The face of Greece is a palimpsest bearing twelve
successive inscriptions: Contemporary; the period of 1821; the Turkish
yoke; the Frankish sway; the Byzantine; the Roman; the Hellenistic epoch;
the Classic; the Dorian middle ages; the Mycenaean; the Aegean; and the Stone Age.
Pause on a patch of Greek earth and anguish
overcomes you. It is a deep, twelve-leveled tomb, from which voices rise
up calling to you. Which voice should you choose? Every voice, every spirit.
-- Nikos Kazantzakis, Journey to the Morea, p. 7.
There is no end to it in this city - wherever we walk, we set foot upon some history.
-- Lucius Cicero, 79BC, de Finibus 5.1
that cover the full scope of Greek history.
Eras of History
"Modern Greece" is the era of the independent
nation-state of Greece, an eventful period including - just since WWII - a civil
war, many government changes, the military dictatorship of "the colonels",
democracy's restoration, and Greece's evolution into the economy of modern
Europe and the Balkan scene - at least until the financial crisis hit.
Modern Greece 1828 - now
Rebelling against the centuries of Turkish occupation, and taking advantage both of the decline of the Ottoman Empire
and the sympathy of classically trained European "philhellenes,"
Greeks waged a seven year war to win their independence. Conducted in the
usual Greek style: fractious, heroic, and colorful.
War for Independence
1821 - 1828
For several centuries, the country was
part of the Ottoman Empire. Turkish overlords varied from enlightened to
despotic but it was a time of suffering and taxation without services or
representation. There was, in many places, considerable freedom to manage
local affairs, and the Orthodox church was not suppressed.
1453 - 1821
For a thousand years this provided the cultural matrix for the nation providing both a religion that shaped many aspects of life and also significant art. During this time Franks and Venetians were present in the territory.
Byzantine Empire 364 - 1453
The Romans admired and adopted Greek culture
as their own. In this climate of Roman rule and Greek language the early
Christian church was shaped with the early bishops and theologians using
Greek ideas and philosophy to develop the foundational theological doctrines of the new religion.
86 BCE - 364 CE
Alexander the Great seized control of his father's kingdom of Macedonia
and in a decade of constant war journeyed as far as India before dying
at the age of 33. His political kingdom did not survive his death, but
he spread Greek culture through the middle east.
While Athens had lost its political power, it remained a center of learning especially for philosophy (Aristotle) and science.
336 - 86 BCE
The Parthenon; the plays of Sophocles, Aeschylus, Aristophanes &
Euripides; the history of Thucydides, Herodotus and Xenophon; the philosophy
of Socrates and Plato; the leadership of Themistocles & Pericles;
sculpture, architecture, poetry. Oh, yea - one other thing: they invented
And then -- they threw it all away in war with Sparta.
500 - 336 BCE
Before the miracle of the 5th century,
there had been significant developments in math, science (Pythagoras) and
poetry (lyric poets such as Sappho). The first philosophers are in this
time as well. The first steps of the formation of the city-states and democratic
800 - 500 BCE
Ancient Greece of the classical era itself had an ancient history almost
as long as the period from the classical period to now. Greeks of the Classical
period looked past the centuries of the dark ages to sites so old they had no knowledge of how they came to be.
1100 - 800 BCE
The Trojan war was perhaps 1200 BCE.
The stories told by Homer in the Iliad
and the Odyssey were long thought to be pure fiction until the ancient cites
of Mycenae and Troy (and others) were discovered in the 19th century. Now we know that
there was a sophisticated empire based in Mycenae in the Peloponnesus region.
1500 - 1100 BCE
The explosion at Santorini
was, perhaps, 1628 BCE.
The discovery of the huge palace at Konossos led to our awareness of an empire based in Minoan Crete that was later overcome by the Mycenaens.
2000 - 1500 BCE
Among the cultural artifacts from this
area are a collection of art objects, known as "Cycladic," that
in their geometric and abstract form look surprisingly modern.
Early Bronze Age 3000 - 2000 BCE
Settled agriculture has been found in Greece as early as 6,500BCE.
Last modified 4/23/14; posted 8/14/00 original content © 2014, 2000 John P. Nordin