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Greek Civilization

Ancient Greek Culturewas the

birthplace of Western civilisation about
4000 years ago. Ancient Greece produced
many magnificent achievements in areas
of government, science, philosophy and
the arts that still influence our lives.
Olympic Games

Greece, and especially Athens, is the cradle of
democracy in the western civilization. Athens
owes the first penal and civil law code to
Draco. An outstanding statesman and poet
called Solon was contemporary of Draco.
In 594 BC, Solon was elected the first
archon the highest state official who
today could be compared to a prime
minister. The difference between a prime
minister and an archon lies in the fact that the
latter was elected annually and had executive
and judicial power, was in command of the
army and performed priestly functions.

The main Solon's credit was that he

prepared basis for political changes in
Athens. He divided citizens into four
groups based on agricultural output,
established the so-called Council of 400,
the jury court, standardized the system of
measures and weights and considerably
increased rights of ekklesia assembly
of all citizens of Athens over 20. In
510 BC Cleisthenes introduced profound
reforms which made democracy exist as a
system of government for the first time in
the world. In general reforms were to
diminish the role of aristocracy, eliminate
financial differences and mix the society.

Thales of Miletus(640-610 to ca 548545 BC) Thales is also said to have tried to
revise the calendar and brought Babylonian
mathematical knowledge to Greece and
used geometry to solve problems such as
calculating the height of pyramids and the
distance of ships from the shore. He studied
astronomy in Babylonia, and gained great
fame by predicting an eclipse of the sun. He
was first noted as an inventor and an
engineer. Thales was also interested in
heavenly bodies. He is credited with the
discovery of the electrical properties of
amber (or electron from which also the
name electricity was derived). He was one
of the Seven Sages of Greece

Pythagoras(569 to 475 BC) was the Greek

philosopher and mathematician. He studied
astronomy, logistics and geometry and
founded the mystic Pythagorean cult,
devoted to the study of numbers, which
the Pythagoreans saw as concrete,
material objects, and became for them the
ultimate principle of all proportion, order,
and harmony in the universe. Pythagoras
also investigated the ratios of lengths
corresponding to musical harmonies, and
developed methods of geometric proof. In
geometry the great discovery of Pythagorean
theorem. Pythagoreans were the first to
consider the earth as a globe revolving with
the other planets around a central fire.

Democritus(460 BC - 370 BC) was a

materialist philosopher, and co-originator of
the belief that all matter is made up of
various imperishable, indivisible elements
which he calledatomaor "indivisible units",
from which we get the English word atom.
He was also a pioneer of mathematics and
geometry in particular. He was among the
first to observe that a cone or pyramid has
one-third the volume of a cylinder or prism
respectively with the same base and height.
Healso proposed that the universe
contains many worlds, some of them
inhabited and conducted research on
minerals and plants.

Euclid(323 BC283 BC), also known as the

"Father of Geometry", was a Greek
mathematician. HisElements, a reorganized
compilation of geometrical proofs including
new proofs and a much earlier essay on the
foundations of arithmetic, is the most
successful textbook in the history of
mathematics. In it, the principles of what is
now called Euclidean geometry are deduced
from a small set of axioms. Euclidean space
has no natural edge, and is thus infinite. Euclid
also wrote works on perspective, conic
sections, spherical geometry, and rigor.
In hisOptica, he noted that light travels in
straight lines and described the law of

Archimedes of Syracuse(287BC 212BC) was a

Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor,
and astronomer. He is regarded as one of the leading
scientists in classical antiquity. Among his advances in
physics are the foundations of hydrostatics and the
explanation of the principle of the lever. He is credited
with designing innovative machines, including siege
engines and the screw pump that bears his name.
Archimedes is considered to be one of the greatest
mathematicians of all time. He used the method of
exhaustion to calculate the area under the arc of
a parabola with the summation of an infinite
series, and gave a remarkably accurate
approximation of Pi. He also defined the spiral
bearing his name, formulas for the volumes of surfaces
of revolution and an ingenious system for expressing
very large numbers. Archimedes had proved that the
sphere has two thirds of the volume and surface area
of the cylinder (including the bases of the latter), and
regarded this as the greatest of his mathematical

Hippocrates of Cos (450 B.C. - 380 B.C.)
was a physician and, with other healers,
author of the Corpus
Hippocratiumis, which spelled out,
for the first time, a methodical way
to diagnose and treat patients.
Considered the father of medicine,
Hippocrates also developed the first
code of ethics in any professional field.
The Hippocratic Oath continues to be
integral to the healing arts today.

Socratesone of the founders of Western
philosophy, he strongly influenced Plato, and
Aristotle. He made his most important
contribution to Western thought through his
method of inquiry. He is principally renowned
for his contribution to the field of ethics,
Socrates also lends his name to the concepts of
Socratic irony and the Socratic Method.
Socrates also made important and lasting
contributions to the fields of epistemology
and logic, and the influence of his ideas and
approach, remains strong in providing a
foundation for much western philosophy which

Platohas the reputation of one of the

most influential philosophers in Western
thought. He wrote several dozen
philosophical dialogues arguments
in the form of conversations and a
few letters. Though the early dialogues
deal mainly with methods of acquiring
knowledge, and most of the last ones with
justice and practical ethics, his most
famous works expressed a synoptic view of
ethics, metaphysics, reason, knowledge,
and human life. One can view Plato, with
qualification, as an idealist and a

Aristotleplaced much more value on

knowledge gained from the senses,
and would correspondingly better earn the
modern label of empiricist. His works
Ethics,Politics,Poetics, and many
others. His philosophy was crucial in
governing intellectual thought in the
Western world. His views and approaches
dominated early Western science for almost
2000 years. Aristotle was a formidable
inventor, and is credited with many
significant inventions and observations.

Art: The art of ancient Greece has exercised an

enormous influence on the culture of many countries.

The main physical categories of Greek art are sculpture,
pottery, coin design and architecture.

The Greeks used many different types of materials in

theirsculpturesincluding stone, marble and limestone
as these were abundant in Greece. Other materials
such as clay were also used but due to their brittle
nature very few have survived.
Greek sculptures are very important as the vast
majority of them tell us a story about Gods, Heroes,
Events, Mythical Creatures and Greek culture in
general. Examples of Greek sculpture that survive and
receive worldwide recognition are: theParthenon
Marbles,Agamemnon's Death Mask, stone statues
of humans, such as the limestoneKouros(male)
andKore(female) statues (c.590 BC),Discobolos(The
Discus Thrower) by Myron, theVenus de Milo and
theWinged Victory of Samothrace.

The Ancient Greeks madepotteryfor

everyday use, not for display; Painted
funeral urns have also been found.
Miniatures were also produced in large
numbers, mainly for use as offerings at
Coinswere mostly small disk-shaped
lumps of gold, silver, or bronze,
stamped with a geometric designs,
symbols -to indicate its city of origin
or the god they were sacred to-, and
portraits of gods or heroes.

Architecture: Ancient Greek architects

strove for the precision and excellence
of workmanship.
The GreekTemplebest exemplifies the
aims and methods of Greek architecture. The
two principal orders in Archaic and Classical
Greek temples architecture are the Doric
and the Ionic. A third order of Greek
architecture, known as the Corinthian,
mostly common in the Hellenistic and
Roman periods. Representative temple of
the Doric order isParthenon, of the Ionic
order isErechtheumand of the Corinthian
order is thetemple of Zeus, all these
temples sited in Athens.

The GreekTheaterwas a central place of formal

gatherings in ancient Greece. Every Greek town had
a theater. These were used for both public meetings
as well as dramatic performances. These
performances originated as religious ceremonies and
assumed Classical status as the highest form of
Greek culture by the 6th century BC.
The theatre had rows of tiered seating set in a semicircle around and included a store-room, a
dressing-room, and also as a backdrop to the action
taking place in the orchestra. A number of Greek
theatres survive almost intact, the best known being
at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus. The Greek
Stadium was the open space where footraces and
other athletic contests took place in ancient Greece.
The best known ancient Greek stadium
isKallimarmaron (Panathinaikon Stadium), sited
in Athens.

Olympic games: The Olympic Games were

closely linked to the religious festivals of the cult of
Zeus, and had a secular character and aimed to show
the physical qualities and evolution of the
performances accomplished by young people, as well
as encouraging good relations between the cities of
Greece. According to specialists, the Olympic Games
owed their purity and importance to religion.
The ancient Olympic Games included the following
events: pentathlon, running, jumping, discus throw,
wrestling, boxing, pankration and equestrian events.
All free male Greek citizens were entitled to
participate in the ancient Olympic Games, regardless
of their social status. Married women were not
allowed to participate in, or to watch, the
ancient Olympic Games. However, unmarried
women could attend the competition.

Trial by Jury: Athens is also the home of

the original trial by jury practice. While
any one citizen could raise charges against
another in an ancient Greek courtroom,
they were not allowed to select the jurors
for their own trial. Their juries proved far
larger than those used today it wasnt
uncommon for the courts to
use up to 500 citizens for any given case ,
and even to surpass 1,500 when it came
to issues of death, exile and property
seizure. Each decision was made via
majority rule to keep the courtroom as
reasonable as possible.

Roman Civilization

The Ancient Roman Empire may

have fallen more than 1,500 years
ago, but its rich legacy of
innovation and invention can still
be seen today. The Romans were
prodigious builders and expert
civil engineers, and their thriving
civilization produced advances in
technology, culture and
architecture that remained
unequalled for centuries.

Aqueducts: The Romans enjoyed many

amenities like public toilets, underground sewage
systems, fountains and ornate public baths. None
of these aquatic innovations would have been
possible without the Roman aqueduct. First
developed around 312 B.C., these engineering
marvels used gravity to transport water along
stone, lead and concrete pipelines and into city
centres. Aqueducts proved priceless in
promoting public health and sanitation. While
the Romans did not invent the aqueduct, they used
their mastery of civil engineering to perfect the
process. Hundreds of aqueducts eventually
sprang up throughout the empire, some of
which transported water as far as 60 miles.
So well built that some are still in use to this day .

Many ancient Roman structures like the
Pantheon, the Colosseum and the Roman
Forum are still standing today thanks to the
development of Roman cement and
concrete. The Romans first began building
with concrete over 2,100 years ago.
Combined with volcanic rocks called
tuff, this ancient cement formed a
concrete that could effectively endure
chemical decay. Pozzolana helped Roman
concrete set quickly even when submerged
in seawater, enabling the construction of
elaborate baths, piers and harbours.

Newspaper: The Romans were known to

contribute to public discourse through the
use of official texts detailing military, legal
and civil issues. Known as Acta Diurna, or
daily acts, these early newspapers were
written on metal or stone and then posted in
heavily trafficked areas like the Roman
Forum. Acta are believed to have first
appeared around 131 B.C. and typically
included details of Roman military
victories, lists of games and gladiatorial
bouts, birth and death notices and even
human interest stories. Acta Senatus
detailed the proceedings of the Roman

Ancient Rome was the wellspring for many
modern government programs, including
measures that subsidized food, education and
other expenses for the needy. These
entitlement programs date back to 122 B.C. They
had a program known as alimenta to help
feed, clothe and educate orphans and poor
children. Other items including corn, oil,
wine, bread and pork were eventually added
to the list of price-controlled goods, which
may have been collected with tokens called
tesserae. These generous handouts helped
Roman emperors win favour with the public.

Bound Books
The Romans streamlined and prepared a
stack of bound pages that is recognized
as the earliest incarnation of the book. The
first codices were made of bound wax
tablets, but these were later replaced by
animal skin parchment that more clearly
resembled pages. Julius Caesar created an
early version of a codex by stacking pages
of papyrus to form a primitive notebook.
Early Christians became some of the
first to adopt the new technology,
using it extensively to produce copies
of the Bible.

Roads & highways

Romans built the most sophisticated system of
roads, many of which are still in use today. Roman
engineers adhered to strict standards when
designing their highways, creating arrowstraight roads that curved to allow for water
drainage. The Romans built over 50,000 miles
of road by 200 A.D., primarily in the service of
military conquest. Highways allowed the Roman
legion to travel as far as 25 miles per day, and a
complex network of post houses meant that
messages and other intelligence could be
relayed with astonishing speed. Stone mile
markers and signs were used. Special
complements of soldiers acted as a kind of
highway patrol.

Roman Arches
Arches have existed for roughly 4,000 years, but
the ancient Romans were the first to effectively
harness their power in the construction of
bridges, monuments and buildings. The
ingenious design of the arch allowed the weight
of buildings to be evenly distributed along
various supports. Roman engineers improved on
arches by flattening their shape to create what is
known as a segmental arch to build stronger
supports for bridges and aqueducts. Along with
columns, domes and vaulted ceilings, the
arch became one of the defining characteristics
of the Roman architectural style.

Legal: Habeas corpus,

affidavitall these
terms derive from the Roman legal system,
which dominated Western law and
government for centuries. The basis for early
Roman law came from the Twelve Tables
detailing laws regarding property, religion
and divorce and listed punishments for
everything from theft to black magic.
Even more influential than the Twelve Tables
was the Corpus Juris Civilis, an ambitious
attempt to synthesize Romes history of law
into one document.
Corpus Juris included modern legal concepts
such as the notion that the accused is
innocent until proven guilty.

The Romans invented many surgical tools and
pioneered the use of the cesarean section...
they established a military medical corps that
was one of the first dedicated field surgery
units. These specially trained medics saved
countless lives. They were even known to
disinfect instruments in hot water before
use, pioneering a form of antiseptic
surgery that was not fully embraced until the
19th century. Roman military medicine proved
so advanced at treating wounds and
promoting wellness that soldiers tended to
live longer than the average citizen despite
constantly facing the hazards of combat.

Today theRoman languages, which
comprise all languages that descended
fromLatin, are spoken by more than 600
million native speakers worldwide, mainly
in theAmericas,Europe, andAfrica.
Additionally, the vocabulary ofGermanic
orEnglishcontains a large percentage of
Latin words. In the case of English, the
proportion of words with a Latin or Roman
origin is estimated to be over 50%.English
has many grammatical similarities to the
Roman languages.