The century and a half (479-322 s.c.) fol lowing the Grieco-Persian War was in some re spects the most brilliant in the history of civil ization. The tremendous energy roused in Greece by the war displayed itself under the guidance of taste and reason in every field of activity. A wave of independence, overthrow ing tyrannies and oligarchies, established popu tar governments in many cities, and intensified the democracies already existing. In Periclean Athens, which depended economically upon the labor of slaves and tributes from dependent al lies, the citizens enjoyed a more liberal educa tion and a wider range of political and social privileges than have ever fallen to any other community known to history. In close relation with this political and social development archi tecture, sculpture and literature reached ideal perfection. The 5th century produced the Attic drama (2Eschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes), the noblest historical writing (Herodotus and Thucydides), and the inimitable Parthenon and Erechtheum. But the Pelopon nesian War exhausted the energy and resources of eastern Greece. The growing refinement and love of peace which characterized the fol lowing century is indicated by the fact that the inhabitants of the city-states shirked service, so that war came largely into the hands of mercenaries drawn from the less cultured territorial states. Thought prevailed over ac tion; and in art strength was to some extent sacrificed to beauty and finish. While poetry declined, oratory and philosophy reached the height of their development in Demosthenes, Plato and Aristotle, who brought classic Greek literature to a close.
Following the conquests of Alexander, com merce, colonization and administrative policy spread Hellenic civilization over the Orient. In the (after 322 ac.) Per gamum and Alexandria became the most famous seats of Hellenistic culture, which was distinguished for painstaking scholarship rather than for creative power. The West, too, was falling under Hellenic influence. Rome adopted from the Greeks not only the phalanx, but also various deities and religious ideas, the alpha bet,— either directly or through the Etruscans, — and other rudiments of civilization. From the Etruscans chiefly came the impetus to the building of public works,— temples, sewers, roads, bridges, fortifications,—in which the Romans showed creative genius. But to the end of the period they paid little attention to learning; they were without literature and had few if any schools. A realistic, practical peo ple, they were narrow and unamiable in private and business relations, but excellent warriors and citizens. Duty and Discipline were the great commandments to which the family and society, citizens and soldiers, yielded religious obedience. These heroic virtues were not the least important factor in the creation of their empire.
VII. The Expansion of the Roman Power over the Mediterranean World; the Growth of Plutocracy and the Decline of the Repub lic, 264-227 a.c.— The extension of the power of Rome over the peninsula brought her into collision with Carthage, which had occupied nearly the whole of Sicily and was now threat ening southern Italy. Not only did Rome feel bound to protect Italy, but her growing com mercial class desired by conquest to extend its opportunities for trade and speculation. The First Punk War (264-241 ac.) may be com
pared in character and importance with the war between the United States and Spain, which resulted in the occupation of the Philip pine Islands by the former power. To meet the Carthaginians on their own element, Rome built a navy, and thus equipped herself for transmarine conquests. As a result of the war, Carthage surrendered Sicily to Rome in addition to paying a heavy indemnity. This island became the first Roman province (227 p.c.). Sardinia and Corsica, acquired soon after the war, were organized into a second province. Then by conquering the Gauls in the north of Italy (225--M ac.) the Romans extended their sway to the Alps. In the Second Punk War (218-201 ac.) the Carthaginian Hannibal, one of the most eminent generals of all time, invaded Italy, defeated one Roman army after another, desolated the country and came near wrecking the power of Rome. Her preservation was due to the wisdom of the Senate, to the solidity of Roman character and to the tie of common interests and of kindred blood which bound the Italians together against the alien intruder. This war of defense shows Rome at her best. Peace brought her two provinces in Spain and the destruction of her nval's navy. So greatly superior was now her strength that the conquest of the civilized world had become merely a question of a few years. In another series of successful wars (200-146 ac.) she acquired Macedon, Greece, Asia Minor and the country about Carthage. Corinth and Carthage were destroyed, and most of the acquired territory was organized into provinces. At this date (146 ac.) Rome was the only great power in the entire Mediterranean basin. The further growth of her empire consisted mainly in the conversion of protected and de pendent countries into provinces and an oc casional conquest. To Pompey belongs the subjugation of Syria (65--62 ac.), which alone remained of the Seleucid Empire, and to Julius Caesar the more important conquest of Gaul (58-50 ac.). Egypt, long dependent, be came a province in 30 ac. The Roman Empire, consisting of provinces and dependent allies, now included the whole circuit of the Mediter ranean.
Some advantages came to the world from Roman rule: while in the East Grteco-Oriental culture continued undisturbed, Latin civilization, which was falling more and more under Hel lenic influence, gradually permeated the prov inces of the West; throughout the empire the cities retained their own laws and self-adminis tration under the government of their wealthy class; all parts but the frontiers enjoyed lasting peace. The evil effects of the system, however, soon began to outweigh its advantages. To secure a monoply of commerce for themselves, the Romans restricted trade among the subject communities. Over all the empire they ac quired vast estates, which they worked by slave labor, thus destroying everywhere the free peasantry. Their policy of farming the taxes was also unjust and oppressive. The governors, too, with rare exceptions made office a means of amassing fortunes. In these ways the ad ministrative and capitalist classes recklessly ex ploited the provinces for their own profit. At the same time commercial restrictions and the competition of slave labor were ruining the farmers and business men of Italy, and a worth less, dangerous mob was growing up in the capital.