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Macedonia, Alexander the Great, and the Hellenistic World
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       I.            Macedonia

a.       Macedonians were culturally and ethnically related to the Greeks

                                                               i.      Actually looked upon as sort of “barbarian cousins” by the Greeks of Athens, Sparta, etc.

b.      King Philip II of Macedonia

                                                               i.      Expanded his territory north to the Danube River and south into the Greek peninsula

                                                             ii.      Conquered all city-states except Sparta by 338 BCE

                                                            iii.      Killed while planning to attack Persia (336 BCE)

 

     II.            Alexander the Great

a.       Tutored by the philosopher Aristotle

b.      Precarious position because his mother was not Macedonian (making Alexander half Macedonian), and his father took a Macedonian as a new wife

c.       Wanted to conquer Persia like his father

d.      Wanted to spread Greek culture throughout the world

e.      Philip was killed by companions of Alexander

f.        Alexander came to the throne at age 20 (336 BCE)

 

  III.            Conquests of Alexander the Great

a.       First put down local revolts, including destroying Thebes

b.      Invasion of Persia and beyond

                                                               i.      35,000 troops

                                                             ii.      Granicus (334 BCE)

                                                            iii.      Issus (333 BCE)

                                                           iv.      Arbela (331 BCE)

                                                             v.      City-states along the Mediterranean Sea

1.       Phoenician Tyre

                                                           vi.      Egypt

1.       Founded Alexandria

                                                          vii.      India

1.       Reached Indus River

                                                        viii.      Set up capital in Babylon (located in modern-day Iraq) in 324 BCE

c.       Died of a fever in 323 BCE at age 33

 

  IV.            Alexander’s empire

a.       Fell apart after Alexander’s death

b.      Generals fought for control of empire

c.       Empire divided

                                                               i.      Egypt – Ptolemy

                                                             ii.      Most of Asian empire – Seleucus

                                                            iii.      Macedonia and Greece – Antigonus

d.      New dynasties ruled for hundreds of years until conquered by Rome

 

     V.            Alexander’s impact on world history

a.       Spread Greek culture beyond the Greeks

                                                               i.      “Pan-Hellenism”

                                                             ii.      Founded numerous cities

                                                            iii.      Married a daughter of Persia’s King Darius

1.       Encouraged his soldiers to take Persian wives

                                                           iv.      Worshiped foreign gods and goddesses

1.       Recognized as foreign incarnations of Greek gods

                                                             v.      Encouraged trade throughout his empire

                                                           vi.      Settled Greeks throughout his empire

1.       Greek culture became “Hellenistic” as it spread and mingled with other cultures

 

  VI.            Alexandria, Egypt

a.       City in Egypt founded by, and named after, Alexander the Great

b.      Ptolemy came to rule Egypt after Alexander’s death

c.       Ptolemies built a university in Alexandria – “Library of Alexandria”

                                                               i.      Included 700,000 volumes written on papyrus

                                                             ii.      Center of research and scholarship

 

VII.            Hellenistic science

a.       Many practical, useful inventions

b.      Euclid (lived circa 300 BCE)

                                                               i.      Greek who lived and worked in Alexandria, Egypt

                                                             ii.      “Father of geometry”

1.       Theorems in plane geometry (“Euclidean geometry”)

c.       Archimedes (circa 287-212 BCE)

                                                               i.      Greek who lived and worked in Sicily

                                                             ii.      Principle of specific gravity

                                                            iii.      Law of floating bodies

                                                           iv.      Used levers, pulleys, and screws to build things such as catapults

d.      Eratosthenes (circa 276-195 BCE)

                                                               i.      Greek born in modern-day Libya

                                                             ii.      Geographer and librarian of Alexandria, Egypt

                                                            iii.      Closely determined the earth’s diameter

                                                           iv.      Measured earth’s distance from the sun with 99% accuracy

                                                             v.      Used lines of longitude and latitude on a map

                                                           vi.      Believed earth is round

1.       One could sail to India by sailing west

e.      Aristarchus of Samos (circa 310-230 BCE)

                                                               i.      Heliocentric model – first to advocate that the earth revolves around the sun

f.        Hipparchus (circa 190-120 BCE)

                                                               i.      Invented plane and spherical trigonometry

                                                             ii.      Predicted eclipses of the moon and sun

 

VIII.            Hellenistic art and architecture

a.       Architecture

                                                               i.      Built many impressive public buildings

                                                             ii.      Baths, libraries, palaces, theaters

                                                            iii.      Pharos – lighthouse of Alexandria – 400 feet high

b.      Art

                                                               i.      More lifelike – showed more expression

                                                             ii.      Action, grief, motion, pain

                                                            iii.      The Death of Laocoon, Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo

 

   IX.            Hellenistic philosophy

a.       Cynics (Cynicism)

                                                               i.      Diogenes (412-323 BCE)

                                                             ii.      Hatred of power and worldly possessions

b.      Stoics (Stoicism)

                                                               i.      Zeno of Citium (334-262 BCE)

                                                             ii.      Acceptance, courage, patience

                                                            iii.      Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 CE) was a Stoic philosopher (wrote Confessions)

                                                           iv.      Stoic belief in human brotherhood influenced Christianity

c.       Epicureans (Epicureanism)

                                                               i.      Epicurus (341-270 BCE)

                                                             ii.      No life after death

                                                            iii.      Pleasure and pain measure what is good and bad

                                                           iv.      Life is to be enjoyed, particularly by searching for knowledge

 

     X.            Hellenistic literature

a.       Few Hellenistic works had enduring value

b.      Preserved classical Greek heritage

                                                               i.      Spread throughout Alexander’s former empire

                                                             ii.      Particularly at Alexandria, Egypt

                                                            iii.      Middle East kept and preserved Greek heritage during the fall of Rome and Europe’s Dark Ages

1.       Europeans rediscovered this Greek heritage during the Crusades

 

   XI.            Hellenistic culture in the Roman world

a.       Greek cities of southern Italy piqued Roman interest in Greek culture

                                                               i.      Many southern Italian, Sicilian, and other Mediterranean cities which came under Roman control had been founded by Greeks

b.      Romans spread Greek culture throughout their own empire

                                                               i.      Much Roman art generally copied Greek art

 

XII.            Hellenistic civilization declines

a.       Endured for approximately 300 years

b.      Wealth and power in the hands of a few

c.       Reliance on slavery

                                                               i.      Free persons could not find work

                                                             ii.      Slave labor cheaper (in the short-term) than investments in new inventions and technologies

                                                            iii.      Slave revolts

d.      Continuous warfare among city-states

e.      Easy target for Roman conquest

 

XIII.            Review questions

a.       Under what circumstances did Alexander the Great come to the Macedonian throne?

b.      Name at least three modern-day countries which were conquered by Alexander the Great.

c.       What does the term Hellenistic mean?

d.      Describe the work of a Hellenistic scientist or mathematician.

e.      Describe a Hellenistic philosophy.

f.        What caused the fall of Hellenistic society?

g.       Imagine that you are a Babylonian living during the time of Alexander.  How might you view Alexander’s conquests?  Would you consider him “great”?

 
 
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