Olympia: Sanctuary and Site of the Original Olympics

Ruins of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, Greece / Wikimedia Commons Looking at the ruins as they stand silently among the low trees at Olympia, it is not hard to imagine how the Olympic Games cultivated the collective consciousness of the Hellenes. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 06.19.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Olympia (Greek:[…]

Cheating, Bribery, and Scandal: How the Ancient Greeks Did the Olympic Games

In a world where few believed in an afterlife, this-worldly glory mattered immensely. Shutterstock When fame and glory are at stake, human nature seems to dictate that some people will cheat. By Dr. Julia Kindt / 08.18.2016 Associate Professor and Chair Department of Classics and Ancient History University of Sydney Is cheating at the Olympic Games a symptom of modernity?[…]

Athena the Patron: The History of the Parthenon

The Parthenon seen from the hill of the Pnyx to the west / Wikimedia Commons The most recognized remaining architecture of Classical Athens and the culmination of the development of the Doric order. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 06.14.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction The Parthenon (Greek: Παρθενώνας) is a temple of the Greek goddess Athena built in the fifth century B.C.E. on the Acropolis[…]

The Erotic Art of Ancient Greece and Rome

A fragment of a wall painting showing two lovers in bed from the House of L Caecilius Jucundus in Pompeii, now at Naples National Archaeological Museum. Wikimedia Commons From phallus-shaped wind chimes to explicit erotica on lamps and cups, sex is everywhere in ancient Greek and Roman art. But our interpretations of these images say much about our own culture. By Dr. Craig Barker / 02.22.2018[…]

Elite Companions, Flute Girls, and Child Slaves: Sex Work in Ancient Athens

A painting depicting a debate between Socrates and Aspasia, by Nicolas André Monsiaux, circa 1800. Wikimedia Commons In Athenian society, it appears some elite courtesans were better educated than traditional wives. Other sex workers were sold into the role as children. By Dr. Marguerite Johnson / 12.20.2017 Professor of Classics University of Newcastle When the Athenian politician Pericles delivered his famous Funeral Oration at the[…]

The Truth about Sex in Ancient Greece

Studies of a reclining male nude: Adam in the fresco ‘The Creation of Man’ on the vault of the Sistine Chapel. c. 1511. Michelangelo. © The Trustees of the British Museum Here are the facts behind four commonly held beliefs about Ancient Greek sexuality. By Dr. James Robson / 04.01.2015 Senior Lecturer in Classics The Open University While we gaze at serene[…]

Basic Ideas in Ancient Greek Mathematics

10th century CE Greek copy of Aristarchus of Samos’s calculations of the relative sizes of the sun, moon and the earth. / Konstable, Wikimedia Commons The ancient Greeks laid the essential groundwork and even began to build the structure of much of modern mathematics. By Dr. Michael Fowler Maxine S. and Jesse W. Beams Professor of Physics , Physics Education,Theoretical Condensed[…]

While Elgin Marbles Debate Still Rages, a Market for Looted Antiquities Remains

Detail, Phidias(?), Parthenon Frieze, c. 438-32 B.C.E., pentelic marble (420 linear feet of the 525 that complete the frieze are in the British Museum) (photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA) The international art market that deals in ancient cultural objects casts a destructive shadow. By Dr. Simon Mackenzie / 02.14.2014 Professor of Criminology, Law and Society University[…]

The Ancient Greek Achaean League: Aligned for the Common Defense

The Achaean League was a Hellenistic period confederation of Greek city states on the northern and central Peloponnese between 280 BCE and 146 BCE. / Image by Raymond Palmer, Wikimedia Commons A combined political representation and land army. By Mark Cartwright / 03.07.2016 The Achaean League (or Achaian Confederacy) was a federation of Greek city-states in the north and central parts of the Peloponnese in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE.[…]

The Truth about the Amazons – the Real Wonder Women

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman: a true Amazonian, she is trained in a range of skills in both combat and hunting. Atlas Entertainment, Cruel & Unusual Films, DC Entertainment Since the epics of the Homeric poets, there have been tales of the mysterious, war-like Amazon women. The myth is likely based on the ‘strong, free’ women of the nomadic Scythian tribe. By Dr. Marguerite Johnson / 03.29.2017 Associate Professor of Ancient History[…]

Is Nature Continuous or Discrete? How the Atomist Error was Born.

Opening from Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura at the Cambridge University Library, manuscript dated to 1563. / Wikimedia Commons The modern idea that nature is discrete originated in Ancient Greek atomism. By Dr. Thomas Nail / 05.18.2018 Associate Professor of Philosophy University of Denver The modern idea that nature is discrete originated in Ancient Greek atomism.[…]

The Uncertain Origins of the Modern Marathon

The modern marathon distance comes from the 1908 London Olympics. Shutterstock The story behind the marathon is more complicated than it seems. By Dr. James Kierstead / 08.27.2017 Lecturer in Classics Victoria University of Wellington Last November [2016], I ran my first marathon, the “Athens Authentic”. I did it mainly because I wanted to follow in the footsteps of the world’s[…]

How the Greeks Used Geometry to Understand the Stars

10th century CE Greek copy of Aristarchus of Samos’s calculations of the relative sizes of the sun, moon and the earth. / Konstable, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Michael Fowler Maxine S. and Jesse W. Beams Professor of Physics , Physics Education,Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics University of Virginia Crystal Spheres: Plato, Eudoxus, Aristotle Plato, with his belief that the world[…]

Greek Science after Aristotle

By Dr. Michael Fowler Maxine S. and Jesse W. Beams Professor of Physics , Physics Education,Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics University of Virginia Strato Aristotle, Theophrastus, and Strato. Part of a fresco in the National University of Athens. / Wikimedia Commons Aristotle’s analysis of motion was criticized by Strato (who died around 268 B.C., he is sometimes called Straton), known as[…]

Ancient Greek Astronomy: Measuring the Solar System

Eratosthenes teaching in Alexandria, by Bernardo Strozzi / Montreal Museum of Fine Arts via Wikimedia Commons The Greeks made the first real measurements of astronomical distances: the size of the earth and the distance to the moon, both determined quite accurately, and the distance to the sun, where their best estimate fell short by a factor of[…]

The Voyages of a Crouching Venus

An over-life-size statue of the goddess Venus is the centerpiece of J. Paul Getty, the Collector (Gallery 105). The J. Paul Getty Museum, 55.AA.10 This over-life-size sculpture was part of aristocratic English collections throughout the nineteenth century before joining J. Paul Getty’s new museum in 1955. By Judith Barr / 04.24.2018 Curatorial Assistant in Antiquities[…]

The Beauty of Greek and Roman Glass

Greek and Roman Glass (214) in the reinstalled Getty Villa Centuries-old glassworking techniques dazzle the modern eye at the Getty Villa. By Sara E. Cole / 05.03.2018 Curatorial Assistant, Antiquities Department J. Paul Getty Museum With its delicate contours, vibrant colors, and intricate surface ornamentation, Greek and Roman glass made in antiquity is still a delight to[…]

Science with Aristotle

By Dr. Michael Fowler / 07.23.2015 Maxine S. and Jesse W. Beams Professor of Physics , Physics Education,Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics University of Virginia Beginnings of Science and Philosophy in Athens Let us first recap briefly the emergence of philosophy and science in Athens after around 450 B.C. It all began with Socrates, who was born in 470[…]

Every God is Plural: Anthropology of Polytheism in Ancient Greece

The three Moirai. Relief, grave of Alexander von der Mark (de) by Johann Gottfried Schadow. / Old National Gallery, Berlin, via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Marcel Detienne Basil L. Gildersleeve Professor of Classics Emeritus Johns Hopkins University The discovery that gods make good objects of research was not made by contemporary anthropology. The very first anthropologists never failed to recommend making an[…]

Shaking an Ancient Cup and Living to Tell the Tale

Rattling Wine Cup, about 350 B.C., Greek (South Italian). Terracotta, 8 7/16 × 11 7/16 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 86.AE.702 Graduate interns in antiquities conservation and curatorial share what they learned from examining a rattling kantharos. By Julia Commander and Ruth Allen / 04.23.2018 Normal practice when handling ancient artifacts is to move carefully[…]

Anthropology of Ancient Greece

Porch of Maidens, Acroplis, Athens / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Marcel Detienne Basil L. Gildersleeve Professor of Classics Emeritus Johns Hopkins University Our history begins with the Greeks. – Ernest Lavisse Back in the mists of time, long before the emergence of articulate language, the human race discovered that it possessed the power to imagine[…]

Quantifying the Wealth Accumulated by Alexander the Great

The detail of the Alexander Mosaic showing Alexander the Great / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Frank L. Holt / 04.16.2018 Professor of History University of Houston Socrates believed that the unexamined life is not worth living. Modern technology has morphed that philosophy into a data-driven movement called the Quantified Self. Fitbits and iPhones record our REM sleep, skin[…]

Adonis: A Legendary Love Story

Death of Adonis, by Luca Giordano, c.1685 / The Yorck Project via Wikimedia Commons By Elias N. Azar / 02.21.2016 Introduction A marble statue of Adonis. 17th century CE restoration of an ancient marble torso. (Louvre Museum, Paris) / Photo by Mary Harrsch, Flickr, Creative Commons The myth of Adonis, a tale as old as time, is a legendary[…]

Early Greek Science: Thales to Plato

Fragment from an ancient copy of Euclid’s Elements / Pinterest, Creative Commons By Dr. Michael Fowler / 07.23.2015 Maxine S. and Jesse W. Beams Professor of Physics , Physics Education,Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics University of Virginia The Milesians Stadium Miletus / Wikimedia Commons The first recorded important contributions to Greek science are from the city of Miletus, near[…]

Ancients, Medievals, and Motion in the Heavens

Celestial map from 1670, by the Dutch cartographer Frederik de Wit / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Michael Fowler / 07.23.2015 Maxine S. and Jesse W. Beams Professor of Physics , Physics Education,Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics University of Virginia Introduction The purpose of this lecture is just to review the various motions observed in the heavens in the simplest,[…]