23 April 2023

What is the Hellenic Stage? – Characteristics, culture and phases of the Hellenistic period

By Donald

The Hellenistic period is one of the eras more interesting from ancient history, because it is an era of great innovation in all areas, from philosophy and literature to architecture and the arts. During this stage the Greek world was transformed and important changes took place in politics, culture and society.

Trade routes expanded throughout the Mediterranean and important cities were created like Alexandria and Pergamum and, thanks to this, it maintained a constant commercial and economic activity. If you want to know more about this stage, you will find it in this article!

When did Hellenism occur?

This period spans from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC to the Roman conquest of Egypt, the death of Cleopatra, and the death of Mark Antony in 30 BC.

It was a period that was born because of the fall of the polis of Ancient Greecesuch as Sparta, Athens, Corinthians, etc., generating secondary effects, such as the division of Macedonia.

When the Emperor Alexander the Great dies, his generals divide the lands that make it up, thus creating the Hellenistic Kingdoms which are: Egypt, Greece, Anatolia, the Levant and Mesopotamia. Due to this event there were important changes in issues of politics, culture and society.

Elite classes originated and experimented with new art forms, philosophy and literature. In addition, economic activity expanded and trade routes were created.

At the end, it was considered a period in which the age classical greek went into crisiswhere there was a growth in the power of the Romans, where the latter inherited many characteristics from the Greeks, thus generating a fusion between the two cultures that was called: classical culture.

Why is it called the Hellenic stage?

The term “Hellenism” comes from the Greek “hellenes”, which was used to describe culture and ideas of this civilization, who perceived themselves as the most advanced people, being proud of their cultural legacy.

This reference was used, for the first time, by the German Johann Gustav Droysen, who was a historian. with this word defined the historical period through which the Greek culture and language spread to the civilizations of the Near East.

The spread of Hellenism had important consequences in politics. Hellenic kings, including the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria, adopted Greek culture and ideas as a way to unify their territories and establish power.

What are the characteristics of the Hellenic stage?

During this time, important political, cultural and scientific changes took place in the Mediterranean world, which gave rise to A new way of life and thoughtin which various cultures merged and notable innovations were produced in areas such as philosophy, art and science, among which stand out:

  • It had a great territorial expansion after the conquest of Alexander the Great. After his death, various empires were created in the division of territories by his successors and, thanks to this, Greek ideas spread throughout the Mediterranean world.
  • greek culture influenced various peoplessince the Hellenistic kings adopted their language and customs as a way of consolidating their power.
  • Cultural innovations occurred, especially in the branches of philosophy, art and science. The works produced at this stage were different from those that had been carried out in previous times, but still they retained some influence.
  • In the Hellenic stage there was the emergence of the philosophical movement, where schools of various currents were founded. Among these stoicism, epicureanism and skepticism, which explored new theories on ethics, morality and life.
  • Politics was centralized by adopting Greek culture as a way to consolidate his power. Instead of being a federation of city-states, as in classical times, these territories were They ruled through the monarchy and, therefore, the power fell on a single authority.
  • There was a fusion of different culturesBoth the Ancient Egyptian, the Persian and the Oriental were mixed, and created a hybrid where each of these civilizations made their contribution. This was called ‘Hellenistic culture‘.
  • There was a great progress in scienceespecially in mathematics, medicine, and astronomy.
  • Great monuments were built, and many of them are part of the 7 wonders of the world, such as the Alexandria Lighthouse and the Colossus of Rhodes. The great Library of Alexandria was also built.

What was the Hellenistic culture?

It was a culture established by diverse mixtures, in it existed the combination of civilizations and, thanks to this, many changes arose at an artistic, architectural and philosophical level. Their characteristics are:

  • there was a religious unificationwhere there was a mixture between the classical Greek pantheon and the oriental gods, like the Egyptians.
  • Promotion of sciences in the various kingdomswhere scientists stood out, among whom we can mention Eratosthenes, who was a mathematician and developed the principles of cartography, calculating the circumference of the Earth.
  • As to LiteratureGreek and its language were studied in depth. Works of different genres were written, where poetry, plays and novels stood out.
  • there was certain artistic innovation and an example of this could be found in the sculptures, which put aside the idealized human being to begin to focus on portraying realism, capturing, for example, old age, childhood and facial expressions. Another example is the rise of The portraitswhich emphasized the depiction of muscular tension, chiaroscuro and the torso of the human being.
  • The architecture abandoned the designs of the archaic era, creating urban planning based on geometric figures. These were rectangular, with groups of circles marking the center to highlight the streets.

What are the stages of Hellenism?

This period is divided into 3 stages:

  1. The time of the Diadocos (323 BC-275 BC). At this stage, reference is made to the period of struggle and rivalry between the successors of Alexander the Great, that is, his generals, who were known as “diadocos”. These inherited the lands conquered by the emperorsince his direct heirs were not yet old enough to govern.
    This fight spanned more than 40 yearsand during this time the wars and battles did not stop, killing even the relatives of the conqueror Alexander.
  2. The time of the Hellenistic kingdoms (281 BC-146 BC). After the death of the Diadochi, there was a space of equilibrium between their successors, which is characterized by the cultural and artistic flourishing of the time.
  3. roman times (146 BC-330 BC). For a long time there were battles between the cities, although the time came when Greece fell under the conquest. They destroyed the city of Corinth and, from that point, the Hellenistic culture merged with the Romanbecoming an important part of this civilization.