|Bust of Alexander the Great|
Shifting alliancesThe historian Robin Lane Fox states:
‘The forty years or so which followed the Spartans’ unlikely victory over the Athenians are a kaleidoscope of wars, ever-changing alliances and brief bouts of supremacy for one or other major power in Greece.’The great days of Athens were over. By 403 perhaps half of her male citizenry was dead, down to around 25,000. The city was no longer a magnet for visiting intellectuals. However the ideals of Athens did not die. The Athenian achievements in sculpture and the theatre spread to other parts of Greece and other states attempted to copy the democratic model.
Once more Spartan arrogance led to the formation in 377 of an anti-Spartan coalition led by Athens. As Sparta became increasingly beleaguered the influence of Thebes grew and they defeated the Spartans at Leuctra in Boeotia in 371, the worst military defeat Sparta had ever experienced. In the winter of 470 the Thebans under Epaminondas invaded Sparta and the enslaved helots were able to group themselves as a free community.
Philip of MacedonIn 360/59, while the Greek states were distracted by their wars, the twenty-four year old King Philip II came to power in Macedon. Macedon, with its capital at Pella, was a patchwork of little kingdoms. The Macedonians were Greek in origin and though regarded as backward by the other Greeks who sometimes referred to them as barbarians because they found their version of Greek hard to follow. Archaeology has shown that their dominant culture was Greek, though it had incorporated barbarian elements, such as the gift of a gold cup to reward a barbarian ally who cut of an enemy’s head in battle. Unlike contemporary Greeks, Philip was polygamous. He eventually had seven wives, three of whom were non-Greek. His final infatuation was with the young Macedonian, Cleopatra.
|Macedon and its neighbours at the|
time of the death of Philip
Alexander the Great
|A recreation of Persepolis in modern Iran|
|Map of Alexander's empire at its height|
The Hellenistic ageThe period after Alexander's death is known as the Hellenistic age, a period when Graeco-Macedonian autocrats dominated the cities of the former Persian Empire. These territories were given unity by the koine, the common tongue, a language based on Attic Greek. The central position was held by the Macedonian Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt and the outlying territories.
The fall of Athens
|Sulla (minus nose)|