“We Greeks are one in blood and one in language; we have temples to the gods and religious rites in common, and a common way of life.”
So the fifth-century historian Herodotus has some Athenians declare, in explanation of why they would never betray their fellow Greeks to the enemy, the “barbarian” Persians.
And he might have added further common features, such as clothing, food ways, and political institutions. But if the Greeks knew that they were kin, why did many of them side with the Persians against fellow Greeks, and why, more generally, is ancient Greek history so often the history of internecine wars and other forms of competition with one another? This is the question acclaimed historian Robin Waterfield sets out to explore in this magisterial history of ancient Greece.
With more information, more engagingly presented, than any similar work, this is the best single-volume account of ancient Greece in more than a generation. Waterfield gives a comprehensive narrative of seven hundred years of history, from the emergence of the Greeks around 750 BC to the Roman conquest of the last of the Greco-Macedonian kingdoms in 30 BC. Equal weight is given to all phases of Greek history – the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods. But history is not just facts; it is also a matter of how we interpret the evidence. Without compromising the readability of the book, Waterfield incorporates the most recent scholarship by classical historians and archaeologists and asks his readers to think critically about Greek history. A brilliant, up-to-date account of ancient Greece, suitable for history buffs and university students alike, Creators, Conquerors, and Citizens presents a compelling and comprehensive story of this remarkable civilization’s disunity, underlying cultural solidarity, and eventual political unification.
Ancient Greece was one of the greatest civilisations in history. They put an emphasis on the value of the person and education. It was their people that made them great.
Here is only a small list of the most famous people from Ancient Greece:

Aeschylus (525 BC – 456 BC) was a playwright of ancient Greece, and the earliest of the three greatest Greek tragedians. Like Sophocles and Euripides, who would follow him, Aeschylus is one of the seminal figures in the development of drama in the Western world.
If Sophocles was the dramatist whose primary theme was fate, Aeschylus was dramatist who examined the relation of the gods to the lives of mortal men. More than the other tragedians, Aeschylus was concerned about the role of the divine, the path to moral rectitude, and the nature of justice. His most famous cycles of plays, the Oresteia, uses the retelling of the myth of the House of Atreus in the aftermath of the Trojan War to explain the transition from the ancient law of revenge, the lex talionis, to the new system of trial by jury. This is seen as mythically representing one of the important turning points in the development of civilisation.
Aeschylus’s concerns were no doubt influenced by his own turbulent and morally confusing times – the Athenian republic had just begun its experiment in democracy, and was constantly in danger of being usurped by local tyrants and foreign invaders. Aeschylus not only fought for Athenian democracy as a writer, but also as a soldier – he was wounded protecting Greece at the Battle of Marathon – and would later consider his achievements as a soldier, rather than a playwright, to be his greatest contribution to history.
As a playwright, Aeschylus made important contributions to the dramatic art form. He was the first playwright of ancient Greece to include scenes containing multiple actors. Prior to his work, all Greek plays consisted of a single actor and a chorus that served as a sort of narrator. This development presaged the shift towards character and individual actors that would become the hallmark of modern theatre. His plays are striking because they so closely resemble the modern conception of drama. The “Father of Tragedy,” as he has been called, Aeschylus is also the father of character – driven drama as a whole.
Aeschylus provides an important example of how closely art participates in human development. In the case of Aeschylus his plays engage the full range of human transformation from the nature divine human relations, through political, juridical, and social transformation. This foreshadows the enormous responsibility of artists, as their work not only reflects but influences human directions for better or for ill.

Aesop is the figure traditionally credited with the collection of fables identified with his name. A Greek contemporary of Croesus and Solon in the mid-sixth century BC, Aesop is thought to have been a slave who was freed but eventually died at the hands of the Delphians, but nothing is known about Aesop from credible records. In fact, the obscurity shrouding his life has led some scholars to doubt his existence altogether.
Greek oral tradition, which for centuries preserved the Homeric epics, similarly passed down Aesop’s Fables, and they were among the best-known stories from the ancient world circulated in vernacular European languages. The fables, which today are part of humankind’s moral heritage, present essential truths about human nature and right and wrong through colourful anthropomorphic tales.
The fable is based on a literary convention of moral turpitude or fortitude meeting its natural consequence. Thus, the tortoise unexpectedly wins the race against the haughty, indolent hare; the lazy grasshopper learns the lesson of hard work from the industrious ants when the winter comes; and the boy who frivolously cries “wolf!” suddenly discovers no one believes him when the wolf really comes. Underscoring values such as honesty, integrity, and frugality, Aesop’s Fables are still taught in schools throughout the world and used as subjects for various entertainments, especially children’s plays and cartoons.

Alcibiades (c. 450–404 BC), was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general. He was the last famous member of his mother’s aristocratic family, the Alcmaeonidae, which fell from prominence after the Peloponnesian War. He played a major role in the second half of that conflict as a strategic advisor, military commander, and politician.
During the course of the Peloponnesian War, Alcibiades changed his allegiance on several occasions. In his native Athens in the early 410s BC, he advocated for an aggressive foreign policy, and was a prominent proponent of the Sicilian Expedition, but fled to Sparta after his political enemies brought charges of sacrilege against him. In Sparta, he served as a strategic advisor, proposing or supervising several major campaigns against Athens. In Sparta too, however, Alcibiades soon made powerful enemies and was forced to defect to Persia. There he served as an advisor to the satrap Tissaphernes until his Athenian political allies brought about his recall. He then served as an Athenian General (Strategos) for several years, but his enemies eventually succeeded in exiling him a second time.
The Sicilian Expedition was Alcibiades’ creation, and modern scholars have argued that, had that expedition been under Alcibiades’ command instead of Nicias’, the expedition might not have met its eventual disastrous fate. In the years that he served Sparta, Alcibiades played a significant role in Athens’ undoing; the capture of Decelea and the revolts of several critical Athenian subjects occurred either at his suggestion or under his supervision. Once restored to his native city, however, he played a crucial role in a string of Athenian victories that eventually brought Sparta to seek a peace with Athens. He favoured unconventional tactics, frequently winning cities over by treachery or negotiation rather than by siege. Alcibiades’ military and political talents frequently proved valuable to whichever state currently held his allegiance, but his capacity for making powerful enemies ensured that he never remained in one place for long; and, by the end of the war he had helped rekindle in the early 410s, his days of political relevance were a bygone memory.

Alexander the Great
Alexander III of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great, single-handedly changed the nature of the ancient world in little more than a decade.
Alexander was born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia in July 356BC. His parents were Philip II of Macedon and his wife Olympias. The philosopher Aristotle educated Alexander. Philip was assassinated in 336BC and Alexander inherited a powerful yet volatile kingdom. He quickly dealt with his enemies at home and reasserted Macedonian power within Greece. He then set out to conquer the massive Persian Empire.
Against overwhelming odds, he led his army to victories across the Persian territories of Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt without suffering a single defeat. His greatest victory was at the Battle of Gaugamela, in what is now northern Iraq, in 331BC. The young king of Macedonia, leader of the Greeks, overlord of Asia Minor and pharaoh of Egypt became ‘great king’ of Persia at the age of 25.
Over the next eight years, in his capacity as king, commander, politician, scholar and explorer, Alexander led his army a further 11,000 miles, founding over 70 cities and creating an empire that stretched across three continents and covered around two million square miles. The entire area from Greece in the west, north to the Danube, south into Egypt and as far to the east as the Indian Punjab, was linked together in a vast international network of trade and commerce. This was united by a common Greek language and culture, while the king himself adopted foreign customs in order to rule his millions of ethnically diverse subjects.
Alexander was acknowledged as a military genius that always led by example, although his belief in his own indestructibility meant he was often reckless with his own life and those of his soldiers. The fact that his army only refused to follow him once in 13 years of a reign during which there was constant fighting, indicates the loyalty he inspired.

Appian of Alexandria, (c. 95AD – 165AD), Greek historian of the conquests by Rome from the republican period into the 2nd century AD.
Appian held public office in Alexandria, where he witnessed the Jewish insurrection in 116AD. After gaining Roman citizenship he went to Rome, practiced as a lawyer, and became a procurator (financial agent of the government) under the emperor Antoninus Pius (138AD -161AD) through the good offices of his friend Marcus Cornelius Fronto.
In addition to a lost autobiography, Appian wrote in Greek the Romaica, or history of Rome, in 24 books, arranged ethnographically according to the peoples (and their rulers) conquered by the Romans. The books that survive (the preface, Books VI–VII, most of VIII and IX, most of XI, and XII–XVII) deal with Spain, Carthage, Illyria, Syria, Hannibal, Mithradates VI, and the Roman civil wars. Books I–V and parts of VIII, IX, and XI are fragmentary; X and XVIII–XXIV have been lost. Extracts from other books survive in Byzantine compilations and elsewhere.
Appian wrote in a Greek that was no longer Classical. Not himself an able historian, he nevertheless preserved much information of value by his transmission of earlier sources. His work on the civil wars, dealing with the period from Tiberius Gracchus (tribune 133 BC) to Lucius Sulla (died 78 BC), is a major historical source. Scholars have noted, however, that Appian used his sources rather creatively to support his views of the importance of Alexandria and the virtues of the Romans. As a conservative supporter of the imperial system, he was often critical of and unsympathetic toward republican institutions and popular movements.

Source: en.wikipedia.com, newworldencyclopedia.org and britannica.com

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