Ancient Greece - land of the Three Hundred Spartans, Alexander the Great and the Parthenon on the Acropolis, was the birthplace of the Olympic Games and where many of classical civilization's intellectual, architectural, artistic and political ideas originated centuries ago that laid the foundations of western civilization.
Six of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world were inspired by Greek culture and four of them were Greek creations.
The seeds of western culture were sown from the 8th century BC with the works of the Greek poet, Homer, who wrote the first two greatest epics in world literature, the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Foundation of Western Civilization:
1. Logic and Reason - Athens
The Greek word "philosophia," means the love for knowledge and wisdom.
Ancient Athens represented logic and reason as expressed by the great ancient Greek philosophers.
Logic influences a person's choices that ultimately affect their lifestyle.
Reason is associated with applying logic based on new or existing information.
History’s most brilliant thinkers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle laid that foundation of Western thought.
*Thales Of Miletus
First Greek philosopher of the Milesian School that focused on natural science.
Father of western thought of the ethical tradition.
Founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Academy - the first center of higher learning in the Western world.
Greek philosopher who tutored Alexander the Great and founder of the Lyceum Peripatetic school of Philosophy in the Aristotelian tradition.
2. Judeo-Christian Tradition - Jerusalem
Christianity has a religious continuity with Judaism, the ancient spiritual heritage of the Jews.
Judeo-Christian values has its roots in the Holy Bible.
Christianity gives humanity their greatest asset - Faith in God and Jesus Christ!
Christianity takes its name from the Greek word "Christ" meaning "Anointed One" (with the Blessing of God).
Ancient Greece was comprised of many small city-states (known as polis) who shared a common language, culture and religion.
Each city-state governed itself, made its own laws and had its own army.
Athens and Sparta were the dominating powers of the Greek world.
Athens was known for its culture, wisdom and beauty.
Sparta for its powerful military strength whose iron-hearted warriors has come the adjective - SPARTAN.
Greek civilization was the first European civilization to create a culture that valued liberty..
Athenian leader, Cleisthenes (570 - 508 BC), is the "father of Athenian democracy."
He introduced political reforms that he called "demokratia", or “rule by the people” in 507 BC.
Athenian statesman, Pericles (495 – 429 BC), sponsored social programs, the arts and education.
He re-built Athens into the most beautiful city in the then known world.
In this democratic system, literature, art, architecture, sculpture, philosophy, medicine, law and mathematics flourished, and as such, has had a profound effect on the shaping of the modern world.
The Greek language became the international language of the Hellenistic Period beginning 323-BC up to the Byzantine Period which ended in 1453-AD.
Greek also, became a basis for many other languages and the lexicon of scientific repetoire.
From around 600 BC, ancient Greek colonies included Cyprus, the Aegean coast of Asia Minor (then known as Ionia), Sicily and southern Italy, southern France, northeast Spain, Georgia, Romania, Ukraine and and the scattered settlements of what are now Albania, Bulgaria, Egypt and Libya,
Sicily and Southern Italy were a major focus for Greek colonization because of their fertile land, natural resources and good harbors.
The region became known as “Magna Graeca” or "Greater Greece."
Marseille, France was founded as the Greek colony of Massalia and populated by Greeks from Phocaea (now modern Foça, Turkey) in 600 BC.
It became the pre-eminent Greek polis in the Hellenized region of southern Gaul.
Anatolian Asia Minor
Anatolian Asia Minor (now modern-day Turkey) of the Greek world is the coastal region along the Aegean Sea had many wonderful, ancient cities Greek cities like Ephesus, Miletus, Harlicarnassus, Priene, Pergamon, Phocaea, Nicaea, Smyrni and Byzantium (later to become famous worldwide as Constantinople) to name just a few.
These cities were centers of Greek and Christian culture as well as important commercial centers.
Biblical Asia Minor
Biblical Asia Minor was the place where the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christian.
The first gentile Christian church was founded at Antioch.
Antioch was the place where Saint Paul started his three missionary journeys to spread the Christian faith.
Asia Minor was also, the birthplace of many Greek Saints which included Saint Paul (a Jew), Saint Luke the Evangelist, Saint Timothy, Saint George, Saint Basile, Saint Nicholas and Saint Helene (the mother of Constantine the Great).
The Golden Age of Greece in the 5th century BC, is sometimes known as the "Age of Pericles."
Pericles (495 – 429 BC) was an Athenian statesman who made Athens the political and cultural center of ancient Greece with a democratic constitution.
He built the Parthenon on the Acropolis honoring the goddess Athena, to represent the glory of Athens.
Architectural wonders like the Temple of Nike, the Erechtheum and many other great monuments were built and decorated with paintings and sculpture.
Historians such as Herodotus, the father of history and Thucydides, Hippocrates, the father of medicine and the philosophers, Plato and Socrates all lived and worked in 5th-century BC Athens.
Greek theater produced tragedies and comedies as well as music and poetry in the Theater of Dionysus below the Acropolis.
Today, we read the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides and marvel of the wisdom passed down from philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle and Plato.
And, the Parthenon is an enduring symbol of ancient Greece and one of the world's great monuments.
The Agora, located in the center of Athens was a thriving market with a great variety of products from all over the Mediterranean.
It was also, a public meeting place where people came to meet with friends and to engage in political debate.
Archestratus - Father of Gastronomy
The origin of the modern day word gastronomy (Rules of the Stomach) is attributed to Archestratus, Europe's first gourmet writer.
Archestratus was an ancient Greek poet and philosopher in the mid 4th-century BC from Gela or Syracuse in Sicily.
In his poem Hedypatheia (Life of Luxury) he advises where to find the best food in the Mediterranean world and reveals the secrets of the ancient Greek cuisine.
He made cooking an art advising people to the benefits of eating fish and pulses and drinking wine, which were highly appreciated by the ancient Greeks and remain the typical ingredients of a healthy modern Greek diet.
Just about every city in the world today has examples of Greek architecture on important public buildings and even homes.
The most common features of Greek architecture are the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns which hold up roofs and adorn facades in theaters, courthouses and government buildings across the globe.
The ancient Greeks used these architectural columns primarily for their temples, many of which are still standing today
Examples of ancient Greek architecture today, include the United States Capitol, the Supreme Court Building and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia, the “Monticello” at Charlottesville, Virginia, the Ionic columns that flank the Chamber of Commerce in Dougherty County, Georgia and the columned porches of plantations in the Southern states of America.
Other examples include the Oslo Trading Building in Norway, the Trevi Fountain in Rome which is adorned with Corinthian columns.
The Colosseum in Rome has Roman, Tuscan columns on the ground floor, the second floor features Ionic columns and the third floor has the Corinthian style.
Father of Medicine
Hippocrates was a Greek physician during the Age of Pericles, who is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine.
He wrote more than seventy books describing the scientific manner of many diseases and their treatment.
Hippocrates saved Athens from a plague epidemic and for that he was honored by the Athenians.
Historically taken by physicians to uphold specific ethical standards.
"I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow."
Ancient Greece gave the world the Olympic Games.
With one small flame (the Olympic Flame) it transmits peace and friendship to unite the world.
The Olympic Games had its origins at Olympia, Hellas (Greece) in 776 BC and today are held in various cities of the world every four years.
In 490 BC, Pheidippides famous run of 26 miles (42 km) to Athens to deliver the news of the Persian defeat at the Battle of Marathon inspired the creation of the marathon race in the modern Olympics.
The most famous ancient, Olympic runner was Leonidas of Rhodes (born 188 BC) who won a total of twelve Olympic victory wreaths in four consecutive Olympiads (164-152 BC).
King Philip II of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great) was an Olympic champion three times for the horse-race and the four-horse chariot race.
In 264 BC, a woman, Myrtale (later re-named Olympia), the daughter of king Neoptolemus of Epirus and maternal grandfather of Alexander the Great, won an Olympic victory wreath for Macedon.
The word "mathematics" is derived from the ancient Greek word "mathema" which means "knowledge or learning" and is the study of numbers, shapes and patterns.
The ancient Greeks excelled in original contributions to mathematics and astronomy from the Archaic through to the Hellenistic periods (6th century-BC to 323 BC).
Greek mathematicians provided the mathematical foundation that all future mathematicians and scientists would continue to develop up to the present day.
From about 350 BC the center of mathematics moved from Athens to Hellenistic Alexandria in northern Egypt, founded in 331-BC by Alexander the Great and built by his chief architect, Dinocrates of Rhodes.
Famous Greek Mathematicians Include:
*Pythagoras of Samos (570 BC - 495 BC)
Father of the famous "Pythagoras theorem."
*Euclid of Alexandria (around 300 - 270-BC)
Euclid is the father of geometry (Euclidean geometry).
He introduced the axiomatic method still used in mathematics today, consisting of definition, axiom, theorem, and proof.
His book, Elements, served as the main textbook for teaching mathematics (especially geometry) from the time of its publication until the early 20th century.
*Archimedes of Syracuse (287 - 212-BC)
Archimedes is the father of mathematics and is considered the greatest mathematician of antiquity.
*Diophantus of Alexandria (around 200 - 214-AD - 284 and 298-AD)
Father of algebra and the compilation of a series of books called Arithmetica dealing with solving algebraic equations.
He was also, the first Greek mathematician to recognize fractions as numbers.
*Aristarchus of Samos (310 BC - 230 BC)
The first Greek astronomer was Aristarchus of Samos who calculated the relative sizes of the Sun, the Moon and the Earth.
He maintained that Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the Sun.
*Hipparchus of Nicaea, Asia Minor (190 BC - 120 BC)
Hipparchus of Nicaea, Asia Minor, was a Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician who is the father of trigonometry.
He constructed a celestial globe of about 850 stars in 130 BC showing the constellations and stars arranged on a sphere.
Most of the names of the stars, planets, and constellations of the northern hemisphere are inherited from the terminology of Greek astronomy.
Many historians cite the Greco-Persian Wars as three of the greatest military victories in antiquity.
Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis are considered as three of history's most famous military and naval battles.
Despite the overwhelming odds, a small group of Greek city-states took on the power of the huge Persian Empire on land and in the sea and won.
Greek triumph ensured the future of the Golden Age of Greece and the future course of Western civilization's history.
Herodotus (484 – 425 BC) - Father of History
Greek geographer and historian, Herodotus was born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, Asia Minor.
He is the author of the first great history produced in the ancient world, the History of the Greco-Persian Wars detailing the lives of prominent kings and famous battles such as Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, Artemisium, Plataea and Mycale.
Herodotus was also the first person to actively travel and to write about his experiences visiting places such as the Nile, Babylon, Sicily and eastward to the northern shores of the Black Sea.
After the Golden Age of Greece, Alexander the Great's legacy to the world lives on through the Hellenistic Age (4th to 1st century BC).
Alexander's ambition was to Hellenize (make a non-Greek, a Greek) the world.
From his conquests, he founded over seventy cities and his vision of a Hellenized world was realized in cities as far apart as Pergamon in Asia Minor, Antioch in Syria and the most famous being Alexandria which bears his name.
Greek culture continued to dominate the Mediterranean and Middle East and Greek became the international language.
Alexandria was a center for Biblical Studies where the Septuagint was commissioned, which was the oldest Greek version of the Old Testament.
The Hellenistic Library of Alexandria was one of the largest libraries of Classical antiquity and its Museum had scholars such as Euclid (Greek mathematician and "Father of Geometry") and Eratosthenes (Greek mathematician, geographer and chief librarian) who worked there.
It formed part of the research institute at Alexandria known as the Alexandrian Museum (Mouseion, “shrine of the Muses”).
Cleopatra and the Ptolemaic Dynasty
The Ptolemaic Kingdom was an Ancient Greek state based in Egypt during the Hellenistic Period.
It was founded in 305 BC by Ptolemy I Soter, a general in Alexander the Great's military, and lasted until the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BC.
Cleopatra VII Philopator (69 BC – 10 August 30 BC) was queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt from 51 to 30 BC.
She was the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty.
Her native language was Greek, and she was the only Ptolemaic ruler to learn the Egyptian language.
Antioch was the city that Gentiles (non-Jew) were first baptized into the Christian church and were called Christian.
And, it was at Antioch that the Gospel of Matthew was written.
Helene (246/248 - 330 AD)
Helene, the mother of the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great was born in Drepanon, Bithynia in Asia Minor to a humble Greek family.
She became Empress of the Roman Empire and a Saint (her son Constantine the Great is also venerated as a Saint) of the Orthodox Church.
She married Constantius I who was a Roman Emperor from 305 to 306 AD.
Helene was the first Christian pilgrim to the Holy Land who built churches on the sites of Christ's Nativity (in Bethlehem) and Ascension (near Jerusalem) and is revered as the discoverer of the Cross upon which Jesus was Crucified.
Her son Constantine, renamed the city of Drepanon, in Asia Minor, his mother's birthplace, "Helenopolis" after her death to honor her.
The Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great established the Greek city of Byzantium in Asia Minor, as the second capital of the Roman Empire on May 11, 330 AD.
Byzantium however, was to become famous as Constantinople and capital of the first Orthodox Christian, Byzantine Empire.
When Rome fell to Germanic invaders, the Ostrogoths in 476 AD, the Byzantine Empire became known as "The Empire of the Greeks" because its people were Greek, their language and culture was Greek and they referred to themselves as Hellenes or Graekos to preserve their ancient Hellenic heritage.
Constantine the Great and his mother Helene are venerated as Saints by the Orthodox Church with their Feast Day being May 21.
During the Roman occupation of Greece and Asia Minor its people, language and culture remained Greek right to the end of the Byzantine Period in 1453 AD.
It was the Greek people who were the first Europeans to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and to worship as Christians.
There were four Greek-speaking, Christian centers in the East:
*Rome was the Latin-speaking center in the West.
Hellenism and Judaism formed the basis of Early Christianity because Greek was the international language of the Graeco-Roman Period (332 BC - 395 AD).
The New Testament was written in Greek.
The Old Testament was translated from Hebrew to Greek.
Greek was used to preach the Gospel of Christ throughout the Roman Empire.
The Apostles names were Hellenized and Greek names were also given to children throughout Judea and the Diaspora (e.g., Andrew, Peter, Paul, Thomas, Simon Philip, Alexander, Jason etc.).
Saint Luke the Evangelist
Saint Luke the Evangelist was a Greek physician and Christian Historian who was born in the then, Greek city of Antioch.
The Gospel according to Luke and the Book of Acts of the Apostles were authored by Saint Luke the Evangelist.
Saint Luke was also the first iconographer to paint the image of our Blessed Virgin Mary holding the Infant Jesus in her arms.
Saint Timothy who was born in the Lycaonian city of Lystra, Asia Minor to a Jewish mother and Greek father is a co-author of 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1
Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon in the Holy Bible.
The Greek origin of so much of Western civilization's classical heritage, brought overwhelming sympathy for Greek independence throughout Europe which gave rise to "philhellenism" (the love of Greece and its history).
Ottoman rule of Greece, lasted almost 400 years, from the mid-15th century until the successful Greek War of Independence which began in 1821.
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