Ancient Greece

"My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife, you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher." –Socrates

Well, Socrates knew what life was about, or so it seems. In fact, people in ancient Greece seemed like they knew several things about life, economics, politics, etc. because most of the western civilization exists thanks to them. We still study important figures at school or in college, in math class, or even our language; everything comes from that period in history. And when you travel to Greece, you can see that country is still filled with all the nostalgia and incredibly ancient buildings from that moment. Si, if you are, like me, a huge fan of history, this is the article for you. Enjoy!


 

 

 

 

Ahead of their time

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Ancient Greeks were really ahead of their time when it comes to study their ideas, architecture, mathematics and literature compared with those topics nowadays. For example, the word "idiot" meant anyone who wasn't participating in politics

Unibrow

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Nowadays the unibrow does not come off as a something nice to have in your face. But back then, the unibrow was a sign of intelligence and great beauty in women. Some of them even used make up to draw themselves one.

Olympics

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During the period of the ancient Olympics war was not allowed, so spectators could go to Olympia without any weapons. Legal disputes and death penalties were also forbidden during this period

Red lipstick

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Back then, wearing red lipstick was a sign that you were from the prostitute class. That is because they have a law that claimed they must wear that lip paint in public and if they didn't, they were punished for posing as ladies

Subway systems

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When they were trying to expand or build the subway systems, they usually ended up digging up ancient ruins. For example, the Thessaloniki system was pushed for a long time when they discover something described as a commercial centre from the Byzantine Empire.

Spiked collars

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The spiked collars you see nowadays for dogs were invented in Greece, actually. They called it medium, and they were used by sheepdogs on farms to protect their necks from wolf bites

No walls

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After 800 BC, Sparta did not have any walls, at least after 800 B.C., because "The Spartan king Agesilaus simply pointed to his fellow citizens, armed to the teeth, the most formidable soldiers in Greece, and said, 'Here are the walls of the Spartans.' "

Apples for love

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In Greece, if you wanted to declared your love to someone, or even propose to them, the only thing you had to do was...throw an apple at them. I think they got mixed signals most of the time

Extreme workout

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Historians believe that progressive resistance training was firstly used in ancient Greece, when Milo of Croton trained by carrying a newborn calf on his back every single day until it was fully grown. That's what I call commitment

Revival

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Around 20 years ago, in the nineties, a bunch of people in Greece decided it was a great idea to make a revival of the Hellenistic religion, and they now worship the Gods of ancient Greece.

Wine

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Drinking pure wine in ancient Greece was a big deal, and you were considered a drunk who lacked restraint and principle. This is because wine was usually mixed with water

Griffin

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They say that the myth of the griffin sets back to the time when fossils of Protoceratops skulls were found in gold mines near ancient Greece. This creature is also described in Egyptian and Persian mythology

Nazi

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Nazi propagandists used to say back then that the Olympic Torch relay to tie the Third Reich to the glory of ancient Greece. They also popularized the five rings that symbolize the Games.

Brazen Bull

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The inventor of the Brazen Bull, Perilaus of Athens, was its first victim. It was a statue of a brass bull, they locked him in, and then the executioners would light a fire beneath. His screams were amplified by a system of tubes to sound like the roar of a bull.

Red Carpet

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Nowadays the most glamorous moment is when you watch the Red Carpet. This idea is also associated with ancient Greece. The play Agamemnon mentions a "Crimson Path", and it was luxury fit only for the gods.

Millenarian diet

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Do you want to live forever or at least more than a hundred years? Citizens of ancient Greece achieved this due to a healthy Mediterranean diet, the culture of physical activity, and sanitation.

Follow me

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Being a prostitute in Ancient Greece was a science and required being smart. They wore sandals that left the words "follow me" imprinted on the ground when they walked, so you would know where to go.

Lysistrata

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There is a play called Lysistrata where Greek women end a war by withholding intimacy until the men agree to peace. I think we should start doing something like this to end many things.

Hard writing

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Manuscripts were written bi-directionally, that means one line would be written from left to right and the following line would be written from right to left. Letters were mirrored from one line to the other. This is called a boustrophedon text.

Prometheus

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In mythology, the Gods punished Prometheus by having his liver eaten by eagles. It was then regrown so it could be eaten again every day. This is because back then the liver was considered the center of human emotions.

Good old Bilbon

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Kettlebells were invented back then. A 143 kg Kettlebells was found in the city of Athens with an inscription that said, "Bibon heaved up me above the head by one hand." Great job, Bibon

The Battle of Salamis

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Historians think that the Battle of Salamis, (between an alliance of Greek city-states and the Persian Empire under King Xerxes) is the most important battle in human history. A Persian victory may have destroyed the possibility of the development of ancient Greece, and by extension, western civilization.

Happy birthday to you

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Do you like to blow candles when it's your birthday? This also began in Greece when people brought cakes adorned with candles to the temple of Artemis, goddess of the hunt.

Artemis

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The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was burned down by an arson that was executed for this. In fact, Greeks stated it was a capital offense to mention his name.

Akrasia

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I have a word that cannot be translated to English. They had a word, akrasia, and it means the lack of will that prevents us from doing something that we know is good for us. So, I'm very used to akrasia myself

Unknown God

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In Greece mythology, they believed no all gods were discovered yet, so they had an Unknown God, which was a placeholder for those gods yet unknown and to be discovered

Democracy

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Democracy is the most common system of government nowadays, and ancient Greek democracy, was the world's first democratic government, which lasted for 185 years before giving up to a tyrannical ruler.

Athenian boys

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Athenian boys went to school at the age of 7, which was the same age that soldiers took Spartan boys from their mothers, to train them as soldiers. In fact, they were not allowed to live with their families until they ended military service

Western culture

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This is an obvious fact, but Greek culture was considered classical back then and had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire. It also provided the foundation of modern Western culture.

Economy

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They were also pretty advanced when it comes to economics as well. In the 5th and 4th centuries BC, Ancient Greece was the most advanced economy in the world.

Mentor

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The most crucial part of a wealthy teenager's education was a mentorship with someone older. Sometimes that meant they had a sort of affair, which wasn't forbidden at all.

Pythagoras

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Some of the economic, political and social theories they used back then are considered a base to those topics nowadays. In fact mathematicians such as Pythagoras, Euclid, and Archimedes, are still used in mathematical teachings today.

Salty

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Salt was a huge deal back then. Ancient Greeks and Romans often bought slaves with salt, it was also used to flavor and preserve food, and as an antiseptic

Salary

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Salt was so important that a part of the soldier's pay consisted of a bunch of salt, and it was known as solarium argentum, where the word salary comes from. A soldier's salary was cut if he "was not worth his salt,"

Sun

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The first idea that the sun was the center of the universe and the planets orbited around the sun was created by Aristarchus of Samos in the 3rd century BC.

Slavery

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How was it possible that slavery was so important in a society where individual freedom was highly crucial as well? Maybe it was because of the fundamental role of slavery that they ended up valuing individual freedom so much.

Slavery population

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Slave population varied across the regions of Greece. For example, in Attica from 450 to 320 BC, there were roughly 100,000 slaves. The total population of the region was around 250,000

War prisoners

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Most of the slaves were in fact prisoners of war. For example, Philip II of Macedon (Alexander the Great's father), sold 20,000 women and children into slavery after the invasion of Scythia in 339 BC.

Pirates and tribes

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Other ways of slavery were pirates and tribes who were willing to exchange their own people for specific goods. Trading was also a way of supplying for slaves in Greece.

Wage labor

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In Athens, if you lived by working for other was considered as a negative trait, except if you were an employer of the state. The majority of free citizen avoided wage labor, so slaves were used to fill the gaps.

Several types of jobs

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Slaves performed many different jobs. Historians know about slaves being employed as cooks, craftsmen, maids, miners, nurses, porters, and as attendants to their masters, baggage carriers, and fighters. Even some public positions were performed by slaves.

Family slaves

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It was common for a middle-class family to have between 3 and 12 slaves. In fact, Aristophanes stated that not owning any slaves was a sign of poverty. The two major owners of slaves in ancient Greece were the state, and the businessmen

A decent life

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Not all slaves suffered abuse; plenty of them even could expect a decent life. Craftsmen, for example, could work and live separately from their masters and could engage in commerce.

Mining

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Mining was a highly profitable activity. But it was a tremendous task to find people willing to work in such a dangerous job. That is why most of them were slaves. Most of them worked underground, deprived from sunlight and fresh air.

Gain their freedom

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Some slaves could gain their freedom by paying their masters an agreed amount, but it wasn't possible for all of them, only for those in position of saving. Also, slaves employed in the army who were granted their freedom as a reward for their service

Aristotle

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Aristotle wrote that some people were simply born to be slaves, while others were born to rule the slaves, a doctrine known as "natural slavery". He stated that "without masters, slaves would not know how to live their lives".

Hades, the good guy?

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Let's talk about mythology. Hades didn't exactly choose the underworld as his domain. He and his brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, drew straws to see who would be lord of what realm. Zeus got the heavens and the upper world, Poseidon got the seas, and Hades drew the underworld.

Ares and Athena

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While Ares is the god of war and the aspects of havoc and bloodshed. His sister, Athena, is a goddess of defense, strength, and righteous battle. Both of them feature in The Iliad.

Artemis

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Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo and daughter of Zeus. She is a huntress, and at the same time, the protector of animals. She is also the goddess of childbirth and the destroyer of young women.

Medusa

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We've all heard about the story of Perseus and Medusa. Medusa is the only mortal of three sisters, and all of them were the daughters of Phorcys, a sea god, and his sister, Ceto, and they served as guardians to the underworld.