Ancient greek civilization



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ANCIENT GREEK CIVILIZATION
The following are the Greeks’ belief of the world

  • The world is flat and circular

  • Greece is located at the center of the world

  • The center point of Greece is Mt. Olympus (also called Delphi)

  • The world is divided into two equal parts by the seas (Mediterranean and Euxine)

  • River ocean circulates around the world from south to north

  • Northern part of the world is inhabited by the Hyperboreans or the “happy race”

  • Southern part of the world is inhabited by Aethiopians

  • The western margin of the globe is called the Elysian Plain.

  • The Greeks also believed that at dawn, sun and moon rises from the ocean (eastern side) driven through the air, giving light to men

  • Western side of the globe is inhabited by sea monsters, giants and enchantresses

Who were the Greeks? What kind of civilization did they present?



  • The Greeks are a nation of two principal components: Aryan and Germanic tribes

  • Because of numerous natural barriers separating the tribes, there were isolation and differentiation in its habitat

  • They called themselves Hellenes (after Hellen) and Greece Hellas

  • Their tribes were later known as Dorians, Achaeans, Aeolians and Ionians

  • Early Greeks were farmers who grew barley, wheat, and olives. They raised sheep and goat and they were also artisans

How did Greece’s geography affect its standard of living?

In order to answer this, we should first understand the geography of Greece.


  • North: Balkan Peninsula protruding into the Mediterranean

  • East: Aegean Sea

  • West: Ionian

  • South: Mediterranean Sea

  • Largest Island: Crete

  • Waterway: Gulf of Corinth – divides the country into small plains by many mountain ranges

What are the earliest civilizations in Greece and how did it develop?



        • Minoan civilization

  • based on the island of Crete

  • reached its peak between 2700 and 1450 BC

  • named after King Minos

  • declined because of earthworks or invasion from the mainland




        • Mycenaean civilization

  • largely Achaeans who lived in Mycenae around 1900 BC

  • declined due to war among groups after 1200 BC

How did city-states rise in Greece?

The two most important city-states in Greece after the fall of Mycenae are:



  • Sparta

  • a soldier-state

  • obedience and discipline reigned as the highest form of good

  • men are strong, hardy, physically fit, terse of speech, austere, and full of valor

  • focused mainly on the art of war and training of soldier citizens

  • family life was reduced to a minimum

  • conduct was regulated

  • children belonged to the state, not to their parents

  • men’s capacities are developed alone for the sole purpose of war

  • patriotism is revered

  • women are prepared for child-bearing




    • Athens

  • Free-functioning political entity

  • Citizens enjoyed self-expression

  • Citizens who own the land comprise the majority followed by aliens (foreigners who are traders) and slaves

  • Government is direct democracy

  • First city-state which allowed all human capacities to be developed freely

  • Enterprising, artistic, self-confident, and inventive

  • Education is a family prerogative

  • Idealized the idea of “a beautiful soul in a beautiful body”

Both city-states demonstrate totalitarian characteristics



  • Claimed full authority over individual’s life

  • Marriage is a duty of the state

  • Duties of citizenship is the essence of Greek morality

How is Spartan education different from that of the Athenians?



  • Spartan education

  • at infancy, when the child is healthy, it is given care by the mother who acts as a state nurse

  • at age 7, boys are handed over to the paidonomus (barracks, youth commander, and drill master) who would supervise their training

  • at 18, they become military recruits

  • at 20, they are considered full-time soldiers




  • Athenian education

  • for 7 years, boys remain under their roof

  • at 7 years old, his care is given to the paidagogus (learned slave) who teaches him manners and morals

  • at age 14, most boys are done with schooling

  • boys are taught to read write, do arithmetic, gymnastics, and music

  • the palaestra or public gymnasium is the place for training and developing physical prowess

  • at the age of 18, the boy is ready for military work, becomes an ephebos (apprentice militiamen), assigned to assemblies and councils, lectures and athletic tournaments, and assigned as a soldier for 12 months

  • there are particular schools of learning for teachers (kitharist for music, grammatist for letters, paedotribe for gymnastics)

  • at the 5th century BC, sophists (for grammar, rhetoric, oratory, reasoning, and critical thinking) or wandering scholars became teachers who give instructions for a fee; they also established rhetorical schools for people seeking public careers and philosophical schools for philosophical traditions

What are the Greek points of view which made them an excellent civilization?



  • Freedom

  • freedom from certain things and freedom to do them

  • no sanction of any authority

  • focused a clear eye on things around them, explaining and enjoying them in their own terms

  • Religion

  • largely based on the Greeks’ experience of nature, free from abstract concepts of morality

  • gods were superior to man because of the concrete qualities of power, beauty, and immortality, not because of man’s ethical standard

  • offering of sacrifices is a bargain

  • sin is an abstract and spiritual concept

  • concept of conscience evident

  • Afterlife

  • belief in the afterlife is accepted but is less essential compared to other religions

  • Freedom from menial work

  • practice of slavery is accepted

  • slaves have no legal rights

  • Self-knowledge (“Know Thyself”)

  • Concept of democracy

  • citizens of the state must all take an active part in its cause military functions

  • confinement to small city-states

  • Aesthetic ideals

  • Greek life exalted beauty (outer and inner) which becomes the great objective of one’s development

  • Self-restraint

  • although free, Greeks have to obey a superior principle – the law

  • aware of one’s limitations (concept of moderation)


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