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Hellenistic Age



The period in which Greco-Macedonian culture spread through the lands conquered by Alexander the Great. It is generally accepted to run from Alexander's death (323 BC) to the annexation of the last Hellenistic state, Egypt, by Rome (31 BC) and the death of Cleopatra VII, last of the Ptolemies (30 BC).

After Alexander's death, and despite the temporary restraint imposed by Antipater, his empire was split by constant warring between rival generals eager for a share of the territory. Even after the accomplishment of the final divisions (Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia, Macedonia, the Aetolian and Achaean Leagues in Greece, Rhodes, and Pergamum), Greek remained the international language throughput most of the known world and a commercial and cultural unity held sway. The age was marked by cosmopolitanism, sharply contrasting with the parochialism of the earlier Greek era, and by advances in the sciences (by such as Aristotle, Aristarchus, Eratosthenes, Euclid, and Theophrastus). The art was powerfully naturalistic if occasionally bathetic. Traditional religious cults weakened and were superceded by others either imposed from the east or increasing in influence, such as the cults of Isis, Sarapis, Cybele, and Mithras. The Hellenistic age saw the emergence of Stoicism and Epicureanism.