What Does Hellenistic Mean in World History?

Hellenistic period is a term used by historians to describe the era between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE and the emergence of Rome as a major power in the Mediterranean world around 31 BCE. During this time, Greek culture and influence spread across a vast area from Greece to India, creating a new era of cultural and intellectual achievement. In this article, we will explore what Hellenistic means in world history and why it was such an important period.

The Origins of Hellenistic Culture

The Hellenistic period began with the death of Alexander the Great, who had conquered most of the known world by the age of 32. After his death, his empire was divided among his generals, who established their own kingdoms in different parts of his former empire. These kingdoms were ruled by Greek-speaking elites who adopted many aspects of Greek culture, including language, religion, art and philosophy.

The Spread of Hellenistic Culture

The spread of Greek culture during the Hellenistic period was facilitated by several factors. The first was the establishment of Greek-speaking kingdoms throughout much of Alexander’s former empire. These kingdoms served as centers for the diffusion of Greek ideas and institutions.

Another factor that contributed to the spread of Hellenistic culture was trade. The Mediterranean world was interconnected by sea routes that allowed for the exchange of goods and ideas between different regions. Greeks were known for their seafaring skills, and this allowed them to establish trading posts all over the Mediterranean.

Finally, there was also a significant element of military conquest involved in spreading Hellenistic culture. Many kingdoms were conquered by armies led by Greek generals who imposed their language and culture on the local population.

The Legacy of Hellenistic Culture

The legacy of Hellenistic culture is still felt today in many areas around the world. One important legacy is in philosophy.

During the Hellenistic period, Greek philosophers developed new ideas about the nature of reality, ethics, and politics. These ideas continue to influence Western philosophy today.

Another legacy of Hellenistic culture is in art and architecture. Greek artists during this period developed new styles and techniques that would go on to influence art throughout the Mediterranean world for centuries to come.

Finally, Hellenistic culture also had a lasting impact on language. Greek became the lingua franca of the Mediterranean world during this period, and it continued to be an important language for intellectual and cultural exchange throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.


In conclusion, the Hellenistic period was a time of significant cultural and intellectual achievement that had a profound impact on world history. It was a time when Greek culture spread across much of the known world, creating new centers of innovation in areas such as philosophy, art, and architecture. Today, we continue to feel the legacy of Hellenistic culture in many aspects of our lives.