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Ancient Greece

When we talk about Ancient Greece, we refer to the time between 800 and 500 B.C., which saw the blossoming of art, poetry and technology. It was the age in which the polis (city-states) made their appearance, which played an extremely important role in Greek politics for many centuries. Before this period, people in Greece lived in small farming settlements.

 

The settlements evolved into villages and they grew into polis with walls, agora (markets) and public places. Governments and leaders ruled according to laws created by the citizens, who willingly contributed their taxes and participated in the armies whenever they were raised.

 

Greeks believed in their 12 gods and goddesses, to whom they offered their respect and sacrifices. In turn, they protected them and their polis from all lifea��s troubles. The goddess Athena was, for instance, the protector of Athens.

The birth of History

A great deal is known about Ancient Greece from the written evidence, which was left from ancient Historians. Around 425 B.C., Herodotus published his long account of the Persian Wars. Before him, no writer had ever made such a thorough study of past events, which makes him the father of History.

Ancient philosophers

Most of the western philosophical beliefs of today can be traced back to the ancient Greek philosophers. The evolution of philosophical deliberation and critical thinking among the philosophers in ancient Greece started around the 6th century B.C. Great thinkers of antiquity followed the footsteps of Thales on a quest for answers to known paradoxes and in seeking to perceive the world from a different ethical or metaphysical perspective. Only, but a few of the great ancient philosophers are: Thales of Miletus 620 a�� 546 B.C., AnaximanderA�610 a�� 546 B.C., PythagorasA�570 a�� 495 B.C., ParmenidesA�560 a�� 510 B.C., AnaxagorasA�500 a�� 428 B.C., ZenoA�490 a�� 430 B.C., EmpedoclesA�490 a�� 430 B.C., SocratesA�469 a�� 399 B.C., PlatoA�427 a�� 347 B.C. and AristotleA�384 a�� 322 B.C.

The Father of Medicine

Around 460 B.C., Hippocrates was born on the island of Kos, Greece. He became the greatest physician of his time and is known as the father of medicine. HeA�held the belief that the body must be treated as a whole and not just a series of parts. He accurately described disease symptoms and was the first physician to accurately describe the symptoms of pneumonia, as well as epilepsy in children. He was also the first to claim that thoughts, ideas, and feelings come from the brain and not the heart as people believed until then.

 

He founded a medical school on the island of Kos, Greece and began teaching his ideas. He soon developed a Medical Oath (The Hippocratic Oath), which is taken by doctors today before they begin their medical practice.

Athens the Birthplace of Democracy

Clisthenes of Athens, 570A�- 508 B.C., is regarded as the founder of the AthenianA�democracy. He served as a�?archona�� ofA�Athens – something like todaya��s highest magistrate – A�when in the year 524 B.C., together with the Peoplea��s Assembly he rid Athens of the nobles that ruled until then and imposed democratic reforms. Perhaps his most importantA�innovationA�was giving political responsibility to individuals based on citizenship rather than on membership of a particular clan or cast.

The birth of Theatrical Tragedy

Aeschylus is often recognized as the father of tragedy, and is the first of the three early Greek tragedians, whose plays survive till today; the other two are Sophocles and Euripides. Aeschylus was the first to introduce a number of characters in his theatrical plays, so as to allow for conflict amongst them. Until then theatre performances involved only a single character, who interacted with the Chorus. He wrote over seventy plays, but unfortunately only seven have survived into modern times. One of his best known tragic trilogies is the a�?Oresteiaa�?. Other know works of Aeschylus are a�?the Persiansa�?, a�?the Suppliantsa�?, the a�?Seven Against Thebesa�? and a�?Prometheus Bounda�?.

Aristophanes the Father of Comedy and Satire

Comedy was also born in Ancient Greece.A� Aristophanes (448A�- 388A�B.C.) was the firstA�playwright ever to write comedy. He was anA�AthenianA�comicA�and poet, whose plays mixA�political,A�socialA�andA�literaryA�satire. TheA�directA�attack onA�persons, theA�severityA�of his insults andA�his extravagant imitations madeA�his playsA�fitA�forA�theA�festivalA�ofA�Dionysus, god of wine, vegetation, pleasure, festivity, madness and wild frenzy. ElevenA�ofA�Aristophanes playsA�survive:A� a�?the Acharniansa�?, which attacksA� the Peloponnesian War, a�?the Knightsa�? a political satire, a�?the Cloudsa�?, a satire on Socrates, a�?the Waspsa�?, a satire on the Athenian passion for litigation, a�?the Peacea�?, a defense of the Peace of Nicias, a�?the Birdsa�?, an escape into anA� imaginary kingdom, a�?Lysistratia�?, in which the Athenian women deny their husbands sex to end a war, a�?the Thesmophoriazusesa�?, in which the women conspire to ruin Euripides because of his misogyny, a�?the Frogsa�?, a literary satire involving Aeschylus and Euripides, a�?the Ecclesiazusesa�?, in which the women take over the government, and a�?Plutusa�?, in which the blind god of wealth recovers his eyesight and distributes the gifts of fortune more equitably.