The Tyrants of Ancient Greece

A tyrant was a sole ruler in a Greek city-state, usually a usurper, who held power in defiance of a city’s constitution. The Greek word tyrannos is probably derived from Lydian tûran, “lord”, and simply means “sole ruler”. The word is neutral, has associations with wealth and power and can therefore be synonymous with expressions[…]

The Legendary (or Not) Ancient Funerary Mask of Agamemnon

In the latter half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, the authenticity of the mask has been formally questioned, Introduction The Mask of Agamemnon is a gold funeral mask discovered at the ancient Greek site of Mycenae. The mask, displayed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, has been described[…]

The François Vase: Story Book of Ancient Greek Mythology

The neat labels of Greek text that accompany and identify many of the characters on the vase still help us understand its imagery today. Introduction 270 figures run, fight, and dance across the surface of the François Vase. While the decoration seems dense and busy to our modern eyes, an ancient viewer would have known[…]

Were Women the True Artisans Behind Ancient Greek Ceramics?

A new paper makes the case that scholars have ignored the role of female ceramicists in Greece going back some 3,000 years. By Dr. Max G. Levy Painted over the enormous midsection of the Dipylon amphora—a nearly 2,800-year-old clay vase from Greece—silhouetted figures surround a corpse in a funeral scene. Intricate geometric patterns zig and[…]

Greek Government in the Medieval Duchy of Athens

Exploring the establishment of the Duchy following the Fourth Crusade. Introduction The Duchy of Athens was a Latin or Frankish state in Greece that existed from 1205 to 1458 CE. It was created in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204 CE) and would be ruled for the majority of its history by the Burgundian[…]

Out of the Ashes: The Enduring Stories of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’

Odysseus’s natural leadership, smarts, and cool head are exceptional, and he is entertainingly deceptive and tricky. Introduction The Homeric epics, which tell stories of war, heroism, and coming home, have endured for perhaps 3,500 years. From their start as performances by oral poets to the books we read today, the tales have been told and[…]

The Areopagite Constitution and the Reforms of Ephialtes in Ancient Athens

Ephialtes’ reforms are considered by Aristotle and modern scholars to mark the end of the Areopagite constitution. The Areopagite constitution is the modern name for a period in ancient Athens described by Aristotle in his Constitution of the Athenians. According to that work, the Athenian political scene was dominated, between the ostracism of Themistocles in[…]

Depictions of Ships on Ancient Greek Vases

Potters began to enrich vases in the Geometric Period with depictions of people, animals, ships, and more. Center for Hellenic Studies The Dipylon Vase Following the heroic age of the Myceneans is the silence of the Greek Dark Ages. In the proto-Geometric period (c1150–c950 BCE), the pre-Greek tribes make war, then consolidate and start forming[…]

How the Ancient World Invoked the Dead to Help the Living

The dead wait to be ferried across the River Styx. The Souls of Acheron (1898) by Adolf Hiremy Hirschl For the ancients, ghosts could be quite useful. By Dr. Evelien Bracke / 10.28.2016 Senior Lecturer in Classics Swansea University Dressing up, knocking on neighbours’ doors and asking for food is a very old tradition. Communities on the British Isles were[…]

Golden Tickets to the Underworld in Ancient Greece

Tablet with Instructions for the Deceased in the Underworld, 350–300 B.C., Greek. Gold, 7/8 × 1 7/16 × 1/16 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Gift of Lenore Barozzi, 75.AM.19 How some ancient Greeks navigated their passage to a happier afterlife. By David Saunders / 10.30.2018 Curator, Department of Antiquities J. Paul Getty Museum Introduction[…]

Phalanx Transformation of Ancient Greek Warfare, 431-331 BCE

From simple, organized Greek farmers to a powerful, flexible army. By Ian Joseph BA Cultural Anthropology, The University of Chicago MBA Pepperdine University Mantinea Introduction Three great battles—Mantinea (418 BCE), Leuctra (371 BCE), and Gaugamela (331 BCE)—demonstrate the development of Greek and Macedonian warfare from the simple hoplite phalanx employed by Greek farmers defending their fields, into[…]

The Persian Wars and the Maritime Supremacy of Ancient Athens

Figure 1: Greek Colonization of western Asia Minor / Image by Alexikoua, Wikimedia Commons The development of naval supremacy and of democracy became interdependent. In the period of about 600–480 BCE, Ionian colonists emigrated from Attica to the Aegean coast of Asia Minor, which is modern Turkey [1]. There they inhabited a narrow coastal strip from[…]

What the World Can Learn from Greece’s Passion for the Arts

Despite its economic crises, Greece did not falter in its mission to support arts and culture. Rhodes, pictured here, has become a role model when it comes to promoting a visionary cultural policy and supporting a vibrant arts and culture community. Serhat Beyazkaya/Unsplash The Greek model of supporting the arts is both old and ongoing; it embraces difference and internationalism[…]

Hero Cults in Ancient Greece

Sacello Ipogeico (Heroon), Paestum, Italy / Photo by Berthold Werner, Wikimedia Commons Hero cults were one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.24.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Hero cults were one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion. In Homeric Greek, “hero” (ἥρως, hḗrōs) refers to a man who[…]

Elements of Environmental Ethics in Ancient Greek Philosophy

Athens city walls / Photo by GreeceGuy, Wikimedia Commons Critically examining elements of both anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric environmentalism in ancient Greek thinking. By Dr. Munamato Chemhuru Professor of Philosophy University of Johannesburg Abstract In this article, I consider how ancient Greek philosophical thinking might be approached differently if the environmental ethical import that is salient in[…]

Xenophon’s Virtue Personified

Exploring Xenophon’s ideas of virtue in leadership, excellence, and happiness. By Dr. Nili Alon Amit / 12.31.2016 Humanities Department Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and Arts Some elements in man’s nature make for friendship. […] For thanks to their virtue (διὰ γὰρ τὴν ἀρετήν) these prize the untroubled security of moderate possessions above sovereignty won by[…]

Xenophon’s Anabasis: Historical Context

  A brief historical context of Xenophon’s Anabasis By Ian Joseph BA Cultural Anthropology, The University of Chicago MBA Pepperdine University The Anabasis by the Athenian soldier, historian and philosopher Xenophon, also known as The Anabasis of Cyrus, The March of the Ten Thousand and The March Up-Country, describes the events of 401 BCE when ten thousand Greek mercenaries joined the army[…]

The Long Walls of Ancient Athens

Part of Themistocles’s wall in Kerameikos / Wikimedia Commons Built in several phases, they provided a secure connection to the sea even during times of siege. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.08.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Although long walls were built at several locations in ancient Greece, notably Corinth and Megara,[1] the term Long Walls (Greek: Μακρὰ Τείχη) generally refers to[…]

Immigration and Empire in the Ancient Graeco-Roman World

Ancient Athens practically invented Western culture, but xenophobia led to the collapse of the Empire. Flickr/SantiMB The ancients knew that the key to a successful state was extending citizenship to those who need it. By Dr. Alastair Blanshard / 06.15.2011 Senior Lecture in Classics and Ancient History University of Sydney In the short period of its[…]

The Petrifying Gaze of Medusa: Ambivalence, Explexis, and the Sublime

Photo by bl3w, Flickr, Creative Commons Tracing the notion of ekplexis in Greek rhetoric and the connections in etymology, myth, and pictorial traditions, between the petrifying powers of art and the myth of Medusa. By Dr. Caroline van Eck Professor of Art History University of Cambridge Abstract The Dutch art theorists Junius and van Hoogstraten describe the sublime,[…]

Metics and Immigration in Ancient Athens

‘Metics’ in ancient Athens could also refer to immigrants invited by citizens and admitted on an otherwise non-discretionary basis, subject to a special poll tax. By Dr. Nathan Smith / 07.03.2012 Professor of Economics Fresno Pacific University Did ancient Greece have open borders? Yes, I think, in the limited sense that there was no passport regime.[…]

Voting and Civic Participation in Ancient Athens

The Acropolis of Athens. Dominating the acropolis is the Parthenon, built between 447 and 432 BCE in the Age of Pericles, and dedicated to the city’s patron deity Athena. / Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons Ancient Athenians actively served in the institutions that governed them, and so they directly controlled all parts of the political process. By Mark Cartwright / 04.03.2018 Historian[…]

A Brief Overview of Law and Courts in Ancient Athens

The Athens Acropolis as seen from the Court of Cassation (Areopagus, i.e. the “Stone, or Hill, of Ares”) / Photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis, Wikimedia Commons Focusing on Athenian law in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Introduction When we investigate how the law and the courts of Classical Greece worked, the law of ancient Athens provides most of[…]

Dogs in Ancient Greece

Photo by japiot, Wikimedia Commons Examining a few references in the Homeric epics and Herodotus. Kosmos Society Center for Hellenic Studies [1] Anger [mēnis], goddess, sing it, of Achilles, son of Peleus— 2disastrous [oulomenē] anger that made countless pains [algea] for the Achaeans, 3 and many steadfast lives [psūkhai] it drove down to Hādēs, 4 heroes’ lives, but their bodies[…]

Common Beliefs and Practices in Ancient Greek Religion

Aegeus at right consults the Pythia or oracle of Delphi. Vase 440-430 BC. He was told “Do not loosen the bulging mouth of the wineskin until you have reached the height of Athens, lest you die of grief”, which at first he did not understand. / Photo by Zde, Antikensammlung Berlin, Altes Museum, Wikimedia Commons We speak of Greek religions or “cults” in[…]

The Polish Nobility’s “Golden Freedom”: On the Ancient Roots of a Political Idea

The Republic at the Zenith of Its Power. Golden Liberty. The Royal Election of 1573, by Jan Matejko / Royal Castle, Wikimedia Commons This essay traces the Greek and Roman roots of Polish sixteenth- to eighteenth-century political thought by discussing the Polish nobility’s concept of the “Golden Freedom” (L. aurea libertas). By focusing on the Roman and the Greek[…]