The three cultures that developed to form the basis for Western thought were the Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Romans. The Hebrews were the first culture to develop and spent their early years as slaves. They rebuilt the temple, and created the first five books of the Old Testament. After a final revolt, they became stateless and then became the Roman Empire. The Hebrews left behind no paintings, sculptures, and not much literature; however they did leave behind some religious literature. They were founded on the idea of one God. The Greeks produced the great literature of the eighth and fourth centuries B.C. They possessed great power and wealth, but their palaces were destroyed by fire that contained the only arts that created their wealth and writing system. They then became illiterate and this period was known as the Dark Ages of Greece. The Greeks later learned to write again and produced the oral epic poetry in which became the basis of education. They worshipped gods on Olympus who were subject to a single more powerful god, Zeus. This group was fragmented; they differed in custom, and dialect, and had war in pursuit of better land. They began to create colonies that developed faster economically and culturally than before. The developed their own languages, the Phoenician writing system, and the first efficient alphabet. Socrates became the prophet of the new age and the voice of the Athenians in a search for truth through question and answers. He was later put to death due to impiety. When Alexander the Great died, the empire became many independent kingdoms that took the Greek traditions and languages with them.
The Romans were a practical people, conservative, and provided the greatest contribution to the Western civilization as Roman law. Their Latin literature began when a Greek prisoner translated the Odyssey. Trade and agriculture was great, but there was no spirituality. Many religions developed, but the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ became the official religion of the Roman world. The Romans converted the new inhabitants and as result, saved the Latin and Greek literature as a model and basis in achievements in the arts and letters.