly flick coins into the pool, although I can only think that the museum must benefit from the extra income. Inside the museum, a glass floor allows you to see more of the excavation underneath. In the gallery of the Acropolis slopes, keep looking down to see a 3 rd century 'engainion' that is housed within the floor. An engainion is a burned offering that was made by ancient Greeks when a new building was founded to bless the structure, and then buried in the foundations. It is very fitting that the museum has recycled one to bless the new incarnation of the site.

Acropolis Museum, Athens

Whilst you are in Athens, the Ancient Agora, featuring the best-preserved temple in the ancient Greek world, the Library of the Emperor Hadrian, the Roman Agora, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus (which is only a little further on from the excavation under the museum) are all definitely worth a visit. So too is the Acropolis, despite the scaffolding that currently hides the front of the Parthenon. The big attractions are big attractions for a reason, and with a combined ticket that will get you into most of them over 5 days, it's very reasonably priced. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the exclusivity of the sites above, the sense of experiencing something that most tourists don't take the time to discover. Athens might be one of the world's major tourist hot spots, but it still has secrets to deliver.

Ancient Crete › Origins

Definition and Origins

Author: Mark Cartwright

Crete is an island in the eastern Mediterranean which during the Bronze Age produced the influential Minoan civilization with its distinctive architecture and art. An important member of the Greek world in the Archaic period, Crete dipped a little in significance during the Classical period but was again a major cultural centre in Roman times when it was a province within the Roman empire and centre of early Christianity. The island today has many archaeological sites of note which include Knossos, Phaistos, and Gortyn, all with significant architectural remains as compelling evidence of Crete's long and varied history.


The earliest evidence of habitation on the island goes back to at least 7,000 BCE when settlers from Anatolia arrived but its first recognisable culture was the Minoans who would provide some of antiquity's most recognisable legends, architecture and artworks, as well as going on to influence many subsequent Mediterranean civilizations. The Minoans rose to prominence from around 2000 BCE, and they would be one of the most successful Mediterranean trading cultures of the Bronze Age.Agriculture and trade allowed the formation of large centralised centres at Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, Zakros, and other sites where grand palatial buildings were constructed and local trade was centralised. These structures were two or three stories high, spread over several thousand square metres, and decorated with fine frescoes. It seems likely that some sort of central administration organised the gathering and storage of materials such as wine, oil, grain, precious metals, and ceramics. The Linear A script, as yet undeciphered, is another indicator of a sophisticated political and trading culture. A relatively peaceful relationship between centres is suggested by the lack of fortification walls, although finds of arrow heads, armour and helmets point to some preoccupation with martial affairs.
The Minoan palaces show evidence of destruction by earthquake c. 1700 BCE, after which they were rebuilt. The palaces were well-appointed, monumental structures with large courts, colonnades, staircases, religious crypts, light-wells, drainage systems, extensive storage magazines for large ceramic pithoi containers, and even 'theatre' areas for public spectacles. The complexity of these palaces, the sport of bull-leaping, the worship of bulls as indicated by the presence throughout of sacred bulls' horns and depictions of double axes (or labrys ) all probably gave rise to the legend from Greek mythology of King Minos, ruler of Knossos, and the Athenian hero Theseus who killed the minotaur which dwelt in the labyrinth of the same city. Other features of the Minoan religion besides bulls include the prominence of Nature and fertility goddesses, best seen in voluptuous faience figurines holding snakes.

Palace of Malia

The Athenian Theseus myth and others, such as Rhea hiding a young Zeus in a cave on Crete, point, as do archaeological finds across the Aegean, to Crete's influence on the wider world. The island's prosperity based on sea trade is attested not only by its monumental architecture but also a flourishing of the arts as best seen in Minoan frescoes, ceramics, jewellery, and figurines. Trade relations are known with Thera, Rhodes, Egypt, the Near East, Cyprus, and the Cyclades, amongst others.
A second wave of earthquakes and destructive fires occurred between 1500 BCE and 1450 BCE which seems to have definitively ended the Minoan presence on Crete. The island may also have suffered a tsunami following the eruption of Thera, although the date of this event is uncertain. The collapse of the Minoan centres, perhaps not coincidentally, was contemporary with the rise of the Mycenaean civilization on mainland Greece. There is evidence that the Mycenaeans ruled at Minoan sites between 1450 and 1380 BCE. Knossos was again destroyed c. 1380 BCE and never rebuilt. By 1200 BCE many of the Minoan settlements had been abandoned.

Griffin Fresco, Knossos, Crete


There are no surviving written records of activities on the island between 1200 and 800 BCE but it is known that Dorian-speaking immigrants settled on Crete in that period. Kommos became an important port with evidence of contact with the Greek mainland, Phoenicia, and the Near East, an influence also seen in language and art. New settlements prospered so that by 650 BCE the island boasted, according to Greek tradition, 100 poleis or city-states, many with temples, markets and urban planning. The number was more likely nearer 60 but, nevertheless, Crete was firmly established as an important region of the Greek world, albeit one more disconnected than most others.
Legal texts, the most famous and longest being the law code of Gortyn (c. 450 BCE), show that Cretan cities were composed of various classes of peoples including slaves and foreigners, and had a concern for justice, especially in the fields of family and property law. As with the classic polis model of the Greek mainland, a landed citizenry made up an armed force of hoplites when required and the population as a whole was ruled by an aristocracy which presided over a popular assembly of government. Traditional tribal leaders and noble families would have monopolised public positions, including those related to religious activities which followed the polytheistic pantheon and practices of the Greek mainland.

The Law Code of Gortyn, Crete

The very fact that Crete is an island limited its role in Greek regional affairs during the Classical period (600-450 BCE), but Cretan towns did provide warriors – Cretan mercenary slingers and archers being especially highly esteemed – for such conflicts as the Peloponnesian Wars and the campaigns of Alexander the Great and his successors. From the 3rd to 1st century BCE, the formation of a Cretan Federation seems to have done little in arresting the island's general decline into relative obscurity. Many people emigrated to the Greek mainland while Crete now earned a reputation for piracy, a practice which eventually brought about two wars with that other Mediterranean island built on trade: Rhodes (206-204 BCE and 155-153 BCE).
A civil war erupted between the island's three main cities - Gortyn, Knossos, and Lyttos - between c. 222 and 219 BCE. Philip V of Macedon was courted as an ally, but taking advantage of the political weaknesses of the Cretan cities, it was Ptolemy VI who established a garrison in eastern Crete. However, this did not stop the continued civil war between rival cities which rumbled on throughout the 2nd century BCE. A peace was finally established in 110 BCE when the Mediterranean's new superpower Rome stepped into local affairs.


In the Roman period Cretan piracy was still rife, and it would take two wars in 71 and 69-67 BCE before the ever-determined Romans could finally stamp it out. Crete, thereafter, became something of a pawn in wider Roman regional politics as the Republic went through its death throes. In 36 BCE, for example, Mark Antony gave the island to Cleopatra as a gift. With the succession of Augustus, though, Crete was officially incorporated into the Roman empire. The emperor created a colony at Knossos, and the city, along with the island in general, benefitted from an influx of immigrants which brought a prosperity Crete had not seen for centuries. Prominent settlers included veterans from the legions, traders, and Jews in what became a thriving Roman province with its governor residing at Gortyn. At least 15 cities prospered in this period, oil and wine production increased massively, amphitheatres, temples, Roman baths and aqueducts were built, and the island minted its own coinage. The famed Cretan archers became an important fixture in the Roman army across the empire, but no Roman troops were stationed on Crete itself.

Gortyn, Crete

An early Christian community was established at Gortyn c. 60 CE whose first bishop was Titus, a disciple of Saint Paul.Gortyn, in particular, thrived with a population reaching 300,000 and its status confirmed as a major Roman town when the future emperor Trajan was appointed quaestor there in 81 CE. The 3rd century CE saw several infamous persecutions of Christians including ten martyrs during a wild animal hunt in Gortyn's amphitheatre in 249 CE. When the Roman Empire split into two, Crete was made part of the Eastern empire although the Christian church was under the jurisdiction of the Pope at Thessaloniki. The island continued to prosper throughout this period until the Byzantine era when it faced repeated Arab raids and, ultimately, full conquest c. 827 CE.

Ancient Greece › Origins

Definition and Origins

Author: Joshua J. Mark

Greece is a country in southeastern Europe, known in Greek as Hellas or Ellada, and consisting of a mainland and an archipelago of islands. Greece is the birthplace of Western philosophy ( Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle ), literature ( Homer and Hesiod ), mathematics ( Pythagoras and Euclid ), history ( Herodotus ), drama ( Sophocles, Euripedes, and Aristophanes ), the Olympic Games, and democracy. The concept of an atomic universe was first posited in Greece through the work of Democritus and Leucippus. The process of today's scientific method was first introduced through the work of Thales of Miletus and those who followed him. The Latin alphabet also comes from Greece, having been introduced to the region by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BCE, and early work in physics and engineering was pioneered by Archimedes, of the Greek colony of Syracuse, among others.
Mainland Greece is a large peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean Sea (branching into the Ionian Sea in the west and the Aegean Sea in the east) which also comprises the islands known as the Cyclades and the Dodecanese (including Rhodes ), the Ionian islands (including Corcyra ), the isle of Crete, and the southern peninsula known as the Peloponnese.
The geography of Greece greatly influenced the culture in that, with few natural resources and surrounded by water, the people eventually took to the sea for their livelihood. Mountains cover eighty percent of Greece and only small rivers run through a rocky landscape which, for the most part, provides little encouragement for agriculture. Consequently, the early Greeks colonized neighboring islands and founded settlements along the coast of Anatolia (also known as Asia Minor, modern day Turkey ). The Greeks became skilled seafaring people and traders who, possessing an abundance of raw materials for construction in stone, and great skill, built some of the most impressive structures in antiquity.


The designation Hellas derives from Hellen, the son of Deucalion and Pyrrha who feature prominently in Ovid 's tale of the Great Flood in his Metamorphoses. The mythical Deucalion (son of the fire-bringing titan Prometheus ) was the savior of the human race from the Great Flood, in the same way Noah is presented in the biblical version or Utnapishtim in the Mesopotamian one. Deucalion and Pyrrha repopulate the land once the flood waters have receded by casting stones which become people, the first being Hellen. Contrary to popular opinion, Hellas and Ellada have nothing to do with Helen of Troyfrom Homer's Iliad. Ovid, however, did not coin the designation. Thucydides writes, in Book I of his Histories:
I am inclined to think that the very name was not as yet given to the whole country, and in fact did not exist at all before the time of Hellen, the son of Deucalion; the different tribes, of which the Pelasgian was the most widely spread, gave their own names to different districts. But when Hellen and his sons became powerful in Phthiotis, their aid was invoked by other cities, and those who associated with them gradually began to be called Hellenes, though a long time elapsed before the name was prevalent over the whole country. Of this, Homer affords the best evidence; for he, although he lived long after the Trojan War, nowhere uses this name collectively, but confines it to the followers of Achilles from Phthiotis, who were the original Hellenes; when speaking of the entire host, he calls them Danäans, or Argives, or Achaeans.




Greek history is most easily understood by dividing it into time periods. The region was already settled, and agriculture initiated, during the Paleolithic era as evidenced by finds at Petralona and Franchthi caves (two of the oldest human habitations in the world). The Neolithic Age (c. 6000 - c. 2900 BCE) is characterized by permanent settlements (primarily in northern Greece), domestication of animals, and the further development of agriculture. Archaeological finds in northern Greece (Thessaly, Macedonia, and Sesklo, among others) suggest a migration from Anatolia in that the ceramic cups and bowls and figures found there share qualities distinctive to Neolithic finds in Anatolia. These inland settlers were primarily farmers, as northern Greece was more conducive to agriculture than elsewhere in the region, and lived in one-room stone houses with a roof of timber and clay daubing.
The Cycladic Civilization (c. 3200-1100 BCE) flourished in the islands of the Aegean Sea (including Delos, Naxos and Paros ) and provides the earliest evidence of continual human habitation in that region. During the Cycladic Period, houses and temples were built of finished stone and the people made their living through fishing and trade. This period is usually divided into three phases: Early Cycladic, Middle Cycladic, and Late Cycladic with a steady development in art and architecture. The latter two phases overlap and finally merge with the Minoan Civilization, and differences between the periods become indistinguishable.
The Minoan Civilization (2700-1500 BCE) developed on the island of Crete, and rapidly became the dominant sea power in the region. The term `Minoan' was coined by the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, who uncovered the Minoan palace of Knossos in 1900 CE and named the culture for the ancient Cretan king Minos. The name by which the people knew themselves is not known. The Minoan Civilization was thriving, as the Cycladic Civilization seems to have been, long before the accepted modern dates which mark its existence and probably earlier than 6000 BCE.
The Minoans developed a writing system known as Linear A (which has not yet been deciphered) and made advances in ship building, construction, ceramics, the arts and sciences, and warfare. King Minos was credited by ancient historians (Thucydides among them) as being the first person to establish a navy with which he colonized, or conquered, the Cyclades.Archaeological and geological evidence on Crete suggests this civilization fell due to an overuse of the land causing deforestation though, traditionally, it is accepted that they were conquered by the Mycenaeans. The eruption of the volcano on the nearby island of Thera (modern day Santorini) between 1650 and 1550 BCE, and the resulting tsunami, is acknowledged as the final cause for the fall of the Minoans. The isle of Crete was deluged and the cities and villages destroyed. This event has been frequently cited as Plato's inspiration in creating his myth of Atlantis in his dialogues of the Critias and Timaeus.

Death Mask of Agamemnon


The Mycenaean Civilization (approximately 1900-1100 BCE) is commonly acknowledged as the beginning of Greek culture, even though we know almost nothing about the Mycenaeans save what can be determined through archaeological finds and through Homer's account of their war with Troy as recorded in The Iliad. They are credited with establishing the culture owing primarily to their architectural advances, their development of a writing system (known as Linear B, an early form of Greek descended from the Minoan Linear A), and the establishment, or enhancement of, religious rites. The Mycenaeans appear to have been greatly influenced by the Minoans of Crete in their worship of earth goddesses and sky gods, which, in time, become the classical pantheon of ancient Greece.
The gods and goddesses provided the Greeks with a solid paradigm of the creation of the universe, the world, and human beings. An early myth relates how, in the beginning, there was nothing but chaos in the form of unending waters. From this chaos came the goddess Eurynome who separated the water from the air and began her dance of creation with the serpent Ophion. From their dance, all of creation sprang and Eurynome was, originally, the Great Mother Goddess and Creator of All Things.
By the time Hesiod and Homer were writing (8th century BCE), this story had changed into the more familiar myth concerning the titans, Zeus ' war against them, and the birth of the Olympian Gods with Zeus as their chief. This shift indicates a movement from a matriarchal religion to a patriarchal paradigm. Whichever model was followed, however, the gods clearly interacted regularly with the humans who worshipped them and were a large part of daily life in ancient Greece. Prior to the coming of the Romans, the only road in mainland Greece that was not a cow path was the Sacred Way which ran between the city of Athens and the holy city of Eleusis, birthplace of the Eleusinian Mysteries celebrating the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone.
By 1100 BCE the great Mycenaean cities of southwest Greece were abandoned and, some claim, their civilization destroyed by an invasion of Doric Greeks. Archaeological evidence is inconclusive as to what led to the fall of the Mycenaeans. As no written records of this period survive (or have yet to be unearthed) one may only speculate on causes. The tablets of Linear B script found thus far contain only lists of goods bartered in trade or kept in stock. No history of the time has yet emerged. It seems clear, however, that after what is known as the Greek Dark Ages (approximately 1100-800 BCE, so named because of the absence of written documentation) the Greeks further colonized much of Asia Minor, and the islands surrounding mainland Greece and began to make significant cultural advances. Beginning in c. 585 BCE the first Greek philosopher, Thales, was engaged in what, today, would be recognised as scientific inquiry in the settlement of Miletus on the Asia Minor coast and this region of Ionian colonies would make significant breakthroughs in the fields of philosophy and mathematics.

The Parthenon


The Archaic Period (800-500 BCE) is characterized by the introduction of Republics instead of Monarchies (which, in Athens, moved toward Democratic rule) organised as a single city-state or polis, the institution of laws (Draco's reforms in Athens), the great Panathenaeic Festival was established, distinctive Greek pottery and Greek sculpture were born, and the first coins minted on the island kingdom of Aegina. This, then, set the stage for the flourishing of the Classical Period of Greece given as 500-400 BCE or, more precisely, as 480-323 BCE, from the Greek victory at Salamis to the death of Alexander the Great. This was the Golden Age of Athens, when Pericles initiated the building of the Acropolis and spoke his famous eulogy for the men who died defending Greece at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE. Greece reached the heights in almost every area of human learning during this time and the great thinkers and artists of antiquity ( Phidias, Plato, Aristophanes, to mention only three) flourished. Leonidas and his 300 Spartans fell at Thermopylae and, the same year (480 BCE), Themistocles won victory over the superior Persian naval fleet at Salamis leading to the final defeat of the Persians at Plataea in 379 BCE.
Democracy (literally Demos = people and Kratos = power, so power of the people) was established in Athens allowing all male citizens over the age of twenty a voice in government. The Pre-Socratic philosophers, following Thales' lead, initiated what would become the scientific method in exploring natural phenomena. Men like Anixamander, Anaximenes, Pythagoras, Democritus, Xenophanes, and Heraclitus abandoned the theistic model of the universe and strove to uncover the underlying, first cause of life and the universe.
Their successors, among whom were Euclid and Archimedes, continued philosophical inquiry and further established mathematics as a serious discipline. The example of Socrates, and the writings of Plato and Aristotle after him, have influenced western culture and society for over two thousand years. This period also saw advances in architecture and art with a movement away from the ideal to the realistic. Famous works of Greek sculpture such as the Parthenon Marbles and Discobolos (the discus thrower) date from this time and epitomize the artist's interest in depicting human emotion, beauty, and accomplishment realistically, even if those qualities are presented in works featuring immortals.
All of these developments in culture were made possible by the ascent of Athens following her victory over the Persians in 480 BCE. The peace and prosperity which followed the Persian defeat provided the finances and stability for culture to flourish.Athens became the superpower of her day and, with the most powerful navy, was able to demand tribute from other city states and enforce her wishes. Athens formed the Delian League, a defensive alliance whose stated purpose was to deter the Persians from further hostilities.
The city-state of Sparta, however, doubted Athenian sincerity and formed their own association for protection against their enemies, the Peloponnesian League (so named for the Peloponnesus region where Sparta and the others were located).The city-states which sided with Sparta increasingly perceived Athens as a bully and a tyrant, while those cities which sided with Athens viewed Sparta and her allies with growing distrust. The tension between these two parties eventually erupted in what has become known as the Peloponnesian Wars. The first conflict (c. 460-445 BCE) ended in a truce and continued prosperity for both parties while the second (431-404 BCE) left Athens in ruins and Sparta, the victor, bankrupt after her protracted war with Thebes.
This time is generally referred to as the Late Classical Period (c. 400-330 BCE). The power vacuum left by the fall of these two cities was filled by Philip II of Macedon (382-336 BCE) after his victory over the Athenian forces and their allies at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BCE. Philip united the Greek city states under Macedonian rule and, upon his assassination in 336 BCE, his son Alexander assumed the throne.

Alexander the Great


Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE) carried on his father's plans for a full scale invasion of Persia in retaliation for their invasion of Greece in 480 BCE. As he had almost the whole of Greece under his command, a standing army of considerable size and strength, and a full treasury, Alexander did not need to bother with allies nor with consulting anyone regarding his plan for invasion and so led his army into Egypt, across Asia Minor, through Persia, and finally to India. Tutored in his youth by Plato's great student Aristotle, Alexander would spread the ideals of Greek civilization through his conquests and, in so doing, transmitted Greek philosophy, culture, language, and art to every region he came in contact with.
In 323 BCE Alexander died and his vast empire was divided between four of his generals. This initiated what has come to be known to historians as the Hellenistic Age (323-31 BCE) during which Greek thought and culture became dominant in the various regions under these generals' influence. After a series of struggles between the Diodachi (`the successors' as Alexander's generals came to be known) General Antigonus established the Antigonid Dynasty in Greece which he then lost. It was regained by his grandson, Antigonus II Gonatus, by 276 BCE who ruled the country from his palace at Macedon.
The Roman Republic became increasingly involved in the affairs of Greece during this time and, in 168 BCE, defeated Macedon at the Battle of Pydna. After this date, Greece steadily came under the influence of Rome. In 146 BCE the region was designated a Protectorate of Rome and Romans began to emulate Greek fashion, philosophy and, to a certain extent, sensibilities. In 31 BCE Octavian Caesar annexed the country as a province of Rome following his victory over Mark Antonyand Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium. Octavian became Augustus Caesar and Greece a part of the Roman Empire.


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