Ancient Greece



HistoryDemocracyReligionPeople
GeographyArt & ArchitectureLiteratureOlympics


By Teri Doleys
Cedarville University






History

The history of Greece began with the Stone Age hunters and early farmers. This time period was followed by the civilizations of the Minoan and Mycenaean kings. Next came the Dark Ages which was a time period characterized by many wars and invasions. Greece was then invaded by the Dorians in approximately 1100 BC. Finally, in the period from 500-336 BC Greece was divided into small city states. A city-state consisted of a city and its surrounding countryside.


Chronology

6000 - 2900 BC Neolithic Period
2900-2000 BC Early Bronze Age
2000-1400 BC Minoan Age
1600-1100 BC Mycenaean Age
1100-750 BC The Dark Ages
750-500 BC Archaic Period
500-336 BC Classical Period
336-146 BC Hellenistic Period

More Chronology Sites
Greek Chronology : Greece 1200-300BC

Classic Greece Timeline : Timeline of Famous Greeks
Chronology of Ancient Greece : 1600-146BC


Wars

As any other ancient country, Greece was involved in many wars throughout their history. However, there are three wars that are probably the most well know and the most significant to the Grecian history.

The Trojan War (12th or 13th century BC) - conflict between the early Greeks and the people of Troy in western Anatolia.
The Persian Wars (500 - 449 B.C) - conflicts between the Greek city-states and the Persian Empire.
The Peloponnesian War (431 - 404 B.C) - war fought between Athens and Sparta.

More War Links
Ancient Greece-Wars : A brief synopsis of the Greek wars
Persian Wars with Ancient Greece : Description of the Persian Wars


Daily Life

More Daily Life Links
Meet the Greeks : Info on men, women, children, and more
The Ancient Greek World: Household life and more



Geography

Cities

Ancient Greece was made up of city-states. City-states were areas of land made up of many small cities and the countryland surrounding them. City-states often joined together to form countries. The two largest city-states in Greece were Athens and Sparta. Below you will find many links to learn more about these two great cities.

More City Links
Athens : An interactive Athenian map
The Ancient City of Athens : A photographic archive
Study of Ancient Sparta : Information about the city and culture
Sparta : Highlights and photos


Maps
Below you can compare two maps, one modern map showing the true Ancient Greek world. The other shows a map of the Ancient Greek times depicting how they Greeks thought their world looked. Why do you think they differed?



The way the Ancient Greek world really was




The way the Ancient Greek people thought it was




More Map Links
Index of Maps : A list of map sites of Ancient Greece
Map of Ancient Greece: Interactive map
Maps of Greece: Three different maps



Democracy

In the United States, our government is called a democracy. A democracy is a government that is ruled by the people. The people vote to choose their leaders as well as to change and enact laws.

However, the U.S. was not the first country to have a democratic government. Democracy actually began in Ancient Greece in the capitol city of Athens. Democracy started to form in Athens between 400-300BC. The citizens of Greece were given the ability to vote for their leaders and their laws. Only men were considered citizens though. So, although it was a democracy, the women, children, and slaves did not get to vote. There was a long time in the history of the U.S. that certain people were not allowed to vote either.

Today things are different in both the U.S. and Greece. Women, children, and people of other races can be citizens. Citizens are allowed to vote irregardless of their race, economic status, or gender. (However, children are still not allowed to vote!)

More Democracy Links
City-States, Democracy, and Government : Easily explained information
Athenian Democracy : Offices and procedures
Classical Athenian Democracy : Many links
Athenian vs. American Court Systems : Comparing and contrasting our systems



Art & Architecture

Art

The art of the ancient Greeks is often reffered to as "classical art." It is simple and geometric and placed a great emphasis on the beauty of the human body. They usually used their ideas of the ideal human or of the gods as the subject of their art, rather than actual people. The Greek people used thier artistic talent to create beautiful sculptures, vases, paintings, jewelry, and reliefs. Many of these pieces still exist today. Sculpting is probably what the Greeks are most know for, however. Many museums around the world house ancient Greek sculptures or copies of those sculptures.



"Discobolus" by Myron
 

Part of a relief by Delphi


Greek Vase, 6th Century BC



Architecture
Greek architecture was big, beautiful, and symmetrical. Temples were the most common form of architecture, however they were used for politics as well as worship. There were three orders, or styles, of architecture in Ancient Greece. The Doric and Ionic orders were the most common, and the Corinthian order, while seen more in Roman architecture, was sometimes used also. Below you can see examples of the columns that were commonly used on Greek architecture. Each of them is from a different style and gives you a general idea of the characteristics of each style of achitecture.

Examples of architectural style

Doric



The Doric style was simple and sturdy with a plain top.
Ionic



The Ionic style was more elegant and thin with a curled top.
Corinthian



The Corinthian style was very ornate with a top that looked like leaves.


Famous architectural structures

 The Parthenon is an example of simple Doric architecture. It was originally built as the temple of Athena Parthenos, in honor of the Greek goddess of wisdom. It was built in the 5th Century BC on the Acropolis in Athens. It is an excellent example of the Doric style because of its simplicity and columns.
 The Erechtheum is an example of Ionic architecture. It was also built on the Acropolis of Athens in the 5th Century BC. It contained sanctuaries built for Athena Polias, Poseidon, and Erechtheus. This building is also characterized by Ionic columns more elegant styling. It has porticoes (parts of the building that protrude out of the side) on three sides. One of the porticoes is called the Porch of the Caryatids (see picture) and is decorated with sculptures of female figures.
The Monument of Lysicrates is one of the few Greek examples of Corinthian architecture. Six Corinthian columns can be seen around the cylindrical marble monument. The monument was built in the 4th Century BC. A choragic monument was built for a chorus leader to commemorate the winning of the prize for the best choral performance. This monument was built specifically to commenmorate a victory at Dionysia.

More Art & Architecture Links
A Digital Archive of Architecture- Characteristics of the orders
Ancient Greek Architecture- Many links
History of Greek Architecture- Info and pictures



Religion

The Ancient Greek religion was polytheistic, meaning they worshipped many gods. The Greek people had to face many forces of nature. In their effort to understand nature, they invented many stories, known as myths, to account for the things that went on in their lives. These myths were spread around by word of mouth and became reality to the people. They no longer thought of them as untrue stories but as absolute truth. They believed that these "gods" were real and that they had to live their lives to please them. However, none of these "gods" truly existed. Unfortunately, the Greek people did not believe in the one true God of the Bible and they were therefore a lost group of people.

Some of the most common Greek gods are:

Zeus- god of the sky; supreme ruler
Hera- goddess of marriage; Zues' wife
Poseidon- god of the sea; Zeus' brother
Hades- god of the underworld
Aphrodite- goddess of love and beauty
Hermes- fastest god; wings on sandals
Ares- god of war
Dionysus- god of wine



Zeus

More Mythology Links
Characters of Greek Mythology- Info about the gods and goddesses
Mythology- Info and pictures of the gods
Tales of Mythology- The legends behind the gods
Greek Gods- Alphabetic list of the gods
Greek Mythology- More info about the gods


Literature

The Ancient Greek people produced a wide range of literature styles. From fables, to myths, to hero stories, much of their literature is still widely read today. Some of the most famous authors are listed below with their famous writings.



Aesop
: Aesop's Fables (stories about animals with a moral)
Euripides: The Cyclops
Homer: The Iliad; The Odyssey
Sophocles: Oedipus the King
; Antigone





More Literature Links
Greek Literature: Brief synopsis of author and works
Greek Literature in Translation: Text for many works
Primary Text Index: More texts of the famous works
The Iliad: Full text of Homer's classic
The Odyssey: Full text of Homer's classic

Bust of Homer


Mosaic of Sophocles



People

Many people helped to shape the history of the Ancient Greek world. Many of these were authors or war heroes. Others were philosophers or musicians. Below are links to more information about many of these people.


Ancient Greek Philosophers


Plato: 427-347 BC
Aristotle: 384-322 BC
Socrates: 469-399 BC


Others

Pythagorus: Mathematician
Archimedes: Mathematician
Alexander the Great: Ruler/ King


More Philosophy Links
Greek Philosophy: Info about the philosophers
Pythagorus' Life: Info about his life
Alexander the Great: All you could want to know



Plato


Alexander the Great



Olympics

The ancient Olympics seem to have begun in the early 700 BC, in honour of Zeus. The games were later greatly expanded from a one-day festival of athletics and wrestling to five days with many events. They continued to evolve and expand into the Olympics that we participate in and celebrate today.

More Olympics Links
The Olympic Games of Ancient Greece: Discover the games for yourself
The Olympics: Games and events
Olympics: Info about the history
The Olympic Museum: History on the official site