Introduction to Classical Greece The Greeks have made a considerable contribution to Western Civilization, and the rest of the world. The innovative and transcending inventions and discoveries have effectively changed the fields of math and science The Greeks were also the first to write down history, and are the founders of democracy, which had a significant impact on the roles of government throughout history. Classical Greece is divided into three specific periods-Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic.
Classical Greece: The Organization The civilization of Greece was quite sizeable, so a single political unit wasn’t very feasible. The Greek civilization was divided into several city-states, each with their own laws and money, however, everyone within the empire spoke the same language. The city states were commonly ruled by a tyrant or an aristocratic council. The two most important city states were Athens and Sparta. Athens was more of a commercial city state with the use of slaves and artistic leadership. Sparta was comprised of a dominant military, which was ran under an aristocracy.
Classical Greece: Politics Democracy, a form of government founded by the Classical Greeks, comes from the Greek word “demos”, meaning “the people”. In Athens, one of the more significant city states, decisions and deliberations came through generals assemblies, and citizens had the opportunity to participate, though few ever did. This particular process is known as direct democracy, an innovative governmental feature during the time of the Greeks. Women had absolutely no political rights, and half of the adult males weren’t citizens either. Greek politics can best be defined through the use of aristocratic assemblies. The word aristocracy means “rule of the best” in Greek. Ancient crown worn by Greek Aristocracy
Classical Greece: Economy The Classical Greeks relied significantly on agricultural production. Many of the farmers were independent, which meant they owned their plots of landing and claimed some social and political standing. Slaves were also commonly used, because wars and increased colonization made them easier to seize. Because the land of Greece is quite mountainous and rocky, seagoing trade rose substantially. As Greece grew more economically and commercially sound, social classes began to widen, which lead to social inequalities.
Classical Greece: Religion Greek religion was the belief in a set of gods and goddesses who watched over humans. Zeus was the creator god, along with other gods with specific duties such as Apollo who regulated the passage of the sun or Neptune who paid attention to the seas. Ceremonies for the gods were a regular occurrence, and many looked to the gods for help and strength for the future. Stories of the gods were often told through literary works, making the religion more secular in nature. Quite a few citizens were unsatisfied with the religion because it didn’t give any substantial ethical guidelines or standards.
Classical Greece: Culture The Greek culture can best be described through the stressing of philosophy and science, with an unique artistry. Philosophy Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato are some examples of philosophers during Classical Greece. They encouraged citizens to challenge conventional wisdom, in which the human ability to think was cherished over spirituality. Aristotle
Classical Greece: Culture (Cont’d) Arts Such writers as Sophocles and Homer provided theatrical and literary entertainment respectively in Classical Greece. Architecture and sculptures are examples of visual arts that the Greeks excelled at. They emphasized “the human figure”. Math and Science The Greeks achievements in geometry were transcending, as theorists such as Pythagoras came up with impactful theorems (Pythagorean Theorem). Discoveries in anatomy and astronomy came to influence Greece as conventional wisdom for many years till other discoveries came along later to disprove them.
Classical Greece: Society The aristocrats were at the top of the societal pyramid and basically controlled most of the wealth. The Greek society was stressed a close family structure that was patriarchal in nature. Women did seem to have some influence within the household, but when it came to law or politics, they were considered greatly inferior. The Greek society’s lack of advancement in technology caused it to fall behind other classical Asian civilizations such as India and China.
Classical Greece: The Various Contributions Government The idea of democracy has spread across the world because of the impactful Classical Greece society. Architecture The pillar-like style of Greek architectural design can be seen in many buildings around the world today, especially the White House. Sports The Olympics were used as a way to display superior athletic ability through competition in Classical Greece, and today, the Olympics continues to accomplish the same objective, but among the whole world. Medicine Hippocrates created the Hippocratic Oath, something that most doctors around the world swear by, in which they will perform their duties ethically.
Classical Greece: A Final Comparison Rome The Greeks had a direct democracy in place in some areas while the Romans had a representative democracy. Greece was organized into city-states, while Rome was considered an empire. China and India Among these three classical civilizations, all of them maintained a relatively rigid social structure. The Greeks religion’s was rather “of this world” in comparison to China and India, who had more of a spiritually-based religion.
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