The history of the Greeks date back thousands of years before the existence of Christ. The ancient Greeks founded many building blocks of civilization, but were also involved in regular conflict with opposing empires. The first settlers wandered away from the Middle Eastern regions to colonize areas near the Mediterranean Sea. The Greeks fought heroically to defend Athens during the attack on Marathon. They also created the Olympics, and experienced a deadly plague. These five major events molded ancient Greece.
The Mycenaeans settled mainland Greece around 1900 BC. Due to the infertile land, the Mycenaeans couldn't grow grain. Grain was a major staple and without it, civilizations became squabbling tribes. The Mycenaeans became traders to gain what they needed. A large Navy was assembled, and overseas trade flourished. The Mycenaeans became very wealthy as traders. Mycenaeans warriors were a strong military force and land was often gained via conquest.
The Persian Wars first started around 499 BC. Greek city-states bordered the Persian Empire and conflict was bound occur. Both were super power civilizations, and the thirst for conquest was strong. The wars began when Greek colonies in the Asia Minor were conquered by the Persian Empire. The Greeks, used to having a democratic society, revolted against the oppressive empire. Greeks were sent from Athens to defend the colonists. The Persian empire eventually defeated the Greeks and remained in control of the colonies.
Battle of Marathon
The Battle of Marathon occurred a few years after the Persian Wars. The battle, one of the most historic battles in history, was a "David versus Goliath" scenario. The Persian Empire wanted revenge on Greece for their support of the colonists' revolt. They decided to attack Athens. The Persian military was much larger, stronger, and better trained compared to the soldiers of Athens. Persians outnumbered Athenians 5 to 2. The Athenians showed no fear and extreme discipline while defending their city. Against all odds, the Persians retreated with over 6,000 confirmed dead. The Greeks lost only 192 soldiers.
First Olympic Games
The Olympic games were first held in 776 BC. The events took place nearly two decades before Rome was even colonized. The Olympics were originally a religions event the Greeks hosted every 4 years. The games took place near a 42-foot statue of the mythological god, Zeus. Participants were only men, and they participated nude. The games included simple contests like foot races, wrestling, and javelin. Winners were given an olive wreath, and their name would be kept in the official record book. They were not awarded in currency, but sometimes in food and other life-essential items.
Plague of Athens
Athens was attacked by the Spartans in 431 BC sparking a 27-year war. Pericles was the political leader of Athens and developed a strategy that heavily relied on the navy. Citizens packed the city, and the military blocked all entries except the sea ports. Although the strategy was successful for a while, overcrowding in the city allowed sickness to spread rapidly. Athens lost between a quarter and a third of the population due to this plague.
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