Article

Greek History: Hellenistic

Angelos Chaniotis

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online December 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0022
Greek History: Hellenistic

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The Hellenistic period, from the conquests of Alexander the Great (334 bce) to the conquest of the Ptolemaic kingdom by Rome (30 bce), marks the greatest expansion of Greek culture but also the beginning of a transformation of Greek political institutions, society, religion, and culture. Politically, this period saw the creation, conflicts, and decline of new kingdoms (Ptolemaic, Seleucid, Attalid, minor kingdoms in Asia Minor and the East), the domination of mainland Greece and the Aegean by the Antigonids of Macedonia and the federal states of the Aetolians and the Achaeans, and the expansion of Rome. Although the role of the poleis (Greek plural of “polis”) in “international” politics declined, the polis remained the predominant form of political organization, and many new poleis were founded. Major phenomena in social history are the preponderance of elites and benefactors, a stronger presence of women in public life, increased social complexity, and mobility. The incorporation of Egypt and of large areas in the East (up to the western border of India) into a political, economic, and social network resulted in an intensive exchange of ideas and mutual influence between the Greek and non-Greek cultures and in the development of new centers of culture. Because of the continual discovery of new texts (inscriptions and papyri), our understanding of this period changes faster and more substantially than that of earlier periods. For this reason, this bibliography lays emphasis on recent studies, in which one can find further bibliography and references to new source materials. English is not the lingua franca and not even the most important language for the study of Hellenistic history, and no profound study of the Hellenistic world should be attempted without reading knowledge of French, German, and Italian.

Article.  30938 words. 

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

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