Chapter Summary. The classical civilizations that sprang up on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea from about 800 B.C.E. until the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 C.E. rivaled their counterparts in India and China in richness and impact. Centered first in the peninsula of Greece, then in Rome, the new Mediterranean culture did not merely constitute a westward push of civilization from its earlier bases in the Middle East and along the Nile. They also represent the formation of new institutions and values that would reverberate in the later history of the Middle East and Europe alike. For most Americans, classical Mediterranean culture constitutes “our own” classical past. We can clearly recognize the connections and our own debt without adhering to the notion that the Mediterranean world somehow dominated the classical period. Greco-Roman history is one of the three major classical civilizations, more dynamic than its Chinese and Indian counterparts in some respects but noticeably less successful in others. Classical Mediterranean civilization is complicated by the fact that it passed through two centers during its centuries of vigor. Roman interests were not identical to those of Greece, although the Romans carefully preserved most Greek achievements. For several centuries, the Persian Empire far surpassed Greece in significance, certainly in the Middle East but also in the eastern Mediterranean more generally. The Empire established significant traditions still visible in present day Iran and generated one of the significant religions in world history, in Zoroastrianism.
One of the more famous events at modern Olympic Games is the marathon, a run of 26 miles. Why is a marathon 26 miles?
Why did Persia invade Greece?
How does the expression “brains over brawn” apply to the final Greek victory over Persia at sea?
Who was Alexander the Great’s teacher?
What impact did Alexander the Great have on Greek culture?