Diogenes: Making a Virtue of Poverty in Ancient Greece

He begged for a living and often slept in a large ceramic jar, or pithos, in the marketplace. Introduction Diogenes, also known as Diogenes the Cynic, was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He was born in Sinope, an Ionian colony on the Black Sea coast of modern-day Turkey,[1] in 412 or 404 BC and died at Corinth in 323 BC.[2] Diogenes was a[…]

Love, Sex, and Marriage in Ancient Greece

Marriage traditions in ancient Greece differed depending on the city-state, and majority of the sources are about the upper classes. By Ollie WellsHistorian and Journalist Introduction Love, sex, and marriage in ancient Greece are portrayed in Greek literature as distinct, yet closely intertwined, elements of life. For many upper-class men, marriages did not take place for love, and other[…]

Beauty in the Bronze Age: Minoan and Mycenaean Fashion

Mycenaean fashion was heavily influenced by its Minoan predecessor. By Georgia McDonnell Introduction Dress and appearance in Bronze Age Greece (c. 3100 BCE – c. 1100 BCE) played a part in defining gender roles and emphasising idealized beauty that planted the seed for modern-day standards. The Minoans turned the island of Crete into a Mediterranean powerhouse and dominated Aegean culture until around 1450 BCE[…]

Methods, Economics, and Strategy in Ancient Greek Warfare

The scale and scope of warfare in Ancient Greece changed dramatically as a result of the Greco-Persian Wars, which marked the beginning of Classical Greece. Introduction Warfare occurred throughout the history of Ancient Greece, from the Greek Dark Ages onward. The Greek ‘Dark Age’ drew to an end as a significant increase in population allowed urbanized culture to be restored, which led[…]

Ancient Greek Boxing Legends and History

According to the Iliad, Mycenaean warriors included boxing among their competitions honoring the fallen. Introduction Ancient Greek boxing dates back to at least the 8th century BC (Homer’s Iliad), and was practiced in a variety of social contexts in different Greek city-states. Most extant sources about ancient Greek boxing are fragmentary or legendary, making it difficult to reconstruct[…]

‘Oneness’ and Duality: Melissus and the Philosophy of Monism in Ancient Greece

Melissus echoes Parmenides by objecting to a pluralistic view of reality essentially based on perception. By Daniel CostasEducator and WriterUniversity of Qatar Introduction Melissus of Samos (5th century BCE) was a Greek philosopher from the island of Samos near the modern-day coast of Turkey. He advocated the philosophical doctrine known as monism, suggesting that reality is single and unchanging. While[…]

“I Swear by Apollo Physician”: Ancient Greek Medicine from the Gods to Galen

A great deal of Europe’s knowledge of ancient Greek medicine and culture entered Europe through Italy in the fifteenth century. Introduction Many foundations of modern Western medicine lie in Classical Greece, from about 800 B.C.E. to about 200 C.E. During this period, Greek medicine departed from the divine and mystical and moved toward observation and[…]

Hyperborea: Mythological Land beyond the North Wind in Ancient Greece

Hyperborea was thought of as an earthly paradise of eternal youth and abundance. Introduction Hyperborea was, in Greek mythology, the land located to the far north of the known world and was so remote it was considered even beyond the North Wind. There a legendary race known as the Hyperboreans lived and worshipped the sun god Apollo.[…]

A Comparison of Ancient Roman and Greek Norms in Sexuality and Gender

The expectations and even the very way they defined terms such as ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’ differed greatly from modern understanding. By Cody GoettingBowling Green State University Sex,sexuality, and gender norms continue to be a pressing matter in the modern political and social scene, with debates revolving around several important topics such as means of expression,[…]

An Ancient Greek Approach to Risk and the Lessons It Offers

The ancient Greeks often did not leave risky choices up to individuals alone. Introduction As a scholar of ancient Greek history, I am interested in what the classics can teach us about risk-taking as a way to make sense of our current situation. Greek mythology features godlike heroes, but Greek history was filled with men[…]

The Island of Gla: An Ancient Mycenaean Mystery Solved?

Finding evidence for an earlier drainage project, one dating to the last phase of the Greek Bronze Age around 1300 BCE. By Duncan JD Smith Introduction The island of Gla, an enigmatic Mycenaean citadel in the north-eastern corner of the Copais basin lies 70 miles north of Athens, in the region of Boeotia. Lake Copais[…]

Helen of Troy: ‘The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships’

Helen was widely considered the most beautiful of all mortal women. Introduction Helen of Troy (sometimes called Helen of Sparta) is a figure from Greek mythology whose elopement with (or abduction by) the Trojan prince Paris sparked off the Trojan War. Helen, considered the most beautiful woman in the world, was the wife of Menelaus,[…]

Time, Tense, and Temporality in Ancient Greek Historiography

An approach to Greek historiography that establishes a new angle by tackling the relationship between historiography and time. Introduction One of the most important trends in recent scholarship on ancient historiography is to explore how historical meaning is constructed through the form of narrative. This essay argues that the narratives of ancient historians can and[…]

Democracy and Mob Rule: The Problem of Freedom in Ancient Athens

Democracies and Republics, the best of all political structures, have a way of destroying themselves if not cherished and properly governed. By Aris Teon After World War II democracy began to be viewed in the West as the best possible form of government. However, a history of democratic states shows that freedom is not something[…]

Gender and the Ancient Parthenon

Exploring the Parthenon and its sculptural program from the perspective of gender. Introduction Few monuments can claim such a central role in Western Civilization as the Parthenon. Constructed between 447 and 432 BCE, the Parthenon was created as a symbol of the status of Athens in the Greek world. The temple dedicated to Athena was[…]

The Ancient Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth?

Strong and brave, the Amazons were a force to be reckoned with in Greek mythology – but did the fierce female warriors really exist? By Amanda Foreman I loved watching the “Wonder Woman” TV series when I was a girl. I never wanted to dress like her—the idea of wearing a gold lamé bustier and[…]

The Phrygian and Thracian Cult of Sabazios in Ancient Greece

The Macedonians were also noted horsemen, horse-breeders, and horse-worshipers up to the time of Philip II. Introduction Sabazios (alternatively, Sabadios[3]) is the horseman and sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians. In Indo-European languages, such as Phrygian, the -zios element in his name derives from dyeus, the common precursor of Latin deus (‘god’) and[…]

The Ancient Greek Cabeiri Cult

The name of the Cabeiri recalls Mount Kabeiros, a mountain in the region of Berekyntia in Asia Minor. Introduction In Greek mythology, the “Kabeiri” Cabeiri or Cabiri /kəbaɪraɪ/ (Ancient Greek: Κάβειροι, Kábeiroi), also transliterated Kabiri /kəˈbɪəriː/,[1] were a group of enigmatic chthonic deities. They were worshiped in a mystery cult closely associated with that of[…]

How Did Ancient Greeks and Romans Celebrate Special Occasions?

Getty curators answer your questions about ancient parties. If the ancient Greeks and Romans were still around today, we might say they “know how to party.” With dozens of gods and goddesses to celebrate, plus birthdays and other religious holidays like Saturnalia, the Greeks and Romans had many opportunities for revelry and merrymaking throughout the[…]

The Archaeology of Bronze Age Mycenaean Pylos

At the site of Pylos, archaeologists are still working at both the Palace of Nestor and its surrounding mortuary landscape. By Kelly Macquire Introduction Pylos was a significant Mycenaean Bronze Age city located in the region of Messenia, Greece. The site is situated on the hill of Ano Englianos and during its Late Bronze Age occupation between c. 1600-1200 BCE it covered[…]

‘Helen’: A Twist on the Trojan War from Euripides

His play replaces Helen in Troy with a decoy while the real Helen awaits the end of the Trojan War in Egypt. Introduction Helen is a Greek tragedy by Euripides (c. 484-407 BCE). It is usually thought to have first been performed at the Great Dionysia of 412 BCE and was part of the trilogy[…]

Gymnopaidai: Dance in Ancient Greece

Dance is largely defined in ancient Greek literature as an element of the mousike. By Nathalie Choubineh Introduction In ancient Greece, dance had a significant presence in everyday life. The Greeks not only danced on many different occasions, but they also recognized several non-performative activities such as ball-playing or rhythmic physical exercise as dance. In fact,[…]

The Ancient Greek Kouroi of Kleobis and Biton

In 1893 and 1894 French archaeologists uncovered two extremely similar kouroi while excavating the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi. Introduction In one of his memorable anecdotes, the ancient Greek historian Herodotus recounts the events of a fateful day in the city-state of Argos (on the Peloponnesian Peninsula). A priestess of the goddess Hera found herself[…]

Greek Fire: An Ancient Byzantine Mini-Nuke

Weakened by long wars with Sassanid Persia, the Byzantine Empire’s development of Greek Fire came at a critical moment. Introduction Greek fire was an incendiary weapon used by the Byzantine Empire beginning c.672 CE. Used to set light to enemy ships, it consisted of a combustible compound emitted by a flame-throwing weapon. Some historians believe it could be ignited on contact[…]

Ancient Greek Funeral and Burial Practices

Ancient Greek funerary practices are attested widely in the literature, the archaeological record, and the art of ancient Greece. Mycenaean Period The Mycenaeans practiced a burial of the dead, and did so consistently.[1][2] The body of the deceased was prepared to lie in state, followed by a procession to the resting place, a single grave or a[…]

The Cowardice of Alcibiades and the Revenge of Ancient Athens

He could not keep his word as he kept changing sides and lived in exile. Alcibiades, the son of Cleinias and an Alcmeonid woman named Deinomache, was not yet twenty years old when the Archidamian War (the first phase of the Peloponnesian War) broke out. With his mentor Socrates, he was present when general Phormio[…]

Ethical Didaxis and the Role of Poetry in the Lying Tales of Odysseus

Indirect communication is a central feature of the lying tales Odysseus tells. In book 13 of the Odyssey, Odysseus finds himself abandoned by his Phaeacian escort in a land which he does not recognize and with no certain way to protect the gifts he has obtained from King Alcinous. Soon met by Athena disguised as[…]

A Horse Is a Horse…or Not: Digging into the Ancient Story of the Trojan Horse

There are many interpretations of the story and what the horse actually was, if it even existed at all. The tale of the Trojan Horse is one of the most frequently told stories from the mythical Trojan War. It tells about the trick employed by the Greeks who were tired of besieging Troy for a[…]

Kratos: Brutal Tyrant of Ancient Greek Mythology

Kratos is characterized as brutal and merciless, advocating for the use of unnecessary violence. Introduction In Greek mythology, Kratos (or Cratos) is the divine personification of strength. He is the son of Pallas and Styx. Kratos and his siblings Nike (“Victory”), Bia (“Force”), and Zelus (“Zeal”) are all essentially personifications of a trait.[5] Kratos is[…]