Short answer: No one. They were not a united civilization but just a bunch of city-states all loosely connected by ethnicity and culture.
Greek civilization was dominated by the environment. They settled on a rocky and mountainous landscape that made unity beyond city-states very difficult. But because they were basically surrounded by water, when they ran out of room on the mainland they would set up colonies all around the Mediterranean. And it was these colonies that got them in trouble with the Persians.
The poster child for empire building is Persia. The Classical Era begins at 600 BCE because this is around when the Persian Empire was formed. (For context the Roman Republic gets established 91 years later but it will be another 500 years before it officially becomes the Roman Empire.) And the Persians do such a good job of developing methods for maintaining control of their empire that essentially every other empire in human history is going to in some way copy them.
One year I had a student keep track of every time I referenced the Hunger Games in my world history class. The tally was around 8 by the end of the second week of school. So… yeah. I’m definitely getting my money’s worth on that masters degree.
Don’t believe me? How dare you, sir. How dare you.
Before I start, let me say that this is one of my superpowers and one of my favorite hobbies. Comment below if you have a favorite book or movie that you want me to relate to World History! While you brainstorm, here we go…
It’s so easy to study history and forget that these things actually happened. Like, George Washington woke up each morning, went to the bathroom, and put his underwear on before he walked out onto the battlefield. There’s actually a story that when he was crossing the Delaware in that seemingly tiny boat, there was a soldier standing in front of him blocking his view. He smacked him in the back of the head and yelled, “Sit down! I can’t see sh*t!” Is that true? Probably not. Do I want it to be true? More than anything I’ve ever wanted in the world.
Every time I tell people that I’m a high school social studies teacher, after they give me a pitying look, I get the same response, “I wish I had paid more attention in high school!” Or sometimes, “I wish I could take your history class!” After hearing that hundreds of times it dawned on me that youth – and education – is wasted on the young. Adults understand the importance of knowledge and would beanefit from a world history or contemporary issues class infinitely more than teenagers. Also, young people don’t understand most of my jokes and references. So, I created this blog and my “Anti-Social Studies” podcast to bring my classroom to the masses and to allow non-teenagers the opportunity to relearn social studies in a safe, non-judgmental environment with absolutely no worksheets or quizzes. I promise. Unless it’s a quiz to sort yourself into a Hogwarts house, in which case the only acceptable answer is Ravenclaw.
On this site you’ll find my general musings and behind-the-scenes stories of what it’s like to teach history and current events to people who unironically use phrases like “lit” and “vibey.” It’s hard, y’all. I’ll also post resources for fellow teachers who might be interested in lovingly stealing my materials. I also have a podcast called “Anti-Social Studies” where I direct teach broad topics from my classroom. Check it out!