From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Classical antiquity, era, or period is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, which begins roughly with the earliest-recorded Greek poetry of Homer (8th–7th century BC), and continues through the rise of Christianity and the fall of the Western Roman Empire (5th century AD). It ends with the dissolution of classical culture at the close of Late Antiquity (AD 300–600), or, using the similar and better known periodization of history, with the Early Middle Ages (AD 500–1100).
Such a wide sampling of history and territory covers many rather disparate cultures and periods. "Classical antiquity" typically refers to an idealized vision of later people of what was, in Edgar Allan Poe's words, "the glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome!"
 Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is the period in Greek history lasting for close to a millennium, until the rise of Christianity. It is considered by most historians to be the foundational culture of European civilization. Greek culture was a powerful influence in the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of Europe.
The civilization of the ancient Greeks has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, art and architecture of the modern world, fueling the Renaissance in Western Europe and again resurgent during various neo-classical revivals in 18th and 19th century Europe and The Americas.
"Ancient Greece" is the term used to describe the Greek-speaking world in ancient times. It refers not only to the geographical peninsula of modern Greece, but also to areas of Hellenic culture that were settled in ancient times by Greeks: Cyprus and the Aegean islands, the Aegean coast of Anatolia (then known as Ionia), Sicily and southern Italy (known as Magna Graecia), and the scattered Greek settlements on the coasts of Colchis, Illyria, Thrace, Egypt, Cyrenaica, southern Gaul, east and northeast of the Iberian peninsula, Iberia and Taurica.
The Hellenistic period of Greek history was the period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the annexation of the Greek peninsula and islands by Rome in 146 BC. Although the establishment of Roman rule did not break the continuity of Hellenistic society and culture, which remained essentially unchanged until the advent of Christianity, it did mark the end of Greek political independence.
 Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew out of the city-state of Rome, founded in the Italian Peninsula circa the 9th century BC. During its twelve-century existence, the Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy to an oligarchic republic to a vast empire. It came to dominate Western Europe and the entire area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea through conquest and assimilation. However, a number of factors led to the eventual decline of the Roman Empire. The western half of the empire, including Hispania, Gaul, and Italy, eventually broke into independent kingdoms in the 5th century; the eastern empire, governed from Constantinople, is referred to as the Byzantine Empire after AD 476, the traditional date for the "fall of Rome" and subsequent onset of the Middle Ages.
Roman civilization is often grouped into "classical antiquity" with ancient Greece, a civilization that inspired much of the culture of ancient Rome. Ancient Rome contributed greatly to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, and language in the Western world, and its history continues to have a major influence on the world today.
 Looking back on the classical
In the 18th and 19th centuries reverence for classical antiquity was much greater in Western Europe and the United States than it is today. Respect for the ancients of Greece and Rome affected politics, philosophy, sculpture, literature, theatre, education, and even architecture and sexuality.
In politics, the presence of a Roman Emperor was felt to be desirable long after the empire fell. This tendency reached its peak when Charlemagne was crowned "Roman Emperor" in the year 800, an act which led to the formation of the Holy Roman Empire. The notion that an emperor is a monarch who outranks a mere king dates from this period. In this political ideal, there would always be a Roman Empire, a state whose jurisdiction extended to the entire civilized western world.
Epic poetry in Latin continued to be written and circulated well into the nineteenth century. John Milton and even Arthur Rimbaud got their first poetic education in Latin. Genres like epic poetry, pastoral verse, and the endless use of characters and themes from Greek mythology left a deep mark on Western literature.
In architecture, there have been several Greek Revivals, which seem more inspired in retrospect by Roman architecture than Greek. Still, one needs only to look at Washington, DC to see a city filled with large marble buildings with façades made out to look like Roman temples, with columns constructed in the classical orders of architecture.
In philosophy, the efforts of St Thomas Aquinas were derived largely from the thought of Aristotle, despite the intervening change in religion from paganism to Christianity. Greek and Roman authorities such as Hippocrates and Galen formed the foundation of the practice of medicine even longer than Greek thought prevailed in philosophy. In the French theatre, tragedians such as Molière and Racine wrote plays on mythological or classical historical subjects and subjected them to the strict rules of the classical unities derived from Aristotle's Poetics. The desire to dance like a latter-day vision of how the ancient Greeks did it moved Isadora Duncan to create her brand of ballet.
"Classical antiquity", then, is the contemporary vision of Greek and Roman culture by their admirers from the more recent past. It remains a vision that many people in the twenty-first century continue to find compelling.
- Ancient Greece
- Hellenistic Greece
- Ancient Rome
- Roman Dacia
- Roman Britain
- Roman Iberia
- Ancient Macedonia
- Ancient Troy
- Ancient history of Cyprus
- Roman Iron Age, for the Roman period in Scandinavia and Northern Germany
- The Balkans in classical antiquity
- Late Antiquity
 See also
- Oxyrhynchus, an archaeological site where major research on ancient texts from classical antiquity is currently being conducted.
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