The Rise of Rome and Greek Military Power
Although, people began moving into the Italian peninsula around 2000BC and built villages on pilings sunk in the water to keep them safe from animal attack, the first named inhabitants of that place were called the Etruscans. We discussed them very briefly before from the Michael Grant book, “The Etruscans”, as having began to appear about 800BC. They ruled the Romans for over a century and left 8000 inscriptions and numerable works of art to give us some clue as to what their lives were like. The Romans, the Greeks, and the Etruscans themselves all agreed that they came from Asia Minor (modern Turkey), probably Lydia. Lydia’s capital was Sardis and it later was home to one of the churches mentioned in the book of Revelation.
The Etruscans, who resided primarily in the present day area known as Tuscany, were ruled by a loose federation of tribes dominated by the Tarquinii (present day Corneto), among others. Through the 6th century, before they were subdued by Rome they were the strongest political force in Italy, with a well organized army, a famous cavalry, and a powerful navy that ruled what is still called the Tyrrhene, or Etruscan, sea.
Like Rome, their rule started out as a monarchy, then became an oligarchy of important families, then an assembly of citizens with property who voted annually for magistrates.
Their tombs reveal that they had imported rather advanced medicine from Egypt and Greece and dental bridgework has been found. The tombs also abound in jewelry. They loved to wage war, hunt, bullfight in the arena, have chariot races sometimes pulled by four horse teams, threw discus and javelin, pole-vaulted, raced, wrestled, boxed, and fought in gladiatorial bouts. Their tomb paintings reveal all of this along with their propensity for cruelty, weightlifting, gambling with dice, playing the flute, and dancing. Like all ancient peoples they practiced slavery and bouts of riotous drunkenness.
Their religion consisted of a greatest god, named Tinia, who was a god of thunder and lightning. He had a circle of gods who did his bidding without question, called the Twelve Great Gods, whose names it was forbidden to mention. Mantus and Mania were master and mistress of the underworld, ruling a horde of winged demons. The Etruscans divined the future like the Babylonians by examining the entrails of sheep and they practiced animal and human sacrifice. Prisoners of war were massacred as the Phocians in 535BC were stoned to death in the forum of Caere, and some 300 Romans captured in 358BC were sacrificed at the town of Tarquinii. The Etruscans believed that a slain enemy escaped the clutches of Hell.
They had a highly developed view of Hell where one went to be judged, then was either punished or sent to reside with the gods. Normally, they buried their dead but cremation was also practiced. Historians only know about Etruscan history by the artwork they left behind with the most famous of it being their pottery.
They captured Rome in about 618BC and ruled for a hundred years influencing the attitudes and practices of that culture.
Archaeologists believe that people of uncertain origin began settling the area known as Latium around 1,000BC. There, after crossing the Tiber, they mingled with the local population, or killed them, depending upon who you read. Then, over time a few small independent city-states developed, the strongest being Alba Longa, lying at the foot of Mt. Alban, according to Durant, probably where the Pope’s summer home, Castel Gandolfo, exists today. Around 800BC, a colony of these now called Latins moved about 20 miles northwest and founded Rome. This theory of the origin of Rome is highly speculative but is given much more credence than the Romans’ own traditions. As all written documents regarding its beginning were allegedly burned by the Gauls in a sack of the city in 390BC then we are left with the Romans own explanation or the guesswork of scholars.
According to tradition, a large amount of stories, and poems, Aeneas, the child of the union between the demon or goddess, Aphrodite-Venus, and a mortal man, escaped the burning Troy, an event which we will discuss more closely in our lesson on Greece, and after many adventures brought the Trojan tradition to Latium. There, he married Lavinia, daughter of the king, and 8 generations later their descendant Numitor was the king at Alba Longa. He was overthrown by a usurper, or someone who takes a throne usually by violence or trickery to which he is not entitled as in Satan’s deceit regarding Adam and Eve. This person, named Amulius, killed Numitor’s sons and forced his only daughter to become a priestess of the goddess, Vesta, also known as a Vestal Virgin, a type of pre-Christian nun. The beautiful daughter, named Rhea Silvia, was then impregnated by the demon or god, however you wish to call it remembering that the Greeks called their gods demons, Mars, whose statue is one of the ones gracing our Capitol building in Washington D.C., and their offspring were named Romulus and Remus. Amulius ordered the twins to be drowned and they were placed on a raft which was carried to land by the waves. There, they were suckled by a she-wolf or a shepherd’s wife named Acca Larentia or Lupa, depending upon whose story you read. When they grew up they killed Amulius, restored Numitor to the throne, and then went out and built Rome.
Archaeology provides no confirmation of this tale. Perhaps there is some grain of truth in it but most of the ancients ascribed some supernatural origin to their kingdoms. Rome consisted of seven hills which were often called seven mountains. In fact, much later, in the imperial era, it was said that a man of Rome was a man from the seven mountains. The three tribes that lived on the seven hills; the Latins, the Sabines, and the Etruscans, formed a federation called the Septimontium, or the Seven Mountains. This is important to remember when reading the book of Revelation in the Bible.
The story goes on to tell of how Romulus, in order to secure wives for his settlers, arranged for public games with the Sabines and other tribes in attendance, during which the Romans kidnapped the Sabine women and drove off the Sabine men. The King of the
Sabines declared war on and attacked Rome. Tarpeia, the daughter of the Roman who had charge of the fortress on the Capitoline hill from which our Congress’ Capitol building derives its name, opened the gate to the invaders. She was crushed by their shields in retaliation and later people gave the name “Tarpeian Rock” to the site where condemned men were hurled to their deaths. The kidnapped women stopped the conflict due to fear of losing their new husbands if their fathers and brothers were successful and losing their fathers and brothers if their new husbands were successful. Romulus persuaded the Sabine king to form an alliance with the Latins in common citizenship so, as the Sabines had been called Curites, it became common later to call all Roman freemen Curites.
After a long time as king, Romulus was, according to legend, lifted up in a whirlwind to heaven, and was after that worshipped as Quirinius, one of the Roman’s favorite gods. A Sabine was then chosen king. The real power was in the hands of the elders or senators, while the functions of the king were chiefly those of a high priest. This first Sabine king of Rome was Numa Pompilius. He established a uniform worship for the different tribes that comprised Rome, the Roman historian, Livy, tells us, and according to Cicero, another historian of Rome, gave them 40 years of peace. Think of the word that has come down to us, “pomp”, as in “pomp and circumstance”. His successor was Tullus Hostilius, as in “hostile”, whose main efforts were to look for opportunities for war. Alba Longa, the mother city, was his first victim, and its king was pulled apart by driving chariots in opposite directions while having him tied in between.
According to tradition along with Will and Ariel Durant, around 655BC, a rich merchant banished from Corinth in Greece and named Demaratus, came to live in Tarquinii and married an Etruscan woman. His son, Lucius Tarquinius moved to Rome and eventually seized power there. The office of king became more powerful politically and the Etruscan influence began to dominate Rome’s art, religion, politics, and engineering. He enriched the other Etruscan cities at Rome’s expense and was finally assassinated by the nobility or class of people who actually owned land, who attempted to put the king back into a priestly status. However, his widow, Tanaquil, managed to place her son, Servius Tullius, on the throne and he was the first king of Rome not chosen by vote of the wealthy and powerful. According to Cicero he governed well but due to his conflict with the nobility or patricians he made alliances with the wealthier members of the common people called the plebeian. He took a census and classified people by wealth rather than birth. He thereby balanced out the old aristocracy with a class of equites, literally those who owned a horse and armor or in Latin, equus (imagine being classed today as those who own a car and those who don’t). The census of that era revealed a population of about 260,000 or 80,000 men who could go to war, Rome’s national sport. When Servius was charged with ruling illegally he submitted himself to a plebiscite, a direct vote of the entire electorate today, and, according to Livy, received a unanimous vote. But, Tarquinius Priscus, had him assassinated anyway and was himself killed. Tarquinius Superbus became absolute monarch, king, or rex. Guess what word we get from his last name. He was a tyrant, surrounded by a bodyguard and ordering Roman
freemen into forced labor. He put to death many leaders of the upper class and ruled brutally earning the hatred of all. In one of the great moments of Roman history the senate deposed him around 508BC while he was away with the army. The Roman Republic was born.
According to the Roman poet/historian, Livy, this is about the time that one of the Tarquin nobility sexually assaulted the wife of another, a lady named Lucretia, who after informing her father and brother of the assault committed suicide. It was then that Lucius Junius Brutus, who had survived Tarquin brutality that murdered his father and his brother by playing crazy, urged the Romans to throw out the Tarquin king. Brutus appealed to the Army with the story of Lucretia, who became the model for feminine virture, and the Tarquin king had to flee for his life.
Now, an assembly of citizen-soldiers convened and instead of a king, elected two consuls, with equal powers, to rule for a year. The first consuls, legend holds, were Brutus and the husband of the deceased Lucretia, who resigned and was replaced by Publius Valerius, known as Publicola, or “friend of the people”. Now, you know where the word, “Public” comes from historically. He got his name by putting through several laws that became standards in Rome. One was that any man who tried to make himself king could be killed without trial (look forward to what happened to Julius Caesar in a different light). Also, any citizen condemned to death had the right to appeal. Durant says, “It was Valerius who inaugurated the custom whereby a consul, upon entering the Assembly, must part the axes from the rods (the rods and axes were the symbols of Rome, called the Fasces or bundle, from which we get Fascist) and lower them as a sign of the people’s sovereignty and sole right, in peace, to impose a sentence of death”.
This political effort had two consequences; one, it freed Rome from Etruscan dominance and replaced the monarchy with an aristocracy that ruled until Caesar. This did not help the poor, however, who were never free from exploitation by the powerful.
Not surprisingly, the Etruscans under Tarquin leadership, allied themselves together and marched on Rome. Civil unrest inside of Rome led to Brutus becoming famous in Roman history for being forced to silently watch his two sons be flogged and beheaded. The bridges were destroyed to keep the Etruscans from entering Rome and it is here that Horatius stands alone against the invader as the last man on the Etruscan side of the ruined bridge who fights off the enemy and then swims in a hale of arrows and spears to his comrades on the other shore. In spite of this, Rome surrendered and a peace was created but the monarchy was not restored.
The Etruscan influence on Rome remained, even though its power was overthrown. The Latin language, Roman numerals, and the name Roma from the Etruscan word, Rumon, for river all came from them. For several hundred years it was a custom for Roman aristocrats to send their children to Etruscan cities to be educated and even the
coins of Rome were adorned with the prow of a ship, an Etruscan symbol. Etruscans gave the Romans their gladiatorial games, their public works such as sewers and water supply, and drained the swamps to make the city of Rome. Rome, which had a higher status for women, than Greece did, got that, too, from the Etruscans. Roman weddings, funerals, musical instruments, and music all originated with the Etruscans. The term “Tuscan Style” still survives. However, the inordinate emphasis placed on self-discipline and sacrifice to the state and the greater good, the brutality and love of bloody death as entertainment, and super-patriotism were all Roman.
As the Roman Republic was born the struggle for power continued among the upper class of Patricians and the Populus or ‘people’, who came to be known as the plebs. Livy tells us that the original hundred clan heads that Romulus had chosen to help him start Rome and be his council and senate were the Patres or ‘fathers’. Their descendants were called the Patricii or ‘descendants of the fathers’. These clans gave Rome its generals and politicians for 500 years. The word classicus applied to them and we derived our word ‘classical’ from that, originally meaning of the highest rank or class.
The equites were close in wealth but not anywhere near in power. Some bought their way into the Senate and became patres conscripti or ‘patricians and coinscribed’ men. These two classes were called the “orders”. The Romans used the word virtus to described power and nobility, rank and prestige. The word vir for man came from that meaning the qualities that make up a man. To the Roman, a man was not a man if he did not contain an air of nobility and a sense of responsibility about him. Unlike today, virtue and manhood were synonymous.
The main body of Roman citizens, the populus or plebs, were craftsmen, tradesmen, artisans, or peasants, some attached as clientes or dependents to an upper class patronus in return for land and protection. We get our words client and patron from these Latin words as in an architect has his clients and a person is a patron of the arts. Lowest of all were the slaves whose lot, as they became more numerous, got worse and worse. They were dealt with as any other piece of property and since they were often prisoners of war looked upon slavery as a merciful commutation of a miserable death. Sometimes they managed their master’s property and were permitted to earn money, many buying their own freedom over time.
The constant class struggle in ancient Rome led to the Senate sending a delegation to Greece in 454BC to study democracy, composed of three Patricians. They came back and chose ten men, decemviri, to form a new law code. This commission, under Appius Claudius overhauled the old Roman system and created the Twelve Tables, a formalized code of man-made law that traditional historians say was Rome’s greatest contribution to civilization. It is as this point that Livy inserts the story of Appius falling madly in lust with Virginia, declaring her a slave so that he can do whatever he wants, and then losing her when her enraged father kills her to save the dishonor, then fleeing the country, only to return to overthrow the tyrant.
There was a long war with the Gauls from 405-396, during which Rome was sacked. This quieted disunity for a time and drew the nation together but increased the class struggle as the plebs would leave their lands to patriotically fight the invader only to have their debtors demand loan repayment without mercy anyway. The Licinian Laws were a reform designed to decrease the friction between the classes.
These laws which proposed that interest payments, in certain cases should be applied to the principal, and limiting the amount of acreage or iugera a person could own to about 500 iugera or 300 acres, suggested by tribunes Licinius and Sextus in 376BC were a major step toward equalizing the gap between classes. Plebeians were admitted to all levels of government including the priesthood. The Senate eventually regained its absolute mastery over the lower classes, though, as being an unpaid position, it automatically excluded the poor. Businessmen allied themselves with the Patricians in order to get lucrative government contracts for public works. The final nail in the coffin for true egalitarianism was the century of war with Carthage. The Senate led the way by necessity and the poor meekly followed along to save the nation.
Rome’s government was a complex and ever changing entity whose constitution depended in the end on the most successful military organization in history. We don’t have the time here to go into every detail of Roman law or civil organization but the Roman Legion, composed of 4200 infantry, 300 cavalry, and various auxiliary groups divided into centuries of a hundred men, later two hundred, commanded by centurions composed the backbone of its success. Two legions composed a consul’s army. Each legion had its vexillum, its banner or colors, which were never supposed to fall into an enemy’s hands. Many scholars have made a detailed study of Rome’s military organization and battlefield tactics and many books have been written on the subject. The Roman military concept changed with the challenges it met and its most basic premises still are with us today in some form.
Rome’s first task was to go beyond the 350 square miles it controlled after it emerged from monarchy to a weak city-state. It proceeded to conquer all of Italy. At the same time, the long standing conflict with Gaul, a force which comprised loosely knit tribes in what is now France, Germany, and Northern Italy, which was only ended by Caesar’s successes, began in earnest in 390BC. Rome was attacked several times and sacked and nearly destroyed once. Rome even had to pay a tribute to make the Gauls go away. The land they succeeded in taking for a time in Northern Italy was called Cisalpine Gaul. The city itself was nearly abandoned due to how great the destruction was. Between the Gallic north and the south dominated by Greek colonies Rome became master of Italy.
The Greek cities of Magna Grecia or Greater Greece eventually merged with Rome except for Tarentum, which called for help from King Pyrrhus, of Epirus in Greece. He defeated the Romans but at such a great cost to himself we get the term Pyrrhic Victory from his disastrous success. To paraphrase his famous quote, “If we win another battle, we’re finished”. Finally, after driving the Carthaginians from the Greek city-states of
Sicily he returned to Italy and then gave up, returning home. Now, the Romans faced an enemy older than themselves, with a Canaanite religion and tradition, backed by military and naval power that imprisoned Italy. The Phoenician colony of Carthage on the African coast was the most powerful force in the Mediterranean Sea and the war between it and Rome for domination of the region was known as the Punic Wars; first, second, and third. They ended with the complete destruction of Carthage.
Before we go there let’s look at Roman religion again for a brief time. Public worship was conducted by several collegia (colleges) or associations of priests, all under the head of single priest elected by the centuries, called a pontifex maximus or supreme pontiff. The college of Vestal Virgins were white clad nuns who took a vow of virginity and service for thirty years. The most influential college of priests was called the augures who studied the intent and will of the gods. Eventually, Caesar himself would be elected supreme pontiff, thereby controlling the state religion and priesthood, celebrating his alma mater (virgin mother, as in modern favored school songs) Venus, who is also Ishtar or Ashtoreth of the Bible. Eventually, Emperor Gratian, according to some sources, declined the title and it was taken up by Pope Damasus, who contracted Jerome to revise the Old Latin or Vetus Latina Bible the early church fathers used to be more to his liking. Later, as we shall see, the Roman Catholic Church transformed the Roman Empire into a spiritual entity ruling over a political world. As noted historian Will Durant says in his book, “Caesar and Christ”, “When Christianity conquered Rome the ecclesiastical structure of the pagan church, the title and vestments of the pontifex maximus, the worship of the Great Mother and a multitude of comforting divinities, the sense of supersensible presences everywhere, the joy or solemnity of old festivals, and the pageantry of immemorial ceremony, passed like maternal blood into the new religion, and captive Rome became her conqueror. The reins and skills of government were handed down by a dying empire to a virile papacy…the revolting provinces, accepting Chrsitianity, again acknowledged the sovereignty of Rome.” The Roman Catholic Church, the ultimate state church of history is the inheritor and continuance of the Roman Empire with the Pope as Emperor, the College of Cardinals as Senate, and on down to the Priest as Civitas or lowest level administrators, complete with Vestal Virgins as Nuns, the sign of the cross, relic worship, idol procession, purgatory and prayers for the dead all brought forward seamlessly from earlier pagan society. We will approach this in more detail later. This stable organization has allowed Rome to remain so powerful and important for nearly 2800 years.*
The Phoenician colony of Carthage ruled the western Mediterranean enriched by the mines of Spain and a vast trade network. Around 813BC some colonists built their homes on a promontory ten miles northwest of the present day city of Tunis. Tradition has the founding of the city performed by Elissa, or Dido, daughter of the king of Tyre. Her husband having been slain by her brother she led the colonists to Africa. Her settlement was named Kart-hadasht – Newtown- the Greeks called it Karchedon, the Romans called it Carthago. The Latins gave the name Africa to the region around Carthage and, like the
Greeks called the native population Poeni or Phoenicians. The sieges of Tyre by Shalmaneser, Nebuchadnezzar, and Alexander drove many wealthy Tyreans to Carthage.
The Carthaginians were distinctly Canaanite in their culture and religion displaying all of the grossly, immoral traits that God said he hated in Leviticus, chapter 18. They worshipped both Baal-Moloch or Molech and Astarte or Asthtoreth/Ishtar and developed corresponding deities named Baal-Haman and Tanith. Even Dido, the legendary founder of the city, was worshipped. Living children were sacrificed, or “passed through the fire to Molech”, as the Bible says, as many as 300 in a day, according to Durant. They were placed on the outstretched arms of the idol and rolled into the fire beneath; the infant’s cries drowned out by trumpets and cymbals. Their mothers were required to look on without showing emotion or even a tear less they be accused of impiety, Durant says, and lose the credit due them from their god. No class was spared this evil and it is said by Diodorus, the Greek historian, that when Agathocles of Syracuse besieged Carthage that 200 upper class infants were sacrificed in one day to save the city. When the Romans destroyed the city they left nothing for us to examine, neither architecture, written records, nor much pottery; their hatred of Carthage was so intense, so we have only the testimony of others to base our history upon.
Carthage and Rome started out as friends, if not allies. A 508BC treaty recognized Roman authority over its area of Latium as long as Rome didn’t sail west of Carthage or land in Sardinia or Libya except to fix a ship or get food. Carthaginian naval crews had a habit of drowning any foreign sailors they found between Sardinia and Gibralter, according to one Greek geographer.
The Romans wanted Carthaginian influence out of Sicily, where they knew that half of Rome’s yearly grain needs could be supplied. They also wanted to strengthen their trade with the Greek city-state and ally, Massalia, which we know today as Marseilles. They found their excuse for war in 264BC, known in modern history as a casus belli when a group of mercenary/pirates known as Mamertines or Men of Mars (the god of war who is actually a derivative of the Canaanite Baal) appealed to Rome for help against Carthage after Carthage had delivered them from the dictator of Syracuse, Hiero II. It seems that their deliverers had no intention of leaving the city, Messana, which the Mamertines themselves had stolen from Greek colonists. Rome decided to drive Carthage from Sicily, with consul Regulus leading the charge. The Romans won a great naval battle off Ecnomus, the greatest naval battle of the ancient world, in 256. Then, they tried to attack Carthage without proper planning and Regulus was taken prisoner. Their fleet was destroyed, much like the later Spanish Armada, by a storm and Rome lost 284 ships and 80,000 men in history’s worst naval calamity. The Romans showed their fortitude by rebuilding this navy within a few months. Regulus, after refusing to be traded in return for peace, was tortured to death by not being allowed to sleep. His sons at Rome did the same to two Carthaginians of high rank they had captive at Rome.
Hamilcar was the name of the most famous and successful Carthaginian general of this war but he did manage to lose Sicily. Rome was simply better prepared for war and was always preparing for war. Hamilcar, in spite of being considered to be brilliant, lost Sardinia and Corsica, as well, and then had to deal with an uprising of unpaid mercenaries that threatened to destroy Carthage. This, he did ruthlessly. Having lost Spain, he and his sons, Hasdrubal, Hannibal, and Mago, reconquered it. Hamilcar died leading a charge against a Spanish tribe loyal to Rome in 229BC. Hasdrubal was assassinated in 221. At that point Hannibal was elected leader by the army at the age of 26. His father had made him swear at the altar of Baal that he would revenge his country against Rome when he was 9 years old. He didn’t forget his oath.
Rome did little to prevent the reconquest of Spain due to internal strife, its expansion into the Adriatic Sea towards Greece with its eliminating of the pirates who commanded it, and war with Gaul. Rome had made a treaty with Hasdrubal to quiet the struggle with Carthage in Spain and also made treaties with former Greek colonies there. In 225 a Gallic army attacked Rome and was defeated with great loss at Telamon. All the Gallic tribes were now ready to march on Rome. Hannibal saw this as the time to invade the Roman peninsula with angry Gauls as his allies against Rome. Hannibal, who had spent 19 of his 28 years in military camp, was a hardened soldier and experienced leader by now, loved by his soldiers. He was a ruthless enemy but often very chivalrous, who won his battle more with brains than with the lives of his soldiers and utilized such things as behind the lines espionage very well. The Second Punic War started with Rome breaking its treaty with Carthage and Hannibal proceeded, after subduing a Roman inspired rebellion in one of the cities under its control, to march toward Rome. He had to fight his way to the Rhone River, with major battles being a regular occurrence. He led his troops toward Vienne (Vienna) and then, in one of the most amazing feats of military history, across the Alps, complete with cavalry and elephants. It took him seventeen days to do it and by the time he arrived on the Italian Peninsula he had half of the force he started out with from New Carthage in Spain.
Defeating several Roman armies, he ravaged the Italian peninsula for years. The Romans suffered a disastrous defeat at Cannae but time, lack of resources and supplies, and lack of help from Spain due to Rome keeping any reinforcements pinned down by fighting eventually wore him down. The Romans had Scipio Africanus, who had been successful in Spain, attack Carthage itself, which required Hannibal to return to defend his homeland. Hannibal was conclusively defeated at the battle of Zama. Hannibal eventually fled to Antioch, Syria and committed suicide rather than be captured. Rome now ruled the wealthy mines of Spain and the western Mediterranean Sea was hers.
Rome’s conquest of Greece, we are told, was precipitated by Philip V of Macedon’s alliance with Hannibal and the Greek Aetolian League thinking that he also wanted to invade Greece, like his political ancestor, Alexander. This is a subject we will discuss more in the next section on Greece. Greece was subdued by Rome completely by 146BC and it ceased to be a political entity on its own for 2,000 years. After a conflict between
Numidia, in Africa, and a much weakened Carthage, Rome, allied with the former, destroyed Carthage, leveling the city to the ground. Although Carthage lasted for three years in a brutal siege it could not resist the might of Rome. Carthage ceased to exist as a city. The Roman battle cry of “Delenda Est Carthago” or “Carthage must be destroyed” was finally fulfilled. The destruction of Carthage and the Greek city of Corinth in 146BC were two of the most brutal massacres of ancient history. At this point Rome is the complete master of the Mediterranean Sea.
Cato, the first great writer of Latin Prose, lived and died during this time. He served as an example, often copied, in future Roman history.
Rome now suffered through an agrarian revolt, partly because a nation of free farmers had become dependent upon external plunder and internal slavery. All domestic work and the mundane drudgery of daily life began to be handled by slaves. The slaves were often prisoners of war. Particularly on the large farms the slave rarely saw his or her master and was worked like a farm animal. There were several slave uprisings. Notable Romans of this period were Tiberius Gracchus, Caius Gracchus, Spartacus, leader of one slave revolt, and Marius. Along with slave revolts there were revolts of tribes which Rome had conquered. Wars dealing with rebellious slaves were called Servile Wars. These resulted in wholesale revolt in the entire Italian peninsula which a leader named Sulla was expected to quell but who wound up marching on Rome itself. He had the Senate declare him dictator, a term normally reserved for someone elected to absolute power in times of national emergency. Having his enemies slaughtered he adorned the Forum with their heads. New enemy lists were often posted so the citizenry could see if they would be allowed to live. Massacre, banishment, and confiscation of property made Roman life a horror. His brutal laws, called the Cornelian Laws for his first name, Cornelius, weakened the Roman government but he was never assassinated, having killed off anyone who might have had the courage to do so, and died of natural causes after dictating this appropriate epitaph; “ No friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full.”
Sulla had shown mercy on the son and nephew of his enemies, a young and brilliant man named Caius Julius Caesar. What came after Sulla’s death was chaos, corruption, and the decadence that money stolen from conquered people brought destroyed the disciplined stoicism of Rome. Famous statesman-philosophers like Cicero and Cato spent lavish sums of money for personal items and vast palaces. Rome was unbelievably wealthy and incredibly decadent. Large theaters and extended games were commonplace in that first century before Christ. In 55BC Pompey, a Roman general and statesman, financed a 17,500 seat theatre in Rome. When Caesar took control of Rome 10,000 gladiators took part in one day’s games. The obscene increase in wealth and the corruption in politics loosened morals and weakened family bonds. Marriage became among the aristocracy nothing more than a way of cementing alliances and keeping potential enemies at bay. Cato growled that the empire had become one big marriage agency. Speaking of Cato, called Cato the Younger to distinguish himself from an
ancestor, he was considered to be one of the noblest Roman politicians of the time, harking back to the day of the old Roman discipline and self-sacrifice. When Caesar took power he killed himself. I will save the rise of Caesar for the lesson on the first century of the Christian era as it will provide a good base and a refresher for our discussion of Rome. For now, I will provide a timeline of Roman history, arts, and sciences to put everything in perspective.
748BC – Rome founded by Romulus according to Fabius Pictor as recorded by Ussher.
600-509BC – Rome under the Tarquin kings, Etruscans.
578-534 – Reign of legendary Servius Tullius who gave Rome many laws which created its identity
509BC – Republican revolt. Horatius Cocles holds the bridge over the Tiber River against Tarquin Lars Porsena.
500BC – Hanno of Carthage navigates down the West African coast and describes, among other things, the gorilla.
496BC – Battle of Lake Regillus against Etruscans or other Latins.
458BC – Dictatorship of Cincinnatus, called from his farm to fight and defeat the Aequi, then returning to his plow.
439BC – Cincinnatus recalled to fight the Volsci.
438-425BC – Rome fights the Veii.
431BC- Dictator Postumius Tubertus defeats the Aequians.
405-396BC – War with the Veii again which results in their utter destruction, regular pay for troops in the field, and a professional army from which one could retire. Camillus appointed dictator for first of five times.
390BC – Sack of Rome by Gauls after defeating Romans at Battle of Allia.
367BC – Second Celtic invasion.
362-345BC – Latin uprisings among recently conquered people in Italy.
343-338 – First Samnite war against conquered hill tribes in Italy. Corvus wins Battle of Mount Gaurus.
340-338BC – The Latin War, an uprising of Latin allies and colonies, threatened to overthrow Rome. The uprising was finally crushed at the Battle of Trifanum after an earlier draw at the Battle of Vesuvius.
327BC – 304- Second Samnite War results in Rome being defeated at Battle of Caudine Forks and a reorganization of Rome’s military system. This resulted in Rome’s ultimate victory. The Appian Way gave Rome an advantage in moving troops and supplies.
312BC – The Roman consul Appius Claudius begins building the Appian Way, a 132 mile road from Rome to Capua, later extended to Brindisium or modern Brindisi.
298-290BC – Third Samnite War results in their final defeat but due to their heroism Rome allows them to enter Rome as allies rather than defeated subjects.
285-282BC – Revolt of Etruscans and Gauls. After a Roman army is annihilated the invasion is smashed by Dolabella at Lake Vadimo and at Populonia.
281-272BC – War with Pyrrhus.
280BC – Battle of Heraclea in which Pyrrhus defeats Rome by a smart use of elephants but loses so many men himself that the term Pyrrhic Victory is coined.
279BC – Battle of Asculum in which Pyrrhus again wins with great losses.
278-276BC – Pyrrhus invades Sicily.
275BC – Pyrrhus invades the Italian peninsula again and is decisively defeated at Battle of Beneventum.
272-265BC – Rome becomes master of Italy and consolidates victories.
264-241BC – First Punic War with Carthage.
229-228BC – First Illyrian War begins expansion into Greece.
260BC – The Roman numeral system derived from the Etruscans, is at its most advanced and is used until Arabic numerals replace it during the Dark Ages.
254BC – Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus is born. He produced 130 comedies taking existing Greek plays and Romanizing them. He wrote Mostellaria (The Haunted House) among them.
239BC – Roman poet Quintus Ennius, known as the father of Latin Literature is born. He wrote, among other things, Annales.
234BC – Roman politician, Cato the Elder, is born. He was a spokesman for a high standard of morality and military discipline. He wrote on the art of writing among other things but only one of his works still exists, De re rustica.
219-202BC – Second Punic War.
200-191BC – Rome moves north and re-conquers Po Valley.
200-196BC – War with Macedonia.
200BC – Lucius Afranius writes a comedy based on daily life in Rome called the Togata
192-188BC – War with Antiochus III, Greek ruler of Syria.
100’s BC – Rome conquers Greece and copies its art, its architecture, and its intellectual traditions, greatly weakening the Roman character.
172-167BC – War with Macedonia.
170BC – Lucius Accius is born. He is a famous playwright.
152-146BC – Uprisings in Macedonia, sometimes called the Fourth Macedonian War.
149-146BC – Third Punic War results in utter destruction of Carthage.
112-106BC – Jugurthine War with Numidia, in Africa.
106BC – Marcus Tullius Cicero is born. He becomes Rome’s most famous orator or public speaker. He speaks against Marc Antony and speaks on philosophy. He is murdered by his political opponents.
101BC – The Romans first employ water power to mill flour.
99BC- Roman physician, Asclepiades, opposes theory of humors set forth by Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician of which the modern doctor’s Hippocratic oath is named. He attempts to cure disease by exercise, bathing, and a varied diet.
98BC – The Roman poet, Lucretius, is born. He will write on the nature of the universe, based on the philosophy of Greeks, Democritus and Epicurus.
90BC- The bronze statue, L’Arringatore aka Aulius Meteillus, is created. It introduces the Roman gesture of address and salutation which is copied hundreds of times.
89-84BC – First Mithridatic War with the king of Pontus.
88-82BC – A Roman civil war takes place which involves a democratic uprising led by Marius and crushed by Sulla.
83-81BC – Second Mithridatic War.
84BC – Roman poet, Catullus, is born. 116 of his influential love poems survive.
75BC- Marble portraits appear in Rome during Sulla’s rule based on wax preservation of the faces of the dead.
75-65BC – Third Mithridatic War.
60-50BC – The First Triumvirate under Pompey, Crassus (victor of Spartacus), and Caesar.
59BC – Roman historian, Livy, whom we have mentioned lives.
58BC – Caesar writes Commentaries on the Gallic Wars
46BC – Julius Caesar institutes the Julian Calendar based on 365 ¼ days. This calendar, including reforms made by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 is the one we use now.
Now, by relating this rather monotonous timeline I merely want you to see how Rome became the ultimate warfare state and how the thirst for empire always leads to more wars and more bloodshed.
*”The Church assimilates and sanctifies Roman civilization—From its foundation the Church had gradually absorbed the best of the life, the organization, the institutions, the laws, the learning, and whatever else of good and worthy there was in the Roman empire.”
History of the Church of God, pages 378-379 quoted by O.C. Lambert in Catholicism Against Itself.
Mycenaean civilization, the civilization that gave us the conquerors of Troy; Achilles,
Agamemnon, Odysseus aka Ulysses, has few scant remains for us to examine. Most of our information comes from the epic poems of Homer known as the Iliad and the Odyssey, about the legendary war between the city-states of the Greek mainland and the west Asia Minor city of Troy. This culture was more primitive than later Greek culture in industry, trade, and accomplishment. But one thing that stands out is their metalwork of which the best example is found in a tomb at Vaphio, near Sparta, where goldwork is very sophisticated and skillfully done. The doubleheaded ax, sacred also at Crete, is found here along with a mother goddess associated with a son and intertwined snakes as deities. The Cretan Rhea becomes Demeter, called by Durant “the Mater Dolorosa of the Greeks, after Demeter, the Virgin Mother of God.” Civilizations come and go but Satanic religion standing in opposition to God’s revelation of Himself continues. Read 2 Corinthians 4:4 and Romans 1:19-25.
The Mycenaeans prospered after the fall of Crete and the Minoan civilization. Their artwork became even more distinctive. Their trade reached into the Near East and Troy apparently was a stumbling block. The Trojans, although given various origins, depend-ing upon which historian you study, did have the same gods that the Greeks and
Mycenaeans worshipped and feared the same demons. Durant believed that these people were originally from the Balkans. He believes they or their immediate ancestors are the same people mentioned by the Egyptians in a papyrus about those who fought at the Battle of Kadesh in or around 1287BC, according to Durant, or1294BC according to Bryan Perrett’s “The Battle Book”, and called the Dardenui or Homer’s Dardenoi.
The theories about the origins of the people of both Achilles and Hector run on for book after book of endless assumptions and conjectures. The Illiad and the Odyssey, having been oral poetry, possibly, long before they were put to pen and paper, might have embellished their characters as being more Greek than they were. I recommend reading both the Illiad and the Odyssey or perhaps a summary of the events of the two works. They can be found free online for you to view and skim over. I would, however, avoid movies about them as they tend to butcher the story.
Durant says that around 1500BC, according to Greek tradition, Zeus (whom we have stated is Satan by another name) was angry with the human race and caused a flood through which only Deucalion and his wife, Pyrrha, survived, in an ark or chest that rested on Mount Parnassus. Their son, peculiarly named Hellen, was the father of all Greek tribes. He was the grandfather of Achaeus and Ion, who begat the Achaean and Ionian tribes, which, after many adventures, settled the Peloponnesus and Attica. Durant goes on to relate that one of Ion’s descendants, Cecrops, with the help of the goddess, Athena, founded the city named after her. His descendants ruled Athens as kings. Theseus was his grandson. Theseus supposedly gave Athens order and peace, and ended the sacrifice to Minos. According to Plutarch in his “Lives”, he also coined money and
instituted the Isthmian games. In addition, he fought a war with the Amazons (a tribe of women warriors from where we get the name for the river in South America and the slang word for a physically tough woman, i.e. “She’s quite an Amazon”) that resulted in a truce. After his death he was worshipped as a sort of god, a demigod. Plutarch claims that some of the Greeks fighting at the Battle of Marathon claimed to have seen a vision of him rushing on with them to fight the enemy.
Boeotia, to the north, was a rival to Athens. Legend has it that in the 14th century BC a Phoenician, Cretan, or Egyptian king named Cadmus founded the capital, Thebes, at a crossroads that separated Greece’s north and south, and east and west. He taught the Greeks how to write and then killed a dragon. After Cadmus, reigned his son Polydorus, his grandson Labdacus, his great grandson Laius, and Laius’ son, Oedipus, who, according to the playwright Sophocles, killed his father and married his mother although unintentionally. When he died his sons fought over his throne, both dying several years later in a war that resulted in Thebes being burnt to the ground.
According to legend, one of Thebes’ aristocrats or ruling class was Amphityron, whose wife, Alcmene, had an affair with Zeus while her husband was away at war, resulting in the birth of the hero, Heracles (Latin-Hercules). Zeus’ wife, Hera, sent two serpents to kill the child and Hera-cles or “glory of Hera” strangled them both. Linus, not Snoopy’s
Linus, but one of the oldest names in music tried to teach him the lyre, a stringed instrument, but he didn’t much like music so he killed Linus with it. He then killed a lion with his bare hands, married Cleon of Thebes’ daughter, Megara, and had some children. Hera sent madness upon him and he killed his own children. He then consulted the Oracle at Delphi and following orders, went to serve the king of Tiryns for twelve years performing twelve labors, joined the Argonauts who searched for the supernatural Golden Fleece, sacked Troy, helped the gods fight the giants, freed Prometheus who gave men fire, brought Alcestis back to life, and, occasionally, killed his own friends by accident. After his death he was worshipped as a god and several tribes claimed he was their originator, apparently due to his fundamental lack of morals. His descendants were supposed to have conquered Greece, ending the age of heroes.
Now, back to earth, there are some ancient historians who claim that the legend of Heracles was a reworking of the stories of both Jonah and of Samson. Aristotle, in his Metaphysics, chapter 8, claimed that the origins of the Greek religion and philosophy had been lost and much was added to it, for political purposes, said Polybius. A Bishop Horsley, according to writer E.W. Bullinger, traced virtually all Greek mythology back to the Hebrew Bible. Aratus, a statesman biographed by Plutarch in his “Lives”, who chronicled the constellation of Hercules in the 3rd century BC, wrote about Hercules standing on the coiled serpents head. Read Genesis 3:15 and Romans 16:20.
As I said earlier, Achaean Greece as well as Mycenaean Greece can hardly be discussed outside of references to Homer’s works. The Achaean Greeks are called the Greeks of the Heroic Age and some historians say that Homer himself is a myth. So, to categorize things in a way that makes sense let me say that we first have the civilization of Ancient Crete that moves to the mainland of Greece, perhaps after the fall of the palace at Knossos, the Mycenaeans who inherit this wasted civilization, the Achaeans who over-run them and are less civilized than they are, and the Dorians who are the lowest of the lot who invade and conquer the Achaeans. After the Dorians conquer the historians create a Dark Age as the evidence found does not fit their dating methods which presume that the dating of Egypt is fixed and absolute and inerrant, although I suspect few would actually admit that. A self-trained historian, like the renegade Velikovsky, in his book, Ages in Chaos, called into question the traditional thinking. One of the byproducts of this curiosity is what is called “New Chronology” today. Once again, dates of ancient historical events are not all agreed upon, by any means. Let it also be said that from reading Durant, it’s hard to tell if the conquerors of Troy were Mycenaeans or Achaeans. Burns, in “Western Civilizations”, defines a Mycenaean Age and a Dark Age of 300 years.
The Achaeans were ruled by the family and in times of crisis were controlled by the clan or genos. The small fortress or citadel which protected the chieftain was the center and beginning of the city and the source of law and order. When something had to be done the free males were called to an assembly where a proposal was made and debated and where persuasive speeches could be made to sway the vote one way or the other. The
clan chiefs would all follow the strongest clan chief who would be a king. Those chieftains nearest the king would be called the King’s Companions and this was done through Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great’s time. While the king’s rule was hereditary, he could be deposed by the boule or council, composed of important members or nobles of the tribes. The nobles exercised freedom of speech and addressed the king as a peer who may only temporarily be in charge. Out of this eventually came the constitutions and parliaments of the western world.
The king equips his people with weapons, leads them in war, and more importantly is the high priest of all religion. Here, as in Rome, Persia, Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt the supreme leader has a supreme religious function as well. Church and state are very rarely, if ever, separate in history. The United States is one of those unique experiments where religion was not meant to be upheld or religious dogma enforced by the political leadership. Otherwise, as in so many countries throughout history there would be an official religion and all others would practice, if at all, at the mercy of the state religion.
According to Durant, the Dorian invasion began around 1100BC, coming from the north, to end the Age of Heroes. They were herders and hunters who depended on cattle for their livelihood and were therefore semi-barbaric by settled agrarian or farming community standards. They brought the Hallstatt iron culture to Greece, named after a town in Austria where Europeans were thought to have started using iron. With these harder weapons they conquered. While historians call this the Dorian conquest, the Greeks called this the return of the Heracleidae or sons of Hercules, coming to take vengeance. The Greek poet, Hesiod, refered to this age of disorder and political chaos of an interruption in the so-called progress of Greece, as the Age of Iron. For a long time every aspect of civilization was reduced to a limited scale but, contrary to some historians who say that all evidence of human activity ceases, there was life, albeit crude life by previous standards. The Mycenaean civilization was not completely destroyed and many elements of it passed down to democratic Greece.
Greek speaking refugees from the earlier cultures fled to the Aegean Sea islands and the western Asia coast to found city-states there and mingled with the merchant families who had preceded them, in all likelihood. These populations of Greek speaking people were called Ionian. In addition, these refugees and later expatriates (former citizens of a particular country who have left for various reasons to live somewhere else) formed the core of Greek mercenaries or soldiers who fought not for patriotism or duty but purely for money for the highest bidder or the most convenient. These Greek speaking mercenaries were used in virtually every army of the Ancient Near East according to Serge Yalichev in his book, “Mercenaries of the Ancient World”, with Greeks often fighting Greeks as kings like Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh opposed each other. Every ancient army and many more recent ones had contingents of mercenaries, often from the countries with which the employer was at war. For instance, Persia hired a great many Greeks to help them in their failed attempt to conquer Greece, Caesar subdued Gaul with a large part of his force being Gallic cavalry, and Hitler even used Bosnian Muslim SS volunteers and
Croatian Catholic paramilitary to slaughter Serbians during the Serbian holocaust of World War Two although the latter might not be considered technically to be mercenaries.
In the reverse sense the Greeks had ample opportunity to learn about the stories of the Bible and to create their myths by manipulating these stories for political purposes due to the influx of Jewish children sold as slaves to them by a clear reading of Joel 3:6 taking place at least from the 8th century BC. Greek mercenaries would have introduced many Greek words and cultural practices into the countries in which they offered their services, as well.
Durant tells us that it was the belief of most Greeks that their culture came from Africa. Afro-centrists have tried to argue this point for years but have been rebuffed by books such as “Not Out of Africa” and others where the Greeks themselves are called liars. The fact is that the Greeks insisted that they derived their science and philosophy from Egypt. Ussher has Egyptian king Danaus flee to Greece in 1482BC making himself king of the Argos in 1474BC. Eusebius said that Cecrops, an Egyptian, transported a colony to Attica or Greece and established the Athenian kingdom in 1556BC. It is known that from the 7th century onwards, under the Saite kings of Egypt, many famous Greeks traveled to Egypt to learn. Men such as Thales, Pythagoras, Solon, Plato, and Democritus visited Egypt. Herodotus and Plutarch claimed that the concept of judgment after death was learned from Osiris and Isis and that Demeter and Persephone stories taught them about resurrection. Thales of Miletus learned geometry in Egypt, Rhoecus and Theodorus of Samos learned the art of hollow casting in bronze, and pottery, textiles, metalworking, and ivory. Greece merged its own gods with Bible truths and Egyptian and Assyrian,
Canaanite, and Babylonian myths and passed that mixture on to Rome. The Phoenicians also had a great influence upon the Greeks.
Greek colonists, sailors, and merchant landed on every shore in the Mediterranean Sea. The people they found on any of these shores were not used to having the Greek freedom to speak out, to think freely, or to do what they wished and this contrast with what the Greeks had come to expect out of life made the rest of these people babaroi or barbarians, people content to live on myth and without liberty. The modern term Berber for the North African Arab tribes comes from that word, also.
A list of Greek city states would include Sparta, a union of five villages with a population at its most important of 70,000 people. To the Spartan there was only two alternatives in life; to conquer or to be a slave. War was their business. But, before we discuss Sparta we find so many references to a religious site in Greek literature that I feel we must define it now so you will know what it is when mentioned. The Oracle at Delphi, near Corinth, was a place where many famous personages of Greek history went to hear what they hoped would be accurate prophecies of the success or failure of their plans; for war, for business, or of a personal nature. The Delphic Oracle, according to
Stuart Rossiter’s book, “Greece”, was the most famous of Greek oracles. Quoting from page 400 of that book: “ Those who wished to consult it first sacrificed a sheep, goat, boar, or other animal, after which (if the omens were favourable) they went into a room adjoining the Adyton [inner shrine]. There they awaited their turn, which was determined by lot, unless they had received from the Delphians the Promanteia, or prior right of consultation. No women were admitted. They handed in questions written on leaden tablets, many of which have been discovered. The Pythia, or priestess who delivered the oracle, was a peasant woman over 50 years old. At the height of the oracle’s fame there were three of them. After purifying herself in the Castalian Fountain and drinking of the water of the Kassotis, and munching a laurel leaf, she took her seat upon the tripod, which was placed over the chasm in the Adyton. Intoxicated by the exhalations from the chasm, she uttered incoherent sounds, which were interpreted in hexameter verse by a poet in waiting. The interpretation, which was always obscure and frequently equivocal, was handed over to the enquirer, who not seldom returned more mystified then he had come. Even Croesus, the great benefactor of Delphi, was cruelly misled by the oracle on the eve of his war with Persia.” So, this is how the great men of ancient Greece made important decisions, at least publicly. But, common sense tells us that those of the strongest will and greatest desire could use the oracle’s confusing statements as an excuse to justify almost any action.
Now, back to Sparta. You will hear and read of Sparta also referred to as Laconia and as Lacedaemon. Sparta is the capital of the plain, Lacedaemon, of which Laconia is the name of the five villages, which we now simply refer to as Sparta. They claimed a direct lineage from the sons of Hercules or Heracles, the Heracleidae, who historians say was simply a euphemism for the Dorian invaders who over-ran Greece around 1100BC. The Spartans first conquest was Messenia, whose king sacrificed his own daughter at the
behest of the oracle at Delphi supposedly after the suggestion of the god, Apollo. Sparta consisted of a master class of Dorians, freemen called Perioeci, and slaves called Helots, named after Helos, a town that the historian Strabo claimed that was one of the first conquered by Sparta. Due to slaves conquered in war, the Helots were always more numerous than the Dorians and were always a potential threat for uprising and violent rebellion. The Helots were about as free as a medieval serf in that they could work, marry, and even buy their freedom, particularly if they served heroically in war.
Sparta’s “Golden Age” came when a politician named Lycurgus’ uncle, King Charilaus, received certain laws from the oracle at Delphi. They were called rhetra or edicts and were supposedly the laws that Lycurgus would give to Sparta. This is recorded by Herodotus, the Greek historian, and may have happened in the 7th century BC. There were other lawgivers in Greek city-states at that time; Zaleucus at Locris in 660BC, Draco at Athens around 620BC, and Charondas at the Sicilian city of Catana around 610BC. With the interplay between the Near East and Greece as described earlier it is no wonder that they might be inspired by the law of Moses, rediscovered by Josiah around 621BC (2 Kings 22), according to Durant, which matches Ussher’s calculations to within
three years. Lycurgus gave his law to Sparta, in spite of having his eye put out by an objector named Alcander, whom he proceeded to win over. Finally, the lawgiver retired
to Delphi and starved himself to death as he felt that was the service every politician should give to the state and I can’t help but agree. One legend is that he forbade the writing down of his laws. Historians disagree on the importance of the laws he gave to Sparta. Plutarch and Polybius speak of land redistribution. Thucydides, another Greek historian, denies that ever happened. The Spartan constitution was the result of Lycurgus’ code.
Sparta would have been called a fascist state in today’s world. Eugenics, manipulation of who gets to live and die, was practiced in its crudest form. After birth, a father decided if his child was fit enough to live or if it was to be thrown off of Mt. Taygetus to the jagged rocks below. Surviving infants were often killed in the toughening up process that Spartan life, the Spartan Code, required. Men and women were counseled on marrying healthy people rather than for love. King Archidamus was fined for marrying too small a wife. Husbands were encouraged to lend their wives to men of outstanding accomplishments so that superior children might be born into their family. Lycurgus ridiculed, says Plutarch, jealousy and sexual faithfulness in marriage and believed that people should be bred like horses and dogs to improve the stock of citizens for the state. At the age of 7 the Spartan boy was taken from the parents and brought up by the state. His entire education was designed to make him a better warrior, to make him tough. He lived with his comrades until the age of 30, usually sleeping outside, and suffering every discomfort possible for the purpose of toughening him up. The Spartans were bisexual and homosexual behavior was encouraged. Celibacy was a crime, though, and the men and women were expected to produce offspring for the state. Childless couples were the subject of ridicule and scorn, as well. Remember, this is, like all Greek culture, a people without God, subject to Satan under his proxies, called gods, or daemons, and while western culture; books and movies, have elevated Spartan ideals and Spartan ethics to a
high level, they were in reality, if you judge them by the Bible, completely Satanic and wicked. It is not wise to glorify Greek culture at all. It was immoral and ultimately decadent, not God honoring in the least, the heroism and patriotism of its members notwithstanding.
Spartans hated foreigners and were not allowed to travel abroad themselves without permission from the government. One would also think in this environment that women were treated very badly, their only real purpose to produce children for the state. Women did have the freedom to speak out, engage in athletic activities, and spend a lot of time out of doors according to the book “Women in the Classical World”, but ultimately the reasoning for this was to make them better at breeding healthy children and raising them to be brave soldiers. Women’s right to own property and other freedoms in Sparta contrasted with their subservient role as suppliers of warriors for the state so that while Plato spoke of the totalitarian (total state authority with little freedom) of Sparta, Aristotle, (Greek philosopher/historian and teacher of Alexander the Great) lamented about how free the women were.
Corinth is located on the Isthmus of Corinth, the sliver of land that connects the Peloponnesian (Peloponnesos) Peninsula from mainland Greece. The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, speaks of it this way; “Some very ancient names for places, such as Korinthos derive from a pre-Greek, "Pelasgian" language; it seems likely that Corinth was also the site of a Bronze Age Mycenean palace-city, like Mycenae, Tiryns or Pylos. Myth made Sisyphus the founder of a race of ancient kings at Corinth. In Corinth, Jason abandoned Medea.
Later, in classical times the ancient city rivalled Athens and Thebes in wealth, based on the isthmian traffic and trade. Until the mid-6th century Corinth was a major exporter of black-figure pottery to cities around the Greek world. Athenian potters later came to dominate the market. Corinth's great temple on its acropolis was dedicated to Aphrodite. According to most sources, there were more than one thousand temple prostitutes employed at the Temple of Aphrodite. In ancient Greece a "corinthian girl" was a common nickname for a prostitute. Corinth was also the host of the Isthmian Games.
In the 7th century BC, when Corinth was ruled by the tyrants Cypselus and Periander, the city sent forth colonists to found new settlements: Syracuse, Ambracia, and with Corcyra, itself perhaps the site of an early Corinthian settlement, Apollonia and Anactorium. The city was a major participant in the Persian Wars, but afterwards was frequently an enemy of Athens and an ally of Sparta in the Peloponnesian League. In 431 BC, one of the factors leading to the Peloponnesian War was the dispute between Corinth and Athens over the Corinthian colony of Corcyra.
In the 4th century BC, Corinth was home to Diogenes of Sinope, one of the world's best known cynics. The Romans under Lucius Mummius destroyed Corinth following a siege in 146 BC; when he entered the city Mummius put all the men to the sword and sold the women and children into slavery before he torched the city, for which he was given the cognomen Achaicus as the conqueror of the Achaean League. While there is archeological evidence of some minimal habitation in the years afterwards, Julius Caesar refounded the city as Colonia laus Iulia Corinthiensis in 44 BC shortly before his assassination. According to Appian, the new settlers were drawn from freedmen of Rome. Under the Romans it became the seat of government for Southern Greece or Achaia (Acts 18:12-16). It was noted for its wealth, and for the luxurious, immoral and vicious habits of the people. It had a large mixed population of Romans, Greeks, and Jews.”
One thing to note of the preceding paragraphs is that the temple prostitutes in the acropolis of Corinth had short hair, according to Spiros Zhodiates, which is the basis for Paul’s approval of the Corinthian church’s insistence upon its women growing their hair long in 1 Corinthians, chapter 11 so that the Christian women of that city could in no way be confused with them.
With regard to Athens, after King Codrus died fighting the Dorian invasion, legend tells us that the office of king was replaced with an archon who ruled for life. In 752BC they changed that rule to ten years and then in 683 to one year. Eventually, the rule was split among nine archons; eponymous, whose name was given to the year in order to date events, basileus, who carried the name of king but was the head of the state religion as in other ancient nations where the king and high priest were one and the same, polemarchos, military commander, six thesmothetai, or legislators (lawmakers). This was Athens under what is called an oligarchy, a state governed by a few persons. It is worthy of note that the term king even though “reduced” to a priestly function remained a part of Athens until the end of its history. The social classes of Athens in this period consisted of Eupatrids, or the wealthy slave owning elite, hippes, the knights or those who owned horses and could fight as cavalry, zeugitai, those who owned a yoke of oxen and could fight as hoplites or heavily armored infantry, and thetes, hired laborers who could fight as light infantry.
In 594, a man named Solon was elected to the office of eponymous and created a change in Athenian government by canceling all debts, both public and private. All persons enslaved because of debt were released. He freed all persons accused of political crimes. He went on to repeal all of the legislation of 7th century lawmaker, Draco, which were so tough and harsh we get our term Draconian from them. The word ekklesia from which we get our word church for a called out assembly, which had been in use in Homer’s time, was revived and all citizens were invited to participate.
After the dictator who followed Solon, Peisistratus, died a movement toward democracy in Athens began which is considered to be the foundation of modern democracy. As stated before, Greek merchants and mercenaries, settled around the Mediterranean and Greek philosophy, spoken of in Acts as Paul disputes in Athens, spread with it. The names of philosophers and scientists and some of their achievements will be related in a timeline in a few moments. First, we will, for the sake of time move on to Macedon, in the North.
Macedon, which had been founded in the 7th or 8th century BC grew in power under Philip II of Macedon (359BC to 336BC) and conquered its neighbors. Alexander (336-323BC), known as Alexander the Great in history, carried this expansion onward to conquer the Persian empire and Egypt, where he had himself declared the son of god. He spread the Greek language, culture, and religion as far east as did the former merchants and mercenaries west and south. He died after a drinking bout, as the result of poisoning, or of a disease or combination thereof at the age of 33 or thereabouts and is a great type of anti-Christ in history, mentioned as the “prince of Grecia” in Bible prophecy (Daniel 10:20). After his death his empire was divided between his four generals whose heirs, called the Diadochi, ruled this vast area in varying degrees until much of it was taken by Rome. This was the Hellenistic period of Ancient Near Eastern history with Greek influence all the way to western India. The word Hellene for the Greeks is derived from their earliest times, if you will note what we said in the beginning of this class. Alexander
was said, according to legend, to have been the offspring of Zeus and his mother, his conception being witnessed secretly by his father, Philip II. Glorification by historians aside, he was, from a Biblical perspective, an evil, immoral tyrant. If you are interested in studying Alexander, I would recommend Theodore Dodge’s “Alexander”, rather than some ignorant movie, which is apparently how most modern people get their history.
Now, to wrap things up for Greece, we will review a brief timeline;
1600-1200 BC – Mycenaean Age (Durant)
1581 BC – Foundation of Athens by Cecrops (Durant)
1450-1400 BC – Destruction of Crete and Minoan civilization (Durant)
1313BC – Foundation of Thebes by Cadmus (Durant)
1192BC – Siege of Troy (Durant)
1104BC – Dorian invasion of Greece (Durant)
1100-850BC – Migrations to Asia and around the Med. Sea (Durant)
1000BC – Temple of Hera at Olympia (Durant)
840BC – Probable period of Homer (Durant)
800-700BCBC – Music is a part of everyday life for all social classes, even in Sparta. Professional singing storytellers called Bards sing of war and adventure. Choral and dramatic music develop. Greek poet Hesiod writes Theogony about the origin of the Greek gods and Works and Days about farming and morals (Timeline)
776BC – First Olympic Games (Durant)
750BC – Archaic Greek sculpture is simple with a narrow range of subjects and artists trying to get at the essence of their subject. They begin to copy Near Eastern forms of sculpture and ivory and metalwork from Phoenicia and Syria. (Timeline)
650BC – Greeks begin mass copying of Egyptian form for religious statues (Timeline)
630BC – Lycurgus at Sparta (Durant)
625BC – Thales of Miletus, who accurately predicts and explains solar eclipses, is born (Timeline).
620BC – Laws of Draco at Athens (Durant)
600BC – Rise of Sparta- Age of Tyrants (Harper’s)
500’sBC – Greek poet Sappho leads a group of women devoted to music and poetry on the island of Lesbos. We get our word Lesbian from this just as we get our word Archaic for something old or outdated from that period of Greek history. Actors in Greece begin to perform in open air theaters, wearing masks. (Timeline)
594BC – Laws of Solon at Athens (Durant)
560-520BC – Rise of Athens (Harper’s)
550BC – Lydia controls Greek cities in Asia Minor
547BC – Death of Anaximander, one of the first known believers in evolution and, along with Xenophanes, of the idea that the earth was covered by many floods over time. (Timeline)
545BC – Persia subjugates Ionia (Durant)
544BC – Anaximenes, philosopher born (Durant)
530BC- Pythagoras proves the Pythagorean theorem, which was discovered by the Babylonians in 1900BC (Timeline)
529BC – Pythagoras, philosopher born, conflicting with the Timeline. (Durant)
522BC – Greek poet, Pindar, is born, who writes Greek classical music.
519-507BC – War between Athens and Thebes (Harper’s)
510BC- Greek traveler, Hecataeus, draws first map of Mediterranean world (Timeline)
510-507BC – Intervention of Sparta in Athens politics (Harper’s)
499-448BC – Graeco-Persian Wars (Harper’s)
499-493BC – Ionian revolt against Persia (Harper’s)
493BC – Themistocles, archon at Athens (Durant)
490-480BC – Persia prepares to invade Greece started by Darius then completed by Xerxes with between 200,000 (Harper’s) and a million men.
490BC – Battle of Marathon, victory against invading Persians (Durant/Perrett)
480BC – Battles of Artemisium, Thermopylae, Salamis against Persians attempting to invade (Durant, Perrett)
480BC – Herodotus, called the Father of History, is born (Timeline)
479BC – Battle of Platea against Persians (Durant)
472BC – Greek playwright, Aeschylus, produces his play The Persians and later will produce his famous Seven Against Thebes. (Timeline)
470BC – Greek historian, Thucydides, is born. He is the author of History of the Peloponnesian Wars.
470BC – Greek physician, Alcmaeon, becomes first known physician to practice dissection of human bodies. (Timeline).
460BC – Hippocrates, writer of the physician’s Hippocratic Oath is born.
460-445BC – First Pelopponesian War with peace negotiated by Pericles (Harper’s)
469BC – Birth of Socrates (Durant)
450-432BC – Greek sculptor, Phidias, is creates statue of Zeus at Olympia and Athena in the Parthenon (Timeline)
448BC – Greek playwright, Aristophanes, is born.
447-432BC – Parthenon, the temple to Athena, is built on the acropolis, in Athens.
445-432BC- Golden Age of Pericles (Harper’s)
441BC – Playwright, Sophocles, writes Antigone.(Timeline)
440BC – Democritus proposes atomic theory and theory that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is composed of many stars (Timeline)
438BC – Greek playwright, Euripides, writes Alcestis. (Timeline)
431-404BC – Peloponnesian War (Durant)
430BC – Empedocles theorizes that matter is composed of earth, air, fire, and water (Timeline)
429BC – Death of Pericles (Durant)
428BC – Anaxagoras dies. He went to jail for proposing that the sun was a large, hot stone rather than a god (Timeline)
425BC – Comic playwright, Aristophanes, writes (Timeline)
400BC – Greek inventors working for Dionysus of Syracuse are given credit for inventing the catapult.(Timeline). Compare with 2 Chronicles 26:15 as Uzziah already
had done this nearly 400 years previously. Note credit given to Greeks such as Pythagoras and these inventors for the work of previous inventors and scholars.
300’sBC – Aesop’s Fables appear (Timeline)
390BC – Greek astronomer, Heracleides, is born and later declares that Mercury and Venus orbit the sun (Timeline).
386BC – Plato founds the Academy. He influenced ancient Catholic philosophy to a large degree. He wrote the famous The Republic which idealizes a fascist state where an intellectual elite rules as master over a subordinate populace. (Durant)
384BC – Aristotle is born. Alexander’s tutor, he influenced medieval Catholic thought and science to a great degree. (Timeline)
371BC – Superior use of Phalanx (explain) by Thebes against Sparta (Warry’s ‘Warfare in the Classical World)
351BC – Demosthenes, greatest Greek orator, lives.
336BC – beginning of reign of Alexander the Great (Durant)
323BC – death of Alexander (Durant)
300BC – Adventurer, Pytheas, sails into the Atlantic as far as Scandinavian and the Baltic Sea (Timeline).
3rd century BC – Golden Age of Greek Mathematics with Euclid and Archimedes (Timeline)
295BC – Physician Praxagoras distinguishes between arteries and veins (Timeline)
279BC – Gauls invade Greece, later bought off and moved into Asia Minor and their area becomes Galatia (Durant)
247BC- Archimedes of Syracuse (Durant)
221-179BC – Philip V, king of Macedonia, makes league with Carthage (Durant)
180BC – Great altar to Zeus at Pergamum (Durant)
166BC – First rising of the Maccabees against Greek rule in Israel, temple services restored (Durant)
146BC – Greece and Macedonia become Roman provinces (Durant)