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    Classical Greek culture (article)

    Classical Greece

    Classical Greek culture

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    The Greeks made important contributions to philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine.

    Literature and theatre was an important aspect of Greek culture and influenced modern drama.

    The Greeks were known for their sophisticated sculpture and architecture.

    Greek culture influenced the Roman Empire and many other civilizations, and it continues to influence modern cultures today.

    Philosophy and science

    Building on the discoveries and knowledge of civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia, among others, the Ancient Greeks developed a sophisticated philosophical and scientific culture. One of the key points of Ancient Greek philosophy was the role of reason and inquiry. It emphasized logic and championed the idea of impartial, rational observation of the natural world.

    The Greeks made major contributions to math and science. We owe our basic ideas about geometry and the concept of mathematical proofs to ancient Greek mathematicians such as Pythagoras, Euclid, and Archimedes. Some of the first astronomical models were developed by Ancient Greeks trying to describe planetary movement, the Earth’s axis, and the heliocentric system—a model that places the Sun at the center of the solar system. Hippocrates, another ancient Greek, is the most famous physician in antiquity. He established a medical school, wrote many medical treatises, and is— because of his systematic and empirical investigation of diseases and remedies—credited with being the founder of modern medicine. The Hippocratic oath, a medical standard for doctors, is named after him.

    Greek philosophical culture is exemplified in the dialogues of Plato, who turned the questioning style of Socrates into written form. Aristotle, Plato's student, wrote about topics as varied as biology and drama.

    Why did Greek philosophers value logic so highly?

    Picture of the painting School of Athens by Raphael.

    School of Athens by Raphael. Image credit: Wikimedia

    Art, literature, and theatre

    Literature and theatre, which were very intertwined, were important in ancient Greek society. Greek theatre began in the sixth century BCE in Athens with the performance of tragedy plays at religious festivals. These, in turn, inspired the genre of Greek comedy plays.

    These two types of Greek drama became hugely popular, and performances spread around the Mediterranean and influenced Hellenistic and Roman theatre. The works of playwrights like Sophocles and Aristophanes formed the foundation upon which all modern theatre is based. In fact, while it may seem like dialogue was always a part of literature, it was rare before a playwright named Aeschylus introduced the idea of characters interacting with dialogue. Other theatrical devices, like irony, were exemplified in works like Sophocles’ Oedipus the King.

    In addition to written forms of theater and literature, oral traditions were important, especially in early Greek history. It wasn’t until around 670 BCE that Homer’s epic poems, The Iliad and Odyssey, were compiled into text form.

    Greek art, particularly sculpture and architecture, was also incredibly influential on other societies. Greek sculpture from 800 to 300 BCE took inspiration from Egyptian and Near Eastern monumental art and, over centuries, evolved into a uniquely Greek vision of the art form.

    Greek artists reached a peak of excellence which captured the human form in a way never before seen and much copied. Greek sculptors were particularly concerned with proportion, poise, and the idealized perfection of the human body; their figures in stone and bronze have become some of the most recognizable pieces of art ever produced by any civilization.

    This statue of Eirene, peace, bearing Plutus, wealth is a Roman copy of a Greek votive statue by Kephisodotos which stood on the agora in Athens, Wealth ca. 370 BCE.

    This statue of Eirene, peace, bearing Plutus, wealth is a Roman copy of a Greek votive statue by Kephisodotos which stood on the agora in Athens, Wealth ca. 370 BCE. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Greek architects provided some of the finest and most distinctive buildings in the entire Ancient World and some of their structures— including temples, theatres, and stadia—would become staple features of towns and cities from antiquity onwards.

    In addition, the Greek concern with simplicity, proportion, perspective, and harmony in their buildings would go on to greatly influence architects in the Roman world and provide the foundation for the classical architectural orders which would dominate the western world from the Renaissance to the present day.

    The legacy of Greek culture

    The civilization of ancient Greece was immensely influential in many spheres: language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and the arts. It had major effects on the Roman Empire which ultimately ruled it. As Horace put it, "Captive Greece took captive her fierce conqueror and instilled her arts in rustic Latium."

    Source : www.khanacademy.org

    11 Greek Influences and Contributions to Today's Society

    Our society today owes a lot to Greek influences. Here is a list of 8 things that we have borrowed from the Greeks.

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    11 Greek Influences and Contributions to Today's Society

    Author: Anonemuss Updated date: Apr 9, 2018

    Langston studies international politics and is interested in ancient civilizations, international politics, and geography.

    Alexander Mosaic showing Alexander the Great.

    Wikipedia Commons

    What Is Greek Influence?

    The culture of Greece was evolved over thousands of years, and is widely considered to be the cradle of modern Western culture. This is because political systems and procedures such as democracy, trial by jury and lawful equality originated there.

    Aside from these important Greek-derived features of Western civilization, ancient Grecian thinkers and architects laid the intellectual foundations of many fields of study. Whether it be astrology, mathematics, biology, engineering, medicine or linguistics, nearly all of the information we take for granted today was first discovered by the ancient Greeks.

    As if all of this wasn't enough, when it comes to the realm of art–including literature, music, architecture, design and the performing arts–the Greeks established many of the standards by which identify beauty and creative value.

    In short, if you live in the West, you are more like an ancient Grecian than you may realize. This article hopes to highlight some of the many throughly-Grecian contributions we experience and benefit from everyday.

    The following is a list of Greek inventions and discoveries that have had profound impacts on Western culture and society.

    Greek Contributions to Western Civilization

    Democracy The Alphabet The Library The Olympics

    Science and Mathematics

    Architecture Mythology The Lighthouse

    Standardized Medicine

    Trial by Jury The Theater

    Continue reading for more on each of these contributions by ancient Greece.

    1. Democracy

    According to Merriam-Webster, a democracy is a government by the people "in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections."

    The ancient Greeks created the world’s first democracy. Athens started out with a monarchy and then advanced to an oligarchy until it finally reached a democracy. The democratic government consisted of 6,000 assembly members, all of whom were adult male citizens. The assembly voted on issues throughout Athens. In order for a law to pass, the number of votes needed to be a majority. But in order to banish or exile someone, all 6,000 votes were needed.

    Today, at least in the United States, we use a democratic system. But instead of a direct democracy, we have a representative democracy in which the citizens democratically vote on who should make the decisions in the country. This is different than ancient Greece's direct democracy wherein citizens voted on the decision rather than choosing people to make the decision.

    2. The Alphabet

    Derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, the greek alphabet was the first alphabet in the western sense of the word, featuring distinct letters for vowels and consonants. It was developed after the Dark Ages and consisted of 24 letters, ordered from alpha to omega.

    Believe it or not, the word "alphabet" originates from the first 2 letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha and beta. Today many letters of our modern alphabet originate from the Greek alphabet, including letters such as A, B, E, and O. The Greek originally had a single form of each letter, but created upper case and lower case versions of the letters later.

    Artistic rendering of the Library of Alexandria, based on some archaeological evidence. ("The Great Library of Alexandria" by O. Von Corven)

    Wikipedia Commons

    3. The Library

    The first library in the world, the library of Alexandria, was actually built in Egypt. During during this time Egypt was under Greek control after submitting to Alexander’s rule. The Macedonians started spreading the Greek way of life to all of the conquered lands, including Egypt. After Alexander’s death, there was a power struggle and the Kingdom of Egypt came under the rule of Alexander’s general, Ptolemy.

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    6 Ways the Ancient Greeks Changed the World

    Discover all about the legacy of ancient Greece that is still visible in our modern times.


    6 Ways the Ancient Greeks Changed the World

    The busts of the philosophers at The British Museum, London | © Matt Neale/Flickr

    Ethel Dilouambaka 27 November 2017

    Ancient Greece was one of the first important civilizations in Europe. The Classical era, during the 5th and 6th-century BC, saw the country reach its apogee and this particular period has had a tremendous influence on Western culture. Here are some of the ways ancient Greeks changed the world.


    One of the many fields in which ancient Greece has had a deep influence is art. The first to develop the concept of aesthetic beauty, ancient Greeks created spectacular sculptures that have inspired artists from the Renaissance until today. Furthermore, Greek mythology was a major source of inspiration for many European painters, which depicts the many tales and myths in their works.

    The Birth of Venus by Botticelli | © WikiCommons


    Divided into city-states, ancient Greece has been a source of inspiration for many political systems we know today. Democracy was invented in Athens and it was unique in the sense that every citizen (read non-slave males) had the right to vote and speak at the assembly, where laws and decisions were made.


    Modern bust of Cleisthenes, known as “the father of Athenian democracy” | © Unknown/WikiCommons


    Ancient Greek architecture has influenced many architectural styles of today. The use of columns and pediments for example, is a direct legacy from ancient Greece and is omnipresent in modern-day public buildings, such as parliament buildings, museums and even memorials. Come to think of it, the use of architecture as an art form, more than a utilitarian science comes from ancient Greek culture and is visible in constructions like the Acropolis of Athens or the sanctuary of Delphi.

    Nashville Parthenon, inspired by ancient Greek architecture | © Nashville Parthenon, Will Powell/Flickr


    We are pretty sure you’ve guessed it but yes, ancient Greece gave us the Olympic Games. The phenomenal sporting competition that we know today was actually invented around 776 BC and held every four years in Olympia, in Peloponnese. These games lasted for over 1,000 years before they were abolished when Christianity reached Greece. Another visible legacy in the world of sports is the marathon. The race was actually not part of a sport competition but just the distance a soldier ran from the battlefield to Athens to announce the victory of Athenians against the Persians in 490 BC.

    Monument to Philip II, Philippeion, Olympia, Greece | © Andy Montgomery/Flickr


    As far as literature is concerned, the ancient Greeks were the first to create complex literature, which still influences us to this day. One of the oldest literature styles is poetry, and more specifically, epic poetry, mostly used to depict the story of a hero. The oldest surviving epic poetry works are the Iliad and the Odyssey, written by Homer, roughly around 800 BC. But it was mostly during the Classical era that ancient Greek literature blossomed with new styles emerging such as history. It was Herodotus, a man who lived in the 5th-century BC, who first started researching and collecting historical archives to compile them into a narrative. In philosophy, the works of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates have influenced the establishment of modern ethics and Hippocrates wrote medical essays that are still read in medical schools.

    The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David, 1787 | © Art Gallery ErgsArt - by ErgSap/Flickr


    Ancient Greeks had a lot of time on their hands when they were not involved in wars. They had to time to think about and observe the universe and everything surrounding them. As such, ancient Greek scientists made significant discoveries in numerous fields such as geometry, astronomy, mathematics and medicine.

    Bust of Hippocrates, father of medicine | © shakko/WikiCommons

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