Hellenic world had the following characteristics: small cities with self-government system, education gained with the help of private tutors, limited commercial activity, women's role limited to domestic affairs, widespread slavery usage, development of poetry and drama introduction, philosophical movements with emphasis on logic and ethic, introduction of experimental method into sciences, and belief into Olympian gods. Hellenistic world was similar to Hellenic world, however, several new features were common: cities ruled by the wealthy class with centralization of power in the hands of monarchs, education provided at gymnasiums, extensive trade both on the sea and land, introduction of the marriage contracts (women could possess slaves and be property owners), local cultures mixed with classic Greek, philosophical emphasis shifted to non-rationalism and mysticism, and significant advances in astronomy and medicine (Thornton, p. 16-23).
Position of women in the society is one of the differences between Hellenic and Hellenistic societies. In Hellenic civilization, marriages were the form of contract between the father of the girl and the father of the boy and were seen as the mean to consolidate the power. Usually men married in their late thirties. They had access to women before: so-called hetairas (prostitutes) were very common. Women from the higher level families, on the other side, were completely isolated from the society, they were not allowed to show themselves in public or when the guests arrived. Women lived in their own side of the house and usually married very early, in their mid-teens. Hellenistic culture has made a significant step in making women's position almost equal to men's. Women were allowed to own the property and slaves, to be the agents in business affairs and could sign the marriage contract outlining the responsibilities of both parties, the divorce and property ownership. Women could be the initiator of the divorce without being looked upon by society.
Polis was the distinctive characteristic of Hellenic civilization. Polis was the city-state with independent government - there have been hundreds of such cities in Greece. City-state was governed by the oligarchy or by the representatives of upper level social class. This was some form of the dictatorship. In the sixths century, however, some form of democracy has been introduced into Greek civilization: Athenian democracy when citizens were granted the right to vote hold the office and own the property (Thornton, p. 85-86). Hellenistic age has changed the situation: absolute centralized monarchy has been introduced and more opportunities were granted to upper class women. Women still could not vote or participate in political activities, however, they were involved indirectly and their opinion has been taken into account. Hellenistic monarchy has laid the foundation for the development of urban culture.
The typical male representative of Hellenic culture was concerned with polis, conformist and oriented towards the public life, while the representative of Hellenistic culture was individualistic, possessed cosmopolitan outlook and was oriented towards