Article

Greek History: Archaic to Classical Age

Jennifer Roberts

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online December 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0021
Greek History: Archaic to Classical Age

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The accomplishments of the ancient Greeks were remarkable. Without rich natural resources and hobbled by their endemic inability to stop fighting with one another, the Greek city-states nonetheless spread their civilization from Spain in the west to Pakistan in the east. It was in Greece that democracy first took root, and it was the Greeks who gave to the West many canonical forms of sculpture and architecture. Though the Greeks were eventually conquered politically by the Romans, their culture, as the Roman poet Horace pointed out, came out victorious: “Captive Greece took Rome, her captor, captive.” Greek culture continued to flourish for centuries after the Roman conquest and influenced the civilizations of Byzantium and the Muslim world. Today the Greek presence can be read in much of the vocabulary of Western languages and seen in the public buildings of Europe and the Americas. Periodization has traditionally divided the history of ancient Greece into the Bronze Age (c. 3000–1100 bce), the Iron Age (c. 1100–750 bce), the Archaic Age (c. 750–479 bce), the Classical Age (479–323 bce), and the Hellenistic Age (323–30 bce). Where archaeology is concerned, material remains, including inscriptions, continue to be discovered and to provide new fruit for analysis. In terms of literary texts, however, very little new evidence has come to light in recent centuries. New interpretations, therefore, are frequently the product of bringing new skills to bear on old evidence. Often these tools of analysis are adapted from fields such as anthropology, sociology, political science, and gender studies. On the whole, changing views of the Archaic Age are grounded in applying these tools to material remains, as very little that was written in this time period survives. A tremendous amount of writing, however, has survived from the Classical Age, and in total the database of Greek literary texts written down from the late 8th century bce through the 2nd century CE contains 20 million words.

Article.  12067 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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