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How the Reign of Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Period Changed Macedonia and Greece

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Alexander the Great was the King of Macedonia from 336 B.C to 323 B.C, during this period he conquered the Persian Empire, spread the Greek culture and language throughout Asia Minor, Egypt and Macedonia to India (Fiero 136). The Hellenistic period started with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C and ended in 31 B.C, in this time the Greeks were dominant throughout the Mediterranean, which is why it receives the name of Hellenistic, because is derived from the Greek “Hellas” which means Greece (Goodman). The religion of the Greeks started in the second millennium B.C the Greeks believed not only in one true god but in many of them. When the Hellenistic period started, the religion was similar to the religion in the classical period and in later time like Christianity, it was riddled with complexities and deities, and belief that was in accordance of what these people needed or wanted and when that changed their religion did as well over time. This constant change to the needs of the people lead to confusion and new religions or cults and caused a lot of the people to change their faith or lose it entirely which made way for Christianity, so with all this change it caused many aspects of the classical era to become something similar but entirely different, like the architecture. The architecture the Greeks used to build had a few changes between the Ancient Greece and the Hellenistic period, in the Ancient Greece there existed two different types of architecture, The Doric order and The Ionic order. The Hellenistic period was very theatrical which brought another type of architecture to the Greeks, The Corinthian order.

To begin with, the Greek religion is believed to start from around the Aryan invasion in the second millennium B.C. the Aryan invaders came upon two people who lived in the region of Greece since Neolithic times, they fused to become what is now considered Greek culture, this resulted in what is known as the Minoan-Mycenean civilization, which flourished in the period of 1600 B.C to 1400 B.C. Before these invasions, the Helladic communities were spread out geographically, and when the Hellenistic period started the attacks from foreigners pushed everything along in its path, causing a lot of mixed beliefs and confusion which overtime systematization took place. The marriage of gods was an attempt of union, even though there was conflict between these gods, the classical Greek pantheon was a mixture of gods from many cultures, the conflict that came with the classical period put these gods on trial, people expected immediate and physical rewards from these gods, which made reality hard for some of the people, this form of religion was more for the rich and sophisticated, it did not meet the needs of the farmers, who were very superstitious. Once said gods were on trial, this opened the opportunity of the religion of the Greek countryside, the people did not trust their gods to help them with their daily strife’s, this was a very philosophical time where new religious thought was implemented. Greek philosophers wanted a more rational way to connect human and nature, not a mythical vague, with the dispersion of the Jewish people which was result of Alexander the great’s conquest as well as Jews were spread all over was a role in the dismissal of old belief, a lot of these Jews were converted to Christianity which spread throughout Palestine. “The religion of the early Greek is startlingly different from Christianity and other monotheistic religions. It has often been misinterpreted by people who assume since it is a religion it must resemble Christianity, and by people who think that because it is not like Christianity or other monotheistic religions it is not really a religion at all” (Lloyd-Jones 456) the religion of the Greek people was far from Christianity, where Christians worship one, they worshipped many. Their views on death and afterlife were different as well “The tale is as follows. When someone dies, his daimon, who took charge of him while he was alive, tries to lead him to a place where it is necessary for them to be brought together and offer their cases for judgment. Then they must go to the house of Hades with that spirit as guide who has the assignment of conveying them from here to there. When they have been there as long as necessary and experienced what they experienced, another guide brings them back after many long passages of time.” (Rice and Stambaugh 178-179). Hell in Greek literature was far different from the Christian hell, we know it was not eternal. Hades hell was just one of many realms, and their hell was a place where people could move to different realms of punishment.

Additionally, the architecture of the ancient Greece was the architecture that Greek speaking people created, the buildings they used to create were large and big, pretty and symmetrical. The monuments they built were used to serve the living people, not the dead. The temples were the most common form of architecture, but they were used for worship gods and politics, there existed two different types of architecture in the Ancient Greece; The Doric order, and The Ionic order, these two orders were the most common type of architecture used in the Ancient Greece. The Doric columns were the simplest, having the capitol which is the top or crown, they are circular with a square on top, but they do not contain a base. The Doric was very simple yet powerful architecture. The Parthenon is a good example of simple Doric architecture. On the other hand, Ionic shafts were a lot taller than the ones the Doric had. They were slender and they also contained flutes that were carved into the top all the way to the bottom of the column, they also contained a unique characteristic which is the entasis and that made a bulge in the column that gave the straight look of these columns even from a distance. This Ionic style was a little more decorative than the Doric’s simplicity. The Erechtheum is an example of Ionic architecture. After Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire the architecture of the ancient Greece started to spread out all over West Asia and even into India. Hellenistic period begins after the classical period which the architecture was derived from ancient Greece as well as ancient Rome form the fall of the Roman Empire, the architecture of the Roman Empire was ceased and changed except for the Byzantine Empire whose architecture changed into its own distinct style of architecture over time. They no longer followed the systematic order of the classical era. Many of these new styles were implemented in the Hellenistic period in the building of temples, public buildings and monuments, some of these buildings were the theaters and gymnasia, which it was like places to exercise, the temples were constructed on a much larger scale and complexity, the mausoleum of Pergamum merged space and also sculpture with placing heroic statues near grand staircase Greek architecture consisted of simple post and lintel building techniques, it stayed that way till the Roman era when the arch was developed to make great distance. Now Greek architects needed to use way more stone columns to support the horizontal beams up top, that being said they could not make buildings with a large interior space, without putting rows and rows of support columns. The Hellenistic period is very theatrical which this period brought the Corinthian order. The Corinthian is the third order in Classical architecture, the style of the Corinthian order was very ornate with a top that looked like leaves. The temple of Sybil in Rome is a good example of the Corinthian order which the romans used more than the Greek’s.

To conclude with this, there were not many changes with the religion in the time when Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia, and the Hellenistic period. This religion changed as the people changed so this new religion could fit the wants and needs of the people, which brought in different more personal forms of religious practice such as new private cults eventually leading to the Christian religion. On the other hand, the architecture of the Ancient Greece was centered in two types of order the Greeks used to build temples; the Doric order and the Ionic order. When the Hellenistic period came, it brought with it another type of architecture, the Corinthian order. This was similar to the other orders but tweaked, just as their religion was tweaked. With this we see how change moves gradually but constantly remains moving.

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