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Hellenistic

Hellenistic. Greek architecture and culture from the consolidation of Macedonian supremacy under Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) to the foundation of the Roman Empire under Augustus in 27 BC and after in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Hellenistic period therefore coincided with the relative decline of Greece and the evolution of centres of art and patronage in the Greek Kingdoms of Asia Minor and Egypt. Hellenistic architecture is characterized by a greater variation of influence than was apparent in Hellenic architecture, and was often more opulent, elegant, and graceful. Furthermore, Hellenistic buildings often gained in lightness of effect through a wider intercolumniation than that found in Hellenic work. The Doric Order, for example, became more attenuated and less severe (often with two or more triglyphs over each intercolumniation), becoming less ‘pure’ in the process and acquiring certain features from the Ionic Order: an example was the Temple of Hera Basileia, Pergamon (mid-C2 BC), with very slender columns (7½ diameters high) and a relatively low entablature. Among the finest Hellenistic buildings incorporating the Ionic Order, much embellished with vigorous sculpture, were the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (both mid-C4 BC, and both ‘Wonders’ of the Ancient World). Features of the Hellenistic Ionic Order included the Asiatic base and the omission of the frieze, as in the Temple of Athena Polias, Priene (from c.335 BC). The Corinthian Order was represented by the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, Athens (a very beautiful and delicate version of this Order—334 BC), and by the Temple of Zeus Olympios (later the Olympeion), Athens (started 174 BC), the latter the first external use of that Order for a major building.

Whilst cities like Ephesus, Priene, and Pergamon were graced by spectacular and elegant Hellenistic religious buildings (including the huge and opulent public altar of Zeus at Pergamon (c.180 BC—now in Berlin), many structures were of a civic nature, and regular grid-iron town-planning became usual, as at Miletus and Priene, while the huge city of Alexandria in Egypt not only had a grid plan but vast processional avenues and monumental buildings of which virtually nothing survives. Pergamon had a library, theatre, palace, the altar, and other buildings composed as a sequence (C2 BC), and the monumental effects of vistas of scenography anticipated Imperial Roman planning. Among the most elaborate civic buildings was the Bouleuterion at Miletus (175–164 BC), with its seating arranged like that of a theatre.

Hellenistic fortifications, gates, public buildings, and monuments drew on eclectic motifs and themes, and often displayed dazzling technique and bravura. Dwelling-houses were often of considerable magnificence, anticipating the luxurious Roman villa. Arches and vaults were also employed, notably for tombs and subterranean structures, again pointing the way for Roman architecture. Roman architecture absorbed many aspects of Hellenistic design, as is demonstrated by the temple-complex of Baalbek, Lebanon (AD C1 and 2).

Bibliography

Dinsmoor (1950);
Fyfe (1936);
Onians (1979);
D. S. Robertson (1945);
Wyoming (1962)

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Hellenism

Hellenism, the culture, ideals, and pattern of life of ancient Greece in classical times. It usually means primarily the culture of Athens and the related cities during the Age of Pericles. The term is also applied to the ideals of later writers and thinkers who draw their inspiration from ancient Greece. Frequently it is contrasted with Hebraism—Hellenism then meaning pagan joy, freedom, and love of life as contrasted with the austere morality and monotheism of the Old Testament. The Hellenic period came to an end with the conquest of Alexander the Great in the 4th cent. BC It was succeeded by the Hellenistic civilization. See Greece; Greek architecture; Greek art; Greek literature, ancient; Greek religion.

See R. Warner, Eternal Greece (rev. ed. 1962); D. Garman, tr., A Literary History of Greece (1964); J. Ferguson, The Heritage of Hellenism (1973).

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Hellenism

Hellenism. Greek life and culture in the period from the conquests of Alexander the Great (4th cent. BCE) to the death of Constantine. For both Judaism and (in different ways) Christianity, Hellenism offered both threat and challenge. On the one side, it offered opportunity to enhance the Jewish understanding of God's nature and action toward his creation (as in the philosopher Philo or the historian Josephus). On the other hand, the adoption of Hellenistic ways threatened the requirements of Torah. For Christianity, Hellenism offered a vehicle of missionary extension and of theological (and christological) reflection. Yet at the same time there were those who thought that the involvement of the gospel in classical thought was an erosion of it.

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Hellenism

Hel·len·ism / ˈheləˌnizəm/ • n. the national character or culture of Greece, esp. ancient Greece. ∎  the study or imitation of ancient Greek culture. DERIVATIVES: Hel·len·ist n. Hel·len·i·za·tion / ˌheləniˈzāshən/ n. Hel·len·ize / -ˌnīz/ v. Hel·len·iz·er / -ˌnīzər/ n.

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Hellenistic

Hel·len·is·tic / ˌheləˈnistik/ • adj. of or relating to Greek history, language, and culture from the death of Alexander the Great to the defeat of Cleopatra and Mark Antony by Octavian in 31 bc. During this period Greek culture flourished, spreading through the Mediterranean and into the Near East and Asia and centering on Alexandria in Egypt and Pergamum in Turkey.

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Hellenistic

Hellenistic of or relating to Greek history, language, and culture from the death of Alexander the Great to the defeat of Cleopatra and Mark Antony by Octavian in 31 bc. During this period Greek culture flourished, spreading through the Mediterranean and into the Near East and Asia and centring on Alexandria in Egypt and Pergamum in Turkey.

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