Classical vs. Hellenistic Periods

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During the span of the Classical and Hellenistic periods in Ancient Greece, many changes occurred that differentiated one from the other. There were many facets of society that were affected as a result from the Classical period leading to the Hellenistic period.

The Classical period was a time of intellectual growth and stimulus. The desire to learn brought about the need for a group of teachers to impart worldly wisdom unto their students. This new group of teachers that emerged were known as "Sophists", which means "those who are wise." Socrates, a great philosopher of the Classical period, challenged the assumed truths of his day in order to reconstruct Athenian life. Plato, Socrates' best student, in turn became a great philosopher in his own rite, and Plato's best student, Aristotle, became a great philosopher himself. These are examples of sustained and confident intellectual motivation and advancement that occurred during the Classical period.

However, the Hellenistic period was quite different. After the conquests and reign of Alexander (336-323 B.C.E.), three major Hellenistic Kingdoms arose, in which there was a very different approach to philosophy and religion. Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Skepticism arose. Epicureanists believed in fate and that regardless of whether they accepted or rebelled against it, they would be unable to subdue it, contrasting greatly to the Classical notion where all were believed to have an undefiable free will. The Stoics believed in tolerance and forgiveness. They advocated participation in public affairs. Stoics despised war and slavery, and preached equality and pacifism. The Epicureans and the Stoics did, however, believe in one common idea-that achieving tranquility of the mind was the objective of life. Skepticism, which reached its peak in 200 B.C.E. as a direct result of the influence of Carneades, was the belief that all knowledge is derived from sense perception and is limited only to this. Because of this,...
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