What comes from ancient Greece

Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece, like the ancient Egyptians and the Roman Empire, did Development of Europe significantly shaped.

Famous Greek Philosophers, such as Aristotle, and Greek poet, such as Homer, are still read today and are mentioned many times. The most famous doctor was in ancient Greece Hippocrates. Everyone who wants to become doctors today must swear his oath (in a more modern form) - the oath of Hippocrates. Also the symbol that can be seen on all pharmacy signs, the Aesculapian snake, goes back to ancient Greece.

Did you already know, that ...

  • Marathon is a place in Greece?
  • there is a statue of a Greek goddess in front of the Austrian parliament?
  • the Romans took over the Greek gods and the Greek father Zeus was called Jupiter?

One story claims that a messenger ran from Marathon to Athens to announce victory in an important battle. That was about 40 km.

Pallas Athene was the goddess of wisdom in ancient Greece.

In the distant past

The first settlements on Greek territory emerged between 11000 (eleven thousand) and 3000 (three thousand) before Christ. That was the rule then Stone age. The people made stone tools and began to cultivate the first fields.

The first settlements. Some were Fishing villages, in some it became mainly Stone tool established and again other settlements consisted to a large extent farms. Some settlers went out to sea and they got up Expeditions (Research trips).

The land was very fertile (olive and vineyards and the like) and quickly became interested Dealers for the regions. The development continued. First religions emerged. A sign of that was the deceased Grave goods were placed in their final resting places. The first tools, vessels and jewelry made metal were from around 3000 BC Chr. manufactured. It ruled the Bronze age.

Around 2000 (two thousand) BC The first great Greek cultures arose:

  • the Minoan culture on Kreta,
  • the Mycenaean culture on the mainland and
  • the Cycladic culture in the Aegean Islands.

Population growth and trade flourished. The Cyclades in particular became the most important trade center between Asia and Europe. The culture developed very quickly. There were impressive palaces built like in Knossos on Kreta. The power and political influence of the settlements also grew rapidly.

The Minoan culture

The Minoan culture was that earliest European high culture. There were already first ones on Crete Streets and a spacious one Water and sewer system. The prosperity of the Minoans was incomparable. The women of society were on an equal footing with men and Equal rights.

In Crete were huge palace complexes built, the rooms of which apparently had no fixed arrangement. These facilities were gigantic (for the conditions at the time) large storage rooms - a sign that Crete was one at that time Commercial center depicted. The winding rooms appeared to later viewers like Mazes. Maybe that was the basis for that Greek legend of the Minotaur, a being half bull, half human. The Minotaur lived in a maze and virgins were sacrificed to ease him. According to legend, the Minotaur became the Greek hero Theseus killed.

Incidentally, the Minoan palaces were built without any military fortifications. The residents felt safe. There was no danger from the natives of Crete. The Minoans also had a large one fleetwhich was useful not only for maritime trade.

Around 1700 (one thousand seven hundred) BC Nearly all the palaces on the island were made by one BC earthquake destroyed. But the Minoans did not despair, but built new cities, still more splendid than the old ones.

But one second disaster overtook the islanders only 250 years later: a Volcanic eruption. Again almost all Cretan palaces were destroyed. That was the beginning of the fall of the Minoan civilization.

The Mycenaean culture

After the fall of the Minoans, the Mycenaean culture gained influence. It is after its main city Mycenae named. The cities of the Mycenaeans, in contrast to those of the Minoan culture, were independent of each other. Unlike the palaces of the Minoans, the castles of the cities were real ones Bulwarks. They were from thick walls protected. According to the legend Cyclops (one-eyed giants) built these castles because humans would not have been able to move stones of this size.

Mycenae was between about 1600 (one thousand six hundred) and 1200 (one thousand two hundred) BC. The center of Greece. The city was near the isthmus between the Greek peninsula and northern Greece.

The Greek gods and the mythology surrounding Zeus, his siblings and descendants has its roots in the Mycenaean culture. But a little more about that later.

The Mycenaean culture came to an end at around 1050 (one thousand fifty) v. Chr. There were several causes for the downfall of the cultural centers (cities) such as wars, the failure of trading partners from the east, as well as peasant uprisings and earthquakes.

By the way, one of the most famous rulers of Mycenae was Agamemnon. The wife of his brother Menelaus, the beautiful one Helena, is said to have been abducted to Troy by the Greek hero Paris. According to the myth, this act was the reason for the beginning of the Trojan War.

Cult of gods

Zeus, Hera, Poseidon and Hades are probably the most famous gods of the ancient Greeks today. they had divine power across very different areas, but also very much human weaknesses such as jealousy and anger. According to the faith, the gods had to be softened again and again through gifts and sacrifices. But where did the gods come from?

In ancient Greece it was believed that at the beginning United heaven and earth. The union became Kronos and Rhea born. These two were the parents of the great gods of ancient Greece:

  • Zeus, the ruler of heaven and earth
  • Hera, the wife of Zeus and protector of marriage and women
  • Poseidon, the lord of the sea
  • Hades, the lord of the underworld
  • Demeter, the goddess of the fertile earth and
  • Hestia, the goddess of the hearth

In addition to these main gods, there were quite a few too "Minor gods", the children of the main gods.

The ancient Greeks not only worshiped gods, but also heroes. The Heroes of ancient Greece, according to belief, also descended from the gods. However, one parent was human. So these heroes were Demigods.

Some of the most famous heroes in Greek mythology were: Achilles (Son of King Peleus and the sea goddess Thetis). Its characteristic was invulnerability all over the body except for the heel. Even today we call a person's weak point his "Achilles' heel".

Heracles (called Hercules by the Romans), the illegitimate favorite son of Zeus and hero of many adventures.

Odysseus, the navigator who was kept by Poseidon from returning to his wife. His wanderings were immortalized by Homer in the "Odyssey".

The Roman gods have other names, but their origin can be found in Greek mythology. The Roman gods also have meanings similar to their Greek models.

The antique

After the fall of the Mycenaean culture, the time of the began ancient Greece. Already in the Mycenaean culture there were a few cities that were independent of each other. This form of self-governed cities was continued. The predominant form of government was now city-states (Polis) ruled by the elected nobility. Kings lost more and more importance. Gradually a species developed democracy, in the so-called Full citizen Had co-determination rights. How much the people were allowed to determine, however, depended on the respective polis. Each had its own rules.

The Greeks had had a strong one for hundreds of years fleet. But only between 750 (seven hundred and fifty) and 550 (five hundred and fifty) BC. Began the single large polis like Athens and SpartaColonies in the Black Sea and Mediterranean area to found. The newly founded cities were, just like the respective "mother city", independent. Reasons for the colonization were, among other things, the securing of trade routes, overpopulation and thus recurring unrest in the polis.


Meanwhile, on the Greek mainland, the various polis began to fight each other. The goal was one Supremacy to get. "Winner" of the fights Sparta (from about 640 BC).

The Spartans were a very warlike people. Both boys and girls were prepared for war from childhood. They became too cruel warriors trained to hunt their slaves (the helots) once a year for exercise only. The Spartans had a very simple lifestyle. The expression still in use today "Spartan" goes back to this way of life. For example, restricting the furnishing of a room to the bare essentials is described as spartan.

Although the Polis Sparta had supremacy over the rest of the polis, they continued to wage wars to get the riches of the city-states. The wealth, however, was not compatible with their usual, simple life. It came to Scams, envy and Resentment. Obtaining political advantage was also one of the people's new habits. The original thought of the people was that everyone equal are. So now some thought they were "more equal" than others. That ultimately led to Downfall of the people, even if it should take a few decades before then.

Sparta interfered in the affairs of other city-states as well, which, of course, did not particularly please them. That's why they allied. Thebes finally defeated the hitherto invincible Sparta in the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC Chr.

Alexander the Great

The winner of all these confrontations was actually Macedonia. Because King Philip II of Macedonia managed to die after the fall of Sparta Supremacy to get in Greece. When he also visited Athens and Thebes in 338 BC. Defeated in BC, he united the Greek polis in Corinthian Covenant with each other and became its leader. The only polis that did not belong to this union was Sparta.

Before King Philip II could set out to fight Persia, he became 336 BC Chr. from his bodyguard killed. It is not certain whether his son, Alexander, also had a hand in this plot against Philipp. In any case, he took his father's place on the throne of Macedonia.

Started two years after taking power Alexanderwho was later called the Great, the one that Philip had planned Campaign against Persia. Nothing could stop him. In important, conquered cities he left influential confidants around City administration to take over. In this way he secured his rule in these cities and at the same time provided supplies for his troops.

In Babylon, the Persian capital, and in Susa Alexander became the new one Great King called out. Both cities opened their gates without a fight.

After the conquest of Persia, Alexander the Great moved against with his troops India. During this campaign, Alexander was so badly injured that many believed he had died.

But 324 BC Chr. he returned to Persia. Alexander wanted to merge the Persian people with the Macedonians and organized one in Susa Mass wedding. At this festival a total of about 10,000 (ten thousand) soldiers and followers of Alexander were married to Persian women. Alexander also married. His wife was Stateira, daughter of the conquered ruler of Persia, Darius.

Unfortunately, Alexander could no longer experience the connection between the peoples. Because on June 13th of the year 323 BC He died in Babylon.

The Roman Empire

After the death of Alexander, Athens tried to gain dominance over Greece. But Athens was unsuccessful. Politically, individual alliances became more and more important. These covenants, roughly with early States were comparable, fought each other again and again. They also opposed Macedonia. As a result, the Roman Empire interfered and pulled against Macedonia.

Macedonia had tried again and again to regain control over Greece. But after the Battle of Pydna 168 BC Chr. this was no longer possible. Rome proclaimed the freedom of Greece, but declared this country 146 BC Chr. to roman province.

Though it ended the independent political history of ancient Greece, its culture survived. Especially Emperor Nerowhich did not do very well later in history, ensured the continuation of Greek culture. For example, the nobility of Rome not only had to have Latin, but also Greek dominate. The Greek gods were renamed by the Romans and made their own. Finally, Athens remained an important one until the middle of the 6th century AD Center for Ancient Education.


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