Greece Notes How Did Geography Influence Greece? Land

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Greece Notes
How Did Geography Influence Greece?


  1. Few natural resources.

  1. Rugged mountains make unification difficult, resulting in

independent and isolated societies (difficult travel).
3) Rocky terrain leaves little fertile soil. This results in a limited

diet (grapes-olives-grain), a small population , and created a

need for colonies.

1) Transportation link to most parts of Greece.
2) Connected Greece to other societies through trade. Trade was

important to obtain the resources Greece did not have.

1) Mild temperatures led to an outdoor life for Greeks.
2) Men attended many public events.
3) Much government business was conducted outdoors.


  • Advanced civilization on Crete

  • This culture ended abruptly for unknown reasons

  • Mycenaean invasions kept them from rebuilding

Mycenaeans (3000BC – 1200 BC)

  • Some of the first settlers of Greece

  • Ruled by warrior kings and nobles

  • Invaded Crete and adopted Minoan traditions (trading, writing, art, legends)

  • Fought the Trojan War (10 yrs), which possibly aided in the collapse of Mycenaean civilization

Dorians (1200BC – 750 BC) - “Dark Ages” of Greece

  • Moved into Greece after Mycenaean collapse

  • Economy collapses, trade stops

  • Writing is lost. There are no written records for this time period. History is kept orally.


  • Blind poet who told epic stories (The Odyssey, The Iliad) about the Trojan War

  • Express Greek ideals of virtue, bravery, and excellence

  • Knowledge of this period comes from these stories


  • Traditional stories about the gods

  • Developed to help explain the mysteries of nature and human passions (Gods had human qualities: anger, jealousy, etc.)


  1. Only males participated in government (women were not citizens)

  2. Citizenship was severely restricted

  3. Slaves had no rights or freedoms. Slaves gave the Athenians time to participate in govt.

  4. Women were very isolated, had no education or role in public life

  • Still, Athenians had more rights than any other civilization of the time.

It was the first democracy.

Let’s take a look at life in Sparta for comparison…


  • Militaristic culture

  • Little interest in trade, the arts, or new ideas. Inflexible.

  • Boys were trained for a lifetime in the military. Hard exercise, coarse diet, rigid discipline

  • Girls were encouraged to be fit – to breed better soldiers

  • Women could inherit property; often ran households, since men were seldom home

As trade expanded, Greeks met more “barbarians” (non-Greek speaking people). Greeks viewed their culture as superior. Though different city-states were ruled differently and were constantly competing with each other, they did share a similar culture that would unite them later.
Despite differences in government, similar cultural heritage (language, religion, values, food, etc.) helps to define what is “Greek”. This allows them to unite against threats such as the Persian Empire.

The Persian Wars (490 BC to 479 BC)

What they were:


  • Greek city states in Asia Minor rebelled against Persian domination

  • Athens send ships to assist them

  • The rebellion fails, and Persia vows revenge for Athens’ interference


  • Athens wins the Battle of Marathon despite being greatly outnumbered, Persians retreat

  • Persians return 10 years later

  • Greeks beat Persia at Thermopylae, Salamis and Platea

  • War ends


  • City-states felt a new sense of confidence and freedom

  • Delian League is formed (city-states join together for defense). It is led by Athens

  • Athens emerges as the most powerful city state

  • Golden Age of Athens begins

The Golden Age of Athens

(also called The Age of Pericles)

What it was:

  • A growth in intellectual and artistic learning

  • Art, drama, philosophy, architecture and science flourish

How it happened:

  • Strong leader – Pericles – 3 Goals for Athens

Pericles 3 Goals
1) Stronger Democracy

  • Increased the number of paid public officials; the poor citizens could now take part in government

  • Direct democracy was introduced

2) Athenian Empire

  • Delian League money was used to support Athens’ navy

  • Strong navy helped enlarge and secure the Athenian empire

3) Glorify Athens

  • Delian League money was used to build the Parthenon and other buildings

  • Money was spent on gold, ivory, and marble for buildings and artwork


  • Developments in art, architecture, drama, reasoning become classical standards

Art - See Art overheads

Architecture - See Architecture overheads

  • Emphasize humanism – puts people at center of moral concerns

  • Tragic, flawed heroes – Struggle with morality

  • Comedies made fun of Greek society and politics (satire)


  • Search for truth

  • Questioned accepted ideas

  • Socratic method – continued questioning to arrive at the truth (Socrates)

  • Emphasized reason and rational thought (Plato, Aristotle)

The Peloponnesian War (431 BC to 404 BC)
What it was:

  • War between Athens (and their allies) and Sparta (and their allies)


  • Sparta feared the increase in growth and power of Athens after the Persian Wars



  • Athens loses its wealth, empire, and power

  • Confidence in democratic government falters

  • End of Golden Age in Athens

Alexander the Great - Empire Builder


  • Alexander solidifies control over Greek city-states

  • He invades Persia and wins control of part of it (Battle of Granicus)

  • Conquers the rest of Persia (Battle of Guagamela)

  • Conquers lands to the east into India

  • Alexander dies before he can organize, unify and govern his empire


  • Cultural diffusion

    • Trade increased – many goods exchanged, common currency

    • Persian and Indian customs spread west

    • Gave classic Greek education conquered people

  • Expanded learning

    • Alexander had with him botanists, scientists, and philosophers

Hellenistic Culture

What it is:

  • The cultural blending of Greek, Egyptian, Persian and Indian influences

How it happened:

  • Conquests of Alexander the Great

    • From Greece to India

  • Attitude and vision of Alexander

    • Wanted to combine the best of the East with the West

    • Embraced regional customs while extending Greek culture


  • Trade and cultural diversity

  • Library and Museum

    • Library had ½ million scrolls of literature, masterpieces included

    • World’s first research library

    • Held the world’s sum total of knowledge – everything was there

  • Advances in Science and Art

    • Astronomy

    • Math

      • Euclid – developed geometry

    • Physics

      • Archimedes – levers and pulleys, estimated value of Pi

    • Art

      • More realistic and emotional works – Colossus of Rhodes

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