Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Timesby Thomas R. Martin
This compact, comprehensive, and generously illustrated history of ancient Greece takes us from the Stone Age roots of Greek civilization to the early Hellenistic period following the death of Alexander the Great. Designed for nonspecialist readers, it will be a welcome and needed resource for all who wish to learn about this important subject. Thomas Martin begins… See more details below
This compact, comprehensive, and generously illustrated history of ancient Greece takes us from the Stone Age roots of Greek civilization to the early Hellenistic period following the death of Alexander the Great. Designed for nonspecialist readers, it will be a welcome and needed resource for all who wish to learn about this important subject. Thomas Martin begins with a prehistory of late Stone Age activity that provides background for the conditions of later Greek life. He then describes the civilizations of the Minoans on the island of Crete and of their successors, the Mycenaeans, on the mainland; the Greek Dark Age and the Archaic Age; the Classical Age of Greece in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.; the transformation of the kingdom of Macedonia into the greatest power in the Greek world; and the period after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C., when monarchies emerging from Alexander's fragmented empire once again came to dominate Greek history. The narrative integrates political, military, social, and cultural history, with a focus on the development of the Greek city-state in the eighth to fourth centuries B.C. and on the society, literature, and architecture of Athens in its Golden Age. The book, which includes useful timelines, maps, plans, and photographs, was adapted from and may be cross-referenced with the historical overview of Greece that is part of the multimedia interactive database Perseus: Interactive Sources and Studies on Ancient Greece, versions 1.0 and 2.0. The book extends the coverage of the Perseus overview, with its new sections on Greek prehistory, the Bronze and Dark Ages, and the Hellenistic period.
In brisk fashion, Martin (Classics/Holy Cross Coll.) narrates the highlights of what little is known about the Stone Age in Greece, the prehistoric Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, the rise of Mycenean culture, and the Dark Age that looms as a lacuna between approximately 1200 b.c., when Mycenae mysteriously collapsed, and about 750 b.c., when Greece's Archaic Age began. In the Archaic Age, Martin relates, the foundations of life during the classical period were laid: the institution of slavery, which spurred the growth of a leisure class; the emergence of city-states; the establishment of laws; and the development of various types of polity all contributed to both the creative culture and the political tensions that characterized Greece during later eras. Although broadly discussing political, military, and social history, Martin emphasizes the cultural achievements of Athenian civilization during the Golden Age and the impact of the horrendous 27-year Peloponnesian War, which sapped the military strength of Athens and effectively finished the city as a power. Martin also traces the rise of the mercurial Alexander the Great and the rapid creation of his magnificent, far-flung, and ephemeral empire and its disintegration after Alexander's death in 323 b.c. into numerous kingdoms, culturally diverse but all with a Hellenistic flavor. This concise but wide-ranging narrative takes us up to the death of Cleopatra VII, the last Hellenistic monarch of Egypt, in 30 b.c., and the emergence of Rome as the dominant Mediterranean power.
A highly readable account of ancient Greece, particularly useful as an introductory or review text for the student or the general reader.
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