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Portal:Ancient Greece

Related subjects Ancient History, Classical History and Mythology; History; Portals

The Ancient Greece Portal

Greek influence in the mid 6th century BC.

The term ancient Greece refers to the periods of Greek history in Classical Antiquity, lasting ca. 750 BC(the archaic period) to 146 BC (the Roman conquest). It is generally considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of Western Civilization. Greek culture had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of Europe. The civilization of the ancient Greeks has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and arts, giving rise to the Renaissance in Western Europe and again resurgent during various neo-Classical revivals in 18th and 19th century Europe and the Americas.There are no fixed or universally agreed upon dates for the beginning or the end of the ancient Greek period. In common usage it refers to all Greek history before the Roman Empire, but historians use the term more precisely. Some writers include the periods of the Greek-speaking Mycenaean civilization that collapsed about 1150 BC, though most would argue that the influential Minoan was so different from later Greek cultures that it should be classed separately.


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Funerary stele of Mnesarete; a young servant (left) is facing her dead mistress.

Slavery was an essential component of the development of Ancient Greece throughout its history. Most ancient writers considered slavery not only necessary but natural; neither the Stoics nor the Early Christians questioned the practice. However, some isolated debate began to appear, notably in Socratic dialogues, as early as the 4th century BC.In conformity with modern historiographical practice, this article will discuss only chattel slavery, as opposed to dependent groups such as the Penestae of Thessaly, the Spartan Helots or even the Klarotes of Crete, who were more like medieval serfs. The chattel slave is an individual deprived of liberty and forced to submit to an owner who may buy, sell, or lease him or her as one might any chattel good.The study of slavery in ancient Greece poses a number of significant methodological problems.

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The city of Sparta lay at the southern end of the central Laconian plain, on the right bank of the Eurotas River. It was a strategic site, guarded on three sides by mountains and controlling the routes by which invading armies could penetrate Laconia and the southern Peloponnesus via the Langhda Pass over Mt Taygetus. At the same time, its distance from the sea—Sparta was 27 miles from its seaport, Gythium—made it difficult to blockade.

Did you know...

  • ... that the Greeks did not have a term for "religion" ?
  • ... that Ancient Greek cuisine was characterized by its frugality, reflecting agricultural hardship?
  • ... that the economy of ancient Greece was characterized by the extreme importance of agriculture, all the more so because of the relative poverty of Greece's soil?

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Photo credit: Jastrow

The Parthenon Frieze is the low relief, pentelic marble sculpture created to adorn the upper part of the Parthenon’s naos. It was sculpted between ca. 443 and 438 BC most likely under the direction of Phidias. 420 ft of the original frieze survives, some 80%, the rest is known only from the drawings made by flemish artist Jacques Carrey in 1674 if at all.

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Archimedes Thoughtful by Fetti (1620)

Archimedes of Syracuse (Ancient Greek: Ἀρχιμήδης) (c. 287 BC – c. 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Among his advances in physics are the foundations of hydrostatics and the explanation of the principle of the lever. He is credited with designing innovative machines, including siege engines and the screw pump that bears his name. Modern experiments have tested claims that Archimedes designed machines capable of lifting attacking ships out of the water, and setting ships on fire using an array of mirrors.Archimedes is considered to be one of the greatest mathematicians of all time.Archimedes died during the Siege of Syracuse when he was killed by a Roman soldier despite orders that he should not be harmed. Cicero describes visiting the tomb of Archimedes, which was surmounted by a sphere inscribed within a cylinder.




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