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Ancient Greece - Government, Facts and Timeline

Ancient Greece - Government, Facts and Timeline


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The term Ancient, or Archaic, Greece refers to the years 700-480 B.C., not the Classical Age (480-323 B.C.) known for its art, architecture and philosophy. Archaic Greece saw advances in art, poetry and technology, but is known as the age in which the polis, or city-state, was invented. The polis became the defining feature of Greek political life for hundreds of years.

The Birth of the City-State

During the so-called “Greek Dark Ages” before the Archaic period, people lived scattered throughout Greece in small farming villages. As they grew larger, these villages began to evolve. Some built walls. Most built a marketplace (an agora) and a community meeting place. They developed governments and organized their citizens according to some sort of constitution or set of laws. They raised armies and collected taxes. And every one of these city-states (known as poleis) was said to be protected by a particular god or goddess, to whom the citizens of the polis owed a great deal of reverence, respect and sacrifice. (Athens’s deity was Athena, for example; so was Sparta’s.)

Though their citizens had in common what Herodotus called “the same stock and the same speech, our shared temples of the gods and religious rituals, our similar customs,” every Greek city-state was different. The largest, Sparta, controlled about 300 square miles of territory; the smallest had just a few hundred people. However, by the dawn of the Archaic period in the seventh century B.C., the city-states had developed a number of common characteristics. They all had economies that were based on agriculture, not trade: For this reason, land was every city-state’s most valuable resource. Also, most had overthrown their hereditary kings, or basileus, and were ruled by a small number of wealthy aristocrats.

These people monopolized political power. (For example, they refused to let ordinary people serve on councils or assemblies.) They also monopolized the best farmland, and some even claimed to be descended from the Greek gods. Because “the poor with their wives and children were enslaved to the rich and had no political rights,” Aristotle said, “there was conflict between the nobles and the people for a long time.”

Colonization

Emigration was one way to relieve some of this tension. Land was the most important source of wealth in the city-states; it was also, obviously, in finite supply. The pressure of population growth pushed many men away from their home poleis and into sparsely populated areas around Greece and the Aegean. Between 750 B.C. and 600 B.C., Greek colonies sprang up from the Mediterranean to Asia Minor, from North Africa to the coast of the Black Sea. By the end of the seventh century B.C., there were more than 1,500 colonial poleis.

Each of these poleis was an independent city-state. In this way, the colonies of the Archaic period were different from other colonies we are familiar with: The people who lived there were not ruled by or bound to the city-states from which they came. The new poleis were self-governing and self-sufficient.

The Rise of the Tyrants

As time passed and their populations grew, many of these agricultural city-states began to produce consumer goods such as pottery, cloth, wine and metalwork. Trade in these goods made some people—usually not members of the old aristocracy—very wealthy. These people resented the unchecked power of the oligarchs and banded together, sometimes with the aid of heavily-armed soldiers called hoplites, to put new leaders in charge.

These leaders were known as tyrants. Some tyrants turned out to be just as autocratic as the oligarchs they replaced, while others proved to be enlightened leaders. (Pheidon of Argos established an orderly system of weights and measures, for instance, while Theagenes of Megara brought running water to his city.) However, their rule did not last: The classical period brought with it a series of political reforms that created the system of Ancient Greek democracy known as demokratia, or “rule by the people.”

Archaic Renaissance?

The colonial migrations of the Archaic period had an important effect on its art and literature: They spread Greek styles far and wide and encouraged people from all over to participate in the era’s creative revolutions. The epic poet Homer, from Ionia, produced his “Iliad” and “Odyssey” during the Archaic period. Sculptors created kouroi and korai, carefully proportioned human figures that served as memorials to the dead. Scientists and mathematicians made progress too: Anaximandros devised a theory of gravity; Xenophanes wrote about his discovery of fossils and Pythagoras of Kroton discovered his famous Pythagorean Theorem.

The economic, political, technological and artistic developments of the Archaic period readied the Greek city-states for the monumental changes of the next few centuries.

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Ancient Greece - Government, Facts and Timeline - HISTORY

The Ancient Greeks may be most famous for their ideas and philosophies on government and politics. It was in Greece, and particularly Athens, that democracy was first conceived and used as a primary form of government.

Ancient Greece was made up of city-states. A city-state was a major city and the surrounding areas. Each city-state had its own rule and government. Sometimes the city-states fought each other. Athens and Sparta were the two largest city-states and they had many wars and battles.

  • Democracy - A government ruled by the people, or assembly. Officials and leaders were elected and all citizens had a say.
  • Monarchy - A single ruler like a king. In Athens this ruler was called a Tyrant.
  • Oligarchy - When the government is ruled by a small group.

Democracy in Ancient Greece was very direct. What this means is that all the citizens voted on all the laws. Rather than vote for representatives, like we do, each citizen was expected to vote for every law.

They did have officials to run the government, however. Most of these officials were chosen by a lottery. So every citizen had a chance, regardless of their popularity or wealth, to become an official. A few key positions were voted on, such as the treasurer and the 10 generals who ran the army (also called the strategoi).

In order to vote, you had to be a citizen. However, not everyone who lived in Athens was a citizen. Only men who had completed their military training were counted as citizens.

There were three main bodies of the government: the Assembly, the Council of 500, and the Courts.

The Assembly included all citizens who showed up to vote. Everyone who was a citizen could participate as part of the assembly. The assembly would decide on new laws and important decisions, like whether or not to go to war.

The Council oversaw much of the day-to-day running of the government. The Council was determined by lottery. If your name was chosen, then you would be on the council for one year.

The Courts handled lawsuits and trials. The courts had large juries to help make decisions. For private lawsuits the jury was at least 201 people, for public lawsuits the jury was at least 501 people.


Government of Ancient Greece Facts

Many modern governments owe their overall philosophies to Ancient Greece. This was because they had many different ideas and philosophies that had never been tried by other societies.

It was in Greece – and Athens in particular – that democracy was first thought up and tried as a primary form of government.

City States

Ancient Greece, despite popular belief, was not actually a single country. It was instead comprised of what were called city-states.

Each city-state was a major city and the surrounding areas. Each of these areas worked independently of each other and had their own rule and government.

Sometimes these city-states went to war with each other. In fact, Athens and Sparta, which were the two largest city-states, had many wars and battles with each other.

Types of Government

Even though democracy is the most famous form of government to come out of Ancient Greece, it was not the only form practiced there.

There were three main types of government that the different city-states employed.

In this form of government, the people were allowed to have a voice in how the government was run

It was usually ruled elected officials that met in a large group or assembly. All citizens were given a voice in this type of government.

In a monarchy, there was only one ruler. They operated much like a king or emperor.

These rulers were not usually elected, and rather served for life and were followed by someone in their family. The line of succession usually fell to the eldest son in the royal family.

In Athens, this form of government was looked down on. In fact, these rulers were known as tyrants.

In this type of government, the control of society was allocated to a small group. This group usually consisted of the most affluent, or rich, members of the society.

Athenian Democracy

Athenian Democracy was very direct in Ancient Greece. All of the citizens were allowed to vote on all of the laws.

Instead of electing representatives, each and every member of society was expected to vote on each and every law.

Of course, they did have officials who were chosen to run the government. Most of these officials were chosen by a lottery.

Each and every citizen had a chance to become an official, regardless of wealth or popularity. In this way, they made sure that their society was much more representative than other democracies.

There were also several different positions that they did vote on. This was done because these positions were thought of as especially important.

Some of the positions that were voted on included the treasurer and the ten generals that ran the army.

Who Could Vote?

Even though Athens was a very direct democracy, not everyone could vote. In fact, you had to be a citizen in order to vote.

Not everyone who lived in Athens was a citizen, however. Only men, who had completed their military training, were considered to be citizens, and thus, were allowed to vote.

Bodies of Government

In Athens, there were three main bodies of the government. This included the Assembly, the Council of 500, and the Courts.

The Assembly

The Assembly was any and all citizens who showed up to vote. Everyone that was a citizen could participate as a member of the Assembly.

This body of the government would decide on new laws and other important decisions. This included new taxes and whether or not the city-state would go to war.

The Council

This representative body oversaw much of the daily running of the government. The members of the Council were determined by lottery.

If your name was chosen, then you got to be a member of the Council. You would only be on the council for one year, however.

This governing body handled lawsuits and trials. Much like today, these courts had juries to help judge the case.

Unlike today, however, these juries were much larger. In fact, private lawsuits would usually have juries of at least 201 people, while public cases had at least 501 people on the jury.


Ancient Greek Life History

According to Ancient Greek Life History, Ancient Greece Civilization has a lot to learn from – whether it be the government, arts, and culture, cities, and planning, games/sports, technology, and inventions.The ancient Greek theater flourished during the time between 550 BC and 220 BC. Athens was the center of all the theatricals. Athens was the largest ancient Greek city. It was governed by a region called Attica. It was a prosperous city.

Greek wars were very common, sometimes, the Greeks fought among their own small states and sometimes, they invaded other foreign lands.The ancient Greek games were of four kinds- Olympian, Ne-mean, Isthmian, and Pythias. All the four of these games were dedicated to several gods.

The ancient Greek gods and goddesses were many. They have classified into different groups based on their importance. Authority and prominence were the two important categories that decide the importance of the ancient Greek gods and goddesses.

Economy according to the ancient Greeks didn’t mean the same thing as it does to us. According to the economy means the rules of the household. The ancient Greek calendar was complex and confusing. A comparison may be drawn between the Greek calendar and the cities of Greece.

It bore a resemblance to religious norms. But each state had its separate version of the calendar. The Greek calendar followed a Solaris system. The two characteristics of the Greek calendar are: it had twelve months.Ancient Greek architecture was all about style and a classic tradition. Greek architecture is the base of all western architecture.

Ancient Greek buildings reached a point of extinction during the period of time ranging from the close of the Mycenaean period till about the 7th century BC. The temple was amongst the finest constructions of the Greeks. It served a dual function. Firstly, it served the functions of the modern church. Secondly, it served as a place where the deity was safely placed.

Ancient Greek clothing pioneered fashion and the latest collections were always looked forward with the expectation by men and women in old times.According to the ancient Greeks, the house was the heart of the man and it was the main thing of which the man was very proud of. It was a safe and secure place, where he could protect his family from the neighborhood men and also outsiders.

In the Ancient Greek Life History, Greeks had a lot of different types of governments since you had many city-states in Ancient Greece and hence each of them had their own respective government.Also, the idea which people had with respect to what constituted a good government kept changing over the times.

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Ancient Greece Timeline – History Facts For Kids

Ancient Greece is an extremely important time period in the history of the world. The government, philosophies, mathematics, literature, art, science, and even sports we have today were all influenced by the Ancient Greeks.

Because it existed thousands of years ago, the history of Ancient Greece can be complicated. But historians usually divide Ancient Greek history into separate time periods.

Some historians define the time periods differently than others. In general, the timeline looks like this:

  • 6000-2900 BC: Neolithic Period
  • 2900-2000 BC: Early Bronze Age
  • 2000-1400 BC: Minoan Age
  • 1100-1600 BC: Mycenean Age
  • 1100-750 BC: The Dark Ages
  • 750-500 BC: Archaic Period
  • 500-336 BC: Classical Period
  • 336-146 BC: Hellenistic Period

When we think of Ancient Greece, we usually think of the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic Periods. However, to understand this powerful civilization, it’s helpful to learn about the other periods too.

Let’s look at some of the major events of each period in Ancient Greek history.

Neolithic Period (6000-2900 BC)

Ancient Greek civilization began in the Neolithic Period when people traveled to the region for the first time. Travelers came from the East and lived in the eastern part of the region.

As more people came to the area, they spread out throughout Greece. They introduced pottery to Greece, started raising animals like sheep and goats, and grew crops.

These early Greeks started settlements around open landscapes with plenty of water. They lived in one-room houses made of materials like clay, sticks, and mud, sometimes with a stone foundation.

Early Bronze Age (2900-2000 BC)

This period is called The Bronze Age because bronze and other metals, like gold and silver, were introduced to the Greek people.

They soon began melting these metals and using them to make weapons, jewelry, decorations, tools, and mores.

Now that the Greeks had discovered metals, they also had a class system. People who could afford these expensive metals were richer and considered more powerful and important than those who could not.

Early Bronze Age settlements have been found on low plains or hills, close to water. Houses were made of stone foundations and mud walls. They had kilns for cooking.

People continued to raise sheep and goats. They introduced olives and wine and grew crops like barley. As people needed more metals and goods, they began bartering or trading with other settlements.

Minoan Age (2000-1400 BC)

This civilization occurred during the Bronze Age, mostly on the Greek island of Crete. It is named after King Minos. The Minoans were a peaceful society known for their art, especially pottery and sculpture.

Many Minoan palaces are still standing today, including the famous Palace of the Knossos. Historians believe that Minoan civilization ended when they were attacked by the Myceneans.

Mycenean Age (1100-600 BC)

The Mycenean Age was also part of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece. The Myceneans were successful engineers, builders, and artists who helped advance Ancient Greek civilization.

They also started important industries like the textile industry and developed the Greek class system more. The metal industry and perfume industry were important too.

In addition, the Myceneans produced goods like olive oil, cereals, wine, herbs, spices, and honey. They raised sheep and goats for their wool and milk.

Mycenean culture was based around major cities like Athens, Thebes, Pylos, and Mycenae.

Historians are not sure how Mycenean civilization ended. It was either an attack from outsiders or civil conflict between the rich and poor.

The Dark Ages (1100-750 BC)

The Dark Ages was a period of war, invasions, and economic problems for Greek society. It took a long time for the Greeks to recover from this period.

Archaic Period (750-500 BC)

The Archaic Period was a time of major advancement in art, especially pottery and sculpture. It was also the beginnings of democracy and true Greek culture.

The knowledge and use of written language was lost during the Dark Ages, but it returned during the Archaic Period.

This period also included the first Olympic Games, Homer’s writing of the famous epic poems The Odyssey and The Iliad, and the introduction of the Greek coin.

Classical Period (500-336 BC)

The Classical Period was perhaps the most thriving time of Ancient Greek civilization.

Theater became a very popular form of Greek entertainment, the building of the Parthenon was completed, and the philosopher Plato started the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the west.

The famous philosophes Aristotle and Socrates also lived and taught during the Classical Period. The Athenian statesman Pericles established a full democratic system of government in Athens.

During this time, the Greeks fought often with the kingdom of Persia to the east. When the famous Alexander the Great became king, he conquered Persia. He also conquered Egypt and greatly expanded his empire.

Hellenistic Period (336-146 BC)

Greek culture continued to develop during this period, and learning and knowledge were extremely important to the Ancient Greeks.

Euclid, one of the world’s most famous mathematicians, wrote Elements, which shaped modern mathematics and continues to influence math today.

During the Hellenistic Period, Alexander the Great died of mysterious causes. Greek civilization started to decline, and the Romans started to rise to power. In 146 BC, the Romans conquered Ancient Greece.

Greek culture did not die with the Ancient Greek civilization, however. The Romans continued many Ancient Greek practices, including their architecture, language, gods, and dining habits.

And whether you know it or not, Greek culture continues to affect your life today.

Have you ever watched the Olympics? Played with a yo-yo? Have you or your parents ever voted? Do you use the alphabet? For all of this and much more, we have to thank the Ancient Greeks!


About 2000 and 1200 BC, all Greek city-states seem to have been monarchies, ruled by kings. After the dark ages in Greece, kingship gradually began to decline. In the archaic period, most city-states were ruled by oligarchies.

In around 600 and 500 BC, a lot of city-states were taken over by tyranny.In around 510 BC, Athenian democracy developed the most revolutionary of all political systems. In the city-state of Athens was sowed the seeds of democracy. It was a system of direct democracy where the people do not elect representatives to vote on their behalf but vote on legislation and executive bills in their own right.


Timeline of modern Greek history

The First Hellenic Republic (Greek: Αʹ Ελληνική Δημοκρατία) is a historiographic term used for a series of councils and "Provisional Governments" during the Greek War of Independence. During the first stages of the rebellion, various areas elected their own regional governing councils. These were replaced by the united administration at the First National Assembly of Epidaurus during early 1822, which also adopted the first Greek Constitution. A series of National Assemblies ensued, while Greece was threatened with collapse due to civil war and the victories of Ibrahim Pasha. In 1827, the Third National Assembly at Troezen selected Count Ioannis Kapodistrias as Governor of Greece for seven years. He arrived in 1828 and established the Hellenic State, commanding with quasi-dictatorial powers. He was assassinated by political rivals in 1831 and was succeeded by his brother, Augustinos Kapodistrias until the Great Powers declared Greece a Kingdom and selected the Bavarian Prince Otto to be its king.


Ancient Greek Civilization

Geography

Greece’s terrain is rugged due to its mountain ranges, creating deep and narrow valleys that divide the country and benefits political division.

Its relief has played an important role in the history of the Greek people. It divided the country into a large number of isolated cantons where small independent states developed, leading to the emergence of republics such as Athens, Sparta, and Thebes.

Greece’s climate is varied, with sudden cold spells, as well as torrential autumnal rains. Generally, it has a temperate climate thanks to its seas, which allowed its inhabitants to live outdoors under a bright and clear sky.

Periods of Greek history

Ancient Greek history roughly begins in the 12th century BC, lasting until it was conquered and made a Roman province in 146 BC. During this time, there were three phases of Greek history: Archaic Greece, Classical Greece, and the Hellenistic Period.

Archaic Greece

This Greek cultural era took place between the 12th and 8th centuries BC. Greece was in the Homeric age at this time, so named due to the poems attributed to Homer, the Iliad, and the Odyssey, which give us an image of the Greek Middle Ages, a dark and legendary period of Greek history.

Classical Greece

This period of Greek culture occurred between the 5th and 4th centuries BC, spanning the events of the Greco-Persian War to Macedonian hegemony, and was the age of Greece’s greatest cultural development, forming the basis of Western culture.

Hellenistic Period

This age lasted between the 4th and 1st centuries BC and spans the events from the death of Alexander the Great to the Roman conquest of Greece.

Heroic Age

The Homeric period is dubbed the Heroic Age due to the poems attributed to Homer, the Iliad, and Odyssey, which give us an albeit legendary image of Archaic Greek history.

It was characterized by the transition of the patriarchal regime, based on shepherding and a mysterious and primitive religion, to urban life, with commercial and industrial development and an organized religion.

When the polis, or cities, arose, family clans were organized into social classes, where the nobility found political and economic power based on land ownership and agrarian activity. The primitive monarchy was then replaced by the oligarchy, a government controlled by the Greek nobility.
During this dark and blurred period, indigenous and foreign cultural elements fused due to invasions and the later Greek historical states were formed.

The Homeric Poems

Two of ancient Greece’s great literary works, known as the Homeric poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, are attributed to Homer, a great poet of the ancient world who was also dubbed the blind bard.

In the early days, these poems were only known in oral tradition, but when the Greeks learned the Phoenician alphabet they wrote them down. In approximately the 6th century BC, the tyrant of Athens, Pisistratus, ordered the compilation of Homer’s poems, which are considered a universal literary jewel.

The Iliad

In this poem, Homer describes a portion of the war between the Greeks and the Trojans. The cause of the war was Paris the Prince of Troy’s abduction of Princess Helen, the wife of the Greek king Menelaus. The Greeks decided to avenge the affront and declared war on Troy, for which they prepared an army under Agamemnon, which included valiant soldiers, such as Achilles, Ulysses, Patroclus, Ajax, among others.

Near the end of the war, a dispute arose between the Greeks Achilles and Agamemnon due to Agamemnon having stolen Achilles’ slave Briseis, who had won her as a share of the booty. Faced with this humiliation, Achilles decided to retire from combat, thus turning the Greek triumphs into successive failures.

Before these misfortunes, Patroclus, a great friend of Achilles, decided to join the war, but was killed by the Trojan prince. The death of Patroclus shook Achilles, who in anger returned to the fight and killed Hector, rescuing the body of his friend from the hands of the Trojans.

The poem ends with the Trojan chief’s funeral, whose corpse was dragged along the walls of Troy, and then delivered to Hector’s father and the King of Troy, Priam, by Achilles. Later in the heat of battle, Paris fired a poisoned arrow that wounded Achilles in his heel, his only weak spot, killing him.
The war continued with the Greeks being unable to defeat the Trojans. This was why the Greeks resorted to building a huge wooden horse containing their most courageous warriors, leaving it on the battlefield, and then pretending to retreat. The Trojans, believing it to be a reward for their bravery, transported it as a trophy into the inner city and celebrated it with a great party.

The Greeks made the most of the darkness, descended from the wooden horse and opened the gates of Troy to allow the Greek army to enter. The Trojans were taken by great surprise and finally, after a great battle, the Greeks seized Troy and recovered the captive Helen.

The Odyssey

The Odyssey is an epic poem consisting of 24 cantos, through which the author tells the hardships that Ulysses or Odysseus went through to return to his homeland, Ithaca, following the end of the Trojan War, where his wife, Penelope, and his son Telemachus are waiting for him.
Ulysses, also called Odysseus, hounded by Poseidon’s wrath, was lost in the sea for ten years. After this, he was able to reach his homeland thanks to his cunning, which saved him from the difficulties posed by the adversary Greek gods.

Panhellenic Institutions

In spite of the political differences between the states, Greek national ties existed. These were: language, religion, amphictyonies, and the Panhellenic games.

The Greek Language

The Greek language, with dialectal variants, was spoken in all Greek areas, and out of all of them, the Ionian dialect was the literary language. The Greek alphabet has its origins in that of the Phoenicians, who after improving it, added the five vowels.

Religion

Characteristics

  • Greek religion was characterized by being polytheistic, anthropomorphic and pantheistic.
  • It was polytheistic as they worshiped many gods. They believed that natural phenomena like the sun, the air, and the sea had been created by superior beings dwelling in Mount Olympus, who they called gods.
  • It was anthropomorphic because the Greeks were certain that their gods were human in form, and had the same passions, virtues, and faults as men. Of course, they conceived them as being taller, more beautiful, more intelligent, and happier than men.
  • It was pantheist as the Greeks worshiped natural phenomena, such as light, the sun, the sea, etc.

Main Deities

Greek deities are classified as being Panhellenic or universal, private or household, and demigods or heroes.

Panhellenic or Universal Gods

These were the greater gods that all Greeks worshiped. They dwelt in Mount Olympus (a Greek mountain 2919 meters high). Among the main Panhellenic or universal gods are:

  • Zeus, considered to be the highest authority father of all gods and men, possessor of lightning.
  • Hera, wife of Zeus, protector of marriage and birth. She was identified as the sky.
  • Apollo, god of truth and protector of the fine arts. He was identified as the sun or light.
  • Artemis, goddess of hunting and nature. She was the moon, the goddess of night.
  • Demeter, goddess of agriculture and protector of farmers.
  • Dionysus, god of wine, drunkenness, and the dramatic arts.
  • Poseidon, brother of Zeus, god of the sea and storms.
  • Amphitrite, wife of Poseidon and goddess of the calm sea.
  • Hades, who reigned over the underworld and the world of the dead.
  • Hephaestus, god of fire and metals, and patron of blacksmiths.
  • Athena, goddess of the military, art, culture and science. She symbolizes intelligence and reason.
  • Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love.
  • Ares, the bloodthirsty god of war.
Private or Household Gods

Like other ancient peoples, the Greeks believed that a person’s life did not end with death. They thought that the deceased continued living elsewhere, where they had the same needs as the living, so it was necessary to worship ancestors and offer food before their graves.
Household worship was directed by the head of the family, who acted as a priest before an altar where a sacred fire was burned in an oil lamp. No impure acts were permitted before it.

Demigods or Heroes

These were legendary characters who were distinguished by their great deeds, their valor, and heroism in different battles, and were declared heroes. They were usually the children of a god and a mortal, and include:

  • Heracles, later known as Hercules, possessed an extraordinary force. He was a defender of good and justice.
  • Theseus, who killed the Minotaur in Crete, a monster who devoured seven maidens and seven
  • young men as an offering from the Athenians.
  • Perseus, who killed the Medusa, whose gaze turned anyone who looked at it to stone.
  • Achilles, the bravest of the Greek heroes, who stood out in the Trojan War.
  • Orpheus, he civilized men and even charmed beasts with his enchanting melodies.
  • Jason, who recovered the Golden Fleece with his ship Argos after mythological adventures.

Amphictyonies

This was what the closest and longest-lasting city-state associations called themselves. In reality, they were leagues of cities, whose inhabitants periodically congregated around a common shrine in order to hold parties and celebrations related to common worship. At the same time, they used the occasion to establish a common market and, above all, to forge friendships with their neighbors for the sake of mutual border protection.

The Panhellenic Games

These were athletic and artistic competitions organized by the amphictyonies as a way of strengthening national solidarity.
There were four main games: the Pythian, the Nemean, the Isthmian and the Olympic games.

Pythian Games

The Pythian Games took place in the sanctuary of Delphi in honor of the god Apollo. They commemorated the mythological victory of Apollo over the serpent Python. It took place every five years. The victors received a laurel wreath.

Nemean Games

So-named for being held near the forests of Nemea in the locality of Argolida, the Nemean Games were in honor to Heracles. They aimed to honor the memory of the fallen patriots who had defended the country against the Persians.

Isthmian Games

These games were celebrated in the Isthmus of Corinth in honor of Poseidon. The contestants, artists or athletes, competed for the prize of a pine and olive crown. There were five sports in the contest: races, jumping, discus throwing, archery, and boxing.

Olympic Games

These were the most important games for the Greeks and were celebrated in honor of Zeus. They commemorated the contest of the gods in Olympia. Every four years, Greeks from the most distant towns concentrated in the city with the same name, forgetting their wars and problems for five days, maintaining a strict truce.

Before the competitions, all the athletes swore to neither abuse nor kill their adversaries and to accept the judges’ decisions.

The events included the following exercises: single or double running, wrestling, boxing, javelin and discus throwing, pentathlon (jumping, running, wrestling, discus throwing, and javelin) and finally chariot races. They were all a cause for great enthusiasm and revelry.

The winners were rewarded with an olive crown as a symbol of victory.

Greek City-States

Greece’s rugged geography prevented the formation of a powerful and unified state. Instead, it gave rise to the formation of a set of independent city-states, located in different regions and with autonomous governments.

Each city, with its small territory and population, constituted a nation the rivalries between them usually ended in wars and constant anguish. Instead, they identified themselves through the similarity of their customs and beliefs, which is why they called themselves Hellenes and called the peoples of other races barbarians. In this instance, we are speaking about Greek or Hellenic civilization, but not the Hellenic State.

Main cities of the Greek world

In European Greece: Sparta, located in the center of Laconia Corinth, on the Isthmus of Corinth Athens, in the region of Attica and Thebes, in the region of Boeotia.

In Asiatic Greece: Mytilene, located on the island of Lesbos, the most important in the region of Aeolia Ionia, Smyrna, Ephebus, and Miletus along the coast Chios and Samos on the islands Dorida, Knidos, and Halicarnassus.

From the 6th century BC onwards, political and cultural supremacy fell to Sparta and Athens.


Here are some commonly asked questions to do with facts about the ancient Greeks.

What was Ancient Greece famous for?

The Ancient Greek civilization made enormous contributions to arts and sciences in the fields of literature, philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, theatre, and medicine. Their influence is still felt today in Western societies thousands of years later.

Did the Greeks invent democracy?

It is commonly believed that Greek Athenians developed democracy around the 5th century BC. However, the historian Diodorus writes that the Medes had a form of elected regional government after overthrowing the Assyrians in what we today call Classical Iran. This would have placed it at around 100 years earlier.

Who were some famous Ancient Greek philosophers

Classical Greece produced some of the finest thinkers of the world. Some of the most notable Greek philosophers include Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

What is the style of Greek architecture?

Archaic and Classical Period Greek architecture appears in Doric, Corinthian and Ionic styles.

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About Dave

Dave's Travel Pages is a travel blog focusing on Greece and Bike Touring, with additional travel guides to countless interesting destinations around the world.

Find out more about Dave and this blog by clicking here

Recent Travel Posts

Dave’s Travel Pages has a number of affiliate links placed within the travel blog. If you decide to buy items through these links, you will be helping Dave to fund this site and perhaps the next adventure. More importantly, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. Win win – we like that!


Watch the video: Η Γυναίκα στην Αρχαία Ελλάδα -- Womans Life in Ancient Greece (May 2022).