Saylor.org's Ancient Civilizations of the World/Rise of Classical Greece< Saylor.org's Ancient Civilizations of the World
The history of Greece is undoubtedly that of one of the most influential civilizations in the history of mankind. This tiny region at the southern tip of the Balkan peninsula produced or improved upon democracy, the alphabet, philosophy, theater, and the sciences. Even the word history itself comes from the Ancient Greek word ιστορία.
The history of Greece begins long before our earliest written records. Archeology has provided us with what little information we have about such civilizations as the Minoans, Mycenaeans, and the world of the Greek Dark Ages. These civilizations were not even believed to have existed until very recently, when archeologists began to think the epic poetry of Homer's Iliad might contain more truth than previously thought. During the Classical Period, Greek culture was reborn and flourished, and was spread throughout the Mediterranean Sea by the Athenian Empire, as well as other Greek traders, colonists, and conquerors.
The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE) between Athens and Sparta, and their respective allies, greatly weakened Greece's collective power, and by 336 BCE, nearly every Greek city-state was under the control of Macedon, and for the first time united into a single political unit. Alexander III, the next king of Macedon, took this united Greece and with it conquered the entire known world, spreading Greek culture (called Hellenism, or ελληνισμος) from Egypt, through Persia, all the way to India. Upon the death of Alexander the Great (as he would come to be known), the Empire split into fourths. A united Greece was one of the four new kingdoms, which lasted until 168 BCE, when Macedonia was absorbed into the growing Roman Republic. The entirety of Greece came under Roman rule by 146 BCE.
"History of Greece: Introduction" (Wikipedia) http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/History_of_Greece/Introduction