The Hellenistic time 3rd - 1e centuries before J. - C.

Alexandre III the Large one
© - ARJ
According to Lysippe. Paris, museum of Louvre

Greece at the time of conquests of Alexandre

Arrived at the power into 336, Alexandre the Large one takes again the fight against Persia and launches out to the conquest of immense Empire. But Greece takes part little in the campaigns of the Macedonian. In 335, it destroys Thèbes which had revolted and reforms with its profit the league of Corinth. Left for Asia, Alexandre leaves some garrisons in Greece but does not occupy Athens militarily. With the advertisement of its death, Greek cities grouped around Athens are raised against the Macedonians (323-322 av. J. - C.) This revolt, known under the name of “lamiaque war” shows a failure.

The weakening of the supervision Macedonian

The domination Macedonian lasts only the time of the unit of the empire, because the wars which oppose the rival applicants to the succession of Alexandre (321-280 av. J. - C.) weaken it considerably. The Macedonians must be satisfied to exert an indirect control on the country and are relatively impotent vis-a-vis the Greeks who on several occasions try to release themselves from their supervision. Is the most effective resistance to Macedonia the fact of States which manage to gather great areas under their authority - the league Etolienne (290? - 189 av. J. - C.), the Achaean league (280-198 av. J. - C.) and Sparte (227-221 av. J. - C.) - but which also manage from there to be made the war between them or to attack the recalcitrant cities with the combat, anxious to preserve before all their autonomy. The balance of power between Hellenistic monarchies gives to Greece an illusory feeling of autonomy, but the country becomes actually the stake of their competitions. Thus, the movement anti-Macedonian is particularly exploited by Egypt.
These wars of liberation exhaust the Greek cities, which while preserving their traditional political structures, appear unable to set up a national cohesion: the republican tradition survives only in the form of the autonomous federations, such as the Etolienne leagues and Achaean. Supported by its geographical position, its commercial richness and its alliance with Egypt, Rhodos is the only Greek city of the end of the III E front century J. - C., which still plays an active role and independent in the Aegean world.

Social disturbances

While they lose their place in the international business, the Greek cities are confronted with increasingly serious social problems. The conquest of the East by Alexandre had offered a provisional solution to the economic crisis of the IV E century. The Greeks who had been useful in the army had returned to the country nouveau riches, and the new Eastern colonies had accommodated Greeks who did not find any more what to live in their country. An immense market had then opened with exports and Greece had entered during one boom which lasted until worms 280 av. J. - C. But after this date, the economic situation and social evolves.
The conditions which had started the crisis of the IV E century re-appear, worsened by the ceaseless wars. The richness concentrates with the hands of some, and the market of exports narrows because of competition of the new gréco-Eastern communities. The free workmen see their wages decreasing; the middle-class - farmers or craftsmen - is also reduced to poverty. The practice of the child murders and the abortions is spread in the rich person as at the poor. In many cities, the social strain worsens and involves open conflicts. Only Rhodos and Athens remain enough prosperous to maintain the calm one at the most modest populations.  
The social principal demands of revolted remain, as to the IV E century, the cancellation of the debts and the redistribution of the grounds. The only innovation relates to the emancipation of the slaves, because their support is essential to be essential vis-a-vis the armies mercenaries.  
As of the beginning of the disorders, monarchy Macedonian defends the established order to make obstacle with these dissatisfied, the more so as the latter conclude sometimes from alliances with those which seek to be released from the supervision Macedonian. Thus, associated with the Achaean league, monarchy puts an end to the revolutionary mode of Sparte (221 av. J. - C.), the only one which had been a success more than transitory.

Greece under the Roman domination

200 av. J. - C. - 330 after J. - C.
The conquest
Not being able to be delivered only yoke Macedonian, Greece is combined to the Romans finally. The conflict between Rome and Macedonia burst when Rome establishes a head of bridge on the Eastern Adriatic after two forwardings against the pirates illyriens (229-228, 219 av. J. - C.); it is transformed into true war (first war of Macedonia, 215-205 av. J. - C.) when the king of Macedonia, Philippe V (who reigned of 221 with 179 av. J. - C.), concludes an alliance with Carthage. The second war of Macedonia (200-197 av. J. - C.) made of Rome - massively supported by the States of the Etolienne league, Athens, Sparte and Rhodos, all enemies of Macedonia - principal power in Greece.  
The proclamation, in 196 av. J. - C., from the freedom of all the Greek cities, by the Roman general Titus Quinctius Flaminius is received with enthusiasm. The conquerors take indeed, initially, the decision not to organize Greece in Roman province. That means for the released populations that they are not obliged to pay a tribute with the Romans nor to accommodate a garrison, and that the local courts preserve their independence. Nevertheless, the Romans impose territorial modifications on the Greek cities which they delivered of the supervision Macedonian. They dictate with some of the constitutional provisions and await from all that they follow a foreign politics pro-Roman.  
An illusory autonomy
But, quickly, all the Greek cities, including those which had been neutral or pro-Romans during the wars Macedonians, become aware of their subjection. The feeling anti-Roman is particularly strong in the most modest layers of the population, because Rome, like Macedonia before it, contributes to reinforce the political role of the richest citizens. Thus, the functions of magistrates are generally entrusted to property owners. The Greeks give their support for those which also resist to the Romans in the Aegean area, i.e. to Antiochos III of Syria during the Syrian war (192-189 av. J. - C.), then in Persée of Macedonia in the third war of Macedonia (171-168 av. J. - C.), and finally in Mithridate VI Eupator, king of the Bridge, in the first mithridatic war (88-84 av. J. - C.). In 146 av. J. - C., the Achaean league launches out in a rebellion which shows a failure, ends in the destruction of Corinth and the total tender of Greece. Most cities are forced with the payment of a tribute and see their modified constitutions. All the leagues are dissolved and the citizens are not authorized any more to have goods in more than one community.
The Roman domination has catastrophic effects. More still than the Macedonians, the Romans break any inclination of opposition by repressing their enemies pitilessly, as testify the destruction to it to Corinth in 146 av. J. - C. and massacres it Athenians ordered by Sulla in 86 av. J. - C. Moreover, devastations continue after the crushing of Greek resistance, because the area becomes one of the principal theaters of the Roman civil wars, with the battles of Pharsale (48 av. J. - C.), of Philips (42 av. J. - C.) and of Actium (31 av. J. - C.).  
This conflict is also disastrous from an economic standpoint: the strategy of Rome consists in isolating Hellenistic monarchies from the East from/to each other and cutting them from Greece, thus breaking the commercial links which had been at the origin of the prosperity of these areas. The collapse of the economy is such as in Ier front century J. - C. Greece is obliged to import of Italy the oil and the wine which, up to that point, constituted the near total of its exports. Under the reign of Auguste (27 av. J. - C. - 14 after J. - C.), the only flourishing cities are the new colonies created by the emperor.  
From Ier century after J. - C., Rome gives up its hostility with respect to Greece and launches out in a policy more reconciling. Although organized in Roman province since 27 av. J. - C., Greece preserves some “free” cities (consequently exempted payment of the tribute); others become it on the initiative of the emperors philhellenic of IIe century of our era. From this time, the Greeks can sit at the Roman senate. The destroyed cities (Corinth and Patras) find life thanks to the establishment of Roman colonies, and Auguste founds a new city with Nicopolis. The urban and religious centres (Athens, Olympie and Delphes) grow rich by new public buildings, under the impulse in particular of the emperor Hadrian (who reigned from 117 to 138 after J. - C.). The programs of great work (the channel of unfinished Corinth left by Julius Caesar or the draining of the lake Copaïs by Hadrian) testify to the change of attitude of Rome. Hadrian also subsidizes religious festivals while Antonin the Piles (which reigned from 138 to 161 after J. - C.) and his successor Marcus Aurelius create pulpits of rhetoric and philosophy in Athens. Greek solidarity is expressed again by the foundation of leagues (the Achaean league, the amphictyonie of Delphes) and creation on the initiative of Hadrian of a Panhellenic league based in Athens, opened at the Greek communities of everyone Roman.  
Decline of the cities
In spite of the evolution of the Roman policy, Greece does not manage to rectify its economic situation. The country is depopulated; all the richnesses of the country are with the hands of some privileged people; exploitations of intensive agriculture of I er front century J. - C. are transformed into pastures. Also, when the barbarians (Goths and Hérules) seize Athens into 267 after J. - C., then devastate the south of the country until Sparte, they do not meet significant resistance. To the IV E century, Corinth and Athens remain the only important urban centres.