Ancient Greek culture arose in the mountains and valleys of Greece. Due to this, by the 8th century BC, they had formed into the Polis, or small, independent city states.
Homer’s Iliad appeared around this time, and a rich pantheon of gods existed such as the Titans. Rivalry led to the Olympic Games, and Greek culture expanded through trade and colonization throughout the Mediterranean.
By the 4th century BC Greece had a great philosophical tradition, reaching its height with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, building academies and even experimenting in democracy for a time, Athens reaching its Golden Age under Pericles. However, the Greeks came under increasing pressure from the Persians, and as dictatorial Sparta rose to prominence, they and the Athenians fought.
Throughout history weaponry had been vital to its progress. In the Fertile Crescent the iron sword was a technological masterpiece, easily beating the bronze. Chariots were also used during this period. By the time of the Greeks the heavy infantryman, or Hoplite, had appeared, fighting in an organized phalanx. Now, from the north of Greece, Philip of Macedon subjugated the region with his addition of light cavalry.
This was the birth of the Hellenic world, and his son, Alexander the Great, went on to create a huge empire, stretching south through the Middle East and Egypt, and east into India. Building the seat of learning of Alexandria, Alexander was cultured and determined to create a cosmopolitan culture. However, his early death led to the empire being split between his three main generals. One of them, Ptolomy, ruled Egypt, Cleopatra being the last of the Ptolomies. However, the Greeks were to be eclipsed by the Romans.
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