Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Collapse of Ancient Greece

  1. #1
    Banned
    Join Date
    12 Jun 07
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    2,297

    Collapse of Ancient Greece

    Most civilizations collapse primarily due to internal pressures, with the external being only the spark to light the powder keg. However with Ancient Greece it seems like they were still on their upward spiral when they were gobbled up by Rome.
    Ancient Greece - history, mythology, art, culture and architecture.

    Anyone else find this strange?

  2. #2
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
    Join Date
    02 Aug 03
    Location
    Arlington, Virginia
    Posts
    10,132
    No, they weren't on an upward spiral, at least not in terms of power relative to their neighbors. Macedon made the error of allying themselves with Carthage during the Punic Wars to acquire Roman territory in Illyria.

    The Romans, while concentrating on Carthage for the moment, actively set about undermining and subverting Macedonian rule in the former Greek city-states, and were highly successful. The Romans thus had a toehold in Greece, and were welcomed by the Greek poleis as liberating them from Macedonian rule. Only after it was too late did the Greeks realize that not only did Rome seek the conquest of Macedon, they weren't leaving Greece either.

    The Romans had been content to let the Greeks govern themselves under Roman rule, but the Greeks rebelled. Rome completely destroyed Corinth in 146BC to set an example, in the fashion of Carthage. A revolt in 88BC was met with severe suppression, many Greeks were slaughtered, looted, sold into slavery, etc.

    The days of Alexander's Empire were long over, with it being divided under the Antigonids, Seleuicids, and Ptolemiacs for some time. Each of these successor dynasties slowly declined over time, and outsiders such as the Romans could easily employ such strategies as divide-and-conquer.

  3. #3
    Patron
    Join Date
    13 Jun 06
    Posts
    223
    IN addition, the Ptolomy Egypt was the last of the Hellinistic kingdoms to fall. Seleucid fell to a combined pressure from ROme in the East and Parthia in the West.

  4. #4
    Banned
    Join Date
    12 Jun 07
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    2,297
    So were the reasons for collapse primarily internal, with the external pressure only serving as a catalyst? Or was the collapse primarily due to external pressure, with internal dis-unity only being an added issue?

  5. #5
    Patron
    Join Date
    13 Jun 06
    Posts
    223
    Lets start with the defeat of the Persian invasion of Greece. Athens and Sparta became the dominant power, with Sparta dominating Hoplite warfare and the Peloponese peninsula and Athens having a naval "empire". The Peloponessian war saw the defeat of Athens and a Phyrric victory for Sparta. The war weakened the traditional powers of Greece (Athens and Sparta).

    Sparta was later defeated by Thebes in a battle with the Thebian general Epinomidas. This ended Sparta as a "superpower" forever. Epinomidas had a student, a Macedonian hostage prince called Phillip II. Phillip II later build the Macedonian war machine and with the help of his son Alexander, defeated the combined Athenian-Thebian army at the battle of Chaeronea. At this point Macedon was the master of all of Greece.

    Alexander conquered Persia and at his death, 3 generals divided his kingdom:
    The Antigonid Empire in Macedonia and Greece;
    The Seleucid Empire in Mesopotamia and Persia;
    The Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt, Palestine and Cyrenaica

    Through the years, these kingdom were gradually weakened by external and internal forces. The Seleucid Empire was defeated by Parthia in the east and Rome in the west. Antigonid Empire was defeated by Rome during the 3 Rome Macedonian wars, and Ptolemaic Egypt was defeated in the Battle of Actium and ended with Cleopatra's suicide.

    There were also other Hellinistic Kingdoms in the East:
    Greco-Bactrian Kingdom - founded by Alexander's veterans and the Indo Greek Kingdoms.

  6. #6
    Patron
    Join Date
    13 Jun 06
    Posts
    223
    Furthermore, the areas that Alexander invaded was throughly Hellinized. Greek became the language of the Elite even after the last of the MAcedonian kingdoms fell. Parthia left the Greek culture alone. It was not until the Sassanid empire, the true successor the the Persian Empire, overthrew the Parthians that they stamp out Greek culture for good.

  7. #7
    Banned
    Join Date
    12 Jun 07
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    2,297
    So it sounds like the Greek were simply defeated by overwhelming external powers, while their society, internally, was still strong. That's what I found strange about the whole issue. Normally a civilization collapses primarily due to internal issues.

  8. #8
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
    Join Date
    02 Aug 03
    Location
    Arlington, Virginia
    Posts
    10,132
    Furthermore, the areas that Alexander invaded was throughly Hellinized.
    No, they weren't. There was some adoption of Greek culture but the areas he conquered laregly retained their own languages, religions, and cultures. Aramaic, Farsi, and Coptic all survived as languages and were not replaced by Greek. The masses in Egypt still worshiped the old gods, though the elites did equate certain Egyptian gods with Greek gods. There were definitely Greek colonies and large populations within the areas conquered, but this doesn't mean those areas became Greek.

  9. #9
    Staff Emeritus
    Military Professional
    Contrary by Nature.
    zraver's Avatar
    Join Date
    22 Oct 06
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    13,491
    Greece and Greek culture died with Phillip the Great (external spark) after Athens and Sparta squandered Greek treasure and intellect. The Hellenic world had Greek over tones, but was never truly Greek but also greco-something.

    Greece's lasting legacy was in thought and world view.

  10. #10
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
    Join Date
    02 Aug 03
    Location
    Arlington, Virginia
    Posts
    10,132
    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Greece and Greek culture died with Phillip the Great (external spark) after Athens and Sparta squandered Greek treasure and intellect. The Hellenic world had Greek over tones, but was never truly Greek but also greco-something.

    Greece's lasting legacy was in thought and world view.
    Yeah, the Greeks did have a strong influence on philosophy. I'd argue there was a much greater influence westward with the Romans.

  11. #11
    Administrator
    Lei Feng Protege
    Defense Professional
    Join Date
    23 Aug 05
    Location
    Arlington, VA
    Posts
    11,153
    in addition to what zraver said,

    athenians and other greeks viewed the macedonians as one (very) small step above from the barbarians.

    if you told greeks back then how macedonians spread greek culture, they'd probably laugh their arse off.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."¯- Isaac Asimov

  12. #12
    Banned
    Join Date
    12 Jun 07
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    2,297
    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Yeah, the Greeks did have a strong influence on philosophy. I'd argue there was a much greater influence westward with the Romans.
    Well this can be viewed much like the renaissance. The Greeks were the cradle of Western civilization. (western isn't a very good term, but there isn't any other to describe the civilization centered around ordered society, technological and social progress, and powerful and well organized militaries) Western civilization disappeared after the collapse of the Romans only to resurface again with the Renaissance.

  13. #13
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
    Join Date
    02 Aug 03
    Location
    Arlington, Virginia
    Posts
    10,132
    So it sounds like the Greek were simply defeated by overwhelming external powers, while their society, internally, was still strong. That's what I found strange about the whole issue. Normally a civilization collapses primarily due to internal issues.
    No, Greece declined substantially. Alot. Their society was weakening, their cities were in decline, and had serious internal issues. Alexandria and Antioch become the new centers of Hellenic civilization.

    This doesn't mean that there was a unified Greek civilization, Alexander's Empire fragmented among the diadochi. Imagine the British Empire surging, the most powerful country in the world, and its former colony the United States picking up the pieces after WWII with Britain shrinking back to just the islands. That is somewhat analogous to what happened with Greece/Macedonia being surpassed by the Seleucid and Ptolemaic Empires.

    Well this can be viewed much like the renaissance. The Greeks were the cradle of Western civilization. (western isn't a very good term, but there isn't any other to describe the civilization centered around ordered society, technological and social progress, and powerful and well organized militaries) Western civilization disappeared after the collapse of the Romans only to resurface again with the Renaissance.
    By the time of the Greek conquest the center of power in the Western world shifted definitively to Rome. Western civilization never disappeared after the fall of the Roman Empire, it was transformed. Western civilization owes as much to the Medieval Germanics as it does to the Ancient Greeks and Romans. All of Europe except for southeastern Europe came to be ruled by a Germanic elite, including Spain, Italy, France, Russia, etc., and these migrations were instrumental in shaping the West as it is today.

  14. #14
    Senior Contributor Senior Contributor
    Join Date
    01 Aug 07
    Posts
    752
    The Greek Civilization was always plagued by its leaders treating a serious business (war) in a casual manner... it was the root of its political maladies. Conversely by divorcing its civilizational importance from political and military achievements, it managed to have a far greater impact than the limited domain of its hoplites' footprints would suggest. So it cannot complain too much.

  15. #15
    Regular
    Join Date
    30 Jan 04
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    74
    The Peloponnesian War has been called the "suicide of Greece". It went on for 27 years and the center of Greek culture, Athens, was humbled. Sparta, and later Thebes, could not replace that spark. The Athens of the 4th Century was fundamentally different than that of the 5th Century. Edith Hamilton's 1957 book on 4th Century Greece called The Echo of Greece contains sums up this change:
    “In the great days that followed after Salamis the spirit of Solon’s Athens persisted and even grew stronger. It was the Athenians’ pride and joy to give to their city. That they could get material benefits from her never entered their mind except, of course, a certain degree of safety behind her walls and her army. But the state was not an asset; they themselves were the state. There had to be a complete change of attitude before Athenians could look at the city as an employer who paid her citizens for doing her work, and the change went deep. Now instead of men giving to the state the state was to give to them. What the people wanted was a government which would provide a comfortable life for them, and with this as the foremost object ideas of freedom and self-reliance and service to the community were obscured to the point of disappearing. Athens was more and more looked on as a co-operative business possessed of great wealth in which all citizens had a right to share. The larger and larger funds demanded made heavier taxation necessary, but that troubled only the well-to-do, always a minority, and no one gave a thought to the possibility that the source might be taxed out of existence. Politics was now closely connected with money, quite as much as with voting. Indeed, the one meant the other. Votes were for sale as well as officials.

    “The whole process was clear to Plato. Athens had reached the point of rejecting independence, and the freedom she now wanted was freedom from responsibility. There could be only one result. ‘The excess of liberty in states or individuals,’ he said, ‘seems to pass into excess of slavery.’ If men insisted on being free from the burden of a life that was self-dependent and also responsible for the common good, they would cease to be free at all. Responsibility was the price every man must pay for freedom. It was to be had on no other terms.”


    They were already ripe for the picking when Philip II and Alexander of Macedon came down with Philip's "new model army" and defeated the combined armies of Thebes and Athens at Chaeronea in 338 BC. When Thebes later revolted, Alexander destoyed the entire city. In fact, it's been said that Alexander killed more Greeks in the course of his conquests than the Persians did in their invasions of the early 5th century.
    "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." - Emiliano Zapata

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Turkey threatens Greece with war
    By JG73 in forum Europe and Russia
    Replies: 131
    Last Post: 01 Oct 07,, 00:33
  2. US Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Crete
    By KORNET-E in forum Europe and Russia
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 27 Dec 06,, 17:40
  3. Rebirth of ANCIENT CIVILiZATIONS
    By veera8 in forum International Economy
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 16 Nov 06,, 05:19

Share this thread with friends:

Share this thread with friends:

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •