Our Civ of the Week this week is the Greeks. We should all thank the ancient Greeks: aside from devising really neat and useful things like democracy, the Pythagorean theorem, and the Hippocratic oath, they also had a really great mythology, without which "Clash of the Titans" might never have been made.
Though we know that by the 8th century B.C, some regions of what we think of as Greece had already established borders and started to act like independent states, the Greeks made their first significant mark on the world scene in the middle 7th century B.C. It was at this time that the Greeks began to colonize the majority of the Mediterranean and Black Seas. For the next 250 years, the Greeks would colonize the surrounding area and start to form independent city-states.
Just as Sparta had become world renowned for its military, by 500 B.C, Athens had established itself as the cultural center of the Mediterranean. Art, philosophy, and politics begin to thrive. Also around this time, a chap called Cleisthenes had a crazy idea he dubbed "Democracy" and convinced the Athenians to give it a try. Several wars and a few playwrights later, in 399 B.C., Socrates was convicted of making sense and was sentenced to death by manner of lethal kool-aid.
About fifty years later, a friend of a friend of Socrates' named Aristotle started tutoring a precocious teenager called Alexander. (He wasn't yet great -- merely "quite promising") Just seven years later, that quite promising teenager ascended to the throne of Macedonia after the assassination of his father, and parlayed this into a successful 13-year career as a conqueror that would set the standard for future generations of megalomaniacs. He was also frequently referred to as "a god among men", though largely because he demanded it.
In 323 B.C., after a particularly brutal offensive against the Cosseans, Alexander sat down for a nice, quiet extended banquet and drinking binge. Ten days later, he died. Because Alexander had no real heir, his generals ended up fighting over the remains of Alexander's empire. Not surprisingly, this sort of bickering wasn't conducive to running an empire, and Greece would soon be overrun by the Romans.
In Civilization III, the Greeks are considered a Commercial and Scientific civilization, therefore, they start with Alphabet and Bronze Working, and have significant bonuses to trading activities and scientific pursuits. See the developer update on Civ-specific abilities for more on these bonuses.
Unique Unit: the Hoplite
The Hoplite was one of the first soldiers of the ancient world to fight in formation. The well-known "phalanx" formation that has become synonymous with the Greek hoplite was actually first used by the Sumerians as early as 2500 B.C, but the Greeks made it famous. Armed with a sword and a 6 foot-long pike, clad in a helmet, breastplate, greaves, and a shield, the Hoplite was the biggest, baddest bully on the playgrounds of the Mediterranean.
The Hoplite is an upgraded version of the standard spearman. Its defense rating of 3 makes it a formidable protector for cities and colonies that will not be outclassed until the Pikeman is available.
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