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Hellenistic civilization. Appearance and sunset.

The concept of Hellenism and its time frame

Hellenistic civilization is usually called a new stage in the development of material and spiritual culture, forms of political organization and social relations of the peoples of the Mediterranean, Near Asia and the surrounding regions.

They began with the Eastern campaign of Alexander the Great and the massive colonization flow of the Hellenes (Greeks and Macedonians) to the newly conquered lands. The chronological and geographical boundaries of Hellenistic civilization are defined by researchers in different ways, depending on the interpretation of the concept of “Hellenism”, introduced into science in the first half of the XIX century by I. G. Droysen, but still remains controversial.

The accumulation of new material as a result of archaeological and historical research has revived discussions about the criteria and specifics of Hellenism in different regions, about the geographical and temporal boundaries of the Hellenistic world. The concepts of pre-Hellenism and post-Hellenism are put forward, i.e., the emergence of elements of Hellenistic civilization before the Greek-Macedonian conquests and their survivability (and sometimes regeneration) after the collapse of the Hellenistic states.

For all the controversy of these problems, it is possible to point out the established views. There is no doubt that the process of interaction between the Hellenic and pre-Asian peoples took place in the previous period, but the Greco-Macedonian conquest gave it scope and intensity. The new forms of culture, political and socio-economic relations that emerged during the Hellenistic period were the product of a synthesis in which local, mainly Eastern, and Greek elements played a role depending on specific historical conditions. The greater or lesser importance of local elements left an imprint on the socio-economic and political structure, forms of social struggle, the nature of cultural development, and to a large extent determined the further historical fate of individual regions of the Hellenistic world.

The history of Hellenism is clearly divided into three periods:

  • the emergence of the Hellenistic states (late IV-early III century BC),
  • the formation of the socio-economic and political structure and the flourishing of these states (III-early II century BC),
  • the period of economic decline, the growth of social contradictions, the submission to the power of Rome (mid-II-late I century BC).

Indeed, since the end of the IV century BC, it is possible to trace the formation of Hellenistic civilization, in the III century and the first half of the II century BC, the period of its heyday falls. But the decline of the Hellenistic powers and the expansion of Roman rule in the Mediterranean, and in the Anterior and Central Asia — the possessions of the emerging local states did not mean its death. As an integral element, it participated in the formation of the Parthian and Greco-Bactrian civilizations, and after the subjugation of the entire Eastern Mediterranean by Rome, a complex fusion of the Greco-Roman civilization arose on its basis.

The emergence of Hellenistic states and the formation of Hellenistic civilization

Wars of the Diadochi

As a result of the campaigns of Alexander the Great, a power emerged that covered the Balkan Peninsula, the islands of the Aegean Sea, Asia Minor, Egypt, the entire Front, southern regions of Central and part of Central Asia to the lower Indus. For the first time in history, such a huge territory was within the framework of a single political system. In the process of conquest, new cities were founded, new routes of communication and trade were laid between remote areas. However, the transition to peaceful land development did not occur immediately; For half a century after the death of Alexander the Great, there was a bitter struggle between his generals-the diadochi (successors), as they are usually called-for the division of his legacy.

The Aristonaut Stele. Marble. IV century BC.

The Aristonaut Stele. Marble. IV century BC.

In the first decade and a half, the fiction of the unity of the state was preserved under the nominal authority of Philip Arridaeus (323-316 BC) and the minor Alexander IV (323-310 BC), but in reality, by the agreement of 323 BC, power in its most important regions was in the hands of the most influential and talented generals:

  • Antipater in Macedonia and Greece,
  • Lysimachus in Thrace,
  • Ptolemy in Egypt,
  • Antigone in Southwest Asia Minor,
  • Perdiccas, the commander of the main military forces and the de facto regent, was subordinate to the rulers of the eastern satrapies.

But Perdiccas ‘ attempt to consolidate his autocracy and extend it to the Western satrapies ended in his own death and marked the beginning of the wars of the Diadochi. In 321 BC, there was a redistribution of satrapies and offices in Triparadis: Antipater became regent, and the royal family was transported to Macedonia from Babylon, Antigonus was appointed strategos-autocrat of Asia, commander of all the troops there, and authorized to continue the war with Eumenes, a supporter of Perdiccas. In Babylonia, which had lost the importance of the royal residence, the commander of the gethaires, Seleucus, was appointed satrap.

The death in 319 BC of Antipater, who handed over the regency to Polyperchon, an old, loyal general, who was opposed by Antipater’s son Cassander, supported by Antigonus, led to a new increase in the wars of the Diadochi. Greece and Macedonia became an important springboard, where the royal house, the Macedonian nobility, and the Greek polis were involved in the struggle; Philip Arridaeus and other members of the royal family died in the course of it, and Cassander managed to consolidate his position in Macedonia. In Asia, Antigonus, having defeated Eumenes and his allies, became the most powerful of the Diadochi, and immediately a coalition of Seleucus, Ptolemy, Cassander, and Lysimachus formed against him. A new series of sea and land battles began in Syria, Babylonia, Asia Minor, and Greece. In the peace concluded in 311 BC, although the name of the king appeared, but in fact there was no question of the unity of the state, the diadochi acted as independent rulers of the lands belonging to them.

Hydra with the image of running warriors. IV century BC.

Hydra with the image of running warriors. IV century BC.

A new phase of the war of the Diadochi began after the murder of the young Alexander IV by order of Cassander. In 306 BC, Antigonus and his son Demetrius Polyorcetes, and then other diadochi, assumed the royal titles, thereby recognizing the collapse of Alexander’s power and claiming the Macedonian throne. Antigonus was most actively seeking it. Military operations are being deployed in Greece, Asia Minor and the Aegean. In a battle with the combined forces of Seleucus, Lysimachus, and Cassander in 301 BC at Ipsa, Antigonus was defeated and killed. There was a new distribution of forces: Along with the kingdom of Ptolemy I (305-282 BC), which included Egypt, Cyrenaica and Kelesyria, there was a large kingdom of Seleucus I (311-281 BC), which united Babylonia, the eastern satrapies and the Near-Asian possessions of Antigonus. Lysimachus expanded the borders of his kingdom in Asia Minor, Cassander received recognition of the rights to the Macedonian throne.

However, after the death of Cassander in 298 BC, the struggle for Macedonia again flared up, which lasted for more than 20 years. Her sons Cassander, Demetrius Polyorcetes, Lysimachus, Ptolemy Keraunus, and Pyrrhus of Epirus took the throne in turn. In addition to the dynastic wars in the early 270s BC, Macedonia and Greece were invaded by the Celtic Galatians. Only in 276 did Antigonus Gonatus (276-239 BC), the son of Demetrius Polyorcetes, who had won a victory over the Galatians in 277, establish himself on the Macedonian throne, and under him the Macedonian kingdom gained political stability.

The policy of the Diadochi in their dominions

The half-century period of the struggle of the Diadochi was the time of the formation of a new, Hellenistic society with a complex social structure and a new type of state. The activities of the diadochi, guided by subjective interests, ultimately revealed objective trends in the historical development of the Eastern Mediterranean and Near Asia — the need to establish close economic ties of the deep regions with the sea coast and links between individual areas of the Mediterranean — and at the same time, the tendency to preserve the ethnic community and the traditional political and cultural unity of individual districts, the need for the development of cities as centers of trade and crafts, the development of new lands to feed the increased population, and, finally, cultural interaction, etc. There is no doubt that the individual characteristics of the statesmen who competed for power, their military and organizational talents or their lack of talent, political myopia, indomitable energy and promiscuity in the means to achieve goals, cruelty and greed — all this complicated the course of events, gave it a sharp drama, often the imprint of chance. Nevertheless, it is possible to trace the general features of the policy of the Diadochi.

Each of them sought to unite the inland and coastal regions under their rule, to ensure dominance over important routes, trade centers and ports. Everyone faced the problem of maintaining a strong army as a real pillar of power. The main body of the army consisted of Macedonians and Greeks, who were previously part of the royal army, and mercenaries recruited in Greece. The funds for their payment and maintenance were partly drawn from the treasures looted by Alexander or the Diadochi themselves, but the issue of collecting tribute or taxes from the local population was also quite acute, and consequently, the organization of the administration of the captured territories and the establishment of economic life.

In all regions, except Macedonia, there was a problem of relations with the local population. In solving it, two trends are noticeable:

  • the rapprochement of the Greek-Macedonian and local nobility, the use of traditional forms of social and political organization
  • a tougher policy towards the indigenous segments of the population as conquered and completely disenfranchised, as well as the introduction of a polis system.

In their dealings with the far eastern satrapies, the Diadochi adhered to the practice established under Alexander (possibly dating back to Persian times).): power was granted to the local nobility on the terms of recognition of dependence and payment of cash and in-kind supplies.

One of the means of economic and political consolidation of power in the conquered territories was the foundation of new cities. This policy, initiated by Alexander, was actively continued by the Diadochi. Cities were founded both as strategic points, and as administrative and economic centers that received the status of a policy. Some of them were built on empty land and settled by immigrants from Greece, Macedonia and other places, others arose by voluntarily or forcibly combining two or more impoverished cities or rural settlements into one polis, and others — by reorganizing eastern cities filled with the Greek-Macedonian population. It is characteristic that new polis appear in all areas of the Hellenistic world, but their number, location and method of occurrence reflect both the specifics of the time and the historical features of individual areas.

During the period of the struggle of the Diadochi, simultaneously with the formation of new Hellenistic states, a process of profound change in the material and spiritual culture of the peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean and Near Asia was underway. Continuous wars, accompanied by major naval battles, sieges and assaults on cities, and at the same time the foundation of new cities and fortresses brought to the fore the development of military and construction equipment. Fortress structures were also improved.

Lion hunting. Mosaic. Pella (Macedonia). 300 BC Lion

Lion hunting. Mosaic. Pella (Macedonia). 300 BC Lion

New cities were built in accordance with the principles of planning developed in the V century BC by Hippodamus of Miletus: with straight and intersecting streets at right angles, oriented, if the terrain allowed, according to the countries of the world. The main, broadest street was bordered by the agora, surrounded on three sides by public buildings and commercial porticos; temples and gymnasiums were usually built nearby; theaters and stadiums were built outside the residential areas. The city was surrounded by defensive walls with towers, and a citadel was built on an elevated and strategically important site. The construction of walls, towers, temples and other large structures required the development of technical knowledge and skills in the manufacture of mechanisms for lifting and transporting super-heavy loads, improving various types of blocks, gears (such as gears), levers. New achievements of technical thought were reflected in special works on architecture and construction, which appeared at the end of the IV-III century BC and preserved the names of architects and mechanics of that time-Philo, Hegetor of Byzantium, Dyad, Charias, Epimachus.

Political situation in the Eastern Mediterranean in the third century BC.

The struggle of the Seleucids, Ptolemies and Antigonids

Since the second half of the 70s of the third century BC, after the borders of the Hellenistic states had stabilized, a new stage in the political history of the Eastern Mediterranean and Near Asia began. Between the Seleucid, Ptolemaic, and Antigonid powers, a struggle ensued for leadership, submission to the power or influence of the independent cities and states of Asia Minor, Greece, Kelesyria, and the islands of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. The struggle was carried out not only through military clashes, but also through diplomatic intrigues, the use of internal political and social contradictions.

The interests of Egypt and the Seleucid state clashed primarily in Southern Syria and Palestine, since in addition to the huge revenues that came from these countries as taxes, their ownership ensured a predominant role in trade with the Arab tribes and, in addition, these areas were of strategic importance in terms of geographical location and richness of the main building material for the military and merchant fleet — cedar wood. The rivalry between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids resulted in the so-called Syrian Wars, during which the boundaries of their possessions changed not only in Southern Syria, but also on the coast of Asia Minor and in the Aegean Sea.

Tanagra statuette. Terracotta. III century BC.

Tanagra statuette. Terracotta. III century BC.

The clashes in the Aegean and Asia Minor were caused by the same reasons — the desire to strengthen trade ties and secure strategic bases for further expansion of their possessions. But here the aggressive interests of the large Hellenistic states met with the desire of the local small Hellenistic states — Bithynia, Pergamum, Cappadocia, Pontus — to defend their independence. Thus, in 262 BC, as a result of the war with Antiochus I, Pergamum achieved independence, and Eumenes I, proclaimed king, marked the beginning of the Attalid dynasty.

The confrontation between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies was going on with varying success. If the Second Syrian War (260-253 BC) was successful for Antiochus II, and Egypt suffered great territorial losses in Asia Minor and the Aegean, then as a result of the third Syrian War (246-241 BC), Ptolemy III not only regained the previously lost Miletus, Ephesus, Samos and other territories, but also expanded his possessions in the Aegean Sea and Kelesyria. Ptolemy III’s success in this war was aided by the instability of the Seleucid empire. Around 250 BC. The viceroys of Bactria and Sogdiana, Diodotus and Euthydemus, were deposited, and a few years later Bactria, Sogdiana, and Margiana formed an independent Greco-Bactrian kingdom. Almost simultaneously, the governor of Parthia, Andragoros, was postponed, but soon he and the Seleucid garrison were destroyed by the rebellious tribes of the Parnians-Dai, led by Arshak, who founded a new, Parthian dynasty of Arshakids, the beginning of whose rule tradition refers to 247 BC. Separatist tendencies apparently existed in the western region of the state, manifested in the dynastic struggle between Seleucus II (246-225 BC). E.) and his brother Antiochus Hierax, who seized power in the satrapies of Asia Minor. The balance of Ptolemaic and Seleucid forces that developed after the Third Syrian War lasted until 220 BC.

The situation in Greece and Macedonia

The focus of conflict between Egypt and Macedonia was mainly the islands of the Aegean Sea and Greece-areas that were consumers of agricultural products, producers of handicrafts, a source of replenishment of the army and suppliers of skilled labor. The political and social struggles within and between the Greek polis provided opportunities for the Hellenistic powers to interfere in the internal affairs of Greece, with the Macedonian kings relying mainly on the oligarchic strata, and the Ptolemies using the anti-Macedonian sentiments of demos. This policy of the Ptolemies played a major role in the emergence of the Chremonid War, so named after one of the leaders of the Athenian democracy, Chremonides, who apparently initiated the conclusion of a general alliance between Athens, the Lacedaemonian coalition and Ptolemy II. The Chremonid War (267-262 BC) was the last attempt by the leaders of the Hellenic world of Athens and Sparta to unite forces hostile to Macedonia and, using the support of Egypt, to defend independence and restore their influence in Greece. But the preponderance of forces was on the side of Macedonia, the Egyptian fleet could not help the allies, Antigonus Gonat defeated the Lacedaemonians near Corinth and after the siege subdued Athens. As a result of the defeat, Athens lost its freedom for a long time. Sparta lost its influence in the Peloponnese, and the Antigonid position in Greece and the Aegis was strengthened to the detriment of the Ptolemies.

A woman with a fan. A Tanagra statuette. Terracotta. End of the IV century BC.

A woman with a fan. A Tanagra statuette. Terracotta. End of the IV century BC.

However, this did not mean the reconciliation of the Greeks with the Macedonian hegemony. The previous historical experience, confirmed by the events of the Chremonid War, showed that the independent existence of separate polises in the conditions of the Hellenistic monarchies system became almost impossible, besides, the trends of socio-economic development of the polises themselves required the creation of broader state associations. In international life, the role of the political unions of the Greek polis, built on federal principles, is increasing: while maintaining equality and autonomy within the union, they act as a single entity in foreign policy relations, defending their independence. It is characteristic that the initiative to form federations does not come from the old economic and political centers of Greece, but from the areas of underdeveloped ones.

At the beginning of the third century BC, the Aetolian Federation (which emerged at the beginning of the fourth century BC from the union of the Aetolian tribes) became important, after the Aetolians defended Delphi from the invasion of the Galatians and became the head of the Delphic Amphictyonia — an ancient cult association around the sanctuary of Apollo. During the Chremonid War, without engaging in open conflict with Macedonia, Aetolia supported democratic groups hostile to the Antigonids in neighboring polis, thanks to which most of them joined the alliance. By 220 BC. The federation included almost all of Central Greece, some polis in the Peloponnese and the islands of the Aegean Sea; some of them joined voluntarily, others, such as the cities of Boeotia, were subdued by force.

Portrait of a young man in a golden wreath. Wood, encaustic, tempera. Fayum. II century AD.

Portrait of a young man in a golden wreath. Wood, encaustic, tempera. Fayum. II century AD.

In 284 BC, the union of Achaean polis, which had collapsed during the wars of the Diadochi, was restored, and in the middle of the third century BC, Sikion and other cities of the northern Peloponnese joined it on federal principles. Established as a political organization that defends the independence of the Greek polis. The Achaean Alliance, led by the Sicyon Aratus, played a major role in opposing Macedonian expansion in the Peloponnese. A particularly important act was the expulsion in 243 BC. The Macedonian garrison from Corinth and the capture of Acrocorinth, a fortress located on a high hill and controlling the strategic route to the Peloponnese through the Isthmian Isthmus. As a result, the authority of the Achaean Alliance greatly increased, and by 230 BC this alliance included about 60 polis, occupying most of the Peloponnese. However, the failures in the war with Sparta, which regained its political influence and military strength as a result of the social reforms of King Cleomenes, and the fear of the citizens ‘ desire for similar transformations forced the leadership of the Achaean Union to make an agreement with Macedonia and ask for its help at the price of the cession of Acrocorinth. After the defeat of Sparta in 222 BC, the Achaean Federation joined the Hellenic Union formed under the hegemony of King Antigonus Doson, which included other Greek polis, except for Athens and the Aetolian Union.

The aggravation of the social struggle led to a change in the political orientation of the propertied strata in many Greek polis and created favorable conditions for the expansion of the possessions and influence of Macedonia.

However, Philip V’s attempt to subdue the Aetolian Federation by unleashing the so-called Allied War (220-217 BC), in which all the participants of the Hellenic Union were involved, was unsuccessful. Then, given the dangerous situation for Rome during the Second Punic War, Philip entered into an alliance with Hannibal in 215 BC and began to oust the Romans from their captured possessions in Illyria. This was the beginning of the first Macedonian war with Rome (215-205 BC). It was essentially Philip’s war with his old opponents who had joined Rome — Aetolia and Pergamum-and ended well for Macedonia. Thus, the last years of the third century BC were the period of the greatest power of the Antigonids, which was also facilitated by the general political situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

4th Syrian War

Portrait of a woman. Fayum. Wood, encaustic, tempera. Fayum. II century AD.

Portrait of a woman. Fayum. Wood, encaustic, tempera. Fayum. II century AD.

In 219 BC, the fourth Syrian War broke out between Egypt and the Seleucid kingdom: Antiochus III invaded Kelesyria, subjugating one city after another by bribery or siege, and approached the borders of Egypt. The decisive battle between the armies of Antiochus III and Ptolemy IV took place in 217 BC near the village of Raphia. The forces of the opponents were almost equal, and the victory, according to Polybius, was on the side of Ptolemy only thanks to the successful actions of the phalanxes formed from the Egyptians. But Ptolemy IV could not take advantage of the victory: after the battle of Raffia, unrest began inside Egypt, and he was forced to agree to the terms of peace proposed by Antiochus III. The internal instability of Egypt, which worsened after the death of Ptolemy IV, allowed Philip V and Antiochus III to seize the external possessions of the Ptolemies: all the policies belonging to the Ptolemies on the Hellespont, in Asia Minor and in the Aegean Sea went to Macedonia, Antiochus III took possession of Phoenicia and Kelesyria. The expansion of Macedonia infringed on the interests of Rhodes and Pergamum. The resulting war (201 BC). E.) went with a preponderance on the side of Philip V. Rhodes and Pergamum turned to the Romans for help. Thus, the conflict between the Hellenistic states escalated into the second Roman-Macedonian War (200-197 BC).

Brief conclusions

The end of the third century BC can be considered as a definite milestone in the history of the Hellenistic world. If in the previous period economic and cultural ties prevailed in relations between the countries of the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, and political contacts were of an episodic nature and mainly in the form of diplomatic relations, then in the last decades of the third century BC there was already a tendency to open military confrontation, as evidenced by the alliance of Philip V with Hannibal and the first Macedonian war with Rome. The balance of power within the Hellenistic world has also changed. During the third century BC, the role of the small Hellenistic states — Pergamum, Bithynia, Pontus, the Aetolian and Achaean unions, as well as the independent polises that played an important role in transit trade — Rhodes and Byzantium-increased. Until the last decades of the third century BC, Egypt maintained its political and economic power, but by the end of the century, Macedonia was growing stronger, and the Seleucid kingdom became the strongest power.

Socio-economic and political structure of the Hellenistic states

Trade and increasing cultural exchange

The most characteristic feature of the economic development of Hellenistic society in the third century BC was the growth of trade and commodity production. Despite the military clashes, regular maritime links were established between Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece and Macedonia; trade routes were established along the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and further to India, and Egypt’s trade links with the Black Sea, Carthage and Rome. There were new major trade and craft centers-Alexandria in Egypt, Antioch on the Orontes, Seleucia on the Tigris, Pergamum, etc., whose craft production was largely designed for the foreign market. The Seleucids founded a number of polis along the old caravan roads connecting the upper satrapies and the Mesopotamia with the Mediterranean Sea— Antioch-Edessa, Antioch-Nisibis, Seleucia on the Euphrates, Dura-Evropos, Antioch in Margiana, etc.

The Ptolemies founded several harbors on the Red Sea — Arsinoe, Philotera, Berenice, connecting them with the ports on the Nile by caravan routes. The emergence of new trade centers in the Eastern Mediterranean led to the movement of trade routes in the Aegean Sea, the role of Rhodes and Corinth as ports of transit trade increased, and the importance of Athens fell. Monetary transactions and monetary circulation were significantly expanded, which was facilitated by the unification of the coin business, which began under Alexander the Great with the introduction of silver and gold coins minted according to the Attic (Athenian) weight standard. This weight standard was maintained in most Hellenistic states, despite the variety of stamps.

The economic potential of the Hellenistic states, the volume of handicraft production and its technical level have significantly increased. The numerous polises that emerged in the East attracted artisans, merchants, and people of other professions. The Greeks and Macedonians brought with them their usual slave-owning way of life, and the number of slaves increased. The need to supply food to the commercial and artisan population of cities created the need to increase the production of agricultural products intended for sale. Monetary relations began to penetrate even into the Egyptian “coma” (village), breaking up traditional relations and increasing the exploitation of the rural population. The increase in agricultural production was due to the expansion of the area of cultivated land and through more intensive use of it.

The most important incentive for economic and technological progress was the exchange of experience and production skills in agriculture and handicrafts of local and foreign, Greek and non-Greek populations, the exchange of agricultural crops and scientific knowledge. Immigrants from Greece and Asia Minor moved to Syria and Egypt the practice of olive growing and viticulture and adopted the cultivation of date palms from the local population. Papyri report that in Fayum, they tried to acclimatize the Milesian breed of sheep. Probably, this kind of exchange of livestock breeds and agricultural crops took place before the Hellenistic period, but now more favorable conditions have appeared for it. It is difficult to identify changes in agricultural equipment, but it is certain that the large-scale irrigation works in Egypt, performed mainly by local residents under the direction of Greek “architects”, can be seen as the result of a combination of technology and experience of both. The need for irrigation of new areas, apparently, contributed to the improvement and generalization of experience in the construction of water-drawing mechanisms. The invention of the water pumping machine, which was also used to pump water in flooded mines, is associated with the name of Archimedes (“Archimedes ‘ screw” or the so-called “Egyptian snail”).


In handicraft, the combination of techniques and skills of local and foreign artisans (Greeks and non-Greeks) and the increased demand for their products led to a number of important inventions that gave rise to new types of handicraft production, a narrower specialization of artisans and the possibility of mass production of a number of products.

As a result of the development of the more advanced loom by the Greeks, which was used in Egypt and Near Asia, there were workshops for the production of patterned fabrics in Alexandria and gold-woven fabrics in Pergamum. The range of clothing and footwear, including those made according to foreign styles and samples, has expanded.

New types of products have also appeared in other branches of handicraft production, designed for mass consumption. In Egypt, the production of various varieties of papyrus was established, and in Pergamum from the second century BC — parchment. Relief ceramics, covered with a dark varnish with a metallic tint, imitated the more expensive metal dishes (the so-called Megarian bowls) in their shape and color, became widespread. Its production was of a serial nature due to the use of ready-made small stamps, the combination of which made it possible to diversify the ornament. In the manufacture of terracotta, as in the casting of bronze statues, they began to use detachable forms, which made it possible to make them more complex and at the same time remove numerous copies from the original.

Thus, the works of individual masters and artists were transformed into mass-produced handicraft products, designed not only for the rich, but also for the middle classes of the population. Important discoveries were also made in the production of luxury goods. Jewelers have mastered the technique of cloisonne enamel and amalgamation, i.e. coating products with a thin layer of gold, using its solution in mercury. In the glass industry, methods were found for making products from mosaic, carved two-color, engraved and gilded glass. but the process of making them was very complicated. The objects executed in this technique were very highly valued, and many were genuine works of art (the objects that have come down to us date mainly from the first century BC, for example, the so-called Portland vase from the British Museum and the gilded glass vase found in Olbia, stored in the Hermitage, etc.).

The development of maritime trade and constant military clashes at sea stimulated the improvement of shipbuilding equipment. Multi-row rowing warships armed with battering rams and throwing guns continued to be built. In the shipyards of Alexandria, 20-and 30-row ships were built, but apparently they were less effective (the Ptolemaic fleet was twice defeated in battles with the Macedonian fleet, built in Greek shipyards, probably modeled on the fast 16-row ships of Demetrius Poliorketos). The famous Tesseracontera (40-row ship) Ptolemy IV, which impressed contemporaries with its size and luxury, was unfit for navigation. Along with large warships, small vessels were also built — reconnaissance, messengers, for the protection of merchant ships, as well as cargo ships.

The construction of the sailing merchant fleet expanded, its speed increased due to the improvement of sailing equipment (two-and three-masted vessels appeared), the average load capacity reached 78 tons.


Simultaneously with the development of shipbuilding, the structure of shipyards and docks was improved. Harbors were improved, jetties and lighthouses were built. One of the seven wonders of the world was the Pharos Lighthouse, created by the architect Sostratus of Cnidus. It was a colossal three-tiered tower, crowned with a statue of the god Poseidon; no information about its height has been preserved, but, according to Josephus, it was visible from the sea at a distance of 300 stadia (about 55 km), in the upper part of it a fire burned at night. Lighthouses were also built in other ports, such as Laodicea, Ostia, and so on.

Urban planning was especially widespread in the third century BC. At this time, the largest number of cities founded by Hellenistic monarchs, as well as renamed and rebuilt local cities, were built. Alexandria has become the largest city in the Mediterranean. Its plan was developed by the architect Deinocrates under Alexander the Great. The city was located on the isthmus between the Mediterranean Sea in the north and the lake. Mareotida in the south, from west to east – from the Necropolis to the Canopic Gate-it stretched for 30 stages (5.5 km), the distance from the sea to the lake was 7-8 stages. According to Strabo, ” the whole city is intersected by streets convenient for riding and chariots, and two very wide avenues, more than a plethra (30 m) wide, which divide each other in half at right angles.”

The small rocky island of Pharos, which lay 7 stages from the shore, where the lighthouse was being built, was already connected to the mainland by the Heptastadium, a causeway that had passages for ships, under Ptolemy I. Thus, two adjacent ports were formed — the Great Commercial Harbor and the harbor of Eunostos (Happy Return), connected by a canal to the port on the lake, where the Nile ships delivered cargo. The Heptastadium was flanked on both sides by shipyards, on the embankment of the Great Harbor there were warehouses, a market square (Emporium), a temple of Poseidon, a theater, then up to the cape of Lochiada stretched the royal palaces and parks, including the Museion (Temple of the Muses), a library and a sacred site with the tombs of Alexander and the Ptolemies. Adjacent to the main intersecting streets were the Gymnasium with a portico over a stage (185 m) long, the Dicasterion (courthouse), the Paneion, the Serapeion, and other temples and public buildings. To the south-west of the central part of the city, which was called Brucheion, there were neighborhoods that retained the ancient Egyptian name of Rakotis, inhabited by artisans, small traders, sailors and other working people of various social and ethnic backgrounds (primarily Egyptians) with their workshops, shops, outbuildings and dwellings made of raw bricks. Researchers suggest that in Alexandria, multi-apartment 3-4-storey buildings were also built for the poor, day laborers and visitors.

Less information has been preserved about the capital of the Seleucid kingdom — Antioch. The city was founded by Seleucus I around 300 BC on the Orontes River, 120 stadia from the Mediterranean coast. The main street ran along the river valley, intersected by alleys that ran down from the foothills to the river, which was bordered by gardens. Later, Antiochus III built a new city on an island formed by the arms of the river, surrounded by walls and built in a ring shape, with the royal palace in the center and radiating from it radial streets bordered by porticos.

If Alexandria and Antioch are known mainly from the descriptions of ancient authors, then the excavations of Pergamum gave a clear picture of the structure of the third most historically important of the capitals of the Hellenistic kingdoms. Pergamum, which existed as a fortress on a remote hill overlooking the Caic River valley, gradually expanded under the Attalids and became a major commercial and cultural center. In accordance with the terrain, the city descended in terraces on the slopes of the hill: at the top of it were the citadel with an arsenal and food warehouses, and the upper city, surrounded by ancient walls, with the royal palace, temples, theater, library, etc. Below, apparently, there was the old agora, residential and craft quarters, also surrounded by a wall, but later the city went beyond it, and even lower down the slope there was a new, surrounded by a third wall, the public center of the city with the temples of Demeter, Hera, gymnasiums, a stadium and a new agora, along the perimeter of which there were trade and craft rows.

The capitals of the Hellenistic kingdoms give an idea of the scope of urban planning, but more typical for this era were small cities — newly founded or rebuilt old Greek and eastern urban-type settlements. Examples of such cities are the excavated Hellenistic cities of Priene, Nicaea, and Dura-Evropos. Here, the role of the agora as the center of the city’s social life clearly stands out. This is usually a spacious square surrounded by porticos, around which and on the main street adjacent to it, the main public buildings were erected: temples, the buleutherium, the dicasterion, the gymnasium with the palaestra. Such a layout and the presence of these structures indicate the polis organization of the city’s population, i.e. they allow us to assume the existence of people’s assemblies, bule, and a polis education system, which is also confirmed by narrative and epigraphic sources.

New forms of socio-political organizations

Destruction of policies

The policies of the Hellenistic period are already significantly different from those of the classical era. The Greek polis as a form of socio-economic and political organization of ancient society by the end of the IV century BC was in a state of crisis. The polis hindered economic development, as its autarky and autonomy hindered the expansion and strengthening of economic ties. It did not meet the socio-political needs of society, since, on the one hand, it did not ensure the reproduction of the civil collective as a whole — the poorest part of it faced the threat of losing civil rights, on the other hand, it did not guarantee the external security and stability of this collective, torn by internal contradictions.

The historical events of the late fourth and early third centuries BC led to the creation of a new form of socio-political organization — the Hellenistic monarchy, which combined elements of eastern despotism — a monarchical form of state power with a standing army and centralized administration— and elements of a polis system in the form of cities with rural territory assigned to them, which retained internal self-government, but were largely subordinate to the king. The size of the lands assigned to the policy and the granting of economic and political privileges depended on the king; The polis was restricted in the rights of foreign policy relations, in most cases, the activities of the polis self-government bodies were controlled by the tsarist official-epistat. The loss of the foreign policy independence of the polis was compensated by the security of existence, greater social stability and the provision of strong economic ties with other parts of the state. The tsarist government acquired an important social support in the urban population and the necessary contingents for the administration and the army.

On the territory of the polis, land relations were formed according to the usual pattern: private property of citizens and city ownership of unoccupied land. But the difficulty was that the cities could be attributed to the land with the local villages located on it, the population of which did not become citizens of the city, but continued to own their plots, paying taxes to the city or to private individuals who received these lands from the king, and then attributed them to the city. In the territory not assigned to cities, all the land was considered royal.

Socio-economic structure of Egypt

In Egypt, about the socio-economic structure of which the most detailed information has been preserved, according to the Tax Charter of Ptolemy II Philadelphus and other Egyptian papyri, it was divided into two categories: the royal and “ceded” land, which included land belonging to temples, land transferred by the king as a “gift” to his entourage, and land provided by small plots (clerics) to the clerical soldiers. All these categories of land could also contain local villages, whose inhabitants continued to own their hereditary allotments, paying taxes or taxes. Similar forms can be traced in documents from the Seleucid kingdom. This specificity of land relations caused the multilayered social structure of the Hellenistic states. The royal house with its court staff, the highest military and civil administration, the wealthiest citizens, and the highest priesthood formed the upper stratum of the slave-owning nobility. The basis of their well-being was land (city and gift), income positions, trade, usury.

More numerous were the middle classes — city merchants and artisans, royal administrative staff, tax collectors, clerks and kateks, local priests, people of intelligent professions (architects, doctors, philosophers, artists, sculptors). Both of these strata, with all their differences in wealth and interests, formed the ruling class that received the designation “Hellenes” in the Egyptian papyri, not so much by the ethnicity of the people included in it, but by their social status and education, which contrasted them with all the “non — Hellenes”: the poor local rural and urban population-laoi (rabble).

Most of the Laoi were dependent or semi-dependent farmers who farmed the lands of the king, the nobility, and the townspeople on the basis of leases or traditional holdings. This also included the hypoteleis – workers in the workshops of those branches of production that were the monopoly of the tsar. All of them were considered personally free, but they were assigned to their place of residence, to one or another workshop or profession. Below them on the social ladder were only slaves.


The head of Aphrodite. Marble. III century BC.

head of Aphrodite. Marble. III century BC.

The Greco-Macedonian conquest, the wars of the Diadochi, and the spread of the polis system gave an impetus to the development of slave-owning relations in their classical ancient form, while preserving more primitive forms of slavery: debtors, self-sales, etc.Obviously, the role of slave labor in Hellenistic cities (primarily in everyday life and, probably, in urban craft) was no less than in Greek polis. But in agriculture, slave labor could not displace the labor of the local population (“royal farmers” in Egypt, “royal people” in the Seleucids), the exploitation of which was no less profitable. In large farms of the nobility on the donated lands, slaves performed administrative functions, served as auxiliary labor. However, the increasing role of slavery in the overall system of socio-economic relations has led to increased non-economic coercion against other categories of workers.

Rural population

If the form of social organization of the urban population was the polis, then the rural population was united in komas and katoikias, while preserving elements of the communal structure, which can be traced according to Egyptian papyri and inscriptions from Asia Minor and Syria. In Egypt, each koma was assigned a traditionally established territory; a common “royal” tok is mentioned, where all the inhabitants of koma ground bread. The names of the village officials preserved in the papyri may be derived from the communal organization, but under the Ptolemies they already meant mainly not elected persons, but representatives of the local royal administration. The compulsory liturgy for the repair and construction of irrigation facilities, which was legalized by the state, also dates back to the communal order that once existed. In the papyri there is no information about the meetings of the inhabitants of Koma, but in the inscriptions from Fayum and Asia Minor there is a traditional formula about the decisions of the collective of comets on a particular issue. According to papyri and inscriptions, the population of kom in the Hellenistic period was heterogeneous: priests, clerks or kateks (military colonists), officials, tax collectors, slaves, merchants, artisans, day laborers lived in them permanently or temporarily. The influx of immigrants, differences in property and legal status weakened community ties.

Brief conclusions

So, during the third century BC, the socio-economic structure of Hellenistic society was formed, which was unique in each of the states (depending on local conditions), but also had some common features.

At the same time, in accordance with local traditions and the peculiarities of the social structure, the Hellenistic monarchies developed a system of state (tsarist) economy management, a central and local military, administrative, financial and judicial apparatus, a system of taxation, tax payments and monopolies; the relations of cities and temples with the tsarist administration were determined. The social stratification of the population found expression in the legislative consolidation of the privileges of some and the duties of others. At the same time, the social contradictions that were caused by this structure were also revealed.

The aggravation of internal strife and the conquest of the Hellenistic states by Rome

The study of the social structure of the eastern Hellenistic states reveals a characteristic feature: the main burden of maintaining the state apparatus fell on the local rural population. The cities were in a relatively favorable position, which was one of the reasons that contributed to their rapid growth and prosperity.

The state of affairs in Greece

A different type of social development took place in Greece and Macedonia. Macedonia also developed as a Hellenistic state, combining elements of a monarchy and a polis system. But although the land holdings of the Macedonian kings were relatively extensive, there was no broad layer of dependent rural population (with the possible exception of the Thracians), at the expense of which the state apparatus and a significant part of the ruling class could exist. The burden of spending on the maintenance of the army and the construction of the navy fell equally on the urban and rural population. The differences between the Greeks and the Macedonians, the villagers and the townspeople were determined by their property status, the line of class-class division was between the free and the slaves. The development of the economy deepened the further introduction of slave-owning relations.

The sarcophagus of Artemidorus with a portrait in the encaustic technique. Fayum. II century AD.

The sarcophagus of Artemidorus with a portrait in the encaustic technique. Fayum. II century AD.

For Greece, the Hellenistic era did not bring fundamental changes in the system of socio-economic relations. The most noticeable phenomenon was the outflow of the population (mainly young and middle-aged-warriors, artisans, merchants) to the Near East and Egypt. This was to blunt the sharpness of social contradictions within the polis. But the continuous wars of the Diadochi, the fall in the value of money as a result of the influx of gold and silver from Asia, and the rise in the prices of consumer goods, ruined primarily the poor and middle classes of citizens. The problem of overcoming polis economic isolation remained unsolved; attempts to resolve it within the federation did not lead to economic integration and consolidation of unions. In the polis that became dependent on Macedonia, an oligarchic or tyrannical form of government was established, freedom of international relations was restricted, and Macedonian garrisons were introduced into strategically important points.

Reforms in Sparta

In all the polises of Greece in the third century BC, the debt and the dispossession of poor citizens were growing, and at the same time the concentration of land and wealth in the hands of the polis aristocracy. By the middle of the century, these processes were most acute in Sparta, where most of the Spartiates actually lost their allotments. The need for social transformation forced the Spartan king Agis IV (245-241 BC) to come up with a proposal to cancel debts and redistribute land in order to increase the number of full citizens. These reforms, in the form of the restoration of the laws of Lycurgus, aroused the resistance of the ephorate and the aristocracy. Agis died, but the social situation in Sparta remained tense. A few years later, the same reforms were made by King Cleomenes III.

Taking into account the experience of Agis, Cleomenes previously strengthened his position by successful actions in the war with the Achaean Alliance that began in 228 BC. Enlisting the support of the army, he first destroyed the ephorate and expelled the wealthiest citizens from Sparta, then carried out the cassation of debts and the redistribution of land, increasing the number of citizens by 4 thousand people. The events in Sparta caused a ferment throughout Greece. Mantinea withdrew from the Achaean Alliance and joined Cleomenes, and unrest began in other cities of the Peloponnese. In the war with the Achaean Alliance, Cleomenes took a number of cities, and Corinth went over to his side. Frightened by this, the oligarchic leadership of the Achaean Union turned to the King of Macedonia, Antigonus Doson, for help. The preponderance of forces was on the side of the opponents of Sparta. Then Cleomenes released about 6 thousand Helots for ransom and included 2 thousand of them in his army. But in the Battle of Selassie (222 BC), the combined forces of Macedonia and the Achaeans destroyed the Spartan army, a Macedonian garrison was introduced into Sparta, and the reforms of Cleomenes were annulled.

The defeat of Cleomenes could not stop the growth of social movements. Already in 219 BC in Sparta, Chilo again tried to destroy the ephorate and redistribute property; in 215, the oligarchs were expelled in Messenia and the land was redistributed; in 210, the tyrant Mahanid seized power in Sparta. After his death in the war with the Achaean Alliance, the Spartan state was led by the tyrant Nabis, who carried out an even more radical redistribution of land and property of the nobility, the liberation of the Helots and the allotment of land to the Perieks. In 205, an attempt was made to cassate debts in Aetolia.

The state of affairs in Egypt

By the end of the third century BC, the contradictions of the socio-economic structure in the Eastern Hellenistic powers, and especially in Egypt, began to manifest themselves. The organization of the Ptolemaic royal economy was aimed at extracting maximum income from land, mines and workshops. The system of taxes and duties was characterized by a detailed development and absorbed most of the crop, depleting the economy of small farmers. The growing apparatus of the tsarist administration, tax collectors and merchants further intensified the exploitation of the local population. One of the forms of protest against oppression was the departure from the place of residence (anachorsis), which sometimes took a mass character, and the flight of slaves. Gradually, more active demonstrations of the masses are also increasing. The Fourth Syrian War and the hardships associated with it caused massive unrest, which first engulfed Lower Egypt and soon spread throughout the country. While in the most Hellenized areas of Lower Egypt, Ptolemy IV’s government was able to quickly achieve pacification, unrest in southern Egypt by 206 BC. They grew into a broad popular movement, and The Thebaid fell away from the Ptolemies for more than two decades. Although the movement in The Thebaid had the features of a protest against the dominance of foreigners, its social orientation is clearly traced in the sources.

The Arrival of Rome in Greece and Asia Minor

In Greece, the Second Macedonian War, which lasted for more than two years, ended in a Roman victory. The demagoguery of the Romans, who used the traditional slogan of “freedom” of the Greek polis, attracted to their side the Aetolian and Achaean unions, and above all the propertied strata of the citizens, who saw in the Romans a force capable of securing their interests without the monarchical form of government odious to demos. Macedonia lost all its possessions in Greece, the Aegean Sea, and Asia Minor. Rome, solemnly declared at the Isthmian Games (196 BC). E.) “freedom” of the Greek polis, began to dispose of Greece, regardless of the interests of the former allies: defined the borders of the states, placed its garrisons in Corinth, Demetriades and Chalcis, interfered in the internal life of the polis. The” liberation ” of Greece was the first step in the spread of Roman rule in the Eastern Mediterranean, the beginning of a new stage in the history of the Hellenistic world.

The next equally important event was the so-called Syrian War of Rome with Antiochus III. Having consolidated his borders with the Eastern campaign of 212-204 BC and the victory over Egypt, Antiochus began to expand his possessions in Asia Minor and Thrace at the expense of the polis liberated by the Romans from the rule of Macedonia, which led to a clash with Rome and its Greek allies Pergamum and Rhodes. The war ended with the defeat of the troops of Antiochus and the loss of the Seleucid territories of Asia Minor.

The victory of the Romans and their allies over the largest of the Hellenistic powers — the Seleucid kingdom-radically changed the political situation: no longer could any of the Hellenistic states claim hegemony in the Eastern Mediterranean. The subsequent political history of the Hellenistic world is the history of the gradual subjugation of one country after another to Roman rule. The prerequisites for this are, on the one hand, the trends in the economic development of ancient society, which required the establishment of closer and more stable ties between the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, on the other — the contradictions in foreign policy relations and the internal socio-political instability of the Hellenistic states. The process of active penetration of the Romans into the East and the adaptation of the eastern economic centers to the new situation began. The military and economic expansion of the Romans was accompanied by the mass enslavement of prisoners of war and the intensive development of slave-owning relations in Italy and in the conquered areas.

These phenomena largely determined the internal life of the Hellenistic states. The contradictions at the top of Hellenistic society are becoming more acute — between the layers of urban nobility interested in expanding commodity production, trade and slavery, and the nobility associated with the royal administrative apparatus and temples and living at the expense of traditional forms of exploitation of the rural population. The clash of interests resulted in palace coups, dynastic wars, urban uprisings, and demands for full autonomy of cities from the tsarist government. The struggle at the top sometimes merged with the struggle of the masses against tax oppression, usury and enslavement, and then the dynastic wars developed into a kind of civil war.

Roman diplomacy played a significant role in fomenting the dynastic struggle within the Hellenistic states and in pushing them against each other. So, on the eve of the third Macedonian War (171-168 BC), the Romans managed to achieve almost complete isolation of Macedonia. Despite the attempts of the Macedonian king Perseus to win over the Greek polis through democratic reforms (he announced the cassation of public debts and the return of exiles), only Epirus and Illyria joined him. After the defeat of the Macedonian army at Pydna, the Romans divided Macedonia into four isolated districts, banned the development of mines, salt extraction, timber export (this became a monopoly of the Romans), as well as the purchase of real estate and marriage between residents of different districts. In Epirus, the Romans destroyed most of the cities and sold more than 150 thousand inhabitants into slavery, in Greece they revised the boundaries of the polis.

The massacre of Macedonia and Epirus, and the interference in the internal affairs of the Greek polis, provoked open protests against Roman rule: the uprising of Andriscus in Macedonia (149-148 BC) and the revolt of the Achaean League (146 BC), which were brutally suppressed by the Romans. Macedonia was turned into a Roman province, the unions of the Greek polis were dissolved, and an oligarchy was established. The mass of the population was taken out and sold into slavery, and Hellas fell into a state of impoverishment and desolation.

The war between Egypt and the Seleucid Kingdom

While Rome was busy subjugating Macedonia, a war broke out between Egypt and the Seleucid kingdom. In 170, and then in 168 BC, Antiochus IV marched into Egypt, captured Memphis, and laid siege to Alexandria, but the intervention of Rome forced him to abandon his intentions. Meanwhile, a revolt broke out in Judea, caused by the increase in taxes. Antiochus, having suppressed it, built the fortress of Acre in Jerusalem and left a garrison there, power in Judea was assigned to the “Hellenists”, the Jewish religion was banned, and the cult of Greek deities was introduced. These repressions were caused in 166 BC. a new revolt, which turned into a popular war against the rule of the Seleucids. In 164 BC, rebels led by Judas Maccabee took Jerusalem and laid siege to Acre. Judas Maccabeus assumed the rank of high priest, distributed the priestly offices independently of the nobility, and confiscated the property of the Hellenists. In 160 BC, Demetrius I defeated Judas Maccabeus and brought his garrisons into the Jewish cities. But the struggle of the Jews did not stop.

After the invasion of Antiochus in Egypt, there was an uprising in the nomes of Middle Egypt, led by Dionysus Petosarapis (suppressed in 165), and an uprising in Panopolis. At the same time, the dynastic wars began, which became especially fierce at the end of the second century BC.The economic situation in the country was very difficult. A significant part of the land was empty, and the government imposed compulsory leases to ensure their cultivation. The life of most of Laoi, even from the point of view of the tsarist administration, was poor. Official and private legal documents of that time testify to the anarchy and arbitrariness that reigned in Egypt: anachoresis, non-payment of taxes, the seizure of foreign lands, vineyards and property, the appropriation of temple and state revenues by private individuals, the enslavement of the free-all these phenomena became widespread. The local administration, strictly organized and under the first Ptolemies dependent on the central government, became an ungovernable force interested in personal enrichment. From its greed, the government was forced by special decrees — the so — called decrees of humanity-to protect the farmers and artisans associated with the royal economy in order to get their share of the income from them. But the decrees could only temporarily or partially stop the decline of the Ptolemaic system of state economy.

Rome’s further advance into Asia and the collapse of the Hellenistic states

Portrait of a man from Palaestra on the island of Delos. Bronze. II century BC.

Portrait of a man from Palaestra on the island of Delos. Bronze. II century BC.

Having subdued Greece and Macedonia, Rome launched an offensive against the states of Asia Minor. Roman merchants and usurers, penetrating into the economy of the states of Asia Minor, increasingly subordinated the domestic and foreign policies of these states to the interests of Rome. In the most difficult situation was Pergamum, where the situation was so tense that Attalus III (139-123 BC), not hoping for the stability of the existing regime, bequeathed his kingdom to Rome. But neither this act, nor the reform that the nobles tried to carry out after his death, could prevent a popular movement that swept the whole country and was directed against the Romans and the local nobility. For more than three years (132-129 BC), rebellious farmers, slaves, and the inferior population of the cities under the leadership of Aristonicus resisted the Romans. After the suppression of the revolt, Pergamum was turned into the province of Asia.

Instability is growing in the Seleucid state. Following Judea, separatist tendencies are also evident in the Eastern satrapies, which are beginning to focus on Parthia. The attempt of Antiochus VII Sidetus (138-129 BC) to restore the unity of the state ended in defeat and his death. This led to the fall of Babylonia, Persia, and Media, which came under the rule of Parthia or local dynasties. At the beginning of the first century BC, Commagene and Judea became independent.

A vivid expression of this crisis was the sharpest dynastic struggle. For 35 years, the throne was replaced by 12 contenders, often simultaneously ruled by two or three kings. The territory of the Seleucid state was reduced to the limits of Syria proper, Phoenicia, Kelesyria, and parts of Cilicia. Large cities sought full autonomy or even independence (tyrannies in Bybla, Tyre, Sidon, etc.). In 64 BC, the Seleucid kingdom was annexed to Rome as the province of Syria.

The Kingdom of Pontus and Mithridates

In the first century BC, the center of resistance to Roman aggression was the Kingdom of Pontus, which under Mithridates VI Eupator (120-63 BC) extended its power to almost the entire coast of the Black Sea. In 89 BC, Mithridates Eupator went to war with Rome, and his speech and democratic reforms found the support of the population of Asia Minor and Greece, which was being ravaged by Roman usurers and publicans. On the orders of Mithridates, 80,000 Romans were slaughtered in Asia Minor in one day. By 88, he easily occupied almost all of Greece. However, Mithridates ‘ successes were short-lived. His arrival did not improve the life of the Greek polis, the Romans managed to inflict a number of defeats on the Pontic army, and the subsequent social measures of Mithridates — the cassation of debts, the division of land, the granting of citizenship to the Meteks and slaves — deprived him of support among the well-to-do strata of citizens. In 85, Mithridates was forced to admit defeat. He did it twice more, in 83-81 and 73-63 BC. He tried, relying on anti-Roman sentiments, to stop the penetration of the Romans into Asia Minor, but the balance of social forces and the trends of historical development predetermined the defeat of the Pontic king.

Subjugation of Egypt

When, in the early first century B.C., the dominions of Rome came close to the borders of Egypt, the Ptolemaic kingdom was still shaken by dynastic strife and popular movements. Around 88 BC, the Thebaid revolt broke out again, only three years later it was suppressed by Ptolemy IX, who destroyed the center of the revolt — Thebes. In the next 15 years, there were riots in the nomes of Middle Egypt — in Hermopolis and twice in Heracleopolis. In Rome, the question of the subjugation of Egypt was repeatedly discussed, but the Senate did not dare to start a war against this still strong state. In 48 BC. Caesar, after an eight-month war with the Alexandrians, confined himself to the annexation of Egypt as an allied kingdom. Only after the victory of Augustus over Antony did Alexandria accept the inevitability of submission to Roman rule, and in 30 BC the Romans entered Egypt almost without resistance. The last major state collapsed.

The aftermath of the Roman invasion and the collapse of the Hellenistic states

The Hellenistic world as a political system was absorbed by the Roman Empire, but the elements of the socio-economic structure that developed in the Hellenistic era had a huge impact on the development of the Eastern Mediterranean in the following centuries and determined its specifics. In the era of Hellenism, a new step was taken in the development of productive forces, a type of state emerged — Hellenistic kingdoms, combining the features of Eastern despotism with the polis organization of cities; There have been significant changes in the stratification of the population, and internal socio-political contradictions have reached great tension. In the II-I centuries BC, probably for the first time in history, social struggle took such diverse forms: the flight of slaves and the anachoresis of the inhabitants of koma, tribal uprisings, unrest and riots in cities, religious wars, palace coups and dynastic wars, short-term unrest in the nomes and long-term popular movements, in which different segments of the population, including slaves, participated, and even slave uprisings, although they were local in nature (about 130 BC). The revolt on Delos brought slaves for sale and the revolts in the Lavrian mines in Athens around 130 and in 103/102 BC).

In the period of Hellenism, the ethnic differences between the Greeks and Macedonians lose their former significance, and the ethnic designation “Hellenic” acquires a social content and extends to those segments of the population who, according to their social status, can receive an education on the Greek model and lead an appropriate lifestyle, regardless of their origin. This socio-ethnic process was reflected in the development and dissemination of a single Greek language, the so-called Koine, which became the language of Hellenistic literature and the official language of the Hellenistic states.

Changes in the economic, social and political spheres affected the change in the socio-psychological appearance of a person of the Hellenistic era. The instability of the external and internal political situation, the ruin, enslavement of some and the enrichment of others, the development of slavery and the slave trade, the movement of the population from one locality to another, from rural settlements to the city and from the city to the hora-all this led to the weakening of ties within the civil collective of the polis, community ties in rural settlements, to the growth of individualism. The policy can no longer guarantee the freedom and material well-being of a citizen, personal ties with representatives of the tsarist administration, and the patronage of those in power begin to acquire great importance. Gradually, from one generation to the next, there is a psychological restructuring, and the citizen of the polis turns into a subject of the king, not only by formal position, but also by political beliefs. All these processes in one way or another influenced the formation of Hellenistic culture.

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