From Riches to Roman Conquest: Hellenistic Art and Culture in Greek Antiquity

The death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC also marked the birth of a new age: the Hellenistic period, when the after-effects of Alexander’s campaign reverberated throughout the world. Greek or Hellenic culture thrived during this period, spreading from the Eastern Mediterranean to Asia.

Hellenism, or the Hellenistic period of art, reflects the political and cultural changes that took place in the lands that were once known as Alexander’s empire. Following his death, his generals divided the conquered lands into three powerful dynasties. These states were separated by borders and politics, but they shared many traits that came to define the Hellenistic Age. For one, each state was ruled by a king (as opposed to a democratic system) with a special interest in commerce. They developed strong commercial relationships, importing goods from places like Spain and Britain all the way to the Far East. This allowed goods like ivory, ebony, spices, furs, wine, and dates to reach more distant lands.

A growing interest in trade was accompanied by a reverence for material wealth. Kings and nobility flaunted their riches in the form of extravagant palaces, art commissions, sculptures, and jewelry. They donated to museums and zoos and sponsored universities and libraries. Hellenistic art and literature reflected the common concerns of the people, who often felt lost in the collective of their vast empires. They craved a return to individualism in the face of an alienating political landscape. Many artists began to portray real people in their sculptures, engravings, and paintings, rather than idealized images of gods and archetypes.

The Hellenistic Age saw the construction of colossal temples, theatres, and stadiums. Greek sculptures like Laocoon and His Sons, the Venus de Milo, and others are still known and celebrated today. While many Hellenistic creations have not survived through the centuries, the period has had a long-lasting influence on the world of art.

The Hellenistic period ended in 30 BCE, when Rome conquered Egypt and the Greek world, but its cultural and intellectual revelations live on. Today’s artists, writers, and philosophers have the Greeks to thank for many of the established concepts they use to create new works.

Even entertainment lawyers, like the ones at Calevoso Law, would have very different jobs if it wasn’t for Hellenism and its creative developments. While ancient Greek artists were not always recognized by name, we respect the legacy these inventors left behind. Our lawyers are passionate about the creative arts, and it shows in our dedication to entertainment law. Call us to give your business a competitive edge with our industry-specific knowledge.