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people of ancient Greece, of unknown origin. In Homer, the Achaeans are specifically a Greek-speaking people of S Thessaly. Historically, they seem to have appeared in the Peloponnesus during the 14th and 13th cent. B.C., and c.1250 B.C. they became the ruling class. There is no sharp line of separation between the earlier Mycenaean civilizationMycenaean civilization
, an ancient Aegean civilization known from the excavations at Mycenae and other sites. They were first undertaken by Heinrich Schliemann and others after 1876, and they helped to revise the early history of Greece. Divided into Early Helladic (c.
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 and the Achaean; the cultures seem to have intermingled. The invasions of the DoriansDorians,
people of ancient Greece. Their name was mythologically derived from Dorus, son of Hellen. Originating in the northwestern mountainous region of Epirus and SW Macedonia, they migrated through central Greece and into the Peloponnesus probably between 1100 and 950 B.C.
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 supposedly forced some of the Achaeans out to Asia Minor; others were concentrated in the region known in classical times as Achaea.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



one of the major ancient Greek tribes who first inhabited Thessaly (northern Greece) and also settled at the beginning of the second millennium B.C. on the Peloponnesos and certain Aegean islands. During the 17th and 16th centuries B.C. the Achaeans formed early class states, such as Mycenae and Pylos, which flourished economically and politically from the 15th through 13th centuries B.C. The large role played by the Achaeans in the history of Greece of that time is demonstrated by the spread of their name to the remaining Greek tribes (as may be seen from the epic of Homer). In the middle of the 13th century B.C., after the Trojan War, the Achaean kingdom was weakened, and after the migrations of the Dorians and other Greek tribes during the 12th century B.C. into the region where the Achaeans had settled, their power was completely broken. Some of the Achaeans were driven into Asia Minor and to Cyprus and other islands; in the Peloponnesos the Achaeans were pushed into the northern regions along the Gulf of Corinth, where they formed the province called Achaea. During the eighth century B.C. settlers from Achaea founded a number of the largest cities in southern Italy—Sybaris, Croton, and others. The Achaeans again became important after 280 B.C., when the Achaean city-states reorganized their old union into the Achaean League. The league played a major role in the fight against Macedonian and Roman expansion during the third and second centuries B.C. In the ancient Greek language the dialects of the Achaeans constituted a special Achaean group.


Georgiev, V. Issledovaniia po sravnitel’no-istoricheskomu iazykoznaniiu. Moscow, 1958.
Hrozný, B. Ancient History of Western Asia, India, and Crete. New York, 1953.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
And Achilles wonders at Priam's courage: "How could you dare to come alone to the ships of the Achaians / and before my eyes, when I am one who have killed in such numbers / such brave sons of yours?
You wine-sodden wretch, dog-faced, deer-hearted, not once have you dared to arm yourself for battle with your troops, or joined in an ambush with the Achaian chieftains!
As the scene develops, this point seems completely sidetracked, from Thersites's point of view, since the Achaians' laughter is directed at him (2.270), rather than at his target, Agamemnon.
Thus, in the same way that the body of Sarpedon provides the Trojans and Achaians with something to fight over, Adam and Eve are the grounds for the dispute between Satan and Gabriel and the others; they are, at once, objects for the good an gels to protect and Satan to corrupt, the locus of verbal combat, and the stakes in Milton's reluctantly heroic epic.
Then all the other sons of the Achaians were silent.
I took my position and said in their midst: "Silence, Achaians! Let the whole host be still!
Regardless of what happens, the Achaians, like the latter, remain convinced of their invincibility.
The French sympathized with the Trojans as noble victims, tragically defeated by the devious Achaians. (Think of Hector Berlioz's Les Troyens.) One of the most potent paintings in the show, in fact, deals empathetically with Trojan pain--Jacques-Louis David's 1783--he was thirty-five--a piece de presentation, Andromache Mourning Hector.
Lastly, had Pelops been regarded as a cheat at Olympia, the Achaians would hardly have claimed descent from him, as they did on their prominent sculptural dedication of the Late Archaic period located just next to the Temple of Zeus; (40) the inscription, according to Pausanias (5.25.10), read: "To Zeus, these images were dedicated by the Achaeans, descendants of Pelops, the godlike descendant of Tantalos" (italics mine).
Instead of, say, "Achilles was the key warrior for (a) the Trojans, (b) the Amazons, (c) the Achaians," they get "Choose three characters from the list; name title and author of the work in which the character appears, and describe the importance of the character's role." Until they are confronted with the difference, students rarely realize the quantum leap between recognizing an answer from a-b-c (passive knowledge) and producing the information from their memory (active knowledge).
On a symbolic level, the Trojans had sought, as early as then, to steal the fire of civilization from the Achaians, representing Western Europe.