Roman Greece
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Roman Greece

map of Roman empire
Map of Roman Empire in 146 BC

November 2016 - By 275 BC, the Romans in Italy were beginning to expand out of Italy and conquer other parts of the Mediterranean. They started with Sicily, an island near Italy. The Romans were fighting the Carthaginians. Some of the Greeks decided to help the Carthaginians fight the Romans, because the Greeks were afraid of the Romans. But the Carthaginians lost. The Romans were very angry at the Greeks, and they started to take Greece over as well.

At first the Romans pretended to let Greece be independent, but by 146 BC the Romans destroyed Corinth and made Greece into a province of the Roman Empire.

man in armor with beard
The Roman Emperor Hadrian,
who grew a beard in
imitation of Greek philosophers

Greece did well under Roman rule, even though some Greeks - especially the rich ones who had been more important before - were not very happy about it. The Greeks built many new houses and buildings. They were able to sail and trade peacefully all over the Mediterranean Sea, because the Romans ruled it all. The early Christian leader Paul was able to come from Israel to Greece to spread the word about Christianity. The Romans ruled Greece for about five hundred years.

The Romans thought Greek plays and Greek philosophy were very interesting, and many Greeks went to Rome as teachers and entertainers. Many Romans came to Athens to go to the great colleges there, Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum.

Around 200 AD, though, Slavs and Gothic people began to invade Greece from the north, and the Roman army couldn't always stop them. At first these Germans didn't come very often, but by 400 AD they came more often, and Greece became poorer again. As the Germans conquered the western half of the Roman Empire, Greece came to be ruled by Constantinople.

Learn by doing: performing a Greek play
More about Byzantine Greece

Bibliography and further reading about Roman Greece:

Ancient Rome: An Introductory History, by Paul A. Zoch (2000). For high school students, by a high school Latin teacher.

Graecia Capta : The Landscapes of Roman Greece, by Susan E. Alcock (1995). Alcock used archaeological evidence to show the changes that the Roman conquest brought to the Greek countryside. By a specialist, for specialists, but pretty readable.

Hellenistic and Roman Sparta, by Paul Cartledge and Anthony Spawforth (2nd edition 2001). Ever wonder what happened to Sparta AFTER the helots got free?

Route 66 A.D. : On the Trail of Ancient Roman Tourists, by Tony Perrottet (2002). Follow ancient Roman tourists, as they travel through Italy, Greece, and Egypt.

More about Saint Paul
More about Byzantine Greece home

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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 28 April, 2017