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Diadochi and the Hellenistic Period

Alexander's Empire fragments into Seleucid Persia, Ptolemaic Egypt and Antigonid Macedonia (and other kingdoms) and gives rise to the Hellenistic Period.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] Where we left off in the last video, Alexander dies in 323 BCE, at the young age of 32. And even though he conquered all of this territory, it was a very short-lived empire. And what happens next is a period known as the Wars of the Diadochi, and let me write down this word, Diadochi. Diadochi translates into successors, and these are the various leaders, and mainly generals, of Alexander who then fought for control of the empire. It's a very bloody period, a lot of different Diadochi going after each other, or after each other's families, and what eventually happens over the next few decades is Alexander's empire, the empire that he establishes, gets split up into a few major empires. What you see on this map here, you see most of Persia, and the Anatolian Peninsula right over here, really the bulk of the old Achaemenid Persian Empire. It gets under control of Seleucus, and he establishes the Seleucid dynasty, the Seleucid Empire. Let me write this down right here. This is Seleucid, so the Seleucid Empire. Egypt right over here, this gets taken control of another general of Alexander, Ptolemy, and he establishes the Ptolemaic Empire and the Ptolemaic dynasty. Ptolemaic. And then Macedon ends up under control once again of another Diadochi, remember the Diadochi are the successors, all of these characters right over here. These are three of the various Diadochi, three of the more successful Diadochi right over here. But what the Macedonian components of Alexander's Empire, for the most part, end up under the control of Antigonus's dynasty, which ends up being called the Antigonid dynasty. Antigonid. And this, and as you can see, it's not all of the empire Alexander established. What we have in red here, these are independent states that did not get subsumed into the Seleucid, the Ptolemaic, or the Antigonid Empires, You can imagine, over the next several hundred years, they're going back and forth, there's an ebb and flow of control of these various empires, but these are the three most significant, especially the Ptolemaic and the Seleucid. What this establishes is what a lot of historians refer to as a new period of especially this part of the world. When we go from shortly before the Persian invasions of Greece all the way to Alexander the Great, we refer to that as Classical Greece, but now we're going from Classical Greece, with the death of Alexander in the beginning of the Wars of the Diadochi for control, this sets up a new period, often referred to by historians as Hellenistic Period. And the Hellenistic Period is referring to the fact that all of this territory that was conquered by Alexander the Great, and later gets split after the Wars of the Diadochi between these Diadochi establishing these various empires, they had huge influence of Greek culture. You had ruling dynasties that were essentially Greek, whether you're in Ptolemaic Egypt, Seleucid Persia, or Antigonid Macedonia. Obviously the Macedonians were already a very strong Greek culture. And it's a time where you have the spread of the culture, you have a bit of fulfillment of Alexander the Great's goal of creating this very, this mashup, so to speak, of the various cultures of the region, the Greco, and the Persian, and the Egyptian cultures. Now the Hellenistic Period starts to end as each of these various empires get overthrown. The Seleucid Empire, in the third century BCE, it gets more and more overtaken by the Parthian Empire. Parthia starts as a satrap, a region, of the Seleucid Empire, but it eventually takes control over much of Persia. So this is the Parthanian, sorry, the Parthian Empire, right over here. And the last vestiges of the Seleucid Empire are eventually defeated by the Roman legions, and you'll see this is a common trend here because, at the time of Alexander, on the Italian peninsula, you start having a city-state that's becoming more and more powerful, and more and more of an empire. And as we will see, it starts to subsume a lot of the regions we talked about. Ptolemaic Egypt, it gets overthrown by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, and the Antigonid dynasty gets overthrown by the Roman Empire, they're actually the first to get overthrown by the Roman Empire, in 168 BC. So this period, this Hellenistic Period, the takeaway, it's a period, I'm talking about hundreds of years in a matter of five or six minutes, but this is a period where you had significant Greek influence over a very large period, or a very large area of land, and it eventually ends with a lot of the western portions falling under Roman control, and the eastern portions, especially Persia, falling under Parthian control.