Eris: Chaos and Confusion in Ancient Greek Mythology

The most famous tale of Eris recounts her initiating the Trojan War by causing the Judgement of Paris. Introduction Eris is the Greek goddess of strife and discord. Her Roman equivalent is Discordia, which means “discord”. Eris’s Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Roman counterpart is Concordia.[1] Homer equated her with the war-goddess Enyo, whose Roman[…]

The Most Vulnerable Suffered when Ancient Greek City-States Purged during Times of Disease

The Greeks treated their city-states like bodies. To protect them from disasters, it was the poor that were often sacrificed. Introduction With the spread of the coronavirus, the world is becoming pointedly aware of the extent to which human beings are interconnected. The rapid spread of the virus has highlighted how much we are dependent[…]

Gossip: A Powerful Tool for the Powerless in Ancient Greece

Idle gossip or rumor is personified by the Ancient poets. At the heart of the greatest works of Ancient Greek literature are mighty acts of revenge. Revengers overcome their enemies through superior physical prowess, as when Achilles kills Hector in a single combat to avenge the death of his comrade Patroclus; or through their employment[…]

Menelaus of Alexandria and Science in Ancient Greece

Menelaus, and others like him, reduced the physical world to a purely geometric one. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Menelaus of Alexandria was a Greek astronomer, scientist, and mathematician who lived around 100 CE. Menelaus made a significant and lasting contribution to the fields of astronomy, geometry, and trigonometry. His major work, the Spherics survives and presents[…]

The Hippocratic Ideal: Health Care Practices in Ancient Greece

The Hippocratic philosophy on health care provision applied standards and ethical rules that are still valid today. By Dr. Chrisanthos SfakianakisProfessor, Nursing DepartmentTechnological Institute of Crete Abstract Asclepius and Hippocrates focused medical practice on the natural approach and treatment of diseases, highlighting the importance of understanding the patient’s health, independence of mind, and the need[…]

Sculptor Hiram Powers and His Representation of Slavery in Ancient Greece

His work catapulted Powers to international fame in the 19th century. Introduction They say Ideal beauty cannot enter The house of anguish. On the threshold stands An alien Image with enshackled hands, Called the Greek Slave! as if the artist meant her (That passionless perfection which he lent her, Shadowed not darkened where the sill[…]

Plagues Follow Bad Leadership in Ancient Greek Tales

Plagues functioned as a setup for an even more crucial theme in ancient myth: a leader’s intelligence. Introduction In the fifth century B.C., the playwright Sophocles begins “Oedipus Tyrannos” with the title character struggling to identify the cause of a plague striking his city, Thebes. (Spoiler alert: It’s his own bad leadership.) As someone who[…]

Pausanius’ Guide to Travel in Ancient Athens

Pausanius is best known for his ten-volume work, Description of Greece, detailing his travels through the country, city-by-city. Introduction Pausanius was a 2nd century CE writer who traveled extensively, taking notes on points of interest, and recorded his travels in `guide books’ which could be used by tourists visiting the sites described. Born in Lydia,[…]

The Long Walls of Ancient Athens

Many Ancient Greek fortifications connected a city to another site – a citadel or a port. The best known example is the Athenian wall to Piraeus. The Athenian “Long Walls” were built after Xerxes’ invasion of Greece (480-479); their construction was proposed by Themistocles, but the actual building started in 461, when Athens was at[…]

The Ancient Athenian Treasury at Delphi

The Athenian treasury was the first Panhellenic sanctuary that was dedicated by Athenians. Introduction The Athenian Treasury at Delphi was constructed by the Athenians to house dedications and votive offerings made by their city and citizens to the sanctuary of Apollo. The entire treasury including its sculptural decoration is built of Parian marble. The date[…]

What Made Ancient Sparta So Different from Other City-States

At school, we have all studied the amazing history of the two most important city-states in Greece, Athens and Sparta. Even after 2500 years, one of the most widely discussed war topics at academic institutions is the Peloponnesian War that broke out between the two. When I was given the task to write my assignment[…]

Minoan Linear A: How Do You Crack the Code to a Lost Ancient Script?

Deciphering Linear B, the earliest form of Greek, was a history-changing achievement, but decoding the older Linear A would open a new window on the origins of European culture. How do you go about deciphering the script of a wholly different language that was lost more than 3,000 years ago? Linguist and archaeologist Dr Brent[…]

Elektra: A Sense of Justice in Ancient Greek Mythology

Meet one of the greatest of all the characters in ancient Greek drama. Elektra’s Story To understand Elektra (also known as Electra), daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, you need to know that her family is cursed. Her story is tragic. Elektra’s father is Agamemnon and her mother is Clytemnestra. She has a brother, Orestes, and[…]

Ancient Mycenaean Civilization, 1700-1100 BCE

The Mycenaeans were indigenous Greeks who were likely stimulated by their contact with Minoan Crete and other Mediterranean cultures. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Mycenaean civilization (c. 1700-1100 BCE) flourished in the Late Bronze Age, reaching its peak from the 15th to the 13th century BCE when it extended its influence not only throughout the[…]

‘Risen from Foam’: Aphrodite, Ancient Greek Goddess of Love

The lure of Aphrodite still resonates in Western popular culture today. Introduction Aphrodite is the ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sexuality. She is primarily associated with selfish sexual desire and lust. Thus, it is not surprising that Aphrodite is characterized in many myths as vain, ill-tempered, and easily offended. She is also often[…]

An Overview of Classical Antiquity

The foundations of the modern world derive from the Classic Age as it was reformulated during the Renaissance followed by the Enlightenment. Introduction Classical antiquity, era, or period is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, which begins roughly with the earliest-recorded Greek poetry of Homer (eighth-seventh[…]

Laocoön: The Suffering of a Trojan Priest and Its Afterlife

Is this statue at the Vatican actually the ancient sculpture mentioned by Pliny, or rather a clever Renaissance forgery? Introduction The sculpture group of Laocoön and His Sons, on display in the Vatican since its rediscovery in 1506 CE, depicts the suffering of the Trojan prince and priest Laocoön (brother of Anchises) and his young sons Antiphantes[…]

Anthesteria: A 3-Day Festival of Wine in Ancient Greece

The ancient Greek holiday of Anthesteria honored springtime and death. Introduction This ancient Greek holiday that you’ve probably never heard of was a three-day festival in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine. Everyone participated, including women, children, hired servants, and household slaves, and it featured excessive wine-drinking as part of the celebration of two[…]

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and the ‘Apotheosis of Homer’

The archaic Greek poet is conceived of as the wellspring from which the later Western artistic tradition flows. A Student of the Past Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (pronounced: aah-n Gr-ah) was Jacque-Louis David’s most famous student. And while this prolific and successful artist was indebted to his teacher, Ingres quickly turned away from him. For his inspiration,[…]

The Ancient Royal Macedonian Tombs at Vergina

A new generation of forensics has turned up surprising results and taken us closer to establishing just who was buried and when. Introduction Excavations at Vergina in northern Greece in the late 1970s CE unearthed a cluster of tombs thought to be the burial site of Philip II (r. 359-336 BCE), the father of Alexander[…]

Galen: Ancient Greek Pioneer in Medical Surgery

Galen’s experimental methods foreshadowed later developments of Western scientific medicine. Introduction Galen (129 C.E. – c. 210 C.E.) was the Greek physician and philosopher whose views were most instrumental in the development of medicine in the late Greco-Roman period. Galen valued observation, experimentation, and logical analysis in the studies of medicine, and conducted a number[…]

Hippocrates: Ancient Greek Physician Who Made Medicine a Profession

Hippocrates is commonly portrayed as the paragon of the ancient physician. Introduction Hippocrates of Cos II, or Hippokrates of Kos, was an ancient Greek physician of the “Age of Pericles,” and was considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. He is referred to as the “father of medicine” in recognition[…]

The Articella: Medieval Preservation of the Medical Texts of Hippocrates and Galen

At the emerging universities, from around 1250, this fundamental “Ars medicine” or “Articella” was at the heart of a growing curriculum. No part of the ancient legacy of Greek medicine enjoyed a more constant transmission than the Aphorisms and Prognostics attributed to Hippocrates of Cos. From the unforgettable opening line, “Life is short, the Art[…]

Hephaestion: Alexander the Great’s Personal Bodyguard and Closest Friend

Throughout his life, Hephaestion remained close to Alexander, serving both as a valuable advisor and friend. Introduction Hephaestion was a member of Alexander the Great’s personal bodyguard and the Macedonian king’s closest and lifelong friend and advisor. So much so, Hephaestion’s death would bring the young king to tears. From 334 to 323 BCE Alexander[…]