The Fall of Ancient Greece

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by Haydn007
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Discipline:
Social Studies
Subject:
Ancient History
Grade:
8,9,10

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The Fall of Ancient Greece

THE FALL OF ANCIENT GREECE

By Haydn007

A City-state is a small sovereign political unit organized under a single government Ancient Greece was broken into over 200 City-states, all with different political systems, values, languages and religious practices. Arguably the two most powerful City-states in Greece were Athens and Sparta, who were constantly conflicting with one another. The only time in history the Greeks voluntarily collaborated together as a country was to defend against the invasion of the Persian Empire, led by King Xerxes I. In 336 BCE Greece was cornered into a treaty with Macedonia, until eventually King Philip had almost complete power over Greece. However in the 2nd century BCE the Romans conquered the Macedonians, and Greece then became part of the Roman Empire, hence bringing a complete end to the independent civilization of Greece.

A BRIEF OVERVIEW

Sovereignty: The ability for a City-state to create its own laws. This allowed City-states to be self sufficient, forming a sense of community between the residents. However, these bonds led to increased patriotism for one’s respected City-state, causing many conflicts and even wars between them (please see Patriotism Section).PanHellenic Unity:PanHellenic Unity basically means the unification of all the Greek City Sates under one government. The importance of PanHellenic Unity is that it clearly shows how divided Greece was, through both Isocrates' investigations and King Philip of Macedonia's actions (please see PanHellenic Unity Section).Peloponnesian LeagueThe Peloponnesian League was an allied confederation of City States mainly led by Sparta in the Peloponnesus area (the Peninsula of Greece), which declared war against the Athenian Empire during the Peloponnesian War.

DEFINITIONS

In conclusion, it is clear that one of the key contributions to the fall of Ancient Greece was competition between the Greek City-States. The people’s extreme patriotism for their respected City-States caused many unnecessary conflicts, resulting in huge financial wastes and unproductive uses of long periods of time. Also, for over 25 years, much of the Greek world was involved in the Peloponnesian War, which tore Greece apart through war, wearing down all the City-States involved. Furthermore, through Isocrates’s desire and research for PanHellenic Unity, he quickly concluded that only an outside and foreign power could unite Greece, as the City-States were just too proud to co-operate with one another. Hence, Philip of Macedon conquered Greece after the City-States were weakened after the Peloponnesian War, permanently ending the Golden Age of Ancient Greece. If Greece had united against Macedonia as one, as they successfully did against the invasion of the Persians, and had not weakened each other through war, but instead cooperated as a country, the Ancient Greek World would have very likely lived on.

From 431 to 404BCE, most of the Greek world was involved in the Peloponnesian War between the mighty City-state of Athens and its enemies, led by the powerful city-state of Sparta. Scholars continue to debate the exact cause of the Peloponnesian War, as Athens and Sparta had been in conflict for decades. However, the most widely believed theory is that the Athenian Empire had incurred the anger of other Greek city-states threatened by its power, due to some states losing their independence to Athens, and others fearing they might as well, especially Sparta. After assisting in an anti-Athenian revolt, the city-state of Corinth and its allies in the Peloponnesian League declared war on Athens in 431BCE, but failed to actually reach the gates of Athens. A plague then struck Athens, decimating their army numbers and costing them one of their most capable leaders, Pericles, hence stopping them from immediately retaliating. Afterwards, the war continued on, with the Peace of Nicias established from 421 until 415BCE, before Athens broke it by launching a campaign against the city-state of Sicily, which failed dramatically. Between 411 and 408BCE, Athens experienced a change of government, the rebellion of several of its allies, and food shortages caused by Spartan naval successes. Athens achieved one last significant victory in the war at the Battle of Arginusae in 406BCE, before the Spartan commander Lysander crushed the Athenian fleet at the Battle of Aegospotami, with Sparta besieging Athens and forcing its rival to surrender in 404BCE. Sparta spared Athens from utter destruction, but the Golden Age of Athens and its empire was clearly over. Greece, which was battle worn and still remained divided, eventually succumbed to the power of Macedonia in the mid-fourth century BCE. If only the Athenian Empire had still be standing and the rest of Greece had not been so badly damaged from war, possibilities such as Greece uniting against Macedonia (as they did against the Persians) could have arisen, and the Ancient Greek world may have lived on.

PELOPONNESIAN WAR

Following the Peloponnesian war, Spartan dominance weakened as Athens rebuilt, causing some people to desire PanHellenic Unity, as they were concerned about how the Greek city-states were tearing themselves apart through war. Isocrates became the spokesman for PanHellenic Unity, as he believed all of Greece should unite in a war against Persia, as they were both weak and rich at the same time. He proposed such ideas to the city-states Athens, Sparta and Syracuse, however he discussed such plans in vain as they would rather battle each other to a standstill than make peace due to their extreme patriotism. Isocrates therefore concluded that it would take an outside or foreign power to unite Greece. In the North, King Philip of Macedonia’s power grew. Emerging victorious from a war with Athens and Thebes, Philip formed the League of Corinth, where he successfully allied all mainland city-states except for Sparta, and many island city-states as well. Once the league had been properly formed, he allied it with Macedonia, and proceeded to invade Persia with both the power of Macedonia and most of Greece with him. These above facts clearly show how divided the Greek City-states were. The fact that Athens, Sparta and Syracuse would rather go to war against one another then together take the vast wealth of Persia shows how blinded by patriotism the city-states were. If the Greek’s had collaborated and unified Greece as a country once and for all, their power would have completely changed the history we know today. But instead, they chose to continue warring amongst themselves, wearing each other down, until eventually all it took was one Macedon King to take advantage of their weaknesses and gain control of all of the once great Ancient Greek world.

PAN HELLENIC UNITY

City-states began appearing in Greece around the year 800BCE. Each city-state included a city and its surrounding countryside, organized under a single government. This meant all the city-states were self-sufficient, sovereign, and independent of the others. The residents of a city-state were bound together not only by a shared political system but also by common values, languages and religious practices. Although the city-states were all Greek, each had its own values and form of government, and residents were intensely loyal to their own city. As a result, there were often conflicts among them, which broke down a sense of community in Greece. Constant war divided the Greek City-states into shifting alliances, which proved economically and militarily costly to the city-states involved. The largest and most significant conflict was the Peloponnesian War, which ultimately resulted in the destruction of Greece. Had the Greek city-states collaborated and worked together as a whole, they would have had the potential to become one of the greatest powers in the Ancient World, due to their sophisticated culture and advanced warfare techniques.

PATRIOTISM

Some historians argue that competition between city states led to the fall of Ancient Greece.1.By researching the topics in the Ancient Greece Unit, determine how accurate the above claim is.2.List the reasons that support your conclusion and rank them in order of their strength.3.Make another list of things that you would like to review or learn more about that might help you feel more confident about your conclusion.4.You can present your findings using a method/project of your choice.

THE PROBLEM

How successful were Alexander the Great's conquests with the Greek armies under his power?How exactly were the Macedon's defeated by the Romans?

SOLUTION

FURTHER RESEARCH


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