Historical Background • Old Testament mentions Persia over 25 centuries ago • 6th century B.C. Cyrus the Great establishes the Persian Empire, conquering Lydia (546 BCE) and Mesopotamia (539 BCE) • Darius (Grandson of Cyrus) conquers Babylonia Egypt up to Asia Minor (~Turkey)
Imperial Organization • Empire was divided into 20 provinces • Provinces were required to pay annual tribute. • Central government hoarded so much gold and silver that they became quite valuable. • Kings were lawgivers, but citizens were allowed their own traditions. • Major religion was Zoroastrianism, with the leader Zarathrustra, who lived sometime between 1700-500 BCE.
More History • Persian Empire gradually shrinks over the next several centuries because of Greek and Roman conquest and internal decay • 7th Century A.D. Arab conquest and establishment of Islam- Persians eventually overthrow Arab rule, but Islam remains • Modern history begins with nationalist protests in 1905 which led to establishment of a parliament and constitution
Kingdom of Babylonia • Babylonia was one of the first civilizations in the world. • It formed around the region where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow in relatively parallel courses toward the Persian Gulf. • The region is also part of what is known as the Fertile Crescent, so named because the people who lived in this crescent-shaped area developed rich, irrigated farmlands.
Greek Geography • Mountains and Islands Create Isolation • Blessed with lots of good harbors • Isolation Leads to Political Disunity • The Size of Greek City-States (“Polis”) • Most plentiful natural resources were timber, clay (for pottery), marble and some deposits of metal ore
Early Political History and Colonization • The Emergence of the City-State (800) • The Significance of Overseas Trade • The Role of Colonization in handling Overpopulation (735-600) • Remember its effect on Greek identity! • Influence of Other Cultures Through Trade • The Evolution of Greek Political Forms • Humanistic Approach to Politics
The Centrality of the Greek Polis • The Polis was the Basic Political Unit • The Center of the Polis was the Acropolis • The Greek “Agora” or Marketplace • Most Greeks were Farmers • Intimacy was a Key Feature of Polis Life • Polis Laws and Governments Varied • This difference + isolation=wars between city states.
Sparta • Sparta was a polis in the Pelepponese in southern Greece. Took over Messenia and enslaved their people. • This process led Sparta to be a highly military state where ALL males prepared for military service.
Athens • Athens had a large hinterland called Attica in the 5th century BCE, and 300K people lived here. • They were ruled by a tyrant family, and in the 460-450s BCE, Pericles finished them off, and Athenian democracy was born. • Had an Assembly, Council of 500, and People’s Courts.
Athens AND Sparta • Very different • Athens a democracy Sparta a military dictatorship (Sparta conquered most of Peloponnesian peninsula in 500’s) • But for now, they could coexist, as there were bigger “fish to fry.”
The Classical Era 499-400 • Greece reached her pinnacle of culture and power • Athens military and cultural leader • Flowering of art, architecture, philosophy, science
Classical Era—from the Persian War • Series of battles from 490-479 B. C. led by Athens • Little Greece conquers mighty Persia under Darius, Xerxes • Battles such as Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis are still studied • After war Delian League formed – controlled by Athens in extensive empire • Purpose was to prevent Persia from returning
Classical Era, cont. • Often called “Age of Pericles” • Supported extensive building in Athens • Supported drama productions • Athens colonized all over
Classical Era ended by Peloponnesian War-431-404 • Other polis alarmed at Athens’ domination • Sparta formed coalition • Athens eventually defeated • War extremely bloody and long -- subject of Lysistrata • Following this: Sparta controlled surrounding peoples -- serfs • Eventually defeated in 371
The Fourth Century—399-300 • Era of political confusion • Foreign wars/revolutions • Great era for culture, philosophy flourished – era of Plato and Socrates • Socrates Plato’s teacher • Plato Aristotle’s teacher • Socrates executed by Athens in 399
Hellenistic Age – 336-30 B. C. • Alexander, the Great (336-323) conquered most of known world, extended Greek civilization • Conquered as far as Persia, India • Great military leader and ruler • Was educated, student of Aristotle • Reorganized govt’s of conquered areas, “Hellenized” these areas
After Alexander’s death: Empire divided among generals Greece never independent again Greece culture continued to spread Rome conquers Greece in 30 B.C. Alexander the Great
Hellenistic Culture • Greek art, drama, philosophy, literature, etc. continued to dominate • Roman religion similar to Greek • Greek culture influenced Christianity • More emotional, ornate than “Classical” • More humanistic • Some great contributions from this era