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Polis to Cosmopolis: From Greeks to the Romans

Polis to Cosmopolis: From Greeks to the Romans. Effects of Peloponnesian War Hellenistic Culture Decline of the Polis. Sources: http://www.usu.edu/markdamen/ClasDram/chapters/051clasgk.htm http://www.historyguide.org/ancient/ancient.html#table. Effects of Peloponnesian War on Greece.

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Polis to Cosmopolis: From Greeks to the Romans

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  1. Polis to Cosmopolis:From Greeks to the Romans Effects of Peloponnesian War Hellenistic Culture Decline of the Polis Sources: http://www.usu.edu/markdamen/ClasDram/chapters/051clasgk.htm http://www.historyguide.org/ancient/ancient.html#table

  2. Effects of Peloponnesian War on Greece • Throughout the 5th and 4th centuries, the political history of the Greek world degenerated into oligarchy • Athens lost its leadership in the Greek world after its defeat at the hands of the Spartans • Sparta found itself engaged in war after war, pride and arrogance consumed it • Real center of Greek power in the first half of the 4th century Greek world came from the Macedonian kingdom • Greeks had disdain for this region- they called the Macedonians barbaroi

  3. Alexander’s Empire • When Alexander gained the throne he had just reached his 20th birthday. • Within fifteen months he stamped out rebellions • marched into various Greek cities demanding submission, sent his armies as far north as the Danube River • destroyed the city of Thebes • In 334, and with 37,000 men under his command, he marched into Asia, still conquering lands for his empire. • Consolidated his conquests, leaving behind thousands to inhabit and operate new cities in new lands • Called himself the Great King • Alexander wore Persian clothes, took a Persian wife, encouraged his men to marry Persians, used Persian administrators in the cities he founded or captured • Alexander wanted to fuse the cultures, East and West (This is known as Hellinization) • The cultural legacy of Alexander was that Hellenic art, drama, philosophy, architecture, literature, and language was diffused throughout the Near East • His vision of empire no doubt appealed to the Romans- who would conquer lands on a scale that will eventually surpass that of Alexander • Classical Greece died with Alexander’s death; something different will take its place

  4. Hellenistic Age

  5. From Polis to Cosmopolis • Immediate collapse of the Polis comes from a century of warfare • The city-state could no longer supply a tolerable way of life for its citizens • Intellectuals began to turn away from the principles of direct democracy • Plato embraced the idea of a Philospher-King • The intelligent, the schooled should be allowed to govern for the betterment of all people • On a spiritual level, the 4th century witnessed a permanent change in the attitudes of all Greeks • In the classical world of the polis, public and private lives were fused • Duty to the city-state was considered virtuous • But in the Hellenistic world, public and private lives were made separate, and the individual's only duty was to himself • Universal principles of truth were rejected • Greeks were encouraged to think for themselves and make their own selves better • People began to think about their individual lives, rather than the what was good or bad for the city-state • What accounts for this change? Was direct democracy destined to fail? • The ideal of the polis was that every individual was to take a direct role in political, economic, spiritual and social affairs (this was meant for the amateur, not the professional) • Socrates spent his entire life asking these questions: what is virtue? what is justice? what is beauty? what is the best form of government? what is the good life?  • He asked because he could find no viable answer; answers led to more questions • Faith in the polis was shattered for how could the polis train its citizens to be virtuous if no one knew what it meant to be virtuous • In The Republic, Plato argued that training of citizens in virtue should be left to those who understand the universal meaning of virtue

  6. Cosmopolis • Hellenistic Greece was a predominately urban culture • The cities founded by Alexander were centers of government and trade as well as culture • Alexandria had upwards to 500,000 people • The Greeks brought their temples, their theatres and schools to other cities, thus exporting their culture and Greek culture became a way of life • Wealthy sent their children to Greek schools and the Greek language  (Koine) became a common international language (similar to Latin for 1500 centuries and French in the 19th century) • Cultures once foreign to the Hellenic world now became more Greek-like: they were Hellenized • An influential and vital shift took place: the shift from the world of the polis to the new world of the cosmopolis • The world of the polis had clearly given way to the world of the cosmopolis • The immensity of the world view changed how cities operated • The city-state was no longer run by citizens, citizens whose private and public duties were identical • It was now run by bureaucrats and officials; citizens lost the feeling of importance and influence • From face-to-face contact and debate, citizens became numbers and faceless individuals

  7. Bibliotheca Alexandrina Roman Amphitheatre in Alexandria (Romans emulated many of the Hellenistic elements of culture and design) Theatre in Gerasa (modern day Jordan)

  8. From Greeks to Romans • History of Greece is a tale of glory and folly; Conquest and defeat; success and waste • Human strength and courage may come from the fear of failure; continued success in spite of fears can lead to arrogance • Maybe we become convinced our way is the best way, thus arrogance can lead to folly, folly leads to loss • Maybe the Greeks insatiable quest to find answers to human questions and phenomena also drove them away from the appreciation that stood in front of them: humanization • Greeks humanized themselves; they humanized their Gods; they humanized their buildings; they demanded answers and greatness from one another- all things a successful civilization should do • Yet… they refused to believe others could achieve the same pinnacle of civilization • For all the questions and therapy and cynicism that existed in Hellenistic Greece, why would they think only they, themselves, are capable of achieving such heights as a people? • There was one distinct culture that knew the Greeks most intimately – the Romans • Romans had built a stable political and social order in central Italy while the Greeks were witnessing the decline of the city-state during the Hellenistic Age • A major difference of the Romans: they successfully created the kind of cosmopolitan world order- and Empire- that Hellenists fell short of

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