Ancient Greece 300bc to early AD

Greece-Classical Age (480-323 B.C.)

The Birth of the City-State- excerpts from ; history.com

During the so-called “Greek Dark Ages” before the Archaic period, people lived scattered throughout Greece in small farming villages. As they grew larger, these villages began to evolve. Some built walls. Most built a marketplace (an agora) and a community meeting place. They developed governments and organized their citizens according to some sort  of constitution or set of laws. They raised armies and collected taxes. And every one of these city-states (known as poleis) was said to be protected by a particular god or goddess, to whom the citizens of the polis owed a great deal of reverence, respect and sacrifice. (Athens’s deity was Athena, for example; so was Sparta’s.)

The term Ancient, or Archaic, Greece refers to the years 700-480 B.C

Classical Age (480-323 B.C.)

The term “classical Greece” refers to the period between the Persian Wars at the beginning of the fifth century B.C. and the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. The classical period was an era of war and conflict—first between the Greeks and the Persians, then between the Athenians and the Spartans

The Rise of Athens

 The defeat of the Persians marked the beginning of Athenian political, economic and cultural dominance. In 507 B.C., the Athenian nobleman Cleisthenes had overthrown the last of the autocratic tyrants and devised a new system of citizen self-governance that he called demokratia.

In the year 507 B.C,the Athenian leader Cleisthenes introduced a system of political reforms that he called demokratia, or “rule by the people” (from demos, “the people,” and kratos, or “power”). It was the first known democracy in the world.

               this Athenian democracy would survive for only two centuries

The Greek system of direct democracy would pave the way for representative democracies across the globe

        The End of Athenian Democracy

Around 460 B.C., under the rule of the general Pericles (generals were among the only public officials who were elected, not appointed) Athenian democracy began to evolve into something that we would call an aristocracy: the rule of what Herodotus called “the one man, the best.” Though democratic ideals and processes did not survive in ancient Greece, they have been influencing politicians and governments ever since.

Modern representative democracies, in contrast to direct democracies, have citizens who vote for representatives who create and enact laws on their behalf. Canada, The United States and South Africa are all examples of modern-day representative democracies. 

The Final End of Athenian Democracy - pbs.org

A year after their defeat of Athens in 404 BC, the Spartans allowed the Athenians to replace the government of the Thirty Tyrants with a new democracy. The tyranny had been a terrible and bloody failure, and even the Spartans acknowledged that a moderate form of democracy would be preferable.

As a system of government, democracy quickly spread to a number of other leading city-states, despite the authoritarian grip of Sparta on the Greek world. However, Sparta's dominance was not to last. Overextended and unable to adjust to new battle techniques, in 371 BC Spartan hoplites suffered their first major defeat in 200 years at the hands of the Theban general Epaminodas. Only a decade later Sparta had been reduced to a shadow of its former self.

But Thebes' dominance of Greece would be short-lived. A new power had begun to assert its leadership over the country: Macedonia. Once a backwater, the Macedonian king Philip II had turned his country into a military powerhouse. Philip's decisive victory came in 338 BC, when he defeated a combined force from Athens and Thebes. A year later Philip formed the League of Corinth which established him as the ruler, or hegemon, of a federal Greece.

Democracy in Athens had finally come to an end. The destiny of Greece would thereafter become inseparable with the empire of Philip's son: Alexander the Great.

The Thirty Tyrants (Ancient Greek: οἱ τριάκοντα τύραννοι, hoi triákonta týrannoi) were a pro-Spartan oligarchy installed in Athens after its defeat in the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC. Upon Lysander's request, the Thirty were elected as a government, not just as a legislative committee.[1] The Thirty Tyrants maintained power for eight months. Though brief, their reign resulted in the killing of 5% of the Athenian population, the confiscation of citizens' property, and the exile of other democratic supporters.[2] They became known as the "Thirty Tyrants" because of their cruel and oppressive tactics. The two leading members were Critias and Theramenes.[3]

Critias (/ˈkrɪtiəs/; Greek: Κριτίας, Kritias; c. 460 – 403 BC) was an ancient Athenian political figure and author. Born in Athens, Critias was the son of Callaeschrus and a first cousin of Plato's mother Perictione. He became a leading and violent member of the Thirty Tyrants. He also was an associate of Socrates, a fact that did not endear Socrates to the Athenian public.

Critias was noted in his day for his tragedies, elegies and prose works. Some, like Sextus Empiricus, believe that Critias wrote the Sisyphus fragment; others, however, attribute it to Euripides. His only known play is Peirithous, of which only a single 42-line fragment survives (Sextus Empir. p. 403, 1). In addition, eight shorter quotations from unidentified plays have come down to us. 

Theramenes (/θɪˈræmɪniːz/; Greek: Θηραμένης; died 404 BC) was an Athenian statesman, prominent in the final decade of the Peloponnesian War. He was particularly active during the two periods of oligarchic government at Athens, as well as in the trial of the generals who had commanded at Arginusae in 406 BC. A moderate oligarch, he often found himself caught between the democrats on the one hand and the extremist oligarchs on the other. Successful in replacing a narrow oligarchy with a broader one in 411 BC, he failed to achieve the same end in 404 BC, and was executed by the extremists whose policies he had opposed.

               The Athenian institution of democracy emerged in several stages- thought.co

 This occurred in response to political, social, and economic conditions. As was true elsewhere in the Greek world, the individual city-state (polis) of Athens had once been ruled by kings, but that had given way to an oligarchic government by archons elected from the aristocratic (Eupatrid) families.

With this overview, learn more about the gradual development of Athenian democracy. This breakdown follows sociologist Eli Sagan's model of seven stages, but others argue that there are as many as 12 stages of Athenian democracy.

Solon (c. 600 - 561)

Debt bondage and loss of holdings to creditors led to political unrest. The rich non-aristocrats wanted power. Solon was elected archon in 594 to reform the laws. Solon lived in the Archaic Age of Greece, which preceded the Classical period.

Tyranny of the Pisistratids (561-510) (Peisistratus and sons)

Benevolent despots took control after the compromise of Solon failed.

Moderate Democracy (510 - c. 462) Cleisthenes

The factional struggle between Isagoras and Cleisthenes following the end of the tyranny. Cleisthenes allied himself with the people by promising them citizenship. Cleisthenes reformed social organization and put an end to the aristocratic rule.

Radical Democracy (c. 462-431) Pericles

Pericles' mentor, Ephialtes, put an end to the Areopagus as a political force. In 443 Pericles was elected general and re-elected every year until his death in 429. He introduced pay for public service (jury duty). Democracy meant freedom at home and domination abroad. Pericles lived during the Classical period.

Oligarchy (431-403)

War with Sparta led to the total defeat of Athens. In 411 and 404 two oligarchic counter-revolutions tried to destroy democracy.

Radical Democracy (403-322)​

This stage marked a stable time with Athenian orators Lysias, Demosthenes, and Aeschines debating what was best for the polis.

Macedonian and Roman Domination (322-102)

Democratic ideals continued despite domination by outside powers.

An Alternative Opinion

While Eli Sagan believes Athenian democracy can be divided into seven chapters, classicist and political scientist Josiah Ober has a different view. He sees 12 stages in the development of Athenian democracy, including the initial Eupatrid oligarchy and the final fall of democracy to the imperial powers. For more details about how Ober came to this conclusion, review his argument in detail in Democracy and Knowledge. Below are Ober's divisions about the development of Athenian democracy. Note where they overlap with Sagan and where they differ. 

  1. Eupatrid Oligarchy (700-595)
  2. Solon and tyranny (594-509)
  3. Foundation of democracy (508-491)
  4. Persian Wars (490-479)
  5. Delian League and postwar re-building (478-462)
  6. High (Athenian) empire and struggle for Greek hegemony (461-430)
  7. Peloponnesian War I (429-416)
  8. Peloponnesian War II (415-404)
  9. After the Peloponnesian War (403-379)
  10. Naval confederation, social war, the financial crisis (378-355)
  11. Athens confronts Macedonia, economic prosperity (354-322)
  12. Macedonian/Roman domination (321-146)

Eli Sagan's

The perceived fragility of Athenian democracy

The year in which Socrates was prosecuted, 399, was one in which several other prominent figures were brought to trial in Athens on the charge of impiety. That is unlikely to have been a coincidence; rather, it suggests that there was, at the time, a sense of anxiety about the dangers of religious unorthodoxy and about the political consequences that religious deviation could bring. Two attempts to put an end to Athenian democracy had occurred in recent years, and the religious scandals of 415 were not so far in the past that they would have been forgotten.

The fact that one of those who assisted in the prosecution of Socrates and spoke against him—Anytus—was a prominent democratic leader makes it all the more likely that worries about the future of Athenian democracy lay behind Socrates’ trial. 

The fall of Olynthus (348 BC) brought Aeschines into the political arena, and he was sent on an embassy to rouse the Peloponnese against Philip II of Macedon.[1]

Aeschines went into voluntary exile at Rhodes (to avoid the judgement of the jury, which was likely a large sum of money), where he opened a school of rhetoric. He afterwards removed to Samos, where he died aged seventy-five. His three speeches, called by the ancients "the Three Graces," rank next to those of Demosthenes. Photius knew of nine letters by him which he called The Nine Muses; the twelve published under his name (Hercher, Epistolographi Graeci) are not genuine.[1] 

                                                                                 314 bc

          Macedonian and Roman Domination (322-102)

Ancient Macedonia, in stark contrast to the age of the Greek city-states, was a regional Greek (Macedonian ethnicity, not necesarily Greek) kingdom. It was located north-east of the Greek mainland and northwest of Asia Minor. Macedonians were the Greeks who had to contend with all of the many war-like European tribes. They served as a buffer for the people who dominated the history of the ancient Greek world, like the Athenians and Spartans, and stood between the tribal Europeans and the Greek city-states. While it left them, to some degree, independent of the politics and wars between those two rivals; the Macedonians were deeply unappreciated by their neighboring Greeks. They were looked on as no better than barbarians themselves, particularly since they had never developed or adopted the concept of the city-state, or polis, and were firmly entrenched as a kingdom.

Macedonian dominance of Greece, could have very well collapsed, it not for the succession of Philips' son, Alexander the Great. At the age of 21, he assumed his fathers kingdom, confirmed his own authority, and by 334 BC, continued the plans to conquer Persia. Asia Minor fell quickly, and with a defeat of the Persian King Darius, in 333 BC the conquest of the Phoenician coasts, Palestine and Egypt were secured. In 331 BC, Alexander again defeated Darius and the whole of the Persian Empire fell under Macedonian control. At its peak Alexander's Empire stretched from Greece in the west, to Egypt in the south and all the way into Mesopotamia, Scythia and India in the east. Before able to establish an heir and an effective consolidation of these conquests, he fell into a fever and died in 323 BC, at the age of 33.

With the death of Alexander, the newly won Macedonian Empire crumbled quickly. The east was Hellenized and its lasting effect can still be seen in the modern world, but Macedonian Kings would be limited to the control of their own Greek province thereafter.

The Parthian revival of the Persian Empire occurred in the third century b.c. In the course of the next century Rome began its expansion into the lands bordering the eastern Mediterranean. Attempts by the Macedonian kingdom to resist Roman domination were finally liquidated following Roman victories in 168 and 148 b.c. The Romans neither regarded, nor treated, their Macedonian rival lightly and set out systematically to eradicate every trace of its power and independence. Perseus, the last Macedonian king, was seized in 168 while claiming political sanctuary on Samothrace and, after the failure of the final bid to regain independence in 148, the whole of the surviving aristocracy and the chief military and civil officials were deported to Italy. The most important industries were forbidden ; the country was divided into four parts, and Macedonians forbidden to cross from one to another. Thus trade, as well as political control, fell largely into Roman hands. Quickly and brutally, the proud motherland of the empire which had reached to India was converted into a stagnant backwater of the Roman Empire.

In the civil wars of the late Roman Republic, Macedonian rule was thrown into doubt again. While still under the control of Romans, the Greek world would continue to fall back and forth under Pompey and then Caesar, and later under Antonius and Cleopatra. At the battle of Actium in 31 BC, off the shores of Epirus, Ocatavian, later Augustus, would ensure Roman dominance of the Greek world under a single Roman leader. During the Imperial period Macedonia was easily incorporated and it remained a bastion of Roman/Hellenized culture as a part of the Byzantine empire until the 11th century AD

                                            Paul the Apostle at Eastern Macedonia

Paul the Apostle at Eastern Macedonia East Macedonia has a special place in the history of Christianity. It is said that, during his Second Missionary Journey, circa 50 AD, Paul the Apostle saw a vision that led him to Macedonia, so to preach the word of God and introduce the sermons of Jesus Christ to Europe.- emtgreece.com

The church of Philippi

Apostle Paul founded this church in 50 AD and it was the first Greek-Orthodox church on European ground. At that time, the city of Philippi enjoyed fame and splendor due to the prevalence of the new religion and the transfer of the capital of the Roman state to Constantinople. This is a church that played an important role supporting Apostle Paul in his missionary journeys.

Moreover, it is worth mentioning that the Philippi church went through a number of administrative and organizational changes. Nowadays, it is the called the Holy Metropolis of Philippi, Neapolis and Thassos. It is based at the city of Kavala. In 1900, the local church has erected a temple, so as to honor the patron saint Apostle Paul, and celebrates his remembrance, as well as of Apostle Peter, on the 29th of June.