Cyrus the Great
Established massive Persian Empire by 550 BCE; successor state to Mesopotamian empires.
Animist religion that saw material existence as battle between forces of good and evil; stressed the importance of moral choice; righteous lived on after death in "House of Song"; chief religion of Persian Empire.
Iliad and Odyssey
Two Greek epic poems attributed to Homer but possibly the work of many authors; defined gods and human nature that shaped Greek mythos.
The Persian Wars
Two wars fought in early 5th century BCE between Persian Empire and Greek city-states; Greek victories allowed Greek civilization to define identity separate from the Asian empire.
Athenian political leader during 5th century BCE; guided development of Athenian Empire; died during early stages of Peloponnesian War.
Athenian reformer of the 6th century; established laws that eased burden of debt on farmers, forbade enslavement for debt.
War from 431 to 404 BCE between Athens and Sparta for dominance in southern Greece; resulted in Spartan victory but failure to achieve political unification of Greece.
One of the pan-Hellenic rituals observed by all Greek city-states; involved athletic competitions and ritual celebrations.
Oracles at Delphi
Person representing the god Apollo; allegedly received cryptic messages from the god that had predictive value if the seeker could correctly interpret the communication.
Alliance formed by Athens after the Persian wars; cities contributed to unified treasury on island of Delos to support alliance fleet; later taken over by Athens and became Athenian Empire.
That culture associated with the spread of Greek influence as a result of Macedonian conquests; often seen as the combination of Greek culture with eastern political forms.
Ruled Macedon from 359 to 336 BCE; founder of centralized kingdom; later conquered rest of Greece, which was subjected to Macedonian authority.
Alexander the Great
Successor of Philip II; successfully conquered Persian Empire prior to his death in 323 BCE; attempted to combine Greek and Persian cultures.
One of many cities of that name founded by Alexander the Great; site of ancient Mediterranean's greatest library; center of literary studies.
One of the regional dynasties that followed the death of Alexander the Great; founded in Egypt.
One of the regional dynasties that followed the death of Alexander the Great; founded in Persia.
Athenian philosopher of later 5th century BCE; tutor of Plato; urged rational reflection of moral decisions; condemned to death for corrupting minds of Athenian young.
Hellenistic group of philosophers; emphasized inner moral independence cultivated by strict discipline of the body and personal bravery.
Greek philosopher; knowledge based on consideration of ideal forms outside the material world; proposed ideal form of government based on abstract principles in which philosophers ruled.
Greek philosopher; teacher of Alexander the Great; knowledge based on observation of phenomena in material world.
Conquered indigenous population of Spartan city-state; provided agricultural labor for Spartan landowners; only semi-free; largest population of Spartan city-state.
Rigid system of social classification first introduced into Indian subcontinent by Aryans.
one of the varnas in the Hindu caste system; the priestly class in charge of the religious ceremonies that were important in Indian society.
Lowest caste in Indian society; performed tasks that were considered polluting-street sweeping, removal of human waste, and tanning.
Term for a wide variety of beliefs and ritual practices that have developed in the Indian subcontinent since antiquity. Hinduism has roots in ancient Vedic, Buddhist, and south Indian religious concepts and practices. Spread along trade routes.
The caste position and career determined by a person's birth; Hindu culture required that one accept one's social position and perform occupation to the best of one's ability in order to have a better situation in the next life.
The sum of merits accumulated by a soul at any given point in time; determined the caste to which the soul would be assigned in the next life.
The successive attachment of the soul to some animate form according to merits earned in previous lives.
Mahabharata and Ramayana
Indian epics; written down in the last centuries BCE; previously handed down in oral form.
Buddha (Siddharta Gutama)
Creator of major Indian and Asian religion; born in 6th century BCE as son of local ruler among Aryan tribes located near Himalayas; became an ascetic; found enlightenment under bo tree; taught that enlightenment could be achieved only by abandoning desires for all earthly things.
Grandson of Chandragupta Maurya; completed conquests of Indian subcontinent; converted to Buddhism and sponsored spread of new religion throughout his empire.
Four Noble Truths
Four pillars of Buddhism; listed as life means suffering, the origin of suffering is attachment, the cessation of suffering is attainable, and the path to the cessation of suffering (follow the Eightfold Path).
Founder of Mauryan Empire; established first empire in Indian subcontinent; first centralized government since Harappan civilization.
Dynasty established in Indian subcontinent in 4th century BCE following invasion by Alexander the Great.
Political treatise written during reign of Chandragupta Maurya; advocated use of spies and assassins, bribery, and scientific forms of warfare.
Stone shrines built to house pieces of bone or hair and personal possessions said to be relics of the Buddha; preserved Buddhist architectural forms.
Indian Ocean trading network
The world's largest sea-based system of communication and exchange before 1500 CE; Indian Ocean commerce stretched from southern China to eastern Africa and included not only the exchange of luxury and bulk goods but also the exchange of ideas and crops.
Later books of the Vedas; contained sophisticated and sublime philosophical ideas; utilized by Brahmans to restore religious authority.
Dynasty that succeeded the Kushanas in the 3d century CE; built empire that extended to all but the southern regions of Indian subcontinent; less centralized than Mauryan Empire.