Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
The Cambridge Ancient History
  • Cited by 25
  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Buy the print book

Book description

Published in 1928, Volume VII of the Cambridge Ancient History orginally covered both the history of the Hellenistic world from the battle of Ipsus in 301 BC down to the Peace of Naupactus and the battle of Raphia in 217 BC and the history of Rome from its foundation down to the same date. In the new edition the Greek and Roman sections have been assigned to two separate volumes. Of these, VII part I opens after the death of Alexander, in 323 BC, as being a more logical starting-point for Hellenistic history; but 217 has been retained as the terminal date since, as Polybius noted, it is from then onwards that Rome begins to play a substantial role in Greek affairs. The volume has been completely rewritten by specialists from Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Canada, and takes full account of the vast amount of new material that has become available in the last fifty years. Separate chapters deal with the main kingdoms - Ptolemaic Egypt, Seleucid Asia and Macedonia - and with mainland Greece, Sicily and the smaller states including Pergamum. Political events are fully described and assessed, but there is less emphasis on military detail than in the first edition. The space thus saved has been given over to chapters on the historical sources, on the institution of monarchy and the ideology surrounding it, on the main cultural, social and economic aspects of the Hellenistic world and on the development of Hellenistic science, especially in relation to its application in peace and war. This up-to-date and authoritative account of the early Hellenistic world is designed to serve both the student and the general reader of this and subsequent generations as the first edition has served those of the last fifty years.

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Save to Kindle
  • Save to Dropbox
  • Save to Google Drive

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.
×

Contents

  • 1 - Sources for the period
    pp 1-22
  • View abstract

    Summary

    There are forty-six authors known to have written about the Hellenistic period: all are lost. For the period after 300 there is no consecutive account of historical events in the eastern Mediterranean basin until researchers come to Polybius' description of the rise of the Achaean League and of the Cleomenean War in Book of his Histories. This chapter examines the lost writers of the period 323 to 217. It considers those historians whose works survive, and examines how these relate to the primary sources. The chapter discusses briefly some of the other sorts of information available to the historian. By far the most important of the lost historians is Hieronymus of Cardia. A source of contemporary material which, like inscriptions is provided by papyri and by ostraca. Coins provide a further useful source of information on the early Hellenistic period. Many inscriptions and coins can only be fully exploited by the historian who studies them in their archaeological context.
  • 2 - The succession to Alexander
    pp 23-61
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The very fact that from the crossing of the Hellespont to the descent into the plains of the Indus everything had depended on the person and the will of the Conqueror meant that on Alexander's death the first problem to arise was that of the succession. The rules of succession in Macedonia had never been very strictly defined. Alexander had a half-brother, Arrhidaeus, who could have made an acceptable successor. Until 321 the kings were to remain with Perdiccas, perhaps more in theory than in reality, on Craterus. Craterus, Antipater and Perdiccas formed a sort of triumvirate controlling Alexander's legacy. The death of Perdiccas enabled a new, strong personality to make and appearance, Antigonus Monophthalmus, was in turn to embody the unitary ideal. Antigonus' death on the battlefield of Ipsus marks the final passing of the idea of an empire reviving that of Alexander. That is by no means to say that Alexander's work was totally and finally ruined.
  • 3 - Monarchies and monarchic Ideas
    pp 62-100
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Within twenty years of Alexander's death his empire had split into separate states, whose rulers had taken the title of king. The new kings were forceful and ambitious men who relied on their armies and mostly ruled in lands where monarchy was traditional. The new monarchies presented Greeks with ideological problems. Wherever they lived, they had to adjust to a dominant royal power and to find an acceptable place for monarchy within their political philosophy. It has been widely argued that the Antigonid monarchy in Macedonia differed in important respects from monarchy in the other kingdoms. Hellenistic monarchy was closely associated with religion and the gods. More varied in both its form and its implications is the religious practice commonly known as ruler-cult. The legacy of Hellenistic kingship lived on in the Roman Empire, its ideology and its institutions, secular and religious alike, now adapted to the requirements of a universal monarchy.
  • 4 - The formation of the Hellenistic kingdoms
    pp 101-117
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The pattern of the great Hellenistic kingdoms was fixed, under the three dynasties: the Ptolemaic, the Seleucid and the Antigonid, which were to preside over their destinies until their respective ends. Having narrowly escaped from the massacre of Ipsus, Demetrius Poliorcetes had hurled himself at Ephesus: he had to keep control of the sea. The occupation of the northern half of Macedonia in 288/7 expense of Demetrius, had further increased the importance of Lysimachus' state, and its ruler might well have seemed to have a chance of achieving what the Antigonids had attempted in vain, if not the re-establishment of Alexander's empire, at least a kingdom centred on the Aegean sea with all the coasts held by the same sovereign. The European Greek cities were broadly sympathetic to Lysimachus from hatred of the Antigonids, since Gonatas still held Corinth, Piraeus, Chalcis and some other towns, mainly in the Peloponnese.
  • 5 - Ptolemaic Egypt
    pp 118-174
  • View abstract

    Summary

    On the death of Alexander the Great on 13 June 323 BC Ptolemy, son of Lagus and Arsinoe, obtained from Perdiccas, the holder of Alexander's seal, the right to administer Egypt. This chapter discusses the rule of Ptolemy I (Soter), since the first fifty years of Ptolemaic rule in Egypt. It also discusses administration, economy and society of Egypt under the rulers Philadelphia and Euergetes. Ptolemaic military doctrine held that to keep open the land route for his armies to operate abroad. The 'Revenue Laws', for instance, are addressed to military authorities, strategoi, hipparchs, hegemones, as well as to civilian officials and police officers. If, in the religious life, Egyptian themes prevailed, literature and science were dominated by the Greeks. Their studies might be termed a secular religion. The scholarly achievement of Alexandria was the crowning glory of Ptolemaic Egypt. The Egyptians took over and adapted the Greek alphabet as a notation for their own language.
  • 6 - Syria and the East
    pp 175-220
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Of the various Hellenistic kingdoms which arose out of the dissolution of Alexander the Great's dominions, and most resembled the empire conquered and for a time ruled over by the Macedonian king, was the Seleucid kingdom. This chapter discusses the geographical description, and military and naval aspects of the Seleucid Kingdom. The organization of the official cult of the sovereign can be useful for tracing the Seleucid administrative divisions. In considering the relations between the Seleucid kingdom and the Greek cities one must distinguish between the new Seleucid foundations and the 'old cities' which existed before the Seleucid period and even before that of Alexander and the Diadochi. The precise role of the Iranian regions and policies pursued there by the Seleucid sovereigns are less clear in comparison with the Persian empire, and the axis of the Seleucid kingdom was markedly further to the west. The achievement of Seleucid Syria is to be assessed historically as a posthumous contribution.
  • 7 - Macedonia and Greece
    pp 221-256
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Antigonus Gonatas's victory over the Gauls at Lysimacheia left them as a master of Macedonia. In the later months of 275 Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus, returned home from the fiasco of his wars in Italy and Sicily, afterwards he invaded Macedonia. In 268, Macedonian progress in southern Greece was interrupted by the outbreak of a war directed against the Macedonian positions there and led by Athens and Sparta. The main evidence for its outbreak is an inscription containing an Athenian decree moved by Chremonides who was one of a group of anti-Macedonian statesmen active in Athens at this time. During the Chremonidean War the Aetolians, nominally neutral, had in fact favoured the allies. The Chremonidean War ended with a resounding victory for Macedonia. The failure of Athens and Sparta to co-ordinate their attack left Corinth firmly in his hands, or rather in those of his half-brother Craterus. In addition Athens and Attica were now also under Macedonian control.
  • 8 - Cultural, social and economic features of the Hellenistic world
    pp 257-320
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter focuses on the economic activities and interactions of Hellenistic world, and the role of the kings in creating the parameters of society. It describes regional diversities and the transformation of the polis as a focus of social life. The most basic demographic facts are unknown, for no reliable picture can be drawn of population figures in most areas, or of changes in them. Piracy provide a specific example of how the phrase Hellenistic Society is a convenient but misleading label for a set of developing and ad hoc solutions to the very various immediate or longer-term needs and problems which had to be solved within certain boundary conditions by governments and individuals. The royal land policy impinges directly on the greatest cultural phenomenon of the Hellenistic world, the transformation and revitalization of the Greek polis in areas where it was long established, together with its relentless spread into area after area of erstwhile non-Greek lands.
  • 9a - Hellenistic science
    pp 321-352
    • By G. E. R. Lloyd, Fellow of King's College and Professor of Ancient Philosophy and Science, University of Cambridge
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The founding, during the course of the fourth century, first of Plato's Academy and then of Aristotle's school, the Lyceum or Peripatos, had far-reaching significance not just for what may be called higher education, but also for scientific research. The Alexandria became pre-eminent in many branches of scientific research in the third century, even though Athens remained supreme throughout antiquity in philosophy. Already in the mid fourth century BC Plato and Isocrates distinguished between two main types of reasons for studying mathematics, that is broadly the practical and the theoretical. Both geography and astronomy have on the one hand a descriptive and on the other a theoretical, mathematical aspect. The history of medicine and the life sciences in the Hellenistic period illustrates several of our principal themes, the increase in specialization, but also the fragmentation of scientific research, the role of royal patronage, and the patchy success in the application of scientific knowledge to practical ends.
  • 9b - War and siegecraft
    pp 353-362
  • View abstract

    Summary

    In the Hellenistic period, war was a presence always felt in the Greek world, because of its widespread impact upon modes of organization and expression. In size the Hellenistic armies equalled those which had taken part in the conquest of the Persian kingdom. The largest warships were admittedly in a minority among the two hundred vessels at the disposal of Demetrius and the first two Ptolemies, which did not include the transport ships for troops, horses and light craft of many kinds. It is a decline that should also be imputed to the dwindling of the treasures to be won in war, and to the increasingly inferior sources of recruitment, and also to the obsession with civil or dynastic wars that set the Greek states one against another. The culmination in the development of siegecraft appears to have preceded that of the art of fortification by some decades, this being accepted to be the time of Philo of Byzantium.
  • 9c - Agriculture
    pp 363-370
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter considers the effect on agriculture of the changed political, social and cultural conditions which followed Alexander's conquest of the East. The Hellenistic world was a world of kings and, had interested themselves in the agricultural development of their kingdoms, so their Hellenistic successors showed similar concerns. Alexander had shown interest both in the draining of Lake Copais in Boeotia and in the irrigation system of Babylon. In Egypt large-scale reclamation projects in the Fayyum, recorded both in the papyri and from archaeological excavation. Most of the information on plants is again from Egypt where an archive from Philadelphia in the Fayyum, the papers of Zenon, manager of the gift-estate of the dioiketes Apollonius, gives a detailed picture of intensive agricultural activity in the mid third century BC. Under Philadelphus attempts were made to increase cereal production by the introduction of a second crop of summer wheat, probably einkorn.
  • 9d - Building and townplanning
    pp 371-383
  • View abstract

    Summary

    In various forms the Hellenistic architectural tradition flourished over a very wide area, and many Hellenistic buildings and complexes survived relatively intact through later antiquity. From the second quarter of the fourth century onward kings and local dynasts of the Eastern Mediterranean founded an unprecedented number of new cities with grid-plans of classical Hippodamian type. There were apparently several regional schools of Hellenistic townplanning. Hellenistic stoas were often two-storeyed, and effectively defined the borders of large open areas, for example the Athena precinct at Pergamum, or the Athenian Agora. Ptolemaic palaces in fact remained unrivalled until the time of Nero and the Flavians; yet both in Alexandria and at Vergina and Samos, Greek, or Graeco-Egyptian, columnar orders formed the basis of most of the designs. Probably no other period, either of Greek or of Roman architecture, can advance as impressive a claim to originality as the centuries from C 350 to 100.
  • 10 - Agathocles
    pp 384-411
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Agathocles was the dominant figure in the western Greek world for about thirty-five years and also the last Sicilian ruler to play an independent role in the power politics of the Mediterranean. Agathocles attempted to create a power base as a condottiere in southern Italy and continued his struggle against the ruling oligarchies. Once he had secured his position in Syracuse, Agathocles attempted to extend his rule over other parts of Sicily. From the very beginning this attempt met with the bitter opposition of the exiles from Syracuse and other cities. It has been emphasized quite rightly that driving these people from their homes ultimately only shifted the conflict from within to without, between 316/15 and 306 the exiles were the driving force in Sicilian history. A decisive turning-point in the African campaign seemed to be developing when Agathocles offered an alliance to Ophelias of Cyrene.
  • 11 - The Syrian-Egyptian Wars and the new lingdoms of Asia Minor
    pp 412-445
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter describes the wars between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids from the end of the eighties to the battle of Raphia. These conflicts, which scholars term the Syrian Wars, were to continue in the second century. The chapter focuses the smaller states that sprang up in Asia Minor in the shadow of the competing Hellenistic powers. It also focuses the tremendous historical consequences of the battle of Corupedium in 281 BC. After the battle of Ipsus in 301 BC all of western Asia Minor with the exception of Bithynia and Pontus came under the rule of Lysimachus. The reconquest of Coele-Syria by Ptolemy IV in the Fourth Syrian War opened the last phase of Ptolemaic presence in this region. The Coele-Syria formed a buffer zone between Egypt and the Seleucid empire and a glacis that protected the north-eastern approach to Egypt. The chapter concludes with an investigation of the aims and principles behind Ptolemaic policy towards the Seleucids.
  • 12 - Macedonia and the Greek leagues
    pp 446-481
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Demetrius II, son of Antigonus II, his accession was followed almost at once by several major changes in areas affecting Macedonia. This chapter discusses movements of Demetrius in the first half of the social war against the Achaean leagues. The political revolution in Epirus had consequences as significant for Rome as they were for Greece and Macedonia. Confronted with an ultimatum to join the Aetolian League, the Acarnanians in Medeon sent an appeal to Demetrius to which, probably owing to trouble on his northern frontiers, he was unable to respond. The Spartan revolution carried out in the autumn of 227 and consolidated during the following winter increased the manpower available to Cleomenes and clearly rendered him a more formidable opponent to the Achaean League. The naval expedition which Antigonus led against Caria in the spring or summer of 227 was a striking reaffirmation of Macedonian naval interests, dormant since the reign of Antigonus II.

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.