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published: 1/20/05
updated: 12/16/13

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Timeline of Ancient Greek Religion

The Chronology of Grec-Roman religion


Religion was an important part of daily life in ancient Greece and Rome. First, Greece had an established religious belief system that included convictions about gods, the spiritual realm, and the afterlife. As its empire advanced, its religion spread. Next, Rome, in many ways, overlayed the existing religious worldview of the Greeks, although names were often changed in the process. (See Greco-Roman beliefs)

The following timeline of Greco-Roman religion summarizes some of the most important events in the belief system since its founding. By reading through the timeline, one is able to track the developments of Greco-Roman religion in history. Links will take the reader to more in-depth articles on he topics mentioned.

A timline of Greco-Roman religion

c. 2200 BCE

Mycenean civilization emerges

c. 2000-1500 BCE

Minoan civilization reaches its height on Crete, with its capital at Knossos

c. 1600-1200 BCE

Rule of the Myceneans, based in the city of Mycenae

c. 1400 BCE

The Myceneans conquer Knossos and begin to replace the more peaceful Minoan civilization with their own military-centered culture.

c. 1250 BCE

Myceneans may have warred with Troy and triumphed (as retold in the Homeric epics).

c. 1200 BCE

Oracle at Delphi founded

c. 1100 BCE

Myceneans conquered by Dorian invaders

c. 1100-800 BCE

The "Dark Ages," characterized by decline in architecture, writing, and other forms of material culture in Greece.

c. 1000 BCE

Founding of Sparta

c. 800 BCE

Emergence of Greek city-states, including Athens, Thebes and Megara.

800-500 BCE

"Archaic Period"

776 BCE

First Olympic games (according to tradition)

700 BCE

Homer's epic poems first set down in writing

c. 700 BCE

Hesiod composes his Theogony, Works and Days, and other poems

c. 650 BCE

Sparta was reorganized by Lycurgus, who made the aristocratic city into an oligarchy based on warfare.

612 BCE

Birth of Sappho, the famous female lyric poet from the isle of Lesbos.

594 BCE

Solon became Athens' chief magistrate. He established the Council of 400 and made other legal reforms designed to give the citizens more voice.

585 BCE

Thales, founder of school of philosophy in Miletus, is the first to present a rational explanation of the cosmos (namely, that all things are made of moisture).

559 BCE

Persian Empire founded by the Cyrus the Great

547-527 BCE

Pisistratus is ruler of Athens. He establishes festivals, builds temples and fountains, and encourages the growth of olives for export.

534 BCE

According to tradition, Thespis becomes the first actor by reciting poetry as the characters in the poem.


Pythagoras, mathematician and philosopher, and his followers found the city of Croton. Their community is based on philosophy, literature, and political activity.

c. 525 BCE

Greek drama begins to grow out of the Dionysian festivals, especially with the plays of Aeschylus.

518 BCE

Birth of Pindar, Greek lyric poet who is especially inspired by athletic victory.

515 BCE

Birth of Parmenides of Elea, founder of the Eleatic school that focused on metaphysics.

510 BCE

Athens drove out the tyrant Hippias, son of Pisistratus. Cleisthenes and Isagoras struggle for power.

508 BCE

Cleisthenes flees Athens as Spartan troops approach to assist Isagoras, and Isagoras becomes ruler of Athens.

507 BCE

Cleisthenes returns to Athens and institutes a democracy – one vote for each free man on every matter of importance.

c. 500 BCE

Sparta dominated the Peloponnese region of southern Greece

c. 500 BCE

Height of Greek sculpture begins with the work of Phidias and Myron.

493-429 BCE

Pericles rules Athens. He solidifies Cleistenes' reforms and masterminds the construction of the Parthenon.

490 BCE

Battle of Marathon between Athens and Darius' Persia; Athens is overwhelmingly victorious.

c. 490 BCE

In Athens, the established sculpture style of the Kouros was replaced by the more dynamic style represented by the Critrius Boy.

c. 485 BCE

Heraclitus of Ephesus flourishes. He teaches that reality is in a constant state of flux: "One cannot step into the same river twice."

480 BCE

In September, thanks to the military genius of Themistocles, Athenians crush Xerxes and the Persians at the naval Battle of Salamis.

472 BCE

Playwright Aeschylus submits a play called The Persians to the annual drama competition in Athens. The play tells the story of the Battle of Salamis from the Persians' perspective.

469-399 BCE

Life of Socrates, famous philosopher of ethics. He leaves no written work himself, but is the protagonist of Plato's dialogues.

469-406 BCE

Life of Sophocles, the second major Greek playwright and author of Oedipus Rex and Antigone.

461 BCE

Pericles enters public life, rules until 429 BCE. The democracy is perfected and the court system is completed.

454 BCE

Delian League, a naval alliance of Athens and other city-states, is established through talks on the isle of Delos.

477 BCE

Construction on the Parthenon begins under the guidance of Pericles.

431-404 BCE

Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta.

427 BCE

Birth of Plato, Socrates' most distinguished student.

399 BCE

Socrates condemned to death for impiety and corrupting the youth.

146 BCE

The Greek city-states become part of the Roman Empire.

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