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Hellenistic civilization

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The term Hellenistic, established by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen, is used to refer to the shift from a culture dominated by ethnic Greeks to a culture dominated by Greek-speakers of various ethnicities, and from the political dominance of the city-state to that of larger monarchies. In this period the traditional Greek culture was changed by strong Eastern influences, especially Persian in aspects of religion and government. Cultural centers shifted away from mainland Greece, to Pergamon, Rhodes, Antioch and Alexandria.

Modern historians see the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC as the beginning of the Hellenistic period. Alexander and the Macedonians conquered the eastern Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, and the Iranian plateau, and invaded India; his successors held on to the territory west of the Tigris for some time and controlled the eastern Mediterranean until the Roman Republic took control in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. Most of the east was eventually overrun by the Parthians, but Hellenistic culture held on in distant locations like Bactria or the Cimmerian Bosporus.

Following Alexander's death, there was a struggle for the succession, known as the wars of the Diadochi, Greek "successors". These ended in 281 BC with the establishment of three large territorial states:

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