Ancient Greece

900-323 B.C.E.

Greek geography
Greece is mountainous  Greek communities often times developed independently because of the mountains, thus they were diverse  As a result, they fought each other a lot. 

Cultural roots 

formed an ethnic identity around memories of the Mycenaean and Aegean culture that lay in runs around them.  Those memoires eventually focused on a single legendary event ± the siege of Troy ± that they recounted and embellished in poetry and art.


The Iliad The Odyssey Attributed to Homer ± a blind poet ³First masterpieces of Western Literature´ Epic poem - a long narrative work that recounts deeds on a heroic scale, centered on a hero who defines a sense of ethnic or national identity.

Note: the epic of Gilgamesh and the Indian epic, Mahabharata, define Babylonian and Hindu cultures. Later generations retold their hero¶s deeds ± Gilgamesh's search for eternal life, Arjuna¶s dialogue with the god Krishna ± to celebrate their language and national identity and also to explore the essential truths of human experience.

The Iliad
Trojans and Greeks  Achilles fights with Agamemnon about a woman/slave. When Achilles¶ friend is killed, he rejoins, and kills Hector. Hector¶s father, King Priam, begs for his son¶s body for burial.  In spite of its hero¶s cruelly and violence, Homer¶s saga of human pride and error ultimately confirms the nobility of human pride.  How important is The Iliad to Greeks today? Educated Greek men can still quote speeches of Homer¶s warriors. 

Lyric poetry   

Name comes from the lyre, the stringed instrument used to accompany the recitation of these poems. Lyric poems were brief, often written for a specific occasion, and expressed the speaker¶s inner thoughts and feeling more directly than the epic. Less formal Sappho 600 b.c.e.

Some say cavalry and some would claim infantry or a fleet of long oars is the supreme sight on the black earth. I say it is the girl you love. And easily proved. did not Helen, who was queen of mortal beauty, choose as first among mankind the very scourge of Trojan honor? Haunted by Love she forgot kinsmen, her own dear child and wandered off to a remote country O weak and fitful Woman bending before any man; So Anaktoria, although you are Far, do not forget your loving friends. And I for one Would rather listen to your soft step and see your radiant face ± than watch all the dazzling horsemen and armored Hoplites of Lydia.

Archaic style
Few wall paintings survived  Pottery Initially decorated with abstract geometric designs (geometric technique) demonstrated Greek interest in intricate rationalized patterns. 

Red Figure Technique- the background is painted black and the figures left unpainted appear as red.
Soon, painters incorporated rudimentary human figures, mostly likely adapted from Egyptian painting that showed an increasing naturalism.
Homeric warrior, Sarpedon, is borne to the underworld by the figures of Death and Sleep

Structure ± formalized to naturalistic
‡ Kouros ± a free standing nude male youth that served as a grave marker or stood outside a temple ± rigid symmetry, geometric hair dressing ± stylized geometry. ‡ Late archaic period ± rigid geometry softened with more supple curves

The ³Classical´ period 490 B.C.323B.C. 

with victory over Persian army  Led to a period of achievement virtually unparalleled I the history of Western civilization in theater, architecture, sculpture and philosophy.  Ended with the death of Alexander the Great  Athens was its center 


Acropolis, brought to you by Terra Griffith

The Greek Orders ± the classical architectural orders varied according to their decoration of the vertical and horizontal elements. 


Ionic and Corinthian columns

Greek Sculpture ± an obsession with the human figure? 

classical style ± movement And a marriage of idealism and naturalism

The Hellenistic style 

Developed from the classical idealism but added emotionally charged realism Hellenistic period Greek civilization spread to Persia and Egypt in the wake of the conquests of Alexander the Great. The patrons of Hellenistic sculpture were often private individuals, rather than city states, as in the classical period. For this reason Hellenistic sculptures emphasized the individuality of their subjects and strived for a direct emotional impact on the viewer. 


dying Gaul

Laocoon and his two sons 

A Trojan priest and his two sons as they are drowned by serpents.

Greek Theatre
Theatre was the medium in which Athenians reflected o their culture¶s most essential questions; the powers of the gods, the course of human destiny, the nature of love and justice. 

It was at once drama, poetry, religion and philosophy. Classical tragedy and comedy both originated in the Greeks¶ worship of Dionysus, god of wine, revelry and intoxication (!)  Worshipers of Dionysus disguised themselves with masks, dressed in animal costumes, carried oversized fertility symbols and sang hymns of praise to the god.  The most solemn hymns were sung and dance by a chorus of performers. From this elemental beginning evolved the Greek ³Tragedy´ 

The Greek Actor 

Participation is a civic duty; many volunteered for the chorus. Experienced speakers became actors (often govt. officials or imp. businessmen) Actors were revered and exempt from military duty. Women were excluded from acting and had to sit in the higher seats in the theatron.

Staged in open air theatres seating up to fifteen thousand spectators the plays were a solemn religious occasion where the priest of Dionysus presided.

Where and how were the dramas performed?
«In an amphitheatre «With a chorus who described most of the action. «With masks «With all the fighting and movement going on off stage. «.With tragedy first, then comedy later.

The Stage

The Stage
Three Main Portions of Greek Theatre: Skene ± Portion of stage where actors performed (included 1-3 doors in and out) Orchestra ± ³Dancing Place´ where chorus sang to the audience Theatron ± Seating for audience

The Role of the Actor
Aeschylus ± earliest Greek tragedy writer brought idea of second actor.  Sophocles ± brought third actor ± no more than three actors on stage ever in a Greek tragedy.  Euripedes ± also used three actors after Sophocles.  Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripedes each wrote a version of the Oedipus tragedy, but Sophocles¶ version is the most famous. 

Performance Characteristics 

were initially held with just the chorus singing/chanting the lines.  In 534 BCE Thespis was credited with creating the first actor (thespians). The character spoke lines as a god.  This begins the concept of DIALOGUE ± the character interacts with chorus.

Technology results from necessity 

Since Greek coastal cities were sandwiched between the ocean and the sea, they developed an awesome navy for trading and fighting.

Greek Invention 

The Greeks invented the crane.

Greek Inventions 

The Greeks invented dice.


Technology results from scarcity  

All cities need fresh water. This is a Greek aqueduct, basically a brick water pipe. The first aqueduct was Assyrian, but most ancient societies had them.

Terracing saves water and soil in mountainous environments

The Greeks were the original Olympiads. Their scientists studied the best way to perform sports

Greek Architecture  

Greeks invented arches and columns. This obviously took advanced mathematics.

More Greek Architecture

Greek Military 

This is a catapult, a Greek invention. It could throw 300 pound stones at walls and buildings

Greek Military  

This is a hoplite, a Greek infantry soldier. Hoplites were middle-class freemen who had to pay for their own weapon and shield.

Greek Military 

This is a phalanx. Soldiers get in a tight box. They each have a large shield and a 9 foot long spear.

Greek religion was polytheistic.

Political: Athens was the first democracy. 

type of government where

people vote.  Well, actually, Athens was a direct democracy where people vote on everything.  The U.S. today is a representative democracy, where we vote for people to make decisions for us.

Direct participation was the key to Athenian democracy. In the Assembly, every male citizen was not only entitled to attend as often as he pleased but also had the right to debate, offer amendments, and vote on proposals. Every man had a say in whether to declare war or stay in peace. Basically any thing that required a government decision, all male citizens were allowed to participate in.

Remember! If you think the U.S. is so much better. . . 

southern states did not let African Americans vote until the 1960s (Voting Rights Act 1965)  Women could not vote in the U.S. until 1920 (19th Amendment)  Eighteen year olds could not vote until the late 1970s.

Political terms 

of Greece wasn¶t a democracy.  Most of Greece was a monarchy a type of government ruled by a king or queen.  At right is Pericles, a good king of Athens.

Sparta was an isolated city-state that was culturally and politically different from Athens.  Sparta was an oligarchy, government ruled by a few. They had 2 kings.  During the Peloponnesian Sparta sacked Athens. 


Spartan society was obsessed with war. Boys were sent to military school at a young age. Boys who are born deformed are left to die on mountainsides


were tough but were encouraged to engage in activities like art, philosophy, music.

Alexander the Great   

Alexander was not from Athens, but Macedonia. Alexander was a brilliant military strategist. His favorite book was Homer¶s Iliad

Alexander conquered the Persian empire and controlled the largest empire the world has ever seen.

What happens when cultures collide?

Alexander spread Hellenistic culture throughout Asia. 

Hellenistic is a fancy word for Greek. Alexander spread Greek technology and ideas throughout his empire

The Roman Coliseum has a strong Hellenistic influence.

What buildings in the USA have a Hellenistic influence?

Lincoln Memorial

Any questions before the quiz?

Greece Quiz 

1.What is Greece¶s political contribution to the political world (especially the United States)? 2. How did geography influence Greece¶s economy and military technology? 3. How did Hellenistic ideas spread throughout Asia? 4. Describe an example of how necessity brings about technological change. 5. Define monarchy 6. Define oligarchy 


needed to be LARGER THAN LIFE and thus easy to see.  Size was symbolic of their social status.  Chiton ± a long, flowing robe, padded at the shoulders for width, selected in symbolic colors  Cothurni ± platform shoes for added height

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