Hellenism, the culture, ideals, and pattern of life of ancient Greece in classical times. It usually means primarily the culture of Athens and the related cities during the Age of Pericles. The term is also applied to the ideals of later writers and thinkers who draw their inspiration from ancient Greece. Frequently it is contrasted with Hebraism—Hellenism then meaning pagan joy, freedom, and love of life as contrasted with the austere morality and monotheism of the Old Testament. The Hellenic period came to an end with the conquest of Alexander the Great in the 4th cent. B.C. It was succeeded by the Hellenistic civilization. See Greece; Greek architecture; Greek art; Greek literature, ancient; Greek religion.
See R. Warner, Eternal Greece (rev. ed. 1962); D. Garman, tr., A Literary History of Greece (1964); J. Ferguson, The Heritage of Hellenism (1973).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.