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Knowledge Base

Hellenistic Period

The death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC marks the beginning of the Hellenistic Period or the Hellenistic kingdoms and covers 300 years to the invasion of Egypt by the Romans. The word Hellenic refers only to the Greeks, but the term Hellenistic refers to `the Greek-influenced societies that arose in the wake of Alexander's conquest'. The Hellenistic empire extended from Greece all the way to Afghanistan and resulted in the beginning of the mass spreading of Greek culture. Its central characteristics were the mass empires created by Alexander and his successors, the mingling of Greek and other cultures along with the diffusion of religions.

Hellenistic kingship remained the dominant political form in the Greek East for nearly three centuries following the death of Alexander the Great. Hellenistic kings became prominent patrons of the arts, commissioning public works of Architecture and Sculpture, hellenistic coins as well as private luxury items that demonstrated their wealth and taste. Hellenistic art preserved only a few of the superior qualities of the art of the Greeks. In place of the humanism, balance, and restraint which had characterized the architecture and sculpture of the Golden Age, qualities of exaggerated realism, sensationalism, and voluptuousness now became dominant in hellenistic culture. Hellenistic art is richly diverse in subject matter and in stylistic development.  The earth’s rotation and revolution was correctly guessed and mathematical ideas flourished. Philosophy also made gains with many new ideas. The first and most important of the Hellenistic philosophies were Epicureanism and Stoicism, both of which originated in about 300 BC.