Ancient GreeceBy: Professor Nina Del Corona (Ancient Greece Expert)
The civilization of ancient Greece took place between800 BC and 146 BCE. It could be found near theMediterranean sea in the southern part of Europe. It isstill interesting to learn about its beliefs, food,architecture, and how its society was structured.
BeliefsThe ancient Greeks had several gods, legends and beliefs. Their gods were veryimportant to them. They actually had a god for every element in life. There were 12main gods: Zeus, (the chief god), Poseidon, (the sea god), Ares, (the god ofwar), Apollo, (god of the sun, music and medicine), Hermes, (messenger ofgods), Dionysus, (god of wine), Hera, (wife of Zeus, goddess of the family andmarriage), Demeter, (goddess of wheat and fruit), Athena, (goddess ofwisdom), Aphrodite, (goddess of love and beauty), Artemis, (goddess of the moon), andHephaestus, (god of iron work). The Greeks believed that their gods lived in a cloudpalace on Mount Olympus. They usually prayed in sacred buildings called temples. Themost sacred place was the city of Delphi. Some gods had special temples made in theirhonour such as the Parthenon for Athena. When someone was sick, the Greeksbelieved that the gods had made them sick and so they prayed to Apollo for help. Whenthere was a storm they thought that Poseidon was angry and was punishing them. TheGreeks created many myths and legends which explain how the world worked and howthe gods had power over their lives. This evidence tells us that religion was veryimportant to the Ancient Greeks.
FoodThe land in ancient Greece was hard and rocky and it made it hard for farmers togrow food. However, they grew enough to sell, eat, and survive. They actuallymanaged to eat a wide range of foods in their diets. Their meat usually includedswallows, thrushes (a type of bird), fish, and sausages. For vegetables, they atecelery, radishes, beans and lentils. They also made many products from basicingredients. From grapes they made wine, from olive trees they made olive oil, fromgoats they got milk and cheese, and from corn they made flour to make bread. Theyate plenty of bread! They even ate bread dipped in wine for breakfast! For lunch andprobably for dinner as well, they ate bread with cheese. At parties, they often servedtreats called “sweetmeats”, which were meat-balls covered in honey and nuts. Poorpeople had similar diets to the wealthy, except they could not afford to buy meatregularly. The ancient Greeks were also quite healthy, because they always usedhoney instead of sugar. It is therefore clear that the ancient Greekshad, indeed, delicious food (most of which is still eaten in Greece today).
ArchitectureThe ancient Greeks loved architecture. They thought that proportion was very important inbuildings. The ancient Greeks were great builders. Every city state such as Athens had anAcropolis - a hill with a temple on it. Athens had the most famous of all: the Parthenon. TheParthenon’s walls where covered with sculptures and carved details but unluckily, most of thesculptures were stolen in 1803 by Thomas Bruce. The biggest tragedy happened in 1887, whenthe Parthenon collapsed. Believe it or not, the Turks had been using it to store gun-powder.Because of this, it exploded and collapsed. Fortunately, only the walls and roof fell. The Greekswere (and are still now) famous for their columns. They had 3 types of columns: the Doric, theIonic, and the Corinthian. The Greeks always used math while making buildings. The columnswere designed to be wider at the bottom at narrower at the top so they looked perfectly straight.They also discovered the “golden rectangles” which was a series of rectangles with specialproportions that were used in every Greek building. The golden rectangle actually came fromanother shape, the five-pointed star, another of the ancient Greeks’ great discoveries. Like manyother shapes, the five-pointed star could be divided to make other shapes, for example, therectangle. It is clear that the Greeks were fabulous builders who made many new discoveriesabout architecture.
Society’s StructureAncient Greece was the first civilization to use democracy. Democracy is a way of makingdecisions by letting people vote. However, only some people were allowed to vote.Women, slaves and foreigners were not allowed to vote. You might think that this is unfair but thereasons were very simple: firstly, women were not considered citizens; secondly, slaves hadbeen probably captured in a war so they were not considered citizens; thirdly, foreigners were notborn in the city so they were not allowed either. Girls in Greece were not treated like they arenow. When a girl was 15, she would throw away her dolls and marry an older man who wasusually chosen by her parents. Also, girls did not learn as much as boys. Boys went to school tolearn math, science, history and geography. Girls stayed at home with their mothers and usuallylearned how to cook and sometimes to make clothes. When rich peoples held parties, only menwent. Women stayed at home with their children. If the man who held the party had a wife, thewife and children would wait in a special room. Men did almost every thing. They performed inplays, competed in the Olympics, did the shopping and went to the assemblies to vote. If therewas a female part in a play, young boys would dress up as women. This evidence tells us thatmen were more important in ancient Greek society and led very different lives from women.
In conclusion, this report has described the AncientGreek’s daily lives, including what they ate, how theymade buildings, their beliefs, and how society wasstructured. Studying ancient civilizations teaches usenchanting stories of the past which tell us more abouthow they lived. It lets us compare our own lives and beamazed by their legacies.
AUTHOR: PUBLISHED IN: TITLE:Michael Shanks 2007 Ancient GreeceJane Shuter 1999 Discoveries, Inventions and IdeasJane Shuter 1999 Cities and CitizensK. Jane & P. Wood 1993 Ancient GreecePat Taylor 1991 The Ancient GreeksSchlessinger 1998 Ancient Civilizations (DVD)WEBSITES: DATE ACCESSED:www.bbc.co.uk/schools 18.10.11www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.UK 20.10.11