Philolaus: Philosophy and Science in Classical Greece

Philolaus is said to have claimed that mathematical reason has a certain affinity with the nature of the universe, By Daniel CostaHistorian Introduction Philolaus of Croton (c. 470 – c. 385 BCE) was an ancient Greek philosopher from Magna Graecia, in modern-day southern Italy. He shared the Pythagoreans’ interest in music, numbers and the soul, which shone through his output. He[…]

Past and Present: Lessons from Ancient Greece for Today’s Grieving

Loose threads: Life unravels when a loved one dies. By Bethany GreyAuthor Introduction According to Greek mythology, before we were born, high above the clouds, the three Moirai spun thread on a spindle to determine our fate. As the goddesses of life and death, ancient Greeks entrusted them with ensuring that a mortal’s destiny would[…]

Sacrilege!: The Desecration of Statues of Hermes in Ancient Athens

On the morning of June 7, 415 BCE, the denizens of Athens awoke to vandalism causing mass fear and outrage. By Philip Mathew Introduction On 7 June 415 BCE, various statues of the god Hermes were desecrated in Athens. The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE) had been raging for decades as one of the biggest civil wars in Ancient Greece, and the[…]

‘De Agri Cultura’: Agriculture in Ancient Greece

Agriculture was the foundation of the Ancient Greek economy. Nearly 80% of the population was involved in this activity.[1] Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Introduction Most Greek language agricultural texts are lost, except two botany texts by Theophrastus and a poem by Hesiod. The main texts are mostly from the Roman Agronomists: Cato the Elder’s De agri cultura, Columella’s De re rustica, Marcus Terentius Varro and Palladius. Varro mentions[…]

Controlling the Municipal Water Supply in the Ancient Graeco-Roman World

Exploring the main elements of municipal water supply and their artificial development. By Dr. Henning FahlbuschProfessor of ArchitectureTechnical University of Applied Sciences Lübeck (Technische Hochschule Lübeck) Introduction Since the beginning of early cultures men not only used natural water resources but also improved them by artificial methods. Based on observations of nature they constructed small[…]

Charon: Boatman for the Dead in Ancient Greek Mythology

The idea which may well have been influenced by Mesopotamian and Egyptian mythology. Introduction Charon is a figure from Greek mythology where he is the boatman who ferries the souls of the dead across the waters of Hades to the judgement which will determine their final resting place. The Greeks believed the dead needed a coin to pay Charon for his[…]

The River Styx: Path to the Underworld in Ancient Greek Mythology

The deities of the Greek pantheon swore all their oaths upon the river Styx. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Introduction In Greek mythology, Styx is a deity and a river that forms the boundary between Earth and the Underworld. The rivers Acheron, Cocytus, Lethe, Phlegethon, and Styx all converge at the center of the underworld on a great marsh, which sometimes is also called the Styx. According to Herodotus,[…]

Hemp or Cannabis in Ancient Greece and Rome

The image of an intoxicated ancient world goes against the idea that moderation was the key to life. By Dr. Alan SumlerProfessor, Modern Languages DepartmentUniversity of Colorado Denver The ancient Greeks and Romans used hemp fiber for their boat sails, ropes, wicker-work, clothes, and shoes. Although no piece of Classical scholarship has focused on hemp[…]

Drugs and Medicine in the Graeco-Roman World

The best physicians were well schooled in pharmaceutical lore, with an armamentarium of drugs. By Dr. John ScarboroughProfessor of Medical HistoryUniversity of Madison-Wisconsin Introduction The doctor stepped softly out of the sickroom, where Licinius was breathing his last. Rattling, rasping, wheezing, gasping for air, the senator had accepted death and requested that his friend and[…]

Agora: The Marketplace in Ancient Athens

The agora was a political and a commercial space in Athens and other ancient Greek city-states. Introduction The agora was a central public space in ancient Greek city-states. It is the best representation of a city-state’s response to accommodate the social and political order of the polis.[1] The literal meaning of the word “agora” is “gathering place” or “assembly”. The[…]

Philia: An Overview of Friendship in Ancient Greece

Aristotle divides friendships into three types, based on the motive for forming them: friendships of utility, friendships of pleasure and friendships of the good. Philia, often translated “brotherly love”, is one of the four ancient Greek words for love: philia, storge, agape and eros. In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, philia is usually translated as “friendship” or affection.[1] The complete opposite is called a phobia. Aristotle’s View As[…]

An Historical Overview of the Three Periods of Ancient Athenian Comedy

The Alexandrine grammarians seem to have been the first to divide Greek comedy into what became the canonical three periods. Introduction Ancient Greek comedy was one of the final three principal dramatic forms in the theatre of classical Greece (the others being tragedy and the satyr play). Athenian comedy is conventionally divided into three periods: Old Comedy, Middle Comedy, and New Comedy. Old Comedy survives today[…]

Lessons from Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ about Reentering the World after a Period of Isolation

A scholar of Greek literature writes why we need to turn to the past to understand the present – and the lessons that Homer’s hero, Odysseus, holds for us. Introduction In the ancient Greek epic “The Odyssey,” Homer’s hero, Odysseus, describes the wild land of the Cyclops as a place where people don’t gather together[…]

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[…]

The Cult of Asclepius: Alexander the Great and Medicine

Alexander’s connections with Asclepius and his use of these links to portray himself as a healer. Abstract During the expedition and campaign across Asia, Alexander and his army had been involved in a lot of circumstances that deserved the attention of some professionals of the medicine. The relationship between Alexander’s army and the Physicians is[…]

“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[…]

Art in Ancient Minoa

There is a vibrancy in Minoan art which was not present in the contemporary East. Introduction The art of the Minoan civilization of Bronze Age Crete (2000-1500 BCE) displays a love of animal, sea, and plant life, which was used to decorate frescoes and pottery and also inspired forms in jewellery, stone vessels, and sculpture. Minoan artists delighted in[…]

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,[…]

Anonymus Londinensis: Ancient Greek Physician and Author

His work is the most important surviving medical papyrus and provides information about the history of Greek medical thought. ‘On Medicine’ Overview While only fragments survive of some portions of the text, the papyrus containing the work of Anonymus Londinensis is exceptionally well preserved, with 3.5 meters of the roll largely intact, containing almost 2,000[…]

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[…]