Ancient Greek Culture and Its Influence Today
Ancient Greece marks a civilization that thrived for nearly 1,300 years starting in the 8th century BC. The time period is particularly rich in history, and great strides were made in the areas of politics, economic structure, and education. Learning from past cultures is one of the most valuable ways to build and improve upon our current society and practices. The Ancient Greek culture left lasting impressions on literature, philosophy, science, architecture, and religion that we continue to see traces of today.
Authors and poets were held in high regard in Ancient Greek culture. Literary themes included war, honor, and love, as seen in the famous epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey that most high school students read to this day. Lyricism and detailed imagery traditions can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks. Additionally, Greek playwright Aeschylus is credited with the invention of dialogue, as he was the first writer who gave characters a way to interact with each other. Significant strides were also made by Sophocles who was the first to use irony in literature, and Euripides who used plays as an avenue for personal expression and the challenge of social norms.
The Ancient Greeks pursued knowledge in a very systematic and inquisitive manner. Their curiosity of the unknown let them down the path to many great discoveries. We see similar patterns of reason and continual questioning in our philosophy and scientific fields today.
Science & Technology
We have the Ancient Greeks to thank for the development of geometry and mathematical proofs as we know them today. Mathematicians of the time were interested in number theory and advanced analytical applications. The Greeks treated astronomy as rigorously as they did mathematics, developing models to explain planetary motion, and to estimate the magnitude of the Earth. They also documented the stars of the night sky. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was a practicing physician in Ancient Greece. He worked to turn medical practice into a true academic discipline, and the Hippocratic oath still dictates the ethical aspects of modern medicine.
Art & Architecture
Much of the art we associate with the Roman Empire is modeled after the sculptures and architecture that arose in Ancient Greece. Public venues were of particular architectural interest, and Greek theaters, stadiums, and palaces were constructed using the traditional and stately pillars that we continue to associate with leadership and wealth today. Most importantly, the Greeks established that sculpture and architecture could be used as creative outlets to construct innovative designs that were both beautiful and functional.
Ancient Greek mythology is a collection of stories that center around twelve gods known as the Olympians. Zeus ruled over Mount Olympus as the king of the universe, and his strength is symbolized by the thunderbolt. Poseidon ruled over the sea and controlled earthquakes that could prove deadly for even the most seasoned traveler. Aphrodite was known as the goddess of love and beauty who was treasured for her strength and power as a woman. These gods and others continue to hold a place in our understanding of the human condition.