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Improved techniques of work affected the lives of the many, and town-planning together with the easier economic conditions of private persons produced better housing in many places.But neither philosophy nor science meant much even to the middle class in the Greek-speaking cities.
Natural sciences made enormous progress, and so did mathematics.
Scientific medicine flourished in Alexandria and elsewhere: The advances in anatomy (Herophilus), physiology (Erasistratus), etc., remained unsurpassed until the Renaissance. If some poets were obscure and full of subtle allusions to the literature of the past (Callimachus, Lycophron, Euphorion, and to a certain extent Theocritus), others were easily comprehensible (Menander, Herodas, and perhaps Apollonius Rhodius).
New prose genres, such as the erotic novel, were meant to appeal to a large public.
Euclid, Apollonius of Perge, and Archimedes represent the culmination of Greek research in geometry and mechanics.
Eratosthenes applied mathematics to geography and Aristarchus developed the heliocentric theory, but Hipparchus (who made fundamental discoveries in astronomy) persuaded the succeeding generations with his new version of the geocentric system. Everywhere the new literature and art interested large strata of the Greek-speaking public, which was predominantly middle-class.
The Romans took full advantage of the difficulties of the Hellenistic states, played on the fear of social revolution among the wealthy Greeks, and exploited rivalries and native rebellions, with the result that they defeated and ultimately absorbed all the Hellenistic states.
Almost everywhere during the second century the increasing inability of the Greco-Macedonian ruling class to prevent internal dissolution is noticeable.In religion the stronger influences came from the native populations, not from the upper (Greek or Hellenized) stratum.There was no sign that the gods of the Greek Olympus were dying: they went on performing miracles and acquiring new festivals and new sanctuaries.Since Droysen, many historians have reexamined the political and constitutional history of this period; they include B. There was also a revival (perhaps a transformation) of Pythagorean groups, which began to look like a religious sect. The foundation of new cities (especially in the Seleucid kingdom) and of new villages (particularly in Egypt) contributed to the spread of Greek, but the peasants and the native priests kept the indigenous languages alive. The Jewish rebellion of the Maccabees contributed to the further decline of the Seleucid state, which was transformed into a Roman province in 64 and ended in violent repression by the Romans.