Decline and Fall of Greece

Ancient Greece was an important factor in the development of Western Civilization in the future.

Ancient Greece though was never a country but a series of city-states, each with its own form of government or rule of law.

The only time all the city-states of ancient Greece were unified was when Alexander the Great conquered and ruled the region for 12 years beginning in 338 B.C.E.

Instead, we refer to ancient Greece as a civilization.

Ancient Greek culture was a springboard for Western Civilization because of its influence on the arts, philosophy, science, language, literature, political systems, theater, mathematics, and educational systems.

Most historians refer to ancient Greece beginning around 800 B.C.E. after the creation of hundreds of city-states.

Ancient Greece flourished between 800 B.C.E. and 146 B.C.E. but like most civilizations ancient Greece began to decline and fall, eventually being conquered by the ancient Romans.

The beginning of the decline

For years ancient Greece was hampered by internal strife between the various city-states.

These internal wars weakened ancient Greece over time. Around 338 B.C.E. King Philip II of Macedon came into power.

He proceeded to conquer much of ancient Greece including Thebes and Athens.

When King Philip II passed away his kingdom was passed down to his son Alexander the Great.

Alexander the Great was an exceptional military leader.

After Alexander the Great finished conquering ancient Greece he proceeded to conquer Egypt and India. His rule was in place over much of the known world at the time.

Alexander the Great was instrumental in allowing a city’s or country’s culture to continue to exist after being conquered as long as the people stayed loyal to him. Therefore, he helped spread ancient Greek culture to many places in the known world.

The Hellenistic Period

After the passing of Alexander the Great, his empire was divided up between his generals.

At this point, ancient Greece began experiencing a division in power among the city-states.

The city-states once again began fighting against each other.

Ancient Greece lost its grip hold on success and started to decline.

This period of ancient Greek history is referred to as the Hellenistic Period.

Alexander the Great was instrumental in spreading ancient Greek culture to places around the known world.

He built huge new cities like Alexandria in Egypt, Ephesus in Turkey, as well as Antioch in Turkey.

These cities became the centerpieces of ancient Greek culture during this time period.

Bust of Philip II from the Hellenistic period

Ancient Rome rises to power

As ancient Greece declined during the Hellenistic Period, a new type of civilization was raising to power which was ancient Rome.

As ancient Rome grew in power the ancient Greeks grew weary of their threat.

A series of wars started beginning in 215 B.C.E. when ancient Greece partnered with Carthage against the ancient Romans.

This action forced ancient Rome to declare war on Macedonia in northern Greece. Several years later the ancient Romans defeated the Macedonians at the Battle of Cynoscephalae in 197 B.C.E.

The ancient Romans again won a crucial battle in 168 B.C.E. in Pydna.

The ancient Roman armies continued to pummel ancient Greece city-states as they marched.

The final demise of ancient Greece came at the Battle of Corinth in 146 B.C.E. After conquering Corinth the ancient Romans plundered the city and wrecked the city making ancient Greece succumb to ancient Rome.

Even though ancient Greece was ruled by ancient Rome, the ancient Romans kept the culture intact.

Over time ancient Rome wove much of the ancient Greek culture into their society which left a mark on future civilizations in the world.

Factors in the decline and fall of ancient Greece

There were several primary causes for the decline and fall of ancient Greece. Some were more important than others. Here is a short list of reasons that helped with the decline and fall of ancient Greece;

  • Ancient Greek city-states were ruled by different forms of government. Some by monarchs, others by oligarchies, and yet others by democracy or the people.
  • City-states always changed alliances with other city-states.
  • The constant fighting between the various city-states made ancient Greece weak over time.
  • Poor people in ancient Greece began to an uprising against the more wealthy classes of society.
  • Although the city-states shared much of the same culture they did not have loyalty to one another or to ancient Greece as a whole.
  • The ancient Greek city-states were not able to band together against a common opponent like ancient Rome.

Facts about the Decline and Fall of Greece

  • Ancient Greece was never a country but instead a region with various city-states.
  • Ancient Greece is considered to be a civilization more so than a country or empire.
  • Ancient Greece flourished from 800 B.C.E. until 146 B.C.E.
  • The city-states of ancient Greece had different forms of governments such as kings, oligarchies, and even democracies.
  • The only time ancient Greece was controlled by one ruler was during the reign of Alexander the Great.
  • Fighting between the various city-states weakened ancient Greece.
  • Ancient Greek city-states shared the same culture but had weak relations with each other.
  • The individual city-states of ancient Greece could not bond together to stop a stronger opponent like ancient Rome.


When did ancient Greece fall?

In 146 B.C.E. after ancient Rome conquered the various city-states and demolished the city of Corinth.

What caused the decline of ancient Greece?

There were many reasons for the decline of ancient Greece. One primary reason was the fighting between the various city-states and the inability to form alliances with each other during a time of invasion by a stronger opponent like ancient Rome.

Another reason was rebellions by the poorer people against the wealthier social classes.

Lastly, after the death of Alexander the Great, ancient Greece was divided among his generals which led to more fighting between the various city-states.

How long did Ancient Greece last?

Ancient Greece lasted from 800 B.C.E. until 146 B.C.E. But ancient Greek culture was imitated by numerous civilizations and kings including the ancient Romans and Alexander the Great.

Who was the ruler during the decline of ancient Greece?

The only time ancient Greece was unified was under the reign of Alexander the Great.

The ancient Greek city-states had many forms of government including kings, oligarchies, and democracy. The different forms of government in each city-state led to the demise of ancient Greece.

What Did You Learn?

Which empire conquered ancient Greece?

Ancient Rome

What was the last city demolished in ancient Greece when the ancient Romans conquered ancient Greece?


What is the name of the period in ancient Greece after the death of Alexander the Great?

Hellenistic Period

How long did ancient Greece survive?

800 B.C.E. until 146 B.C.E.

Who did the ancient Greeks team with to fight the ancient Romans?