Greek development and civilization began in the 19th century B.C.E. It was influenced by several societies that lived close to them such as Mesopotamians, Phoenicians, Minoans, Egyptians, and Mycenaeans. However, unlike many of the other societies that were getting civilized during this time, Greece civilization was a combination of independent city-states that made it up. These independent city-states pursued development and civilization on an individualistic system that distinct them from each other. As a result, Greece was made up of distinctive states with a distinctive culture, politics, and traditions. Nevertheless, the city-states of Greece interacted with each other as well as people from the neighboring societies. The culture, values, traditions and politics in each of the states was as a result of interacting with other States and other societies. Greece played a significant role in the trade and politics of Mediterranean region during the prehistoric era.
Time went on, and the ancient societies disappeared. However, the city-states remained intact and were used as central units of governance in Greece. The city-states attracted people to live in them as they acted as some fortified sites. Here people made walled communities where they lived together as they enjoyed military protection. As time went on the issue of urbanization grew within the Greece society, and people started to move in large numbers to live in the city. Surprisingly, the city-states also known as polis took different forms and control. Military generals controlled some, others by wealthy and unscrupulous politicians and others controlled through the democratic government system.
One example of a polis or city-state during the history of Greece was Sparta. This polis emerged in one of the most fertile regions of Greek. Sparta tools the form of a military organization. It was led by Spartans while the lowly people were known as helots and were expected to work on the fertile agricultural land to produce food for the Spartans. This polis highly rejected the pursuit of personal wealth which would bring social and economic differentiation among members of the society. A person in Sparta could either belong to the class of Spartans or helots depending on his or her military talent, battlefield talent, and discipline. Things like one’s private wealth, social or economic class or the amount of jewelry owned were not seen as very important.
The polis of Athens was another example of city-states of Greece in the 19th century. It was controlled by a democratic government that was controlled by which landowners also known as aristocratic. The poor Athens were feeling oppressed, and they almost brought violence and chaos in the polis. Through the arbitration of Solon, the issue of oppression was resolved, and peace came back to the polis. Solon arbitrated that the rich land owners/ rulers/ aristocratic should keep their lands but not without first relieving the underprivileged/ poor Athens of the accumulated debts. It was also decided that the aristocratic were to include the underprivileged in the government by opening governing circles to them. This greatly helped Athens to grow and develop to a democratic and civilized society. Common people were also given opportunities to develop themselves. This translated to Athens polis being a vibrant community filled with scholars, scientists, artists, architects, dramatists among other important people. Even when Greece engaged in colonization it was a different colonizer compared to the others. It promoted democracy and trade.
The Greeks city-states survived for a long time. However, in the years between 500 and 479 B.C.E Persia under the leadership of Darius sought to expand the Persian kingdom by conquering the neighboring societies. The peace, vibrant economy and social development in Greece was disturbed as the region was targeted by ambitious Persian rulers. Though Darius did not succeed to conquer and capture Greece, His son Xerxes did. Xerxes used a troop of more than one hundred thousand men carried in thousands of ships and eventually succeeded to take over the strong and highly civilized Greece. Polis like Athens were burnt and reduced to ashes. However, the Persians victory died soon as Greeks retaliated and fought back. This attack presented an immeasurable lesson to Greece about unity. It is as a result of the short-lived conquest that the Greece city-states decide to the unit and ensure that they were strong in the case of a future threat. Soon Greece was thriving and more so the Athens because of the good democratic base they had acquired over the centuries. As a result Sparta became jealousy, a war arose and eventually the Athens were forced to surrender to Sparta, which managed to secure the support of other city-states in Greece. Instead of being seen as a city of prestige, intelligence and morals it was branded a place of arrogance and insensitive power. The final conquest of Greece was planned and execution started by Philip in 338 B.C.E.. Though he did not succeed, his son, Alexander the great executed it in 338B.C.E.. Alexander organized a strong military troop of forty-eight thousand armed men and conquered Greece among other regions such as India, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Ionia, and Anatolia. The era of the conquest of Greece and other places by Alexander the great is seen as an important era in the history of Hellenistic age. This is because values and traditions of Greece greatly influenced many regions. The most important values of this age include the Epicureans, the Skeptic, and the Stoics. The value of pursuing the common and having a duty or responsibility for others was commonly embraced during this era. Religion also formed an important part of Hellenistic age. People felt that religion benefited them because it promised good things such as blissful life and salvation to humankind.