Covering the very beginnings of Western civilization, this biographical dictionary introduces readers to the great cultural figures of the ancient world, including those who contributed significantly to architecture, astronomy, history, literature, mathematics, philosophy, painting, sculpture, and theology. While focusing on great cultural figures of the Mediterranean basin, such as Homer, Sophocles, and Aristophanes, the volume also includes those who impinged on Greco-Roman Civilization such as Hannibal Barca and King Darius of Persia. Showing how the era's intellectual milieu was interwoven with its political agenda, the book also includes entries on major political and military figures, pointing to their cultural as well as their political contributions. With 480 entries, the book is an excellent basic reference for students seeking an understanding of the ancient world. Going from polis to empire, the years from 800 BC to AD 500 include the archaic period of the eastern Mediterranean, the Greek classical period, the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, and Rome's evolution from a republic to an empire dominating the entire Western world. A Jewish carpenter, living at the edge of the Roman Empire, preached a message with profound implications for the Roman State and Western religion. Providing a quick and easy reference to people who lived in this world, this book profiles the men and women who contributed to the development, growth, and culture of Western civilization. Most of the subjects were native to the Mediterranean basin, including Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, southern Gaul, Spain, North Africa, and Phoenicia, but the book also includes important Persians, Celts, Germanic peoples, and Huns. The book provides valuable background information for anyone interested in the birth of Western culture.