The cradle of Western civilisation, Ancient Greece was a land of contradictions and conflict. Intensely quarrelsome and competitive, the Greek city-states consistently proved unwilling and unable to unite. Yet, in spite of or even because of this internal discord, no ancient civilization proved so dynamic or productive. The Greeks not only colonized the Mediterranean and Black Sea areas but set standards of figurative art that endured for nearly 2500 years. Charting topics as diverse as Minoan civilization, The Persian Wars, the Athenian Golden Age and the conquests of Alexander the Great, the book traces the development of this creative and restless people and assesses their impact not only on the ancient world but also on our own attitudes and environment. The authoritative narrative, illustrated with over sixty full colour maps and over seventy plates, makes this an indispensable handbook for history students and enthusiasts alike.