A History of Athens since the Early Modern Period

Athens was chosen as the Greek capital for historical and sentimental reasons. Ottoman Athens The first Ottoman attack on Athens, which involved a short-lived occupation of the town, came in 1397, under the Ottoman generals Yaqub Pasha and Timurtash.[25] Finally, in 1458, Athens was captured by the Ottomans under the personal leadership of Sultan Mehmed[…]

A History of Ancient and Medieval Athens

Athens has been inhabited from Neolithic times, possibly from the end of the fourth millennium BCE, or over 5,000 years. Introduction Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for perhaps 5,000 years. Situated in southern Europe, Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece in the first[…]

Classical Archaeology and Ancient Greek Mythology

Despite the scientific rigor of archaeology today, archaeological exploration is still an art and an adventure of the human mind. Introduction to Classical Archaeology Classical Archaeology is the study of past societies in the Mediterranean region on the basis of surviving material evidence. What this means, for all practical purposes, is that classical archaeologists –[…]

An Historical Overview of Ancient Greek Mythology

Greek myths were initially propagated in an oral-poetic tradition by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BCE. Introduction Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and[…]

Lots over Votes: Elections in Ancient Greece and Rome

Expressions of popular will were still constrained by an essentially oligarchic and aristocratic system. As a Classicist, I am acutely aware of the dangers of idealizing Athenian democracy or the Roman Republic.  It is an oft-repeated point that the Athenians did not allow citizen women, slaves or resident non-Athenians (‘metics’) to vote on policy or[…]

Ostracism: Selection and De-Selection in Ancient Greek Elections

Ancient Greek democracy had a number of practices which made it very different from modern democratic systems. Introduction One of the very first things that a citizen of a modern western liberal democracy instantly thinks of, when she or he does think about modern western liberal democracy at all, is voting: voting in ‘free and[…]

Thucydides: Ancient Greek Historian, ‘Father of the School of Political Realism’

His works continued to be studied by professionals in international relations, political theorists, historians, and students of the classics. Introduction Thucydides (460 – c.  400 BC) was an Athenian historian and general. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the fifth-century BC war between Sparta and Athens until the year 411 BC. Thucydides has been dubbed[…]

Ancient Greek Classics on Grief and the Importance of Mourning the Dead

Memories of the past were an important guide to the future. This is in part why the funeral oration became so important in Athenian life. Introduction As a scholar of classical studies, I tend to look to the past to help understand the present. Ancient literature, especially ancient Greek epics, explore what it means to[…]

The Cult of Athena in Ancient Greece

In Athens, the cult of Athena Polias was the most important religious faction. Much like the Vestal Virgins of Rome, the priestesses of Greek religion enjoyed a great many perks that other Greek women did not. In exchange for the commitment to their religious and civic responsibilities, they were often paid, given property, and most[…]

The Hellenes: Ancient Greek Trade and Colonization of the Mediterranean

Trading stations played an important role as the furthest outposts of Ancient Greek culture. By Dr. Colette HemingwayIndependent Scholar Ancient Greek colonization began at an early date, during the so-called Geometric period of about 900 to 700 B.C., when many seminal elements of ancient Greek society were also established, such as city-states, major sanctuaries, and[…]

Ancient Greek Sanctuaries as Artistic Hubs

Greek sanctuaries were perennially lively venues, each with their idiosyncratic myths and rites. Introduction For the ancient Greeks, religion was inextricably tied to everyday life. Gods and many other supernatural beings could manifest anywhere, at any time, and often in unexpected forms. Yet even within such a boundless concept of religion, there were locations deemed[…]

Ancient Greek Astronomy and Cosmology

A brief tour of some of the astronomical ideas and models from ancient Greece. Introduction As the stars move across the sky each night people of the world have looked up and wondered about their place in the universe. Throughout history civilizations have developed unique systems for ordering and understanding the heavens. Babylonian and Egyptian[…]

Dogs and Their Collars in Ancient Greece

The most basic dog collar no doubt developed on its own in Greece, but the later ones were most likely influenced by the Egyptians. Introduction Dogs in ancient Greece are regularly depicted in art, on ceramics, in literature, and other written works as loyal companions, guardians, hunters, and even as great intuitive thinkers, and all[…]

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[…]