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ANCIENT Greece was called Hellas and its inhabitants Hellenes. The country, which is about the size of Tennessee, is divided into many units by the mountains and the seas. These deep bays extend so far inland in several places that the total seacoast is greater than that of the much larger peninsula of Spain. Few spots in the country are fifty miles from the coast.
Greece is a region of great contrasts of surface and soil. No one section supplies the products necessary for a large number of people. In order to support an increasing population trade with other, nations has been a necessity. Wine and oil, two chief articles of diet of southern Europeans, have been produced for many generations in many parts of the peninsula. They were especially favorable articles for commerce, and the sea, which gave the Greeks fine harbors, made the development of navigation easy. Sailors and traders pushed from their own country and its surrounding islands eastward, where great civilizations already existed.
THE CIVILIZERS OF THE WORLD
The Greeks exchanged ideas as well as goods with other peoples. They developed a culture that never has been excelled and in many respects never equaled. They became the leaders and teachers of many nations. They produced great artists, artisans, architects, philosophers, mathematicians, writers of dramas, students of medicine, and political and commercial leaders. They established numerous colonies in the islands and along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, which they allowed to develop independently.
Conquerors and builders.—Under Alexander the Great the Greek empire stretched from the Ionian Sea to the Indus River and included Egypt. The great conqueror founded a chain of seventy cities to bind his dominions together. He named many of these places after himself, as, for example, Alexandria in Egypt. Some of the towns were only garrisons, but many became great commercial cities and centers of Greek culture. These towns were well built, were paved and lighted, had a good water supply and police protection.
The typical Greek city was built on a hill, and the acropolis, or citadel, occupied the highest point. The places of worship surrounded it, and the city proper was built on the slopes around this center. The nearest harbor on the coast was chosen for a port. The two towns were usually walled and connected by a passage protected with walls so any enemy could not easily conquer one place and separate it from the other. Athens and its port, Piræus, six miles away, were fortified in this way. Most of the large cities in the Greek empire had temples, theaters, and other beautiful buildings, and monuments and statues. Some erected stadiums, where vast audiences watched the athletic contests or games of which the Greeks were so fond. Others, such as Athens, Tarsus, and Alexandria, contained great universities and libraries.
The results of Alexander's work.—The history of the world was greatly influenced by the conquests of Alexander. His victories ended the attempts of the Persians to obtain an empire in Europe. The culture of the West was spread into the East. The Greek language, which not only was a language of culture, but which helped the spread of Christianity, was given the world.
After the death of Alexander, B. C. 323, his empire was divided. Greece was ruled much of the time by various kings. The people were not united, and rebellions were frequent. The Greek people were weakened by the luxuries and vices of the
rich East. They became corrupt and in turn influenced Rome, thus weakening the civilization of the ancient world. 1. Why were wine and oil especially good articles of commerce? 2. What are the three great articles of diet of southern Europe? 3. Locate on the map the empire of Alexander. 4. Name some of the results of the work of Alexander the Great.
THE RULE OF ROME AND THE SPREAD OF CHRISTIANITY
In the second century B. C. Greece was conquered by Rome and made a province of the Roman empire. The Romans boirowed very freely of the Greek culture. Their chief men were educated in Athens or other Hellenic cities, and spoke and wrote the Greek language. The less artistic but more practical Romans took the world that the Greeks had civilized and organized it politically under their own control.
The beginnings of the Christian Church in Europe.-It was into this luxury-loving, Romanized Greece that Paul was called by a vision to “Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16. 9). He landed at Neapolis (new city), the port of Philippi, and proceeded to the ancient city. It was in Philippi, the great center of trade, that “Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, .. was baptized, and her household” (Acts 16. 14, 15). Here also the first Christian church in Europe was established. Paul loved this church (Phil. 1. 1-6), and his letter to it, the Epistle to the Philippians, is called by some critics his “joy song."
Paul labored about five months in Thessalonica, and established a church there. This city is and has been a seat of influence for over two thousand years. In Paul's day it was one of the chief stations on a Roman highway connecting the Hellespont, or Dardanelles, with the Adriatic Sea, and was a great center of trade. It contained a hippodrome larger than the Coliseum at Rome, besides many temples and baths, and was surrounded by beautiful gardens. Saloniki, or Salonica, as it is