I have learned about many things in the past year of history, but a few topics stood out to me. Mainly the topics of Greece and Rome. Though Greece I found was a little more interesting, so I will write about Greece.
Greece is located North of Egypt and East of Turkey and is a peninsula. That climate was warm and sunny, and the cities tended to develop on the coast. It was divided into three regions. Northern Greece, central Greece, and Peloponnesus. It was peopled by the people of Ionia, who were very smart.
Greece went through many different types of governments. Anarchy, oligarchy, tyranny, and democracy.
Democracy was introduced in Athens by Cleisthenes in 508BC. The word democracy is made up of two Greek words. Demos-people and Kratos-rule.
Two things always united the peoples of Greece. War, and the Olympics.
The Olympics were these huge events where the people of Greece would show all aspects of human strength and endurance. Back then they had:
- Foot races
- Javelin Throwing and Discus Throwing
- Horse and Chariot Racing
- Wrestling and Boxing
- And the Pentathlon (which was all of those events)
Though the Olympics were not just a sporting event. It was also a tribute to their gods. They often dedicated a year or event to one of their gods.
The Greeks were pantheistic people, which means they believe in many gods. However, there were 12 primary gods, and they believed that they lived on mount Olympus.
The 12 primary gods were:
These gods had temples built for worship to them, but the gods most worshiped were not those gods. The “backyard” gods were usually ancestors or spirits of things like fields or places.
Also, there were many big scholars and philosophers to come out of Greece, notably Socrates, Plato, Homer, and Herodotus.
Socrates was a Greek philosopher, but before he became one, he was a stonecutter. He developed a method called the Socratic method, which is a method of using what they think to show them how it is wrong. Doing so made him a lot of enemies, and he was eventually put on trial for “perverting the minds of the youth”.
Socrates was convicted by a vote of 280 to 221. Athenian law allowed a convicted citizen to propose an alternative punishment to the one called for by the prosecution and the jury would decide. Instead of proposing he be exiled, Socrates suggested he be honoured by the city for his contribution to their enlightenment and be paid for his services. The jury was not amused and sentenced him to death by drinking a mixture of poison hemlock.
Before Socrates’s execution, friends offered to bribe the guards and rescue him so he could flee into exile. He declined, stating he wasn’t afraid of death, felt he would be no better off if in exile and said he was still a loyal citizen of Athens, willing to abide by its laws, even the ones that condemned him to death. Plato described Socrates’s execution in his Phaedo dialogue: Socrates drank the hemlock mixture without hesitation. The numbness slowly crept into his body until it reached his heart. Shortly before his final breath, Socrates described his death as a release of the soul from the body.
Plato was a student of Socrates, who wrote the famous work of Parmenides. Aristotle was a student of Plato. He tutored Alexandar the Great, he was the founder of formal logic and reasoning. His philosophy also later blended with the Protestant Reformation of the Church.
Archimedes was the most famous mathematician and scientist. He was the first to estimate the size of the sun and moon, and that the sun was fixed in place. He also had a lifelong dream of wanting to know how many grains of sand would fit in the known universe. He made the water screw and many inventions of war for when Sicily was under attack.
Though there are many more famous people to come out of ancient Greece I don’t have the room to write about each of them.
All of these things fascinate me, and I love learning about all of Ancient Greece.