Most historians agree that the study of ancient Greece begins with the Dorians. Without the Dorians, the ancient Greece we greatly admire might never have developed.
Here's what happened: Over 3,000 years ago, the Dorians, a tribe of war-like people, swooped down from the north onto the Greek peninsula. The Dorians did not have a written language. They were not into art or music or literature. The Dorians were into war. The Dorians did not build cities. They destroyed them.
Greek Dark Ages: It was easy for the Dorians to conquer the many diverse tribes who made their home on the Greek peninsula. The villagers had stone weapons. The Dorians had iron weapons. It wasn't even a contest. For the next 400 years, the Dorians ruled. This period of time in ancient Greek history is called the Greek Dark Ages. The various tribes on the Greek peninsula hated the Dorians, with good reason. The Dorians were cruel and brutal. But after 400 years of Dorian rule, it probably never occurred to the Dorians that the villagers might organize and revolt.
The Storytellers: Things started to change when a new profession arose on the Greek peninsula - that of storyteller. The storytellers were not Dorians. They were villagers, young men who traveled from village to village, telling stories of heroes, monsters, gods, goddesses, and magical beings, like Hades, lord of the underworld, and his three-headed dog. They told tales of deals and trickery, and of wars and victory. Thanks to the storytellers, the early people on the Greek peninsula learned to speak Greek, the language of the storytellers. They were shown through the stories and myths they loved the many advantages of working together to defeat a common foe.
After the Greek Dark Ages - Development of City-States: Dorian rule came to an end when the Greeks banded together and kicked the Dorians out of Greece. After the Greek Dark Ages, villages started to band together to create city-states, in part for protection and in part for more organized trade.
Ancient Greece was not a country. It was never an empire. It was a collection of city-states, each with its own government and its own way of doing things. The people spoke the same language, believed in the same gods. and shared a common culture. They thought of themselves as Greeks. But they were very loyal to their city-state.