The Two Hellenic Ages

The Hellenic Age (c.750-323 B.C) and the Hellenistic Age (c.323-30 B.C) represent the golden age of ancient Greece. While the Hellenic Age is significantly different from the Hellenistic Age, the Hellenic Age symbolizes the rise and fall of the polis, and the Hellenistic was plagued by warfare with the sudden death of Alexander the Great. Despite the difference, the one thing which remained common to both these periods was the Greeks’ ability to advance science and philosophy.

The Hellenic period saw dramatic political changes taking place in Greece (Bruiton), the rise of democracy (Burn). It was during this period that Greeks witnessed the transformation of Athens from the “Delian League to a tribute-paying empire.” It was under the reign of Pericles that the people of Athens and the Athenian shrine at Eleusis enjoyed arts and architecture as part of his democratic reforms. This interest in art and architecture provided employment for many architects and sculptors who organized workshops which helped revolutionize Greek classical art and architecture (Boardman, 1995).

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During the Classical period the charismatic smile that dominated so many archaic sculptures was replaced by a solemn facial expression. Sculptures which depicted violent and passionate scenes betrayed no expression, for the Greeks, their nobles were next to God, and it was their enemies (the barbarians) who were depicted with dramatic facial expressions (Greeklandscapes.com, 2007).

The Hellenistic period belongs to the likes of Alexander the Great and Augustus. The great library in Alexandria was synonymous of the great literary heritage during this period. Like the Hellenic Age, tremendous achievements were made in the fields of science and art during the Hellenistic period. “Aristarchus of Samos found that the earth revolved around the sun, and on its axis; Euclid brought out a book on geometry, and Archimedes worked out many theorems in mathematics. In the field of arts and sculpture, matter became more realistic. While the sculptures of the Hellenic period focused their attention on idealizing human beings, Hellenistic sculptors aimed at generating emotions. This period also witnessed the arrival of female nudes and ordinary people (Russo, 2007).

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