Can We Know What Music Sounded Like in Ancient Greece?

Terracotta amphora, c490 BCE. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Despite a wealth of ancient writings, archaeological remains of instruments, and even inscriptions with musical notation, the question has long been thought intractable. By Dr. Armand D’Angour / 08.08.2018 Associate Professor of Classics Jesuit College University of Oxford They told me, Heraclitus, they told me[…]

And the Lot Fell On…Sortition in Ancient Greek Theory and Practice

Pnyx hill in Athens by Qwqchris. / Wikimedia Commons In the matter of the dēmokratia (‘People-Power’) that the Greeks invented (the word as well as the thing) ancient Greece was a desperately foreign country – they did democracy very differently. By Dr. Paul Cartledge / 03.31.2016 A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture Emeritus University of Cambridge Some four decades[…]

Corrupting the Youth: Xenophon and Plato on Socrates and Alcibiades

Alcibades being taught by Socrates, by François-André Vincent, 1776 / Musée Fabre, Wikimedia Commons Socrates’ most famous students before Plato – or rather his most infamous students – were likely those with unpopular, even criminal, political careers, namely, Critias and Alcibiades. By Dr. Gregory A. McBrayer / 12.31.2017 Assistant Professor of Political Science Ashland University Introduction Socrates’ most famous[…]

Cronus and Rhea: The Second Dynasty of Greek Gods and Goddesses

The rise of Zeus. By E.M. Berens / 05.21.2014 Cronus (Saturn) Cronus was the god of time in its sense of eternal duration. He married Rhea, daughter of Uranus and Gaea, a very important divinity. Their children were, three sons: Aïdes (Pluto), Poseidon (Neptune), Zeus (Jupiter), and three daughters: Hestia (Vesta), Demeter (Ceres), and Hera[…]

Athens: Hellenistic Hegemony

The Erechtheum, western side, Acropolis, Athens, Greece / Photo by Jebulon, Wikimedia Commons Athens attained its Golden Age under Pericles in the 5th century BCE, and flourished culturally as the hegemonic power of the Hellenic world. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 08.04.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Emergence and Growth The Rise of Athens (508-448 BCE) In 514[…]

Ancient Sparta: Militaristic Culture and Unequaled Women’s Rights

Spartan ruins / Photo by Ronny Siegel, Wikimedia Commons Spartan women enjoyed status, power, and respect that was unequaled in the rest of the classical world. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 08.04.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Emergence and Growth Introduction Sparta, known for its militaristic culture and unequaled women’s rights, was a dominant military power[…]

DNA Analysis Sheds Light on the Mysterious Origins of the Ancient Greeks

A fragmented painting of a woman bearing offerings, from the Mycenaean palace at Tiryns. (Carole Raddato/Wikimedia Commons) Researchers found that Minoans and Mycenaeans were closely related. By Brigit Katz / 08.04.2017 During the Bronze Age, two important civilizations emerged in Greece: the Minoans and, later, the Mycenaeans. These ancient peoples were among the earliest of the so-called “high[…]

Art as Propaganda in Ancient Greece: The Feeding of the Greek Soldier’s Ego

By Judith M. Lamb Senior Thesis Hollins University The stories of an all-female warrior race had long been told and depicted in artistic forms prior to sixth century Greece. These tales, that may have had some basis in real life events, were eventually woven into the cloak of influence that the classical Greeks wore in[…]

The Life and Rule of Pericles

Bust of Pericles bearing the inscription “Pericles, son of Xanthippus, Athenian”. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek original from c. 430 BCE / Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican Museums, Wikimedia Commons Pericles, 494 -429 BCE, was an Athenian statesman, one of the founding fathers of Athenian democracy, a famous orator, and military commander. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 07.25.2018 Historian[…]

Archaeologists Discover Parasite Described by Hippocrates to Infect Ancient Greeks

Earliest archaeological evidence of intestinal parasitic worms infecting the ancient inhabitants of Greece confirms descriptions found in writings associated with Hippocrates, the early physician and ‘father of Western medicine’. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 07.28.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Ancient faeces from prehistoric burials on the Greek island of Kea have provided the first archaeological[…]

Literary and Archaeological Evidence for Ancient Greek Burial Practices

A “prothesis” scene, the lying-in-state of the deceased on a bed, surrounded by his family members, some of whom tear their hair in mourning. / Walters Art Museum, Wikimedia Commons A discussion of  the literary and archaeological evidence for ancient Greek burial practices that can be associated with the English expression ‘to be disposed of like[…]

Knowledge of Greek in the Medieval Latin West

Image from an illuminated manuscript, the Madrid Skylitzes, showing Greek fire in use against the fleet of the rebel Thomas the Slav.  The caption above the left ship reads, στόλος Ρωμαίων πυρπολῶν τὸν τῶν ἐναντίων στόλον, i.e. “the fleet of the Romans setting ablaze the fleet of the enemies”. / Wikimedia Commons After late antiquity, knowledge of Greek declined[…]

Making Books in the Ancient World

Papyrus Bodmer VIII / Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Wikimedia Commons What did books look like in antiquity? In this article, Cillian O’Hogan tells how ancient books were made, and traces the process by which the bookroll was replaced by the codex. By Dr. Cillian O’Hogan Assistant Professor of Medieval Latin Centre for Medieval Studies University of[…]

Art in Medieval Greek Manuscripts

Use of a hand-siphon, a portable flame-thrower, from a siege tower equipped with a boarding bridge against the defenders on the walls. Medieval illumination in the manuscript Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1605. / Wikimedia Commons Many of the British Library’s Greek manuscripts contain beautiful illuminations. Here, Cillian O’Hogan provides a brief overview of the history of illumination[…]

Greek Manuscripts at the Dawn of Medieval Print

Add MS 34654 / British Library The development of printing in the 15th century signaled huge changes for the spread of Greek knowledge in Western Europe. Here, Eugenia Russell describes the key events in the early years of Greek printed books. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 07.16.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief The first real printed[…]

Greek Mechanical Texts

OIympian Columns A fascinating group of manuscripts from the 15th and 16th centuries preserve a range of ancient and Byzantine works on mechanics. Here, Ian Ruffell gives an introduction to the discipline of Greek mechanical writing. By Dr. Ian Ruffell Senior Lecturer in Classics University of Glasgow Greek writing on mechanics began in the early[…]

Caryatid Columns of Ancient Greece

A detail of the south porch of the Erechtheion temple on the Athenian acropolis. The building was constructed between 421 to 406 BCE to house the ancient wooden cult statue of Athena and as a shrine to various local deities including Erechtheus. / Photo by Dennis Jarvis, Flickr, Creative Commons The term Caryatid first appears in the 4th century BCE and[…]

Thessaloniki, Greece: Shedding an Ottoman Presence to Recall a More Distant Past

White Tower in Thessaloniki, Greece The Ottoman Empire captured Thessaloniki in 1430 and ruled it until 1912.  The port became one of the Ottoman Empire’s principal trading centers. By Dr. Stacy E. Holden / 01.22.2018 Associate Professor of History Purdue University The people of Thessaloniki, Greece embrace the enigmatic White Tower as their city’s landmark. Seventy-five[…]

Food and Agriculture in Ancient Greece

Olive trees on the Greek island of Anaxos. Cereals / Wikimedia Commons The prosperity of the majority of Greek city-states was based on agriculture and the ability to produce the necessary surplus. By Mark Cartwright / 07.25.2016 Historian The prosperity of the majority of Greek city-states was based on agriculture and the ability to produce the necessary surplus which[…]

A Non-Philosopher’s Guide to Plato

Plato surrounded by students in his Academy in Athens. Mosaic (detail) from the Villa of T. Siminius Stephanus, Pompeii, 1st century B.C. Roman National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. No. 124545. Source: Wikimedia Commons An archaeologist-classicist introduces Plato’s ideas and shows how contemporary artists are exploring them today. By Shelby Brown / 07.02.2018 Classical archaeologist and classicist Education Specialist[…]

The Agora in Ancient Greece and Rome

A model of the agora of Athens at its maximum extension during the 2nd century CE. (Agora Museum, Athens) / Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons The word Agora was an ‘open place of assembly’ in the ancient Graeco-Roman world. By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 09.02.2009 Professor of Philosophy Marist College The word Agora (pronounced ‘Ah-go-RAH’) is Greek for ‘open place of assembly’ and, early[…]

The Aegean in the Ancient World

A map of the political structure of Greece in the Archaic Age (ca. 750 – 490 BC). / Photo by Megistias, Wikimedia Commons The Aegean Sea contains over 2,000 islands which were settled by the ancient Greeks. By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 04.28.2011 Professor of Philosophy Marist College The Aegean Sea lies between the coast of Greece and Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). It[…]

An Investigation of Black Figures in Classical Greek Art

Pitcher (Oinochoe) in the Form of the Head of an African, about 510 B.C., attributed to Class B bis: Class of Louvre H 62. Terracotta, 8 7/16 in. high. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 83.AE.229. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program Ancient Greece’s visual heritage included representations of black people that nimbly[…]