The conquests of Alexander the Great transformed the Greek world into a complex of monarchies and vying powers, a vast sphere in which the Greek city-states struggled to survive. This is the compelling story of one city that despite long periods of subjugation persisted as a vital social entity throughout the Hellenistic age.
Christian Habicht narrates the history of Athens from its subjugation by the Macedonians in 338 B.C. to the battle of Actium in 31 B.C., when Octavian's defeat of Mark Antony paved the way for Roman dominion over the Hellenistic world. For nearly three centuries Athens strove unsuccessfully for sovereignty; its foreign policies were shaped by the dictates first of the Macedonian monarchy and later of the Roman republic. Yet the city never relinquished control of internal affairs, and citizen participation in its government remained strong. Habicht lucidly chronicles the democracy's setbacks and recoveries over these years as it formed and suffered the consequences of various alliances. He sketches its continuing role as a leader in intellectual life and the arts, as Menander and other Athenian playwrights saw their work produced throughout the Greek world; and the city's famous schools of philosophy, now including those of Zeno and Epicurus, remained a stellar attraction for students from around the Mediterranean. Habicht has long been in the forefront of research on Hellenistic Athens; in this authoritative yet eminently readable history he distills that research for all readers interested in the ancient Mediterranean world.