Many of the roots of Western civilization can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. They made long-lasting contributions in the areas of art, architecture, philosophy, math, drama, and science. Their ideas and philosophies have influenced what we believe and practice today. The Greeks influenced Western Civilization through their philosophical ideas, political ideas, and intellectual ideas.
One of Greece's greatest contributions to the Western world was philosophy. The philosophical influence can be seen in Documents 1and 2. Socrates was the first philosopher to emerge in Greece. He suggested that people should question and examine everything in life (Doc 1). He wrote this probably to inspire people to live a reflective life. Aristotle was one of Greece's first philosophers. He believed that human nature should be guided by human reason, for human reason is the most godlike and it's superior to any other (Doc. 2). Both of these philosophers have influenced the Western world to question the world around them, and you can see evidence of this by the emphasis of this in the inclusion of philosophy classes in high schools and colleges today.
Another great achievement that has contributed to the Western world was the political ideas of Greece. One can see evidence of the political ideas in Documents 3 and 6. As seen in the play Antigone, people started to question their leaders and do what they thought was the right thing to do, even if it meant overstepping the established rules (Doc 6). You also see the political influence when Pericles described democracy in his Funeral Oration. His expectations were that all people should give their opinion in government (Doc. 3). Pericles gave this speech to convey to the people of Athens the role he expected his citizens to play in government, and that he was just a leader- that the people played just as important role in government as leaders do. One can see the political influence of ancient Greece in most Western countries today. Here in the United States, citizens are allowed to voice their opinion and have a voice in making laws. Pericles not only let the rich vote and participate in government, but he let the common people speak, too. This concept is still included today in the modern form of democracy.
The last area of influence was intellectual ideas. One major achievement in this time was in the medical field. Hippocrates practiced medicine with the intent to improve his work and wouldn't hurt his patients (Doc. 4). Hippocrates taught that doctors should treat their patients to the best of their ability and judgment. Today, all graduating medical students must take the Hippocratic Oath. The Hippocratic Oath is an oral vow in which you agree to rules of good conduct between doctor and patient; that you will do anything in your power to do what is best for the patient. Hippocrates created this oath at this point in time because most people believed that gods and demons caused illness and disease. Hippocrates taught that health-related problems had natural causes and that it was the duty of the physician to do whatever they could to help people to the best of their ability. Another person who has influenced the Western world was Euclid. His contributions are evident in his theory was "if two straight lines cut one another, the vertical, or opposite angles shall be equal” (Doc 5). Every high school student needs to pass mathematics classes. An additional intellectual advancement that have affected the Western civilization was architecture. The Parthenon had many specific features that influenced some of the architecture found today, such as columns (Doc. 7). The most famous was the Parthenon, built by Pericles, to honor the goddess Athena. The use of marble, limestone, and columns were used in Greek architecture and still today. The column design can still be seen today in the United States. Government buildings such as the Capital Building, Jefferson Memorial, and the White House depict the columns on ancient Greece's buildings. One last major intellectual contribution to Western civilization from the ancient Greeks was the Olympics. The statue created by Myron of The Discus Thrower reveals that the Greeks should be strong, healthy, fit, and believed that you should be the best that you can be. The Olympics influenced later civilizations by bringing together people of different cultures from different regions in the world (Doc. 8). The Olympic Games are a great opportunity for cultural interaction to learn about other cultures. We hold our own Olympic Games today which allows people from all over the world to use sports as a way to learn about each other.
An additional document that would help gain a larger understanding of the impact Greeks had on Western Civilization would be a journal entry from a lower class male that heard Pericles’ speech. It would help understand how all people, regardless of social class standing, would feel empowered to get involved in politics.
The Greeks have made many contributions to Western society. Some of the contributions made were philosophy, democracy, medicines, architecture, and the Olympics. If the Greeks didn't provide what they have given, life today would be very different from what it is now.