The early civilization that flourished in ancient Greece had huge implications for the development of mankind. In every sector of life, from law to politics to sport, the terminology and innovations of this period are still relevant today. In fact, it's fair to say Western civilization as we know it was made possible by the advancements made by our Greek ancestors.
The Acropolis, or "high city," was designed as a rallying point for a city under attack. It also housed the main temples. The Acropolis in Athens was home to the iconic Parthenon temple and its remains exist to this day. The Athenian Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Olympic Games
The greatest festival of athletics in the world dates back to an ancient Greek festival at Olympia, in honor of the god Zeus. Athletes gathered from all over the Greek world to compete for honors. Events in the original Olympic games included throwing the discus and the javelin, which are still practiced today.
The concept of citizenship was developed by the ancient Athenians. Citizens were the group from which the government were selected. They completed a compulsory period of military service and took part in jury service. To become a citizen, a man had to have been born to Athenian parents. Women took no part in public life during this time.
The storyteller Aesop is said to have been a slave who entertained his master so well that he was granted freedom. Aesop's fables have been handed down the ages and are still told today. Perhaps the most famous of Aesop's fables is the story of the tortoise and the hare, in which the slower tortoise outwits the quicker hare.
The Trojan Horse
Legend has it that in order to penetrate the walled city of Troy, Greek warriors built a giant wooden horse, inside which, they concealed 30 of their men. This was a fake gift to the Trojans, who brought it into the city. At nightfall, the men who had been hidden inside the horse opened the gates and let in the Greek army.
Socrates was the original philosopher. He considered the nature of beauty, knowledge and what is right. His method was to ask questions, to try to expose the flaws in his fellow Athenians' preconceived notions. Socrates went on to teach Plato, the next great Athenian philosopher.
Plato examined the nature of philosophy and established it as a tool for examining the ethics of the day. He conceived of certain abstract ideas (for example, beauty, justice, or equality) which existed beyond our physical world. He taught that in order to be good, people must study and understand the nature of goodness itself.
Aristotle studied at Plato's Academy and tutored the future emperor Alexander the Great. He established the first ever botanical garden and the world's first zoo. Aristotle carried out philosophical inquiries into the nature of man, establishing that the greatest good in life is happiness, the goal towards which we should all aspire.
Theater was a huge part of ancient Greek culture, with theaters in every town and competitions to find the best playwrights and actors. The word theater comes from the Greek "Theatron," which described the seating section of the outdoor arenas where people watched plays. Comedies, tragedies and satirical plays were all invented by the Greeks.
Trial by Jury
Ancient Athenians invented trial by jury. Jurors had to be citizens of at least 30 years of age. A jury could consist of up to 500 people to ensure that it was impossible to bribe the majority. Having heard both sides of the case, the jury would decide on the accused person's guilt.
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