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Ancient Greece

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Ancient Greece and Rome are at the heart of this site, so there are many, many resources on this site about the culture, language, and history of ancient Greece; some of which are very general, others, specific. Below you will find a list containing most of the more general topics on which people studying ancient Greece are likely to want information. You'll find tips on spelling and technical terms, major events in ancient history, the gods and goddesses, Greek contributions to science and medicine, a quick look at differences between ancient Greece and Rome, and area maps.

A Dozen or So Points You Should Know About Ancient Greek History

Minoan Labrys 2nd millennium BC
Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikimedia

Greece, now a country in the Aegean, was a collection of independent city-states or poleis in antiquity that we know about archaeologically from the Bronze Age on. These poleis fought among one another and against bigger external forces, especially the Persians. Eventually, they were conquered by their neighbors to the north and then later became part of the Roman Empire. After the western Roman Empire fell, the Greek-speaking area of the Empire continued until 1453, when it fell to the Turks.

This page looks at topics specifically historical, rather than cultural.

Greek Timeline

Browse through this ancient Greek timeline for more than a millennium, from prehistory through the absorption of Greece into the Roman Empire.

Persian Wars

The Immortals of Persian King Darius
Clipart.com

An introduction to the wars the Greeks fought against the Persian great kings Darius and Xerxes.

Peloponnesian War

Timeline and summary of the 3 stages of the Peloponnesian War, which was fought between those Greek poleis who were allied with Sparta against those allied with Athens.

Greek Terms

Terms from the Greek used in describing Greek literature, science, philosophy and history, with short definitions.

Pictures of People in the Fifth Century in Ancient Greece and Rome

Marble bust of Aspasia of Miletus from the Musei Vaticani.
Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Pictures of some of the luminaries of the fifth century B.C. mostly in Greece, but also Rome, and maps.

Who Were the Greeks?

The Greeks didn't use that term to refer to themselves. Here is a quick look at what is meant by the Greeks in ancient history.

Classical Greeks Attitudes Towards the Macedonians - Peter Green
The Macedonians, who are not the same people who live in the area today, were sometimes considered Greeks. Peter Green explains the attitude of the Classical Greeks towards the Macedonians.

Famous Ancient Greek Men and Women

Comparisons Between Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome

The Mediterranean Before the 2nd Punic War
Clipart.com

Both Greece and Rome were ancient Mediterranean countries, and Rome copied much of the Greek culture, but Rome and Greece (especially Athens) were very different. Here are some of the areas of difference.

Government in Greece and Rome

Maps of Ancient Greece

Section of Map of Greece at the Start of the Peloponnesian War
Perry-Castañeda Library Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/

Maps showing Mycenean Greece, Vicinity of Troy, Greece 700-600 B.C., Settlements, Greece 500-479 B.C., Athenian Empire, Reference Map of Attica, Peloponnesian War, Greece in 362 B.C., Macedonia 336-323, Kingdoms of the Diadochi, and Reference Map of Asia Minor.

Aegean Sea and Vicinity Maps

Also see Geography of Ancient Greece.

Olympian Gods and Goddesses

Mt. Olympus
Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia

The major gods and goddesses of Greek mythology were thought of as living on Mt. Olympus. Here's a starting point for information on the top 12.

Homer

Achilles and Ajax Gaming
CC Flickr User clairity.

Greek literature begins with the story of the Trojan War in the Iliad and the story of the returns of the Greeks contained in the Odyssey. Both of these epic poems are attributed to Homer.

Major Events in Ancient History

Many of the events in this timeline are only approximate. This is particularly true of the events before Greece and Rome, but even with Greece and Rome, the early years are in doubt. This page will help show the chronological context of ancient Greece.

Q. How do you spell ... ?

Heracles (Hercules) Papyrus
Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

It's hard enough to look up words written using the Roman alphabet -- like English, but it becomes nearly impossible when they're spelled using other alphabets. Here are some tips.

Greek Democracy

Democracy was developed by the people of Athens. It was considered by outsiders to be a form of mob rule since all the citizens in Athens voted. Oligarchy was the norm and democracy the exception.

Ancient Olympics

Temple of Zeus at Olympia
Ryan Vinson www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml? f=profile&l=raien

The Olympics were such major events in ancient history, that events are dated according to the Olympiad, or period of the games. The Olympics were just one of the sets of Panhellenic games -- games for the people of all the city states (poleis) of ancient Greece.

There are many aspects of the modern Olympics that would be completely alien to the ancient Greeks. Sure there were games at different places, but the Olympics were held at the place from which they got their name. Teams didn't win. The closest was a city taking top honors because the athlete and his trainer came from there. Statues would be erected to honor the victor and they were special enough that poems were commissioned for them. In some games it was possible to be declared victor even if one died in the process of winning -- victory was that important.

To be an athlete in the games, then as now, required funding, so the ancient Olympic athletes tended to be from the wealthy families.

Greek Theater

Theater of Dionysus on the Acropolis, in Athens.
CC Flickr User Alun Salt.

From a religious festival honoring the god Dionysus to the creation of drama in a form still recognizable today, the Greeks are renowned for their contribution to the theater.

Greek Science

Caduceus
Clipart.com

The Greeks made important contributions to the field of science, partly as a result of their philosophers' study of the natural world.

Greek Medicine

The Greeks and Romans contributed greatly to the field of medicine, advancing it substantially from a magic-based process to one involving regimens, like diet and exercise, and observation, diagnosis, and more.

Readings on Topics in Ancient Greek History

This is a selection of topics with related readings on Classical and Hellenistic Greece. The topics come from a list written to help high school and college students research world history, so it is somewhat general, but it still goes into detail in important areas.

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