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ART204 Hellenistic Age

400—150 BC

Socrates dies in 399 BC, Plato in 347 BC and Aristotle in 322 BC.

404 BC Athens falls to Sparta and Persians.

400 BC Athens and Greek Mainland's
Role as leader gives way, as political power moves to Asia Minor.

359 BC Philip of Macedonia begins quest for Athens, admires Athenian culture. Son, Alex, is educated by Aristotle and Plato. Macedonians were considered barbarians by the Greeks.

338 BC Philip Defeats Athens and rules Greece.
Through bribes and diplomacy gains influence and speaks for unity under his rule. Attacks with force, is generous to Sparta and Athens. Sparta's influence wanes, Athens regains stature in arts and education for the wealthy, but with economic unrest, people move to Asia Minor.

336 BC Philip is assassinated, his son Alex the Great extends Hellenism into India. Opening trade routs to the North and East, taking the Greek civilization into the historical world.
Proclaims self as divine King born of Zeus and his mother.

Conquers Egypt and is deified in Egypt as son of Ra,. Conquers Syria, Persia and into India. Dies in Babylonia, on his way back at 32 years of age.

His successors will rule until 150 BC.
Library of Alexander burns under Barbarian onslaughts. Then The Roman conquest.

Greek Hellenistic

After Athens fells to Sparta in 404 BC, Greece moves away from a democratic city state to a more autocratic forms of government.

In the second half of the 4th century, a divided Greece falls to the powerful Macedonian's under Philip and his son, Alexander the Great.

When Phillip succeeds in bringing the mainland of Greece onto a single kingdom. His son Alexander the Great, embarks on his conquest, leading to a short lived empire, with Asia Minor as its political center.

By the time of Alex's death Hellenism had reached much of the known world and the Classical period was over.

With great centers at Syracuse on the island of Sicily, Alexandria on the banks of the Nile, and the cities of Asia Minor, Greek thought became varied and international in scope.

Growth of a wealthy class and greater class distinction is tempered by legislative dialogue, which allows for two century's of relative stability. Greek mainland and Asia Minor are ruled by Greek monarchies.

The Hellenistic period covers the two centuries between the life of Alexander, and the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC. Then in 27 BC, the beginning of the Augustan Age in Rome.

Hellenistic 350 to 150 BC

Economy flourishes with routes to the Orient, shipping, banking, and private financial empires.
Socially, education and civil privileges are expanded.


Sharper divisions between philosophy and science.
Eastern contributions in medicine, astronomy, mathematics with Greek experimentation in the sciences. Classification of natural elements.

A five planet heliocentric solar system.


There is a decline in traditional reverence for deities that are as humans. And with rational perspective and self-sufficiency, rather than divine fate, Aristotelian scientific observation which denies the mysteries that are knowable, the idea of divine influence loses importance. Cults of Dionysus and Isis will flourish into the Roman culture.

Hellenistic Philosophy

Polarization between rational and esoteric philosophies leads to Epicureans. Influenced by idea that cosmos is a random flow of atoms. Or, when the flow is shifted then evolution occurs naturally, and is not linked to divine will or gods. Thus there is no higher morals or divine punishment, and does not acknowledge a divine influence that leads to or rewards behavior in an afterlife.

Logical extension of classical thinking of mind as the seat of the divine and a universe that is random flux of atom's.

The Epicureans trusted gods exist, but that they see them as not caring about earthy matters, so people are free to pursue own happiness.

Trusting one's own contemplation and senses to avoid suffering and to keep oneself in a pleasurable state.

Lead to over indulgence rather than contemplation by what the art will suggest, after the conquest of the Greeks by the Romans.

Stoicism—Has roots to Zoroastrianism, a choice between dualism of good and evil. And Plato's acknowledgement of an inner realm that can lead to a higher sense of mortality.

Virtue is wisdom, that comes from self control, or discipline.

To bare with strength and dignity the unavoidable worldly pains. Virtue meant gaining mastery of oneself in accord with un definable laws of universe, which dwells in heart of man.

An inner voice, not higher authority, is the guide to moral action. Becomes philosophy of Roman lower class. Leaderless until Jesus clears way for a prophetic universal religion.

Hellenistic Content:
Heroic action, grandeur and sensuality, imperfection and fallibility of being mortal.

Identification of the inner psychological realms, the emotional self.

People are not as influenced by the "ideal". Hellenism confronts dualism of Youth and Old age and Reason and Emotions.

Unrestrained movement, in the physical and psychologically sense. Attention to local concerns, the genre, rather than idealization of divine.

Hellenistic Analysis

Aesthetic: An expressive style, acknowledging emotional aspects of human fallibility, the genre, and sensuality in dramatic altered form.

Classical Hellenistic
Controlled measure distortion ,movement
Heroic dignity / self mastery genre, mortality
Union of form emotion radical , elegant sensuality
Timeless—idealism emotional fallibility
Plays to mind. Plays to emotions


Style Realism
Dom expressive of genre local time and place,
Light / dark, rough /polished texture. To celebrate Epicurean attitude of
Imbalance, a play to senses. people not linked to will of divine.
Subordinate formal to reflect Apollonian. Victim of ultimate pathos and entropy.

Altered anatomy and distortion to acknowledge inner psychological realm.
Id Emotional self.
The fallibility of corporal existence.