Comparing Hellenic and Hellenistic Greece

The Hellenic Age describes the period of Classical Greece between 507 BCE (the date of the first democracy in Athens) and 323 BCE (the death of Alexander the Great). This is the period that many know as the Golden Age of Ancient Greece.

Hellenic culture was based on the way of life that developed in the major Greek city states like Athens, Sparta, and Corinth. This includes the development of democracy in Athens, the great philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and the countless scientists, artists, histories, and writers that helped to develop Western culture.

Greek literature of the Hellenic period began with Homer's epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey and continued through the great playwrights Sophocles, Euripedes, Aeschylus and Aristophanes.

Greek mythology and the gods of Mount Olympus played an important part in the lives of the people of the Hellenic World. Great statues and temples were created for the worship and praise of their gods and goddesses, such as the Parthenon in Athens, dedicated to the goddess Athena and the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.

The Hellenistic period began with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE. After his conquests, a wave of Greek colonization spread to the East. This led to a great cultural diffusion and the merging of Greek, Persian, and Asian culture.

Politically, the Hellenistic Period is characterized by a division and a split from Alexander's former empire, with endless wars between his successors. The city states which dominated the Hellenic Age were replaced by larger kingdoms with more centralized power.

This period showed progress in architecture and the development of art and creation of libraries, with the most famous being the Great Library of Alexandria, one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world.

During the Hellenistic period the importance of Greek peninsula within the Greek-speaking world declined. The great centers of Hellenistic culture were Alexandria and Antioch, capitals of Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria respectively. Cities such as Pergamon, Ephesus, Rhodes and Seleucia were also important, and increasing urbanization of the Eastern Mediterranean was characteristic of the time.

The Hellenistic Age is considered to end with the annexation of the classical Greek Achaean League heartlands by the Roman Republic. This culminated at the Battle of Corinth in 146 BCE, a crushing Roman victory that led to the destruction of Corinth and ushered in the period of Roman Greece.