Ancient Greece was one of the dominant civilizations in the Mediterranean and the world for hundreds of years. Like all civilizations, however, Ancient Greece eventually fell into decline and was conquered by the Romans, a new and rising world power.
Alexander the Great
Years of internal wars weakened the once powerful Greek city-states of Sparta, Athens, Thebes, and Corinth. Philip II of Macedon (northern Greece) rose to power and, in 338 BC, he rode south and conquered the cities of Thebes and Athens, uniting most of Greece under his rule.
Upon Philip II's death, his son, Alexander the Great, took control. Alexander was a great general. He proceeded to conquer all of the lands between Greece and India including Egypt.
When Alexander the Great died, there was a huge gap in power. Alexander's empire was divided among his generals. These new divisions soon began fighting. Although the Greek culture had spread throughout much of the world, it was politically divided.
The period of Ancient Greece after Alexander the Great is called Hellenistic Greece. During this time, the city-states of Greece fell into decline. The real centers of Greek culture moved to other areas in the world including the cities of Alexandria (Egypt), Antioch (Turkey), and Ephesus (Turkey).
The Rise of Rome
While the Greeks were in decline, a new civilization in Italy (the Romans) rose to power. As Rome grew more powerful, the Greeks started to see Rome as a threat. In 215 BC, parts of Greece allied with Carthage against Rome. Rome declared war on Macedonia (northern Greece). They defeated Macedonia at the Battle of Cynoscephalae in 197 BC and then again at the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC.
Battle of Corinth
Rome continued its conquest of Greece. The Greeks were finally defeated at the Battle of Corinth in 146 BC. Rome completely destroyed and plundered the city of Corinth as an example to other Greek cities. From this point on Greece was ruled by Rome. Despite being ruled by Rome, much of the Greek culture remained the same and had a heavy influence on Roman culture.
There were many factors that went into the decline and fall of Ancient Greece. Here are some of the primary causes:
Greece was divided into city-states. Constant warring between the city states weakened Greece and made it difficult to unite against a common enemy like Rome.
The poorer classes in Greece began to rebel against the aristocracy and the wealthy.
The city-states of Ancient Greece had different governments and were constantly changing alliances.
Greek colonies had a similar culture, but were not strong allies to Greece or any of the Greek city-states.
Rome rose to power and became stronger than the individual city-states of Greece.
Interesting Facts About the Decline and Fall of Ancient Greece
The Romans used a new type of fighting formation called the "maniple." It was more flexible than the Greek military formation called the "phalanx."
Although the Romans conquered the Greek peninsula in 146 BC, they did not take control of Egypt until 31 BC. Some historians consider this to be the end of the Hellenistic Period.
The Greek language continued to be the main language used in the eastern part of the Roman Empire for hundreds of years.
Life in Greece continued much the same under Roman rule.