University of Texas at Arlington
October 3rd, 2018
Ancient Greeks (3000 BCE- 1CE) Iron Age (1500-350 CE)
Ancient Greece was part of the Iron Age, and brought a lot of culture to this era through sculptures, theater and through their rulers. Greece was and still is made up of many little islands and slim peninsulas bunched together in one big cluster. This made it hard for people from different islands to connect to each other, geographically and culturally. Due to their contributions to math, politics and art these are all things that continue to affect us today. Greek ideas spread like a wildfire during the Hellenistic Era, thanks to the work of Alexander and his ruling. Many philosophers such as Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato give us many of the answers to life questions they needed back in Ancient Greece. Play writers such as Homer and Euripides gave us important and entertaining stories that have been brought to life today in large theaters. Many of these plays depicted important events in history that were occurring at that time. Ancient Greece also went through many periods such as the Dark Age and the Golden Age. Ancient Greece went from the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization to being able to thrive economically in Athens and Sparta. Not only were they doing great economically but also there was a birth of monuments, art, philosophy, architecture and literature all truly encompassing what Greece was all about. Many of its contributions to the modern world are its beautiful architecture such as the idea of columns in buildings and the sophistication of straight lines. In politics we have to credit them with the idea of a democracy, as it started with the Athenians. Even today we continue to celebrate the Olympic Games, a very entertaining event which millions of people attend. We also continue to use ideas that their philosophers started years ago and continue to use the Hippocratic Oath for our doctors. Many of the things that ancient Greeks did not only brought new knowledge to the world but it also brought culture to all of us.
Key Historical Events
Drawings or Paintings
Discobolus of Myron
Great Temple of Athena: The Parthenon
Odeion of Pericles
The Artemision or God from the Sea
Acropolis of Athens
The Marble Metopes of the Parthenon
Age of Pericles
Marathon the Youth
Age of Alexander
Venus de Milo
– Olympic Games: Began around 776 BCE as a festival for the Olympians, where athletic games were a way of honoring the gods. According to some myths, Zeus defeated Kronos in a fight for the throne of the gods. Later, Herakles also known as Hercules, a demigod, staged the games in honor of Zeus. The first real games were held on the ancient plains of Olympia. They were first held for nearly 12 centuries, until Emperor Theodosius banned them in 393 CE because he believed they were a pagan ritual. The ancient Olympic Games included: running, jumping, discus throw, wrestling, boxing, pankration, and horse and chariot races.
Trojan War: 1194- 1184 BCE. Marks the decline of Greek civilization and the beginning of the Dark Ages in Greece (1100s- 750 BCE). It is believed that large scale trading ended and poverty spread. Things were desperate for the Greeks.
– Trojan Horse: According to Greek legend, Greek soldiers hid in a giant wooden horse to sneak into the city of Troy and conquer it. Two poems that recount the Trojan War are the Aeneid and the Odyssey.
– Golden Age: By 700 BCE, Athens was the city-state where everything was happening. At first it was ruled by a king but the Athenian Leader Solon reformed the economy and government in 594 BCE. He made changes like freeing the people who had fallen into slavery from debt and then he canceled the debt altogether. Still only one in five Athenians was considered a citizen. Soon there was the Golden Age of Greece, a period in which Athens grew rich from solver and trade and made important cultural achievements. From 479 BCE to 431 BCE the people of Greece were very busy developing their philosophy, religion, art and architecture. The Golden Age brought forward the idea of a democracy and it is when it was truly strengthen in Ancient Greece.
Age of Pericles: Pericles was one of the most influential leaders in ancient Greece. Around 460 BCE he introduced reforms like having the city pay a salary to its officials. Pericles also encouraged citizens to participate in the governing assembly and vote on major issues, a concept known as Direct Democracy. Citizens could give their opinions on laws, decisions about war and foreign policy and elect public officials. Only male Athenians with two Athenian parents were considered free self-governing citizens.
– Rise of Alexander: The kingdoms of Macedonia was north of Greece. King Philip brought Aristotle there to tutor his son Alexander in Greek literature and philosophy because King Philip thought of himself as Greek too. He united Macedonia in 359 BCE and conquered the Greek city-states through bribes and threats. Philip gained control of Greece but was assassinated before he could rule his empire. Alexander took over at the age of 20 in 336 BCE, invading the Persian Empire and continuing the fighting into India. After eleven years. Alexander had conquered Persia, Egypt and the land beyond the Indus River. In 323 BCE Alexander died of a fever.
– Peloponnesian War: The war started due to the Athens becoming too powerful, the Spartans felt that it was upsetting the balance of power in Greece, and it greatly alarmed them and their allied that they would take advantage of that. The war lasted about 27 years and greatly weakened both Athens and Sparta. This war is divided by 3 battles: Battle of Pylos, Battle of Syracuse and the Battle of Aegospotami. The Delian League was led by the Athenians and the Peloponnesian League was bed by the Spartans. As a result of this war the Delian League had to disintegrate.
– Music: Music was essential to the pattern and texture of Greek life. It was an important feature of religious festivals, marriages, funeral rites and banquet gatherings. In Athens during the second half of the 5th century BC the Odeion of Pericles was erected on the south slope of the Athenian acropolis. There are significant fragments of actual Greek musical notations as well as many literary references to ancient Greek music.
– Odeion of Pericles: Used for musical contests and for the training of choirs for the theater. Believed to be the first roofed building devoted to performance. It was constructed between 446-442 BC from timber and is believed to have stood for 3 centuries until being destroyed by fire and then later rebuilt in stone. It is regarded as being of the finest architectural works of ancient Greece.
Drawings or Paintings:
– Pottery: People offered small terra cotta figurines as gifts to the gods and goddesses. They buried them with the dead and gave them to their children as toys. They also used clay pots, vases and jars for almost everything. These were painted with religious or mythological scenes and they grew more sophisticated over time.
– Aeschylus: He wrote a trilogy called The Oresteia. It was a set of three plays about the family of Agamemnon, who was the king of the city-state Argos during the Trojan War.
– Sophocles: Best known for his play Oedipus Rex, a family tragedy where an oracle predicts that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother.
Homer: At the end of the Dark Ages, the work of Homer came to light. His most famous plays Odyssey and Iliad were some of his epic poems. They were each hundreds of pages long and they teach about the courage and honor of the gods. The concept of Greek hero owes a great deal to him.
– Iliad: Around 750 BCE Homer tells the story of the Trojan Was in his epic poem Iliad. The epic poem describes the city of Troy waging a war against Greece for ten years. The fighting started because the Trojan prince Paris abducted Helen, who was the wife of the Spartan King Menelaus.
Euripides: Went for more realistic characters and hot topics like war and human suffering. One of his famous plays is Medea.
– Discobolus of Myron: Also known as the Discus Thrower, 460 BCE.
One of the most iconic artworks of this time period. It was originally sculpted in bronze by Myron. The Discobolus is a physically gorgeous, young male athlete frozen in pose of launching the disc, as part of the Olympic Games.
– The Artemision or God from the Sea: Bronze statue that was pulled from the sea in two pieces. It is believed to be either Zeus or Poseidon holding a thunderbolt or a trident respectively.
The Marble Metopes of the Parthenon: There were originally 92 marble panels which enhanced the exterioe of the Parthenon. They were made by Pheidas and are famous examples of classical Greek high-relief. The scenes depict scenes from ancient Greek mythology and represent the triumph of reason over animal passion and chaos. In 1687 a cannon ball hit the Parthenon and only 14 of the original 32 panels of the Eastern wall survived. 15 of the Southern wall panels are in the British Museum in London.
– Parthenon Marbles: Also made by Pheidias. They are a collection of Classical Greek marble structures and originally also part of the temple of Parthenon. They now belong to Britain but there has been a long debate on whether they should return to a Greek museum.
Marathon the Youth: Bronze sculpture found in the Aegean Sea. It is most likely a winner of an athletic competition. Shows the importance of the Olympic Games and the depiction of the bodies of the Greeks.
Venus de Milo: One of the most recognizable Greek statues. It is made from Parian marble and stands 203 cm high. It was discovered inside a buried niche in 1820 in the ancient city of Milos. The statue is believed to have been sculpted by Alexandros of Antioch, who worked for commission. This was discovered after reading an inscription on the plinth. It is believed that statue is to represent Aphrodite Venus, goddess of love and beauty.
– Great Temple of Athena: The Parthenon. Was built in Athens between 477 BCE and 432 BCE. It was dedicated to both Athena and the Athenians and was a symbol of pride of Athens itself. Originally constructed under Pericles, the Parthenon was severely damaged by an explosion in 1687 CE. Its ruins remain on the hilltop in Athens to this day.
– Acropolis of Athens: It is a natural pedestal made of rock that was the site of the earliest settlements in Athens. Contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historical significance. The word acropolis comes from Greek word akron meaning highest point and polis meaning city. Although there are many acropolises in Greece, the one in Athens has more significance due to having the Parthenon, Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena. It also shows the significance of columns in Greek architecture.
– Socratic Method: Taught people how to think and figure things out by asking questions
Hippocratic Oath: Hippocrates was an ancient Greek doctor who believed that diseases were caused naturally and not as a result of God or superstition. Doctors today still take the Hippocratic Oath to help patients and to do no harm.
– Euclid: Euclid was a mathematician that developed the principles of geometry. Euclid’s method consists in assuming small set of axioms and the deducing other theorems from these. Euclid was the first to show how these theorems could fit into a comprehensive deductive and logical system. His textbook Elements begins with plane geometry as the first axiomatic system and the first examples of formal proof. It then goes into solid geometry of three dimensions.
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Ancient Greek Art. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/ancient-greek-art
Hemingway, C. (n.d.). Ancient Greece. Retrieved from https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/grmu/hd_grmu.htm
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