Why is Greece considered part of Europe

The ancient world - the cradle of occidental culture

In the 1st millennium BC The Greek culture encompassed present-day Greece and the coastal areas of Asia Minor. There were colonies in Italy, on the Black Sea coast and in North Africa. With the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC The time of Hellenism began, in which the Greek culture worked as far as India and Nubia, but also acquired the knowledge of the Orient. Ancient Greece (Hellas) is seen as the cradle of European-Western culture: the Greek alphabet was the basis of the Latin alphabet. The beginnings of our historiography, philosophy and state theory lie in the Greek cultural area. The Greek theater as well as the Olympic Games are important to this day.

While first Greeks and Persians, then the Hellenistic empires fought for supremacy in the eastern Mediterranean, Rome secured itself from the 5th to the 3rd century BC. Rulership of Italy before 201 BC. After two wars against Carthage became number one in the western Mediterranean. In the centuries that followed, Rome established an empire that encompassed the entire Mediterranean and extended to the Iberian Peninsula, England, the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf.

Roman rule created a unified economic area from the English Channel to Syria and left deep and varied traces in the conquered areas: the Romance languages ​​developed from Latin. Roman law had a major influence on modern European legal systems. Last but not least, the Roman Empire prepared the ground for extensive Christianization and thus became a bridge between antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Around 800 BC Chr.Beginning of the Greek colonization
753 BC Chr.Legendary foundation of Rome
431-404 BC Chr.Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta
333 BC Chr.Alexander the Great defeats the Persians at Issus
146 BC Chr.The Romans destroy Carthage
375 ADThe Huns advance into Europe, the beginning of the migration of peoples
476 ADDeposition of the emperor Romulus Augustulus, end of the Western Roman Empire

The Early Period of Greece: Minoans and Mycenaeans

What are the characteristics of early Greek history?

Two factors derived from geography shaped Greek history for a long time. existing connections between the Greek mainland, the island world of the Aegean Sea and Asia Minor led to the emergence of a relatively uniform culture. On the other hand, this did not lead to a political agreement, because the rugged landscape with mountain ranges made it difficult to control larger areas. This resulted in numerous small states, most of which only comprised a city and its surrounding area.

Where was the first great culture of Greece?

On the island of Crete. There developed in the first half of the 3rd millennium BC. the first significant civilization, the Minoan culture - named after the legendary King Minos. The island was equally easy to reach by sea from Greece, especially the Peloponnese peninsula, and from Asia Minor, and was also not far from the Syrian and North African coasts. Crete became an important trading center. The Bronze Age began earlier than in the rest of Europe on the island and the connected Greek mainland. Crete experienced its first heyday, from which the characteristic round graves (tholoi) originate, around 2200 BC. In Knossos, Phaistos and Mallia originated at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. the first palaces. They were made in the 17th century BC. destroyed by an earthquake, then rebuilt and in the 16./15. Century B.C. expanded into great facilities.

What did the palace of Knossos look like?

Knossos was the most powerful city in Crete. She had in the middle of the 16th century BC. probably more than 50,000 inhabitants. The palace complex of Knossos extended over more than 2 hectares and was sumptuously furnished. There was running water and heated bathrooms. But the Cretan palaces were not only a representative royal residence, but also an economic center. Large storage rooms for grain, oil and wine testified to wealth and an effective central administration. The numerous halls, atriums, workshops and storerooms of the Palace of Knossos were connected by a multitude of stairs and corridors. The labyrinth in which King Minos is said to have kept the Minotaur, a monster with a human body and a bull's head, is probably a description of this imposing complex.

What was the Mycenaean culture?

On the Greek mainland in the 16th century BC. the Mycenaean culture. It was based on the Helladic culture, which existed since the 3rd millennium, and is therefore also referred to as late Helladic. But it also took on important elements of the Minoan culture, e. B. the linear script. The Mycenaean culture was carried by the Indo-European Achaeans, who lived around 1900 BC. immigrated to Greece.

The conquest of Crete around 1400 BC, when the island was weakened by earthquakes or civil unrest, marked the height of Achaean power. During this time, palaces based on the Minoan model were built in Mycenae, Tiryns, Thebes, Pylos and other cities. Mycenae took over from Crete as the ruling sea power of the eastern Mediterranean. The city, described by the poet Homer as "gold rich", accumulated riches, as evidenced by Egyptian works of art and royal tombs with valuable grave goods. Mycenae were surrounded by huge city walls; The main entrance was the famous Lion Gate. With Troy in Asia Minor, however, the city grew into a competitor, against which in the 13th and 12th centuries BC. Wars were waged - handed down by Homer as the "Trojan War".

How did Mycenae end?

In the 12th century BC. Mycenae was besieged by the also Indo-European Dorians. Their armies, armed with iron weapons, were superior to the Achaean chariots. When Mycenae finally fell despite its strong fortifications and around 1100 BC. was destroyed, many Achaeans fled to the north of the Peloponnese. With the Mycenaean culture (including writing), the first advanced civilization of mainland Europe disappeared and the "dark centuries" began, about which we know little.

What do linear A and B mean?

Linear A has been one since around 1900 BC. Typeface used mainly in administration in Crete. The characters in this syllabary were written horizontally ("linearly") from left to right, as in our current script. This Linear A script, which reproduces the non-Indo-European language of the Minoan culture, has not yet been deciphered.

A modification of the Linear A, called Linear B, was found in the Mycenaean culture between 1500 and 1100 BC. used. The British architect and font researcher Michael Ventris (1922 to 1956) deciphered this font in 1952. He realized that the Mycenaean language was an early form of Greek, which until then had been thought impossible. After the fall of Mykenes, Linear-B disappeared.

Did you know that …

Place names on -ssos and -nthos, such as Knossos, Corinth (os), Labyrinth (os), are linguistic remnants from pre-Indo-European times?

The Greek colonization: Greece is getting bigger

What triggered the Greek colonization?

The immigration of the Dorians from the Dalmatian-Albanian area into Greece led to refugees from the Dorians expanding the Greek cultural area beyond the mainland and the Aegean islands to the coast of Asia Minor. The Dorians themselves later became the bearers of this early colonization.

What was the early colonization like?

The settlement areas of the various tribes in Asia Minor were also reflected in the power structure: the South of Asia Minor, populated by the Dorians, as well as the islands of Rhodes and Kos formed the Doric League, which for a long time was closely connected with the Doric metropolises of Corinth and Sparta. The Ionian League, to which central Asia Minor (Ionia) and the islands of Chios and Samos belonged, usually had Athens as an ally because of the Attic origins of the Ionians. The Aeolian League on the north coast of Asia Minor and on the island of Lesbos traditionally felt close to Thessaly and Boeotia, but also joined the Attic-Delian League at times to protect against the Persians.

Was there a planned Greek colonization?

Yes. In contrast to the early Greek settlement of Asia Minor, which was the result of the flight from the Dorians, the later colonization was a deliberate establishment of daughter cities. During this great colonization from 750 to 550 BC The majority of the Greek colonies were founded in the 4th century BC in an area that stretched from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean coast of northern Spain and North Africa.

So many cities emerged in southern Italy and on Sicily that the region was later called "Magna Graecia" (Latin for Greater Greece). Organized by the mother city, part of the population, which was sometimes also joined by settlers from other cities, emigrated in order to found a new city outside the control of the mother city. As a rule, coastal areas were selected for this purpose.

The daughter city (apoikia) was politically independent, but often remained the mother city for centuries (metropolis) connected. The newcomers brought weights and measures, the familiar dialect and script with them to the colony. They also continued to practice the religious cults of their homeland.

What were the causes of the great colonization?

The reasons for the colonization were the rapid population growth and the resulting food shortage, but also internal conflicts that were overcome by the organized emigration of dissatisfied sections of the population. But the founding of a subsidiary was not always the reaction to an emergency: commercial cities used this means in a targeted manner to gain bases in strategically important places.

The Ionian Miletus on the west coast of Asia Minor, for example, which was built in the 7th and 6th centuries BC. was a leading sea trading power, founded 90 colonies, which were mainly located on the Hellespont (Dardanelles), the Marmara Sea and Black Sea, but also in the Nile Delta.

Another form of colonization was the establishment of military colonies at the end of the 6th century BC. Mainly practiced by Athens, which settled its citizens in conquered areas in order to exercise political control there. In such a colony, the settlers who had previously mostly been dispossessed and retained their citizenship were allotted land. Rome later also secured its conquered territories with military colonies.

Did the motherland and colonies form a unit?

To a certain extent, yes. Probably also in contrast to the non-Greeks with whom one came into close contact, the colonization created a sense of community that tied cities and regions of Greek culture to one another politically. This bond was strengthened by common places of worship such as the Oracle of Delphi and the Panhellenic Games (affecting all Greeks), the most important of which were the Olympic Games.

Did you know that …

Naples and Marseille around 750 and 600 BC respectively. were founded in the course of the Greek colonization?

the Semitic Phoenicians, next to the Greeks, were the second great sea and trading power in the Mediterranean? They had their home in a coastal strip that today largely belongs to Lebanon and experienced their heyday between 1200 and 900 BC. Chr.

did the Phoenicians also found colonies on a large scale? These originated mainly in the western Mediterranean on the Spanish and North African coasts as well as on the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and the Balearic Islands.

Carthage was a Phoenician colony? It was made around 800 BC. Founded by the Phoenician Tire and was the most important Phoenician colony.

The Greek world of states: oligarchs, tyrants and democrats

Was ancient Greece a unified state?

No, ancient Greece was a collection of city-states. The center of (political) life as a community of all citizens was the polis. Regions without a dominant center such as Phocis or Thessaly usually had a council in which the leading cities agreed on a common policy. Initially, kingship prevailed, but in many places it was replaced by a rule of the nobility (aristocracy). Characteristics of this form of society were fighting games and chariot races, as well as the "symposium," a feast combined with entertainment and drinking. Family and (hospitable) friendship relationships between the aristocratic leaders went beyond the territory of the city-state.

What is an oligarchy?

If the rule was carried out by only a few nobles or families, one speaks of an oligarchy. For later political philosophy it was a caricature of aristocracy (Aristotle), in which greed for money was the driving force and the yardstick for the allocation of offices (Plato). Such judgments are only likely to apply to a limited extent for earlier times. Rather, power was based on property, grown authority and personal merit, and less on public offices, which often did not even exist in this form.

How did an ancient Greek tyranny work?

The tyrant was an absolute ruler who, unlike the king, had come to power out of an oligarchy and needed the support of influential families to secure his rule. The first significant tyranny arose in Corinth (657-583 BC): Kypselos, Periander and Psammettich made the city the most important sea and trading power in Greece. The tyrant Kleisthenes of Sicyon (around 600-570 BC) played a leading role in the 1st Holy War (595-585 BC). At that time the amphictyony, an alliance of cities and states to protect the sanctuaries of Demeter in Anthela and Apollon in Delphi, destroyed the city of Kirrha (Krisa), which extorted taxes from the pilgrims who wanted to go to Delphi. A third important tyranny was that of the Peisistratids 560-510 BC. In Athens. Supported by the poor rural population, Peisistratos stabilized social conditions, promoted art and had important buildings erected.

How did democracy develop?

After the fall of the Peisistratids, the Athenian nobleman Kleisthenes, grandson of Kleisthenes of Sicyon, pushed through constitutional reforms; democracy (rule of the people) took shape. This development had already started around 600 BC. BC, when in many places the law, which had previously only been handed down orally, was recorded in writing (in Athens by Drakon around 624 BC). In this way, the power play of the powerful families was contrasted with an objectively verifiable law. Solon's reforms in Athens (594 BC) limited the power of the rich aristocratic families and introduced a democratic organ with the popular assembly. Political offices were largely reserved for the upper classes. It was only Kleisthenes that broke the power of aristocratic families by breaking the local dependencies between the nobility and the people through a new "community order" that granted all citizens the same rights.

What was different in Sparta?

Sparta, which rose to dominance on the Peloponnese peninsula in the 8th and 7th centuries, developed in a special way. The Spartan society was permeated with military discipline, the male offspring of the small leadership class of the Spartians was drilled at an early age. From the age of 20 to 60 the men served as hoplites (foot soldiers) and lived in barracks. Socially among the Spartians were the Periöks ("residents") with restricted civil rights and the obligation to serve in the war. The helots had no rights, had to pay tribute and could be killed at any time. Although they outnumbered the Spartans, they failed with several uprisings. Middle of the 6th century BC By founding the Peloponnesian Confederation, to which all states of the Peloponnese belonged with the exception of the arch enemy Argos, Sparta created a strong power base.

Who was fighting whom at marathon?

Persians fought against Greeks in the Battle of Marathon. 500 BC The Greek cities on the west coast of Asia Minor rose against Persian suzerainty under which they had been since 546 BC. Chr. Stood. The Ionian Uprising, however, received little support from Greece and ended in 494 BC. With the destruction of Milets. However, the Persian King Darius I did not accept the interference in his sovereign territory and wanted to consolidate his rule over the Greek cities of Asia Minor by subjugating the motherland, especially Athens. After a first unsuccessful naval advance near Athos (492 BC), landed in 490 BC. A Persian army at Marathon, but was defeated by the Athenians.

Who won the battle of Salamis?

In the sea battle of Salamis, the small agile ships of the Athenians brought in 480 BC. BC the overwhelming Persian fleet caused a crushing defeat. This had happened before: After Darius' death (486 BC)BC) his son Xerxes I prepared for a new war. Athens then strengthened its fleet and became the strongest sea power in Greece. Against the threat from the Persians, the Peloponnesian League, Athens and other cities united under the leadership of Sparta. Nevertheless, the supposedly 100,000 strong Persian army succeeded in 480 BC. The march through Greece and the occupation of Athens, whose population had previously been evacuated to the nearby island of Salamis. A battle broke out in the narrow bay of Salamis.

What led to the end of the Persian Wars?

The end of the clashes between Greeks and Persians was preceded by a long development. 479 BC The united Greek army under the Spartan general Pausanias defeated the Persians at Platää in Boeotia. The Greek cities of Asia Minor broke away from Persian suzerainty and joined the Greeks. Now the Greeks went on the offensive: 478 BC. Pausanias succeeded in detaching the Greek cities on Cyprus and on the Hellespont from Persian rule.

After Sparta formed the common alliance in 462 BC. Had left the Greek cities of Asia Minor and Thrace, as well as most of the Aegean islands, tied themselves more closely to the protective power of Athens. 478/77 BC The 1st Attic Sea League (also called the Attisch-Delischer Sea League, since the island of Delos was the federal seat) was founded. After initial military successes, Athens increasingly used the federal government as an instrument to increase its own power. 448 BC The Persian Wars ended with the Peace of Callias, which left the Greek cities of Asia Minor and Cyprus in the Persian Empire while preserving their autonomy and prohibited mutual interference and attacks.

What was the Peloponnesian War about?

The core of the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC) was the rivalry between Athens and Sparta. Athens was already recognized as an equal force next to Sparta after the victories against the Persians and now began to expand its position. It is true that Sparta and Athens closed in 445 BC. A 30-year peace that recognized the respective spheres of influence, but Athens' striving for supremacy conjured up new conflicts. Within the Peloponnesian League, Corinth pushed for an anti-Athenian course because it saw its commercial interests, especially in Italy, threatened. Finally, Athens' intervention in a conflict between Corinth and its colony of Korkyra (Corfu) led to war between Athens and Sparta.

How did the war between Athens and Sparta go?

The course of the war, which lasted for over a quarter of a century, was changeable. At first the superior Spartan army invaded the Athenian hinterland several times, while the superior fleet of Athens devastated the coastal areas of the Peloponnese. After ten years, both sides signed a 50-year peace treaty (Nicias Peace). However, the situation remained tense. In this situation the Athenian people's assembly decided in 415 BC To assist the city of Segesta in Sicily against the Corinthian daughter city of Syracuse, which then received support from Sparta. The "Sicilian Expedition" of the Athenian fleet ended in 413 BC. With a crushing defeat. Now Athens and Sparta faced each other again. Athens had to cope with the apostasy of several allies. In addition, Persia now supported Sparta. The Athenian fleet reached this position in 411 and 410 BC. Three maritime victories, which persuaded Sparta to make an offer of peace, which Athens, however, refused, ignoring the situation. The Peloponnesian War ended in 404 BC. With the total defeat and disempowerment of Athens.

Was Sparta permanent supremacy?

No, it only held this position for about three decades. At first Sparta tried to occupy all the positions of power that Athens had given up, and proceeded with great severity. It frightened old allies. This gave Athens the opportunity to take revenge: In the Corinthian War (395–386 BC) the Athenians, supported by Persia, fought on the side of Corinth, Argos and Thebes against Sparta. In the royal peace dictated by Persia, the Greek cities of Asia Minor and Cyprus fell back to Persia, which was the real winner of the power struggle between Athens and Sparta. Sparta's supremacy in Greece ended in 371 BC. In the battle of Leuctra against Thebes, when the Theban army overcame the invincible Spartan army with a new battle formation ("Leaning Battle Order").

Were the wars against the Persians a struggle for culture and freedom?

The wars against the Persians were already stylized as "the fight for Greece" or even for "culture and freedom" in antiquity. It can be countered with the fact that never all or even the vast majority of the Greek states (not "the" Greeks) fought against Persia. There was nothing unusual about alliances between the Greek states and Persia, even during the Persian Wars. All Greek states were not a "refuge of freedom and democracy," nor was there inhuman despotism in Persia. Presumably even important thoughts on the theory of the state come from non-Greek - also Persian - sources, so that the cradle of Western democracy was probably not only in Greece.

Did you know that …

the Greek gods and goddesses generally behaved very "humanly"? Their importance varied regionally and also changed over time.

a well-known brand of organic food is derived from the Greek goddess Demeter? As the earth goddess, she was "responsible" for fertility, growth, grain and the harvest.

What role did the Greeks of Asia Minor play?

The Greeks of Asia Minor, who came into contact with the Near East, had a decisive influence on the development of Western culture: Greek philosophy began with Thales and Anaximander from Miletus, and history began with Herodotus from Halicarnassus.

546 BC Asia Minor fell to the Persians. The revolt of the Ionian cities against Persian rule (500–494 BC) triggered the Persian Wars. After the conquest of Asia Minor by Alexander the Great and belonging to the Seleucid Empire at the end of the 4th century, Pergamon in the northwest was in 241 BC. Center of an independent kingdom that was famous for its library, theater and temple (including the Pergamon Altar). 133 BC Pergamon fell to Rome in his will, which in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. gradually extended its power to Asia Minor. The Greek cities flourished under his rule. The Greek settlement of Asia Minor did not end until 1923, when around a million Greeks were expelled from the newly founded Turkey after the Peace of Lausanne. However, most of the Aegean islands are still Greek.

Did you know that …

the first Olympic Games to the year 776 BC Be dated? The researchers know this from surviving lists of winners.

the term »Olympiad« originally referred to the four-year period between two games? Even in ancient times, the term was also used for the games themselves.

The beginning of history: From song to book

Who were the first "historians"?

For a long time singers and poets reported orally about past events and historical persons. In the course of time, the historical core was enriched by religious and mythical material that was intended to explain the processes described and the actions of the protagonists or to give them a deeper meaning. The epics handed down by Greek or Celtic bards contributed to the formation of a common cultural identity. The epics of Homer from the 8th century BC have been handed down in writing for the first time in the Greek culture. In addition to this poetic form, historical knowledge was also passed on through storytelling. This form of oral source, on which the works of the early historians are based, are comparatively reliable for the immediate past. Events that were long ago were quickly transfigured into legends after being told several times.

What was new with Herodotus?

The Greek Herodotus (approx. 485-425 BC) and with him Thucydides (approx. 460-399 BC) wrote down the events of their time and the recent past as prose for the first time. They tried to rely on reliable sources such as their own experience and eyewitness accounts. In doing so, they assessed the sources used critically and weighed the credibility of differently worded reports against each other.

What is in Herodotus "Research Report"?

In his "research report" Herodotus first describes the history and myths of numerous peoples of his time, before he goes on to describe the Persian Wars up to the year 479 BC. Dedicated to Chr. Despite frequently interspersed myths and legends, Herodotus wrote critical historiography for the first time in the "Research Report". In his endeavor to give the traditional historical events a coherent interpretation, he collected facts from the most reliable sources possible. He was interested in the truth and not in the confirmation of a preconceived notion of history.

How did Thucydides develop the Herodotus method further?

Thucydides also sought objectivity and a broad source base. For his description of the war between Athens and Sparta, he relied on eyewitness reports, documents and his own research. As the first historian, he also presented his research methods in his work. His detailed analysis of the prehistory of the Peloponnesian War distinguished for the first time between cause and occasion. This makes him the founder of scientific historiography.

In the eight books of his strictly chronological history of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides explains the prehistory and the causes of the war and provides a detailed description of its course. In his story he drew from his own experience as an Athenian politician and warlord.

Did the Romans copy the Greeks?

Yes, at least Roman historiography has orientated itself since the 1st century BC. strongly on the Greek predecessors. Cicero (106–43 BC), who contributed significantly to the study of Greek philosophy in Rome, played a major role in this. Cicero's opponent, Sallust, attached great importance to the prehistory of the conflict in his work The Jugurthinian War, as Thucydides had done in the Peloponnesian War. Sallust, who shaped late Roman historiography, was concerned with the cause of the decline of the Roman state, which in his opinion began with the destruction of Carthage (146 BC).

Did Thucydides influence modern historians?

Yes, modern historians have been influenced by the works of their ancient predecessors, particularly Thucydides' analytical method. Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886), for example, turned against the historical science of his time, which interpreted the past from the present. Instead, he demanded that the past should be understood from within on the basis of source work and source criticism. Ranke thus became the founder of modern historiography that is critical of sources.

Why was Herodotus banished?

Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus, a port city in southwest Asia Minor. Because of participating in a conspiracy against Persian rule he was killed around 457 BC. Banned and went into exile on the island of Samos. Herodotus subsequently traveled to Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt and Babylonia. After spending a few years in Athens and making the acquaintance of personalities such as the statesman Pericles and the playwright Sophocles, he lived from 443 BC. In the Athenian colony of Thurioi (southern Italy), where he presumably also died.

Did you know that …

Did the philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC) also work as a historian? For his work »The State of Athens«, however, he hardly carried out any research on sources of his own and often followed the available reports uncritically.

the historian Xenophon (around 426–355 BC) wanted to continue Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian War in his work »Hellenica«? But it did not reach the quality of the previous work.

The Attic Polis: The Cradle of Democracy

How did the rise of Athens come about?

The beginnings of Athens go back to the Bronze Age. On the Aegean peninsula of Attica with its rich deposits of clay, marble, lead and silver, Athens was initially one small town among others. After the incorporation of the surrounding area and the port of Piraeus in the 9th century BC. The city rose to one of the leading powers in Greece, based on the Attic hinterland, and reached its heyday in the 5th century BC. After the abolition of the monarchy, the ruling class was initially the aristocracy, which, unlike in Rome, did not consist of a manageable number of large families. Rather, the political actors came from many families who vied with one another to secure or increase their rank.

Who ruled the polis in the early days?

Politics and society of Athens were established in the 7th century BC. still determined by the nobility. At the head of the city-state, the polis, stood the archons. This office was originally awarded for life, later for ten years, before - according to tradition after 683/82 BC. - went over to the annual election. The respective year was named after the highest, the eponymous archon, the second archon led the army, the third was responsible for religious matters. Six more exercised supreme judicial power as thesmothetes. At the end of their term of office, the archons were able to move up to the Areopagus, which in turn elected the archons from among the richest and noblest and was also the court of justice. The power of the archons was limited, so that the aristocrats did not primarily fight for offices, but rather competed through military deeds or the construction of sanctuaries and buildings.

What plunged Athens into crisis?

During the 7th century Athens got into a social crisis. It was triggered by changes in warfare, that is, the transition from aristocratic cavalry to heavily armed foot soldiers who fought in closed formation (phalanx). Many small farmers could only meet the military obligations imposed on them by borrowing from the aristocratic landowners. Meanwhile, the big landowners increased their wealth by exporting wheat, oil and wine. The trade gave rise to a wealthy class of artisans and merchants in the city, who could easily compete with the aristocrats, but who had no political rights due to the lack of real estate. Both groups demanded political participation appropriate to their material status.

The measures taken by the law reformer Drakon to create greater legal certainty could not really curb dissatisfaction with the existing order. The various interest groups faced each other irreconcilably, so that Solon 594 BC. received a special mandate: as an archon with extensive powers, he was supposed to reform the Athenian state as an arbitrator and reconciler.

What were Solon's reforms?

Solon's first measure was the liberation of the peasants. He canceled land debts and serfdom. However, Solon did not comply with demands for a reallocation of land. Instead, he classified the citizens into four classes according to their annual income, from the big landowners and large merchants (1st class) to the small farmers and wage laborers. With this he established the rule of the haves (timocracy); political rights now depended on the changeable size of wealth instead of on birth. The poorer citizens were also given opportunities to participate politically for the first time. The popular assembly convened and chaired by the Archon decided on questions of foreign policy. In addition, every year it elected nine archons (from the 1st class) and the Council of 400 (from the first three classes). This accepted motions for the popular assembly, conducted the affairs of government and was the court of appeal against the judgments of the Thesmothetes. Solon's reforms hardly changed the balance of power, but they created the prerequisites for broader groups of people to participate in politics and for an end to aristocratic supremacy.

What happened after Solon's departure?

After completing his reform work, Solon stepped down from the political stage. The new order was soon endangered by power struggles between the most powerful families. In disputes with his opponents Megakles and Lykurgos, Peisistratos (around 600-527 BC) succeeded in bringing the rural population behind them and gaining sole power (around 560). He was expelled twice until he was finally able to consolidate his sole rule in the 540s.

Although Peisistratos was a tyrant, he is generally credited with moderate governance. His power was not absolute; it was restricted less by the Solonic order than by the need to maintain popular favor and at the same time to involve the aristocratic rivals who had remained in the city. He succeeded in doing this, among other things.by calling on nobles to hold high offices or by supporting them in such a request. Under Peisistratos, who himself did not hold a state office, Athens experienced an economic boom and social conditions stabilized. Peisistratos supported the small farmers through loans and distributed among them the goods of his fled opponents. He had magnificent buildings built, promoted the arts and cultivated religious cults. In honor of the city goddess Athena, he donated the competition games of the Panathenaia; in the context of a likewise new festival, the Great Dionysia, was 534 BC. performed the first Greek tragedy. With the establishment of a colony on the Hellespont, Peisistratos secured the supply of Athens with grain from the Black Sea coast. When the tyrant died in 527, his sons Hippias and Hipparchus continued their father's policies. It was only after the murder of Hipparchus in 514 that Hippias made himself hated by harsh measures and was overthrown in 510.

What did Kleisthenes do?

The fundamental reforms of the state by Kleisthenes established democracy (rule of the people). In the unrest after the death of Hippias, the Athenians authorized the eponymous Archon Kleisthenes (around 570 - around 507 BC) to carry out extensive constitutional reforms.

In order to break the ties to the local nobility that still existed in the country, Kleisthenes smashed the four old tribal and family associations (Phylen) and organized the community according to territorial aspects. He created ten phyls, each divided into urban, rural and coastal dwellers. This ensured that all social groups were represented. In the people's assembly, 50 members were drawn from each phyle for the council of 500, which replaced the council of 400. Furthermore, the people's assembly elected the jury and ten strategists who led the army, as well as the nine archons from the 1st and 2nd class (later extended by Pericles to the 3rd class).

The power of the nobility as a ruling group was finally broken after Kleisthenes' reforms. The decisive political force was the Demos (people), who had already supported Peisistratos and Kleisthenes against parts of the nobility. So politicians had to secure the support of the people or the people's assembly if they wanted to gain or retain power.

How did the Attic League come about?

The state reform also went hand in hand with a stronger commitment to foreign policy. Athens was the only important Greek city-state to take part in the Ionian uprising (500–494 BC) against the Persians. From the Persian Wars (492–448 BC) it emerged as a leading sea power. When Sparta withdrew from the war alliance against the Persians, the Greek cities of Asia Minor and most of the Aegean islands tied themselves to Athens as a protective power. The 1st Attic Seebund was founded in 478/77 for joint warfare. Due to the special conditions of a sea alliance - not every state could provide its own warships - the partners were allowed to compensate their alliance services financially; the war chest was initially kept on the island of Delos and transferred to Athens in 454.

How did Athens use the League?

The League of Seas became more and more an instrument for the enforcement of Athenian interests, and the contributions became permanent tributes to Athens. Cities that wanted to leave, forced Athens back into the League by force and disciplined them by settling military colonies. On the other hand, the federal government encouraged the expansion of Athenian trade and the adoption of Athenian values ​​and norms. The Attic coin footer introduced in the 6th century, for example, caught on in the Aegean Sea and the adjacent coastal areas. And democracies arose in numerous states with the support of Athenians.

What was the Periclean Age?

The democratic leader Pericles (approx. 490 BC - 429 BC) directed the fate of the state for over three decades and made Athens the spiritual and cultural center of Greece (Periclean Age).

When the Areopagus was overthrown (462), Pericles, the son of the general Xanthippus and the Agariste, a niece of Kleisthenes, supported the Ephialtes and after his murder in 461 he took over the leadership of the democrats. In the following decades, up to his dismissal in 430, he was the most important Athenian politician (since 443 a strategist).

Pericles tried to strengthen the influence of the lower classes on which he relied and to weaken the aristocrats. He introduced expense allowances for the performance of public tasks (for jury members, councilors, etc.), so that they could also be performed by less wealthy people. He ran an extensive building policy from the treasury of the Attic League. In terms of foreign policy, Pericles was responsible for the peace agreements with Persia (448) and Sparta (445), but also for the alliance with Korkyra (433), which triggered the Peloponnesian War. Shortly after the outbreak of war, he died of the plague.

What are "draconian laws"?

This expression, which is still used today, describes the first written laying down of laws in Athens by the law reformer Drakon in 624 BC.

Drakon was not a "legislator" in the literal sense, but mainly wrote down the already existing customary law, presumably introducing some innovations that can be explained by the tense political situation of his time. So he assigned certain punishments to individual offenses. Because of the preference for the death penalty, the Athenians later found his laws too strict; to this day one describes a particularly severe punishment as "draconian".

Did you know that …

the popular lawsuit was introduced under Solon? This allowed every citizen (no longer just the person concerned) to file a lawsuit, which made the enforcement of justice a matter for all Athenians.

is our word "politics" derived from the Greek word polis?

even in the "democratic" polis women had no public rights?

How did classical Greek tragedy come about?

Tragedy, the oldest European form of drama, developed in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. from the Dionysus cult. This initially consisted of an ecstatic song (dithyrambos) performed by the choir and the choir in honor of God. The first tragedy is said to be 534 BC. have been performed at the Great Dionysia in Athens. The poet Thespis introduced an actor for the first time who performed monologues and entered into dialogue with the choirmaster. Aeschylus (525–456 BC), who integrated a second actor into the plot, is considered to be the real inventor of tragedy. He also added a satyr play that parodied the previous event to the then common trilogy, the series of three tragedies. In addition to Aeschylus, Sophocles (496–406 BC) and Euripides (480–406 BC) shaped the classical Greek tragedy. In their time there were annual poetry competitions (agons). Comedy also began in the Athenian Dionysia (for the first time in 486 BC).

Did you know that …

the well-known jar of fragments arose under the reformer Kleisthenes? Once a year the people's assembly was asked whether a citizen could pose a threat to the state. Each eligible voter then scratched a name on a pottery shard. Anyone who was named at least 6000 times by 10,000 voters had to go into exile while preserving their fortune and honor. This should prevent a renewed tyranny. Later, however, the shard court was not infrequently used to eliminate political opponents.

Beginnings of Occidental Philosophy: Reflecting on the World

What did the early philosophers do?

Around 600 BC. Thales von Milet founded his Ionian School, which mainly dealt with the reflection on the origin and structure of nature, which thus became the forerunner of today's natural sciences and mathematics. Thales' student Anaximander developed the cartography and introduced the sundial in Greece. Another school was that of the Pythagoreans, which came from Samos Pythagoras in the 6th century BC. in Croton (southern Italy). A number theory that is important for mathematics was developed here and the spherical shape of the earth was assumed for the first time in astronomy.

The philosophical controversy about the nature of the world was raised around 500 BC. Opened: Heraclitus from Ephesus (Asia Minor) regarded becoming as the basic principle of all beings; even the apparently unchangeable is in constant flux. In contrast, the Eleaten, named after the city of Elea (southern Italy), with Parmenides and Zenon as the most important representatives, emphasized the immutability of the universe.

Who were the sophists?

In the 5th century, especially in Athens, the age of sophistry began. They were mostly traveling teachers who taught philosophy and rhetoric ("rhetoric") for a fee. They turned to questions about man and human society and emphasized the right of the individual to assert himself over the traditional notion of the primacy of the whole. In many areas, including morality, they questioned and relativized traditional views.

What did Socrates teach?

Socrates was the perfecter and at the same time the conqueror of sophistry. His epoch-making thought culminates in the sentence: "I know that I know nothing." With him, philosophy began to question its own findings. Socrates refrained from setting up his own philosophical system; all the more radically did he question those who thought they were telling the truth. His main interest was ethics. Assuming that vicious behavior arises not from malice but from ignorance, he equated knowledge and criticism of one's own views with virtue. In numerous dialogues handed down by his pupil Plato, he uses irony and clever questioning to get his interlocutors to admit that their truth is only an alleged truth.

What did Socrates' disciples believe?

Socrates had several influential students who, however, drew very different conclusions from his teaching. Aristippus founded the school of the Cyrenaic. She represented a doctrine for which the pursuit of physical pleasure was the highest good. The Cynics inspired by Anisthenes, on the other hand, lived celibacy and viewed the objective world, its riches and joys with contempt ("cynicism"). Their teaching influenced various ancient schools of thought until the triumph of Christianity.

What was Plato's idea?

Socrates' most important pupil was Plato (427–347 BC), who outlined an ideal state in his works "The State" and "The Laws". As a teacher of the tyrant Dionysius II of Syracuse, he tried to put his theory of the state into practice, but failed. Then he devoted himself to the "academy" he founded, in which he taught his followers. Plato's importance for later philosophy and intellectual history can hardly be measured. All state-philosophical works of modern times would be unthinkable without Plato. His theory of ideas founded occidental metaphysics and formulated the priority of theory over all experience.

What novelty did Aristotle teach?

Aristotle (384–322 BC), Plato's most prominent disciple, valued the experience more than the idea. He is said to have systematically recorded the entire knowledge of his time and wrote works on natural philosophy, ethics, politics, psychology, aesthetics, logic and metaphysics. For Aristotle "the truth was always in the middle" between the extremes. Aristotle influenced the spiritual life of the Christian West more strongly than Plato in the Middle Ages. However, his most famous student was not a philosopher, but Alexander the Great.

How did Greek philosophy begin?

Philosophy was able to develop particularly where different value systems mutually deny their raison d'être, for example when secular violence and priesthood fought or different cultures came together, e. B. in Asia Minor and the Greek colonies. Early Greek philosophy adopted important insights from the Egyptians and Babylonians in particular.

What is philosophy

There have been numerous attempts to explain what philosophy is. The Greek Plato names the truth, the beautiful and the good as basic questions. Later epistemology, ethics, aesthetics and metaphysics or anthropology were elevated to philosophical disciplines. The canon changed over time, new questions and sub-areas were added, others such as astronomy or economics became their own sciences. Another form of definition is to answer the question of what constitutes philosophy (or: philosophizing). The very designation "philosophy" (love of wisdom) is based on such an attempt at definition. An essential characteristic of philosophizing is that it is about questions, e.g. B. thinks about the good, the origin of the person, the nature of the world or the meaning of life, without committing to existing answers from religion, tradition, politics or science.

Did you know that …

Socrates called his method of conversation "midwifery" (Maeutics)? Through intelligent questioning and listening, he brought hidden truth to the world among those he was speaking to.

Socrates was sentenced to death for blasphemy and seduction of the youth? He had to drink a cup of poison, the hemlock cup.

Alexander's Empire: The Birth of Hellenism

How did Alexander's campaign against the Persians begin?

In the spring of 334 BC As the supreme general of an army of 35,000 Macedonians and Greeks, he began the war against Persia planned by his father Philip and declared a campaign of revenge. Philip was in 336 BC. was murdered. His son Alexander III. (later "the great") had secured the succession to the throne by eliminating possible competitors. He then conquered Asia Minor with only minor losses and replaced the Persian provincial governors (satraps) with officers of his own. After setbacks, Alexander succeeded in November 333 BC. At Issus on the Gulf of Iskenderun an overwhelming victory against the numerically superior army of the Persian king Dareios III.

Which countries did he conquer on the campaign?

Alexander conquered Syria, captured Egypt and Mesopotamia. After another victory over Darius in 331 BC. At Gaugamela east of the Tigris he was proclaimed "King of Asia". As atonement for the destruction of the Acropolis by Xerxes (480 BC), Alexander ordered in 330 BC Destroy the Persian capital Persepolis. This ended the campaign of revenge and the soldiers of the Greek allies were released back home. After the murder of Darius by one of his satraps (330 BC), Alexander also assumed the Persian title of king. Until 327 BC BC he brought the rest of the Persian area to himself. He advanced as far as India, where a mutiny by his soldiers (326 BC) forced him to repent.

How did the ruler unite his empire?

To unify his empire, Alexander made the plan to merge the western (Greco-Macedonian) and eastern (Persian) cultures. As early as 327 BC He had introduced the Persian court ceremony and put on the Persian royal costume. He also had young Persians taught the Greek language and culture.

Over 80 city foundations, many with the name "Alexandria", were supposed to secure and hold together the conquered areas. These cities often developed into important trading centers, where the Occident and the Orient met and penetrated each other. The mass wedding of Susa in 324 BC was spectacular. When Alexander married two daughters of Darius and had thousands of his soldiers marry Persian women. The legal equality of the Persians and their acceptance into the army were not very popular with the Macedonians, as they feared for their supremacy. There were riots, which Alexander had bloodily suppressed.

What happened after Alexander died?

When Alexander in 323 BC Died of fever, he left a world empire behind. None of his successors, the Diadochi, succeeded in gaining sole rule. Various states emerged from the power struggles after the death of Alexander, the Diadochian empires. The kingdom of Macedonia, the Seleucid Empire, which under Seleukos I reached from the Mediterranean to the Indus, and the Empire of the Ptolemies, which in addition to the heartland of Egypt, also included other areas of North Africa as well as Palestine, Cyprus and the Aegean islands, were important. In the conquered areas, the Macedonians formed the elite for a long time before there was legal equality and amalgamation with the natives. In order to bind them more closely to their person, the Ptolemaic and Seleucid rulers allowed themselves to be worshiped as gods like Alexander.

What is Hellenism?

This means the spread of "Greek culture". The whole (former) Alexander empire was a coherent trading and cultural area that was dominated by Greek and Hellenic. Art and intellectual life flourished, the sciences (mathematics, astronomy, geography and medicine) made great advances.

Where did the famous conqueror come from?

Alexander the Great came from Macedonia. The state in northeast Greece took part around the middle of the 4th century BC. As a new actor in the power struggles in the Greek world. With its social order (peasants, nobility and royalty) perceived as backward, it was mostly not recognized as Greek despite linguistic affinities. The kingdom's first rapprochement with Greece took place under Alexander I (reign around 495 - around 454 BC); he was admitted to the Olympic Games. Philip II (reigned 359–336 BC), who had become acquainted with the Theban military system, extended the Macedonian sphere of influence to northern Greece and the northern Aegean as far as the Black Sea. In the battle of Chaironeia (338 BC) against Athens and Thebes, Macedonia finally won supremacy over mainland Greece.

Did you know that …

the Koine was the common lingua franca in the world empire created by Alexander? This new form of Greek, with elements from numerous dialects, was the language of officials, merchants and scholars.

Alexandria in Egypt, with its library containing several hundred thousand papyrus rolls, was the center of the Hellenistic world?

Rome: Rise to Superpower

Where are the roots of the city of Rome?

The roots of Rome are in Etruscan. This is also indicated by the name (originally Ruma), which is derived from the Etruscan noble family of Romilians: the legendary city founder Romulus was probably an Etruscan named Romilius or Romulius. Latin, an Italian dialect, was spoken in Rome and the neighboring region of Lazio. Urban life, religion and state organization, however, were shaped by the Etruscans. They also built a protective wall and drainage systems that made it possible to colonize the swampy valleys. In the 6th century BC. Etruscan kings ruled the city before around 500 BC. the last of them, Tarquinius Superbus (ruled 534-510 BC), was expelled.

What form of government did early Rome have?

With the expulsion of the kings, the period of the republic began (Latin res publica: "Public matter"). The title of king was ostracized and the Roman people's assembly instead elected government officials headed by two consuls. Since a relapse into the rule of an individual was to be prevented, the principles of annuity (term of office limited to one year) and collegiality applied to all offices, i.e. each office had to be filled at least twice and the authority (potestas) can be exercised by mutual agreement. Only in phases of extreme threat could a dictator be elected who exercised almost unlimited authority for six months alone.

What Characterized the Early Republic?

The ruling class of the early republic was the nobility, the patricians (from patres: "Fathers"), the male descendants of the rich, long-established families with the father familias at the top. He commanded not only wives and children, but also married sons and their families, as well as slaves and freedmen. Within this area he had all possessions and acted as a judge in disputes between family members. Only patricians were elected to the government offices (magistrates) and the senate, the council of elders (senators).

The Senate, already an advisory body made up of 300 patrician heads of families during the kingship, became the central political institution of the republic over time. Its importance did not result from a special position in the constitution: the Senate could not convene itself and only had an advisory function. His high reputation (auctoritas) but let it become a force precisely in the final phase of the republic, without which no official act of the magistrates and no resolution of the people's assembly would be valid. The senators appointed for life were later recruited from the holders of the highest government offices. Under Sulla's dictatorship (82–79 BC) the number of senators was temporarily increased to 600, under Caesar (45 BC) to 900. In the Roman Empire, the Senate lost its political influence and was henceforth only a subordinate advisory body.

What rights did the people have?

The mass of the people was free, but without rights: the plebeians (from plebs: "People"), which included small farmers and newcomers, were not allowed to engage in legal transactions, that is, they were not allowed to independently acquire property and not defend themselves in court. For this reason they looked for a "patron" among the heads of the patrician families to represent them in court. As "clients" they were dependent on him, because their legal status and their property depended on the patron, to whom they owed allegiance and loyalty. The plebeians soon began to revolt against their situation, as they were doing military service like the patricians. They drew their self-confidence precisely from their achievements in the wars of Rome.

Already in the 5th century BC The plebeians pushed through important changes. Their position in the people's assembly was strengthened to the extent that voting was no longer based on the old gender associations, but on army formations (centuries). However, the upper asset classes had a higher weight in these voting bodies (centuriate committees), which also elected the top officials. 445 BC Marriage between patricians and plebeians was permitted. Another success was the written fixation of the applicable law in the Twelve Tables Act (around 450 BC), which created legal certainty and stopped the arbitrariness of patrician judges.

Did the plebeians gain political power?

Little by little plebeians were allowed to hold higher offices up to the consulate (from 367 BC). The final equality brought the lex hortensia (287 BC), following the decisions of the (plebeian) people's assembly (plebiscita) granted the status of statutes. Nevertheless, Rome never became as "democratic" as Athens: Since all offices were honorary positions, they were reserved for the wealthy upper class, which now included the wealthy plebeians on an equal footing with the patricians (official nobility, nobility).

How did Rome become the leading power in Italy?

Initially, Rome became the strongest power in central Italy. It ruled over an area of ​​1500 km² (396 BC). In the south of the Apennine Peninsula, the Greek cities still dominated, with Syracuse at the top. The Etruscans continued to rule in the north until the Gauls fundamentally changed the political map: under their onslaught, Etruscan rule collapsed. After the defeat on the Allia (387 BC) Rome was also occupied for seven months and its Latin allies fell away.

After the departure of the Gauls, Rome was able to renew and expand its position of power. 340-338 BC The rebellious Latin communities were more firmly integrated again. After wars with the Etruscans, Celts and other tribes (until 282 BC) Rome also advanced into northern Italy. In the war against the Greek Taranto (282 to 272 BC) it also gained supremacy in southern Italy.

How did the empire secure its power?

The country was covered with a network of roads, the most important of which dates back to 312 BC. Was built via Appia; it led from Rome to Capua, and later to Taranto and Brundisium. The settlement of Roman citizens in specially founded colonial cities, which remained closely tied to Rome, also served to consolidate Roman rule. Legally, the population was divided into Romans, Latins (with limited citizenship) and allies (socii). The alliance treaties (foedera) with the individual cities could be very different. Rome left them internal autonomy (with their own administration and their own citizenship), but prohibited them from pursuing their own foreign policy and obliged them to achieve military success. All in all, the conditions for the conquered cities were mild; this later also proves their relatively low inclination to fall away from the alliance.

Was Rome in competition with another power?

Yes, as the mistress of Italy, Rome was almost inevitably heading for a dispute with Carthage. The city northeast of today's Tunis was founded by Phoenicians (hence the Romans called the Carthaginians Punians). Carthage had trading bases on many coasts, a large navy and was considered the richest city in the Mediterranean. At first Rome and Carthage had been allies, but now the interests of two great powers collided. A local conflict over the city of Messina (Sicily) became the occasion for the 1st Punic War (264–241 BC) between Rome and Carthage over Sicily. The superior Roman foot troops quickly conquered a large part of the island.

How did Rome decide the First Punic War?

Since the Carthaginian sea power constantly threatened the coasts of Italy, Rome decided to build its own fleet for the first time. This defeated the Carthaginians in their first battle (260 BC). After a long and eventful war that almost exhausted both cities financially, it was 241 BC. Roman warships again, which won the decisive victory against the Carthaginian fleet at the Egadi Islands.

Why was there a second Punic War?

The desire for revenge grew in Carthage. Carthage had to give up the remaining bases in Sicily. A little later, Rome forced the surrender of Sardinia and Corsica. The cathargic general Hannibal provoked the 2nd Punic War (218–201 BC) by crossing the northern Spanish river Ebro. With a large army and war elephants, he crossed the Alps to northern Italy, where he found allies in the local Celts. Despite grandiose victories in the first years of the war (including 216 BC at Cannae), Hannibal did not succeed in wrestling the Romans. He suffered from a lack of support from Carthage and got more and more on the defensive, until finally the Romans landed with Scipio the Elder as a general in North Africa and defeated Hannibal, who was ordered back to defend Carthage, at Zama (202 BC).

Who was the strongest power in the Mediterranean?

After the 2nd Punic War there were no longer any serious competitors for Rome in the western Mediterranean. It had won the Carthaginian territories in Spain and was a leading naval power. Within a few years, Roman rule was extended to the east: after the victorious war against Macedonia (200–197 BC), Greece recognized Roman supremacy. With the overcoming of the Seleucid Empire (Battle of Magnesia 190 BC) there was no longer any power in the eastern Mediterranean that endangered Rome. Greece became a Roman province after a revolt (146 BC). The other Hellenistic states gradually fell to Rome, most recently the Ptolemaic Empire (Egypt) in 30 BC. Chr.

What role did the tribunes play?

They were able to protect the plebeians from attacks by the patricians and the magistrates. At first there were two or four, since 449 BC. Then there were ten. The tribune was considered inviolable (sacrosanct), an attack on it would have been a religious outrage. He was also able to prevent decisions by the Senate and official acts of the magistrates (veto: "I forbid").

Did you know that …

the Latins and Sabines, who lived in the 10th century BC. In the later city of Rome, celebrated a common cultic festival in which the famous seven hills played a role? Accordingly, the festival was called "Septimonium" ("Siebenhügelfest").

Did you know that …

According to a founding legend, the territory of Rome's competitor Carthage could be spanned by a cowhide? The Phoenician princess Elissa had landed on the African coast while fleeing from her tyrannical brother Pgymälion and was supposed to get as much land from a local chief as a cowhide could span. Then she cut a cow skin into the finest strips and marked out the area of ​​the future Carthage.

Dido (Roman name for Elissa) fell in love with the Trojan hero Aeneas, who became the progenitor of the Romans? However, he left her because he was commissioned to found a new Troy. Dido killed himself, but swore revenge and thus laid the basis for the later permanent conflict between Rome and Carthage.

How did the rise of Cato the Elder go?

The man on an estate in Tusculum 234 BC. Cato, born in BC, completed the Roman official career: Quaestor (204), Aedile (199), Praetor (198), Consul (195). Cato always fought against the decline of morals, rejecting Greek influences as effeminating. He exercised his office as censor (184) so ​​strictly that he was nicknamed Censorius. He had seven senators expelled from the Senate and introduced a luxury tax. After Cato in 157 BC When he became convinced that Carthage was still a threat to Rome, he tirelessly agitated in the Senate for the destruction of the city. Regardless of the topic, he closed every speech with the sentence "Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam" ("Besides, I am of the opinion that Carthage must be destroyed"). In the 3rd Punic War provoked by Rome (149–146 BC) Carthage was conquered and actually destroyed.

Rome: crisis and decline of the republic

How did civil wars come about in Rome?

Unresolved social conflicts resulted in disputes in which constitutional breaches became the norm. The land reforms, which first Tiberius Gracchus (162-133 BC) and then his brother Gaius Gracchus (153-121 BC) operated as tribunes of the people, failed and led to riots in which both brothers were killed.

In the civil war of 88 to 82 BC. Gaius Marius (around 157 to 86 BC) and Lucius Cornelius Sulla (138-78 BC) then fought each other. Gaius Marius stood up for the rights of the people, while Sulla represented the senatorial rank. Marius was under the impression of the threat from Germanic tribes (Cimbri and Teutons) 107-100 BC. BC was entrusted with the consulate six times in a row, contrary to the constitution. He had used this time for an army reform, which now also allowed the dispossessed to serve in the army. This measure created a class of soldiers for whom the war was not a chore, but a livelihood. Their loyalty was less to Rome as a superior power than to the respective general who secured their remuneration.

83 BC Sulla ended the rule of the followers of Marius and ostracized political opponents by means of public announcements (proscriptions). He distributed their land and property to his soldiers and supporters. Sulla settled in 82 BC. vote for dictator. The aim of his comprehensive constitutional reforms was to restore Senate rule. When he believed he had achieved this, he resigned from his office (79 BC).

How did the end of the republic begin?

The end of the republic was in 61 BC. Heralded by a political intrigue: The Senate of Rome refused the successful general Gnaeus Pompeius (106–48 BC) the allocation of land to supply his soldiers. Pompey, who despite great military powers had not tried to gain sole rule, was snubbed. To enforce his claims, he entered into an alliance with Marcus Licinius Crassus (around 115–53 BC) and Gaius Julius Caesar (100 to 44 BC).

How did Caesar become sole ruler?

With the conquest of Gaul (58-61 BC) he rose to become a candidate for sole rule. After Crassus' death and the breach of the alliance, it came in 49 BC. between Pompey (and his successors), now supported by the Senate, and Caesar on the civil war that began in the spring of 45 BC. ended in Caesar's victory. Caesar was elected consul for ten years, which was initially tolerated by staunch Republicans. They hoped that after the necessary reforms, like Sulla, would resign. However, when Caesar was appointed dictator for life, he was elected in a conspiracy by Republican senators on the Ides of March (March 15) in 44 BC. killed.

Was the idea of ​​the Roman Republic over?

Yes. At first it seemed as if the republic under Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 to 43 BC) could consolidate again after the consul Marcus Antonius (82-30 BC) had pursued his own power politics. But the triumvirate of three supporters of Caesar in October 43 BC. finally put an end to hopes that the republic would be saved. The triumvirs were Gaius Octavius ​​(Octavian, 63 BC – 14 AD), great-nephew, adopted son and heir of Caesar - the later Emperor Augustus -, Antonius and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus the Younger (90–13 BC) .

How did Tiberius Gracchus end?

He and 30 of his supporters were slain by angry senators. As a tribune of the people (133 BC) he had proposed a law that limited the ownership of state land. The land that became free was to be distributed to peasants who had no possessions. The People's Assembly agreed, but the Senate convinced another People's Tribune to block the law. Gracchus had this deposed by the angry people, with which he broke the constitution.When he sought his immediate re-election as a tribune, again against the constitution, the tumult broke out and cost him his life.

Did you know that …

the name of the month »July« goes back to Gaius Julius Caesar's month of birth? After his death, the Romans renamed the month in his honor.

Caesar in 46 BC. reformed the ancient Roman lunar calendar according to the Egyptian solar calendar? The so-called Julian calendar was to remain valid until the 16th century before it was replaced by the Gregorian calendar.

Was Gaius Julius Caesar an unscrupulous power politician?

In any case, he was resolutely pursuing his way up. After his political opponent Sulla was dead, Marius's nephew dressed in 68 BC. The bursary. As aedile (65 BC) he gained great popularity through elaborate gladiatorial games; they were funded by Marcus Licinius Crassus. Through an alliance with Crassus and the military leader Gnaeus Pompeius, Caesar reached 59 BC. In the office of the consul. As proconsul, he conquered all of Gaul (58–51 BC), which he himself reported in his autobiographical work "Commentarii de bello Gallico" (The Gallic War). Equipped with extensive powers, Caesar set about reorganizing the state and the provinces. He was born on March 15, 44 BC. Was stabbed to death by republican-minded senators under the leadership of General Gaius Cassius Longinus († 42 BC) and by Marcus Junius Brutus (around 85-42 BC), nephew of Catos the Younger and friend of Cicero.

Rome in the imperial era: from the heyday to the fall of the empire

How did Octavian become sole ruler?

The 2nd Triumvirate, endowed with dictatorial powers to “reorganize the state”, once again brought horror to Rome: 200 senators alone fell victim to the proscriptions, including Cicero. After the victory over the Caesar murderers at Philippi (42 BC) and the elimination of power by Lepidus (36 BC), there was a struggle between Antony and Octavian for sole rule. Octavian managed to exploit Antony's liaison with Cleopatra VII (69–30 BC) for propaganda purposes and to declare war on the Egyptian queen in the name of Rome, which he achieved through the naval victory at Actium in 31 BC. decided for himself. Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide, Egypt fell to the Roman Empire (30 BC).

How did Octavian become Augustus?

With Caesar's fate in mind, Augustus tried to avoid the impression that he was striving for royal dignity. In January 27 BC BC Octavian gave his powers from the civil war back to the state, thereby formally reviving the republic. The Senate then gave him the honorary name Augustus ("the Sublime") and gave him supreme command of the army and the conduct of foreign policy. Augustus himself ruled as Princeps, that is, first (among equals); the form of government was therefore given the name principate.