Greece ( ῾Ελλάς), properly the country in Europe inhabited by the Greek race (1 Macc. 1:1); but in Ac 20:2, apparently designating only that part of it comprising the -Roman province of MACEDONIA SEE MACEDONIA (q.v.). See Wetstein, Nov. Test. 2:590; Kruse, Hellas, 1:557. SEE ACHAIA.
1. Greece is sometimes described as a country containing the four provinces of Macedonia, Epirus, Achaia or Hellas, and Peloponnesus, but more commonly the two latter alone are understood to be comprised in it. We will consider it as composed of Hellas and Peloponnesus, though there seems to be no question that the four provinces were originally Inhabited by people of similar language and origin, and whose relilion and manners were alike. Except upon its northern boundary it is surrounded on all sides by the sea, which intersects it in every direction and naturally gives to its population seafaring habits. It is also a very mountainous country, abounding in eminences of great height, which branch out and intersect the lands from its northern to its southern extremity, and form the natural limits of many of the provinces into which it is divided. At the isthmus of Corinth it is separated into its two great divisions, of which the northern was called Graeca intra Peloponnesum, and the southern the Peloponnesus, now called the Morea. The mountain and sea are thus the grand natural characteristics of Greece, and had a very considerable influence on the character of its inhabitants, as is evidenced in the religion, poetry, history, sand manners of the people. The country has always been famous for the temperature of its climate, the salubrity of its air, and the fertility of its soil.
The Greek nation had a broad division into two races, Dorians and Ionians, of whom the former seem to have long lain hid in continental parts, or aon the western side of the country, and had a temperament and institutions more approaching the Italic. The Ionians, on the contrary, retained many Asiatic usages and tendencies, witnessing that they had never been so thoroughly cut off as the Dorians from Oriental connection. When afterwards the Ionic colonies in Asia Minor rose to eminence, the Ionian race, in spite of the competition of the half Doric Aolians, continued to at tract most attention in Asia.
Of the history of Greece before the first recorded Olympiad, B.C. 77,6, little that can be depended upon is known. There is no doubt, that from very remote periods of antiquity, long prior to this date, the country had been inhabited, but facts are so intermingled with legend and fable in the traditions which have come down to us of these ancient times, that it is impossible with certainty to distinguish the false from the true (Grote, Hist. of Greece, pref. to volume 1). After its conquest by the Romans, B.C. 146, Greece continued for one thousand three hundred and fifty years the either really or nominally a portion of the Roman empire. Literature and the arts, long on the decline were at length destroyed by Justinian, who closed the schools of Athens. Alaric the Goth invaded the country in the year 400, followed by Genseric and Zabei Khan in the sixth and seventh, and by the Normana in the eleventh century. After the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204, Greece was divided into feuda principalities, and governed by a variety of Roman Venetian, and Frankish nobles; but in 1261, was the exception of the dukedoms of Athens and Nauplia, and some portions of the Archipelago, it was reunited to the Constantinopolitan empire by Michael Palaeogus. In 1438 it was invaded by the Turks, who conmpleted its conquest in 1481. The Venetians, however, were not disposed to allow its new masters quiet possession, and the country during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was the theater of obstinate wars, which continued till the treaty of Passarovitz in 1718 confirmed the Turks in their conquest with the exception of Msaina, the whole country remained under their despotic sway till 1821, when the Greeks once more aroused from their lethargy, and asserted their claim to a national existence. The revolutionary struggle was continued with varied success and much bloodshed till the great European powers interfered, and the battle of Navarino, in 1827, secured the independence of Greece, which was reluctantly acknowledged by the Porte in 1829. In 1831 Greece was erected into an independent monarchy it retains its classic name, and nearly its ancient limits, comprehending the Morea, or ancient Peloponnenus, south of the Gulf of Corinth, now Gulf of Lepanto, and the province of Livadia. or the ancient Graecia principia, with part of Thessaly and Epirus, north of that gulf; besides the island of Negropont, the ancient Eubsea, and other smaller islands in the Archipelago. The Republic of the Ionian lslands, Cephalonia, Zante, Corfu, and others on the western coast of Greece, is under the protection of Great Britain.
2. The relations of the Hebrews with the Greeks were always of a distant kind until the Macedonian conquest of the East: hence in the Old Testament the mention of the Greeks is naturally rare. SEE JAVAN. It is possible that Moses may have derived some geographical outlines from the Egyptians, but he does not use them in Ge 10:2-5, where he mentions the descendants of Javas as peopling the isles of the Gentiles. This is merely the vaguest possible indication of a geographical, "locality" and yet it is not improbable that his Egyptian teachers were almost equally in the dark as to the position of a country which had not at that time arrived at a unity sufficiently imposing to arrest the attention of its neighbors. The amount aned precision of the information possessed by Moses must be measured by the nature of the relation which we can conceive as existing in his time between Greece and Egypt. Now it appears from Herodotus that prior to the Trojan War the current of tradition, sacred and mythological, set from Egypt towards Greece; and the first quasi-historical event which awakened the curiosity and stimulated the imagination of the Egyptian priests was the story of Paris and Helen. (Herodotus, 2:43, 1:52, and 112). At the time of the Exodus, therefore. it is not likely that Greece had entered into any definite relation whatever with Egypt. Withdraws from the sea-coast, and only gradually fighting their way to it during the period of the Judges, the Hebrews could have had no opportunity of forming connections with the Greeks. From the time of Moses to that of Joel we have no notice of the Greeks in the Hebrew writings, except that which was contained in the word Javan (Ge 10:2); and it does not seem probable that during this period of the words had any peculiar significance for a Jew, except in so far as it was associated with the idea of islanders. When, indeed, they came into contact with the Ionians of Asia Minor, and recognized them as the long-lost islanders of the Western migration, it was natural that they should mark the similarity of sound between יָוָן = יוֹן and ones, and the application of that name to the Asiatic Greeks would tend to satisfy in some measure a longing to realize the Mosaic ethnography.
Accordingly, the O.T. word, which in the A.Vers. is Greece, Greeks, etc., is in Hebrew יָוָן, Joavan (Joe 3:6; Da 8:21): the Hebrew, however, is sometimes retained (Isa 66:19; Eze 27:13). In Ge 10:2 the Sept. has καὶ Ι᾿ώυαν καὶ Ε᾿λισά, with which Rosenmüller compares Herod. 1:56-58, and professes to discover the two elements of the Greek race. From Ι᾿ώυαν he gets the Ionian or Pelagian, from Ε᾿λισά (for which he supposes the Heb. Original אֵַלישָׁה) the Hellenic element. This is excessively fanciful. SEE ELISHAH.
The Greeks and Hebrews met for the first time in the slave-market. The medium of communication seems to have been the Tyrian slave-merchant. About B.C. 800 Joel speaks of the Tyrians as selling the children of Judah to the Grecians (Joe 3:6); and in Eze 27:13 the Greeks are mentioned as bartering their brazen vessels for slaves. On the other hand, Bochart says that the Greek slaves were highly valued throughout the-East (Geogr. Sac. part 1, lib. 3, c. 3, page 175); and it is probable that the Tyrians took advantage of the calamities Which befell either nation to sell them as slaves to the other. Abundant opportunities would be afforded by the attacks of the Lydian monarchy on the one people, and the Syrian on the other; and it is certain that Tyre would let slip no occasion of replenishing her slave-market. SEE TYRE.
Prophetical notice of Greece occurs in Da 8:21, etc., where the history of Alexander and his successors is rapidly sketched. SEE GOAT. Zechariah (Zec 9:13) foretells the triumphs of the Maccabees against the Graeco-Syrian empire, while Isaiah looks forward to the conversion of the Greeks, among other Gentiles, through the instrumentality of Jewish missionaries (Isa 66:19). For the connection between the Jews and the quasi-Greek kingdoms which sprang out of the divided empire of Alexander, SEE ANTIOCHUS; SEE PTOLEMY.
The presence of Alexander (q.v.) himself at Jerusalem, and his respectful demeanor, are described by Josephus (Ant. 11:8, 3); and some Jews are even said to have joined him in his expedition against Persia (Hecat. ap. Joseph. c. Apion, 2:4), as the Samaritans had already done in the siege of Tyre (Josephus, Ant. 11:8, 4-6). In 1 Macc. 12:5-23 (about B.C. 180), and Josephus, Ant. 12:4, 10, we have an account of an embassy and letter sent by the Lacedaemonians to the Jews. The most remarkable feature in the transaction is the claim which the Lacedaemonians prefer to kindred with the Jews, and which Areus professes to establish by reference to a book. It is by no means unlikely that two declining nations, the one crouching beneath a Graeco-Syrian invader, and the other beneath a Roman yoke, should draw together in face of the common calamity; or we may with Jahn (Heb. Comm. 9:91, note) regard the affair as a piece of pompous trifling or idle curiosity, at a period when "all nations were curious to ascertain their origin, and their relationship to other nations." SEE ONIAS.
The notices of the Jewish people which occur in Greek writers have been collected by Josephus (contra Apion, 1:22). The chief are Pythagoras, Herodotus, Choerilus, Aristotle, Theophrastus, and Hecatseus. The main drift of the argument of Josephus is to show that the Greek authors derived their materials from Jewish: sources, or with more or less distinctness referred to Jewish history. For Pythagoras, he cites Hermippus's life; for Aristotle, Clearchus; but it should be remembered that the Neo-Platonism of these authorities makes them comparatively worthless; that Hermippus, in particular, belongs to that Alexandrian school which made it its business to fuse the Hebrew traditions with the philosophy of Greece, and propitiate the genius of Orientalism by denying the merit of originality to the great and independent thinkers of the West. This style of thought was further developed by Iamblichus; and a very good specimen of it may be seen in Le Clerc's notes on Grotius, De Verit. lit has been ably and vehemently assailed by Ritter, Hist. Philippians b. 1, c. 3. Herodotus mentions the Syrians of Palestine as confessing that they derived the rite of circumcision from the Egyptians (2:104). Bahr, however, does not think it likely that Herodotus visited the interior of Palestine, though he was acquainted with the sea-coast. (On the other hand, see Dahlman, pages 55, 56, Engl. transl.) It is almost impossible to suppose that Herodotus could have visited Jerusalemn without giving us some more detailed account of .it than the merely incidental notices in 2:159, and 3:5, not to mention that the site of Κάδυτις, or Cadytis, is still a disputed question. The victory of Pharaoh Necho over Josiah at Megiddo is recorded by Herodotus (comp. Herod. 2:159 with 2Ki 23:29 sq.; 2Ch 35:20 sq.). It is singular that Josephus should have omitted these references, and cited Herodotus only as mentioning the rite of circumcision. The work of Theophrastus cited is not extant; he enumerates among other oaths that of Corban. Chcerilus is supposed by Josephus to describe the Jews in a by no means flattering portrait of a people who accompanied Xerxes in his expedition against Greece. The chief points of identification are their speaking the Phoenician language, and dwelling in the Solymean mountains, near a
broad lake, which, according to Josephus, was the Dead Sea. The Hecataeus of Josephus is Hecataeus of Abdera, a contemporary of Alexander the Great, and of Ptolemy son of Lagus. The authenticity of the History of the Jews attributed to him by Josephus has been called in question by Origen and others.
After the complete subjugation of the Greeks by the Romans, and the absorption into the Roman empire of the. kingdoms which were formed out of the dominions of Alexander, the political connection between the Greeks and Jews as two independent nations no longer existed. — Smith, s.v.
When a beginning had been made of preaching Christianity to the Gentiles, Greece immediately became a principal sphere for missionary exertion. The vernacular tongue of the Hellenistic Christians was understood over so large an extent of country as almost of itself to point out in what direction they should exert themselves. The Grecian cities, whether in Europe or Asia, were the peculiar field for Paul, for whose labors a superintending Providence had long before been providing in the large number of devout Greeks who attended the Jewish synagogues. Greece Proper was divided by the Romans into two provinces, of which the northern was called Macedonia, and the southern Achaia (as in 2Co 9:2, etc.); and we learn incidentally from Acts 18 that the proconsul of the latter resided at Corinth. To determine the exact division between the provinces is difficult, nor is the question of any importance to a Biblical student. Achaia, however, had probably very nearly the same frontier as the kingdom of modern Greece, which is limited by a line reaching from the gulf of Volo to that of Arta, in great part along the chain of Mount Othrys. Of the cities celebrated in Greek history, none are prominent in the early Christian.times except Corinth. Laconia, and its chief town Sparta, had ceased to be of any importance: Athens was never eminent as a Christian church. In Macedonia were the two great cities of Philippi and Thessalonica (formerly called Therme); yet of these the former was rather recent being founded by Philip the Great; the latter was not distinguished above the other Grecian cities on the same coast. Nicopolis, on the gulf of Ambracia (or Arta), had been built by Augustus in memory of his victory at Actium, and was, perhaps, the limit of Achaia on the western coast (Tacitus, Annal. 2:53). It had risen into some importance in Paul's days, and, as many suppose, it is to this Nicopolis that he alludes in his epistle to Titus. SEE NICOPOLIS.
3. Among the Greeks the arts of war and peace were carried to greater perfection than among any earlier people. In navigation they were little behind the Tyrians and Carthaginians; in political foresight they equaled them; in military science, both by sea and land, they were decidedly their superiors; while in the power of reconciling subject-foreigners to the conquerors and to their institutions, they perhaps surpassed all other nations of the world. Their copious, cultivated, and flexible tongue carried with it no small mental education to all who learned it thoroughly; and so sagacious were the arrangements of the great Alexander throughout his rapidly acquired Asiatic empire, that in the twenty years of dreadful war between his generals which followed his death, no rising of the natives against Greek influence appears to have been thought of. Without any change of population adequate under other circumstances to effect it, the Greek tongue and Greek feeling spread far and sank deep through the Macedonian dominions. Half of Asia Minor became a new Greece, and the cities of Syria, North Palestine, and Egypt were deeply imbued with the same influence. SEE GREEK LANGUAGE.
The Greeks were eminent for their appreciation of beauty in all its varieties; indeed, their religious creed owed its shape mainly to this peculiarity of their mind, for their logical acuteness was not exercised on such subjects until quite a later period. The puerile or indecent fables of the old mythology may seem to a modern reader to have been the very soul of their religion; but to the Greek himself these were a mere accident, or a vehicle for some embodiment of beauty. Whatever the other varieties of Greek religious ceremonies, no violent or frenzied exhibitions arose out of the national mind; but all such orgies (as they were called) were imported from the East, and had much difficulty in establishing themselves on Greek soil. At quite a late period the managers of orgies were evidently regarded as mere jugglers of not a very reputable kind (see Demosthenes, De Corona, § 79, page 313); nor do the Greek states, as such, appear to have patronized them. On the contrary, the solemn religious processions, the sacred games and dances, formed a serious item in the public expenditure; and to be permanently exiled from such spectacles. would have been a moral death to the Greeks, Wherever they settled they introduced their native institutions and reared temples, gymnasia bathse, porticoes, sepulchers, of characteristic simphe elegance. The morality and the religion of such a people naturally were alike superficial; nor did the two stand in any close union. Bloody and cruel rites would find no place in their creed, because faith was not earnest enough to endure much self-abandonment. Religion was with them a sentiment and a taste rather than a deep-seated conviction. On the loss of beloved relatives they felt a tender and natural sorrow, but unclouded with a shade of anxiety concerning a future life. Through the whole of their later history, during Christian times, it is evident that they had little power of remorse,and little natural firmness of conscientious principle; and, in fact, at an earlier and critical time, when the intellect of the nation was ripening, an atrocious civil war, that lasted for twenty-seven years, inflieted a political and social demoralization, from the effects of which they could never recover. Besides this, their very admiration of beauty, coupled with the degraded state of the female intellect, proved a frightful source of corruption, such as a philosophy could have adequately checked. (Works expressly on Grecian mythology have been written by Le Clerc,1787; Kanne, 1805; Limmer, 1806; Hug, 1812; Völcker, 1824; Buttmann, 1828; Studer, 1830; Krische, 1840; Stuhr, 1838; Limburg-Brouwer, 1833.) SEE GREEK.