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The Hellenistic Era covers the period of Mediterranean history between Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BC and Rome’s conquest in Egypt in 30 BC. The term “hellenic” means to imitate Greeks, and its period is the time of domination of fusion of the Greek language and customs with the culture of the Near East.
See the fact file below for more information on the Hellenistic States or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Hellenistic States worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The process of spreading the Greek culture is called Hellenization.
- After the death of Alexander, his generals conquered the lands amongst themselves. Later on, the fragments of Alexander’s empire became three powerful dynasties: the Seleucids of Syria and Persia; the Ptolemies of Egypt; and the Antigonids of Greece and Macedonia.
- This Hellenistic period is the time when Greek civilization spread over a large part of the civilized world, in part due to the acts of Alexander and his successors.
THREE MAJOR STATES
- There were three major Hellenistic states:
- Ptolemaic Kingdom. The rulers descended from Ptolemy I, one of the generals of Alexander. This state included Egypt, part of Arabia, part of Palestine, and the Cyprus Island.
- The new Greek rulers inherited a well-organized, tightly-knit bureaucracy, the ancient Egyptian tradition of divine rulers, the pharaohs, and vast agricultural resources. This was the wealthiest of the Hellenistic states.
- The Seleucid Kingdom. This was founded by Seleukos, another of Alexander’s generals. This kingdom included most of the Persian Empire proper – Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and Iran. Over its period of existence it grew and shrank considerably. It was the most complex cultural power, and had to be ruled with a firm hand. The Seleucid empire was controllable only by a powerful bureaucracy and a strong military.
- The Antigonid Kingdom. After a period of chaos, one Greek general tried to acquire the Macedonian homeland after another, and order was finally restored by members of the Antigonus Monophthalmus family (one-eyed). The descendants of Antigonus ruled Macedonia and that part of Northern Greece.
- This was the only of the big three completely Greek kingdoms. The Antigonid kingdom was weaker than the Seleucid kingdom, poorer than Egypt, but it was the most unified, and more militarily powerful.
- Until 201 B.C. these three great states maintained a fragile balance of power, allowing smaller states to exist, largely by playing games of diplomatic alliances with larger states. In order to maintain their independence, smaller states made alliances with the larger ones, playing one great state against the others.
- People traveled through the Hellenistic kingdoms fluidly, like objects.
- In the former Alexandrian empire, almost all spoke and read the same language: koine, or “the common tongue,” a kind of Greek colloquial. Koine was a unifying cultural force. Wherever an individual come from, in this cosmopolitan Hellenistic world, he could interact with everyone.
- At the same time in this new political and cultural environment, a lot of people felt disconnected. People had once been closely acquainted with the workings of the democratic city-states; now they lived in impersonal empires dominated by trained bureaucrats. Many people joined “mystery religions,” like the cult of the Isis and Fortune goddesses who promised immortality and individual wealth to their followers.
- Hellenistic philosophers turned their attention inward, too. The Cynic Diogenes lived his life as an act of rebellion against commerce and cosmopolitanism. (Politicians, he said, were “the lackeys of the mob”; the theatre was “a peep show for fools.”)
- Epicurus, the philosopher, concluded that the most important thing in life was to seek the joy and happiness of the individual. And the Stoics argued that each individual man had a spiritual spark inside him that could be cultivated by living a good and noble life.
- Hellenistic art is the art of the Hellenistic period, usually taken as starting with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and ending with the invasion of the Greek world by the Romans, a cycle well under way by 146 BCE when the Greek mainland was conquered, and culminating ultimately in 30 BCE with the invasion of Ptolemaic Egypt after the Battle of Actium.
- Hellenistic Art’s popular works include “Samothrace Winged Victory,” “Laocoön and His Sons,” “Venus de Milo,” “Dying Gaul,” “Boy With Thorn,” and “Boxer at Rest” among others.
- The Hellenistic world may have fallen in stages to the Romans, but in 31 B.C, the era ended for good. That year, the Roman Octavian defeated the Ptolemaic fleet of Mark Antony in the battle at Actium.
- Octavian was the first Roman emperor to take the name Augustus.
- Despite the relatively short life span of the Hellenistic period, the era’s cultural and intellectual life has since inspired readers, authors, artists and scientists.
Hellenistic States Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Hellenistic States across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Hellenistic States worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Hellenistic Era which covers the period of Mediterranean history between Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BC and Rome’s conquest in Egypt in 30 BC. The term “hellenic” means to imitate Greeks, and its period is the time of domination of fusion of the Greek language and customs with the culture of the Near East.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Hellenistic States Facts
- Fact Sheet
- Data Collection
- Great Escape
- Three States
- Hellenistic Culture
- Hellenistic or Not
- My Religion
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Use With Any Curriculum
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