The Extremism of King Creon in the Greek Tragedy ‘Antigone’

Political and moral views are framed in terms of a fight between patriot and traitor, law and conscience, and chaos and order. In a Greek tragedy written in the middle of the fifth century B.C., three teenagers struggle with a question that could be asked now: What happens when a ruler declares that those who[…]

The Bacchanalia: A Greek Dionysian Mystery Cult in Ancient Rome

The Bacchanalia were Roman festivals of Bacchus based on various ecstatic elements of the Greek Dionysia. Introduction The Bacchanalia seem to have been popular and well-organised throughout the central and southern Italian peninsula. They were almost certainly associated with Rome’s native cult of Liber, and probably arrived in Rome itself around 200 BC. However, like[…]

Mystery Cults in the Greek and Roman World

Shrouded in secrecy, ancient mystery cults fascinate and capture the imagination. Shrouded in secrecy, ancient mystery cults fascinate and capture the imagination. A pendant to the official cults of the Greeks and Romans, mystery cults served more personal, individualistic attitudes toward death and the afterlife. Most were based on sacred stories (hieroi logoi) that often[…]

The Science and Biology of Aristotle

Aristotle studied developing organisms, among other things, in ancient Greece, and his writings shaped Western philosophy and natural science for greater than two thousand years. By Dorothy Regan Haskett, Valerie Racine, and Joanna Yang Aristotle spent much of his life in Greece and studied with Plato at Plato’s Academy in Athens, where he later established[…]

French Identity and Immigration to Constantinople and Greece in the 13th Century

After capturing Constantinople in 1204, the Fourth Crusaders established several states in former Byzantine territory. Starting from the captured imperial center, westerners moved into Thrace, Greece, the Aegean islands, and even Asia Minor. These campaigns of conquest had varied success, with the greatest and longest lasting in southern Greece.[1][2] The Fourth Crusaders had struck out[…]

The Delian League: Revenge and Hellenic Liberation

The alliance’s name derives from the island of Delos, where the League originally housed its treasury. By Christopher PlaneauxLecturer in Classical StudiesIndiana University Origins Down to the Battle of Eurymedon Introduction The modern term Delian League refers to the primarily maritime συμμᾰχία or symmachy (offensive-defensive alliance) among various Greek poleis, which emerged after the second Mede invasion of the[…]

The Peloponnesian League and Spartan Dominance

The League gave Sparta protection from uprisings within its own borders and eventually secured its dominance in the region. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Peloponnesian League (c. 550 BCE – c. 366 BCE) was a loose confederation of Greek city-states led by Sparta. The League was the oldest and longest-lasting political association in the ancient[…]

The Spartan Krypteia: A Form of Ancient Guerrilla Warfare

The nature of the krypteia very much reflects the roots of its name. By Brandon D. Ross Introduction The night was still, the moon hanging with translucent beauty in the blackness of the sky. Wraiths emerged stealthily from the shadows, swooping down upon the unsuspecting peasants on the beaten path. The moonlight glistened on the[…]

Thucydides on Brasidas: The Most Athenian of Spartans

Thucydides placed Brasidas’s Homeric ending in a singularly admirable light. By Nathan A. JenningsNATO Planner, Afghanistan In his seminal work, The Peloponnesian War, the ancient historian Thucydides employs numerous characters from the storied conflict as devices to reveal competing aspects of human nature. Among the varied personalities exposed by the tensions of war, the Spartan commander[…]

New Clues about Mysterious Ancient Greek Sculptures of Mourning Women

Scientific analysis of four rare sculptures of mourning women furthers understanding of South Italian funerary art. Introduction For the first time, four terracotta statues of mourning women that have long been in storage have gone on display, and are on view at the Getty Villa through April 1. Bringing these figures—made in the town of[…]

Revenge for Athens: Alexander the Great and the Burning of Persepolis

After looting its treasures, Alexander burned the great palace and surrounding city to the ground, as Xerxes had done to Athens. In the year 330 BCE Alexander the Great conquered the Persian capital city of Persepolis, and after looting its treasures, burned the great palace and surrounding city to the ground. Persepolis had been known in antiquity as Parsa (`The City of[…]

The Achaean League: The Best Effort at a NATO in Ancient Greece

The League represents the most successful attempt by the Greek city states to develop a collective government and security apparatus. Introduction The Achaean League (Greek: Κοινὸν τῶν Ἀχαιῶν, Koinon ton Akhaion ‘League of Achaeans’) was a Hellenistic-era confederation of Greek city states on the northern and central Peloponnese. The league was named after the region of Achaea in the[…]

The Delian League: A Tool of Athenian Imperial Ambition

Athens’s heavy-handed control of the Delian League ultimately prompted the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. Introduction The Delian League, founded in 478 BC,[1] was an association of Greek city-states, with the number of members numbering between 150 and 330[2][3][4]under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the[…]

Draco’s Law Code in Ancient Athens

The laws aided and legitimized the political power of the aristocracy and allowed them to consolidate their control of the land and poor. By Antonios Loizides Introduction Draco was an aristocrat who in 7th century BCE Athens was handed the task of composing a new body of laws. We have no particular clues concerning his[…]

Mystery Cults in the Graeco-Roman World

Mystery religions formed one of three types of Hellenistic religion. Introduction Mystery religions, sacred mysteries or simply mysterieswere religious schools of the Greco-Roman world for which participation was reserved to initiates(mystai).[1] The main characterization of this religion is the secrecy associated with the particulars of the initiation and the ritual practice, which may not be revealed to outsiders. The most famous mysteries[…]

The Lyceum: Aristotle and Beyond

The Lyceum had been used for philosophical debate long before Aristotle and stood long after. Introduction The Lyceum (Ancient Greek: Λύκειον, Lykeion) or Lycaeum was a temple dedicated to Apollo Lyceus (“Apollo the wolf-god”[1]). It was best known for the Peripatetic school of philosophy founded there by Aristotle in 334 / 335 BCE. Aristotle fled Athens in 323 BCE, but the school[…]

Plato and Liberal Education

Plato conceived education as an art of perfecting human beings. By Br. Francis Maluf What Is Education? Plato conceived education as an art of perfecting man. According to this view, education is possible because man is a perfectible being. Nobody ever talks about perfecting God, because God is not perfectible, but perfect; nor do we[…]

Drinking in Ancient Greece

Archaic and classical Greek culture was steeped in spirit. Archaic and classical Greek culture was steeped in spirit. Drinking parties for the elite were a ritual that eventually filtered down to the man in the street. What went on at these gatherings and how were inebriation and public displays of drunkenness justified in cultural terms?[…]

The Expansion of the Ancient Graeco-Bactrian Kingdom (Modern Afghanistan)

The expansion of the Greco-Bactrians into present-day eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan from 180 BC established the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was – along with the Indo-Greek Kingdom – the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdiana in Central Asia from 250 to 125 BC. It was centered on the north of present-day Afghanistan. The expansion of the Greco-Bactrians into present-day eastern Afghanistan[…]

Whose Odyssey Is It Anyway?

The only possible response can be that it is no one’s and everyone’s. The death of Martin Bernal in June attracted less media attention than one might have hoped for the man who brought an unprecedented attention to the contemporary study of classics. His 1987 work, Black Athena, was not the first to argue for[…]

The Rise of the Ancient Greek Polis (City-State)

Greek city-states developed different forms of governance with very different political structures and strengths. The Emergence of the Polis The territory of Greece is mountainous; as a result, ancient Greece consisted of many smaller regions, each with its own dialect, cultural peculiarities, and identity. Regionalism and regional conflicts were a prominent feature of ancient Greece.[…]

Cheating in the Ancient Olympics

Punishment for cheating and bribery in the Olympics of Ancient Greece could include fines, public flogging and statewide bans from competition. By Naomi Shavin Ancient Olympians didn’t have performance-enhancing drugs at their disposal, but according to those who know the era best, if the ancient Greeks could have doped, a number of athletes definitely would[…]

Cultural Links between Ancient India and the Graeco-Roman World

Long before the arrival of Alexander the Great on India’s north-western border, there are references in early Indian literature calling the Greeks Yavanas. Introduction Cyrus the Great (558-530 BCE) built the first universal empire, stretching from Greece to the Indus River. This was the famous Achaemenid Dynasty of Persia. An inscription at Naqsh-i-Rustam, the tomb of his able successor Darius I (521-486 BCE), near Persepolis, records Gadara[…]

‘The First Man of Greece’: Epaminondas and the End of Spartan Tyranny over Thebes

Epaminondas transformed the Ancient Greek city-state of Thebes, leading it out of Spartan subjugation into a preeminent position in Greek politics. Introduction Epaminondas (Greek: Ἐπαμεινώνδας) (ca. 418 B.C.E.–362 B.C.E.) was a Theban general and statesman of the fourth century B.C.E. who transformed the Ancient Greek city-state of Thebes, leading it out of Spartan subjugation into a preeminent position in Greek politics. In the process he broke Spartan[…]

Aspasia of Miletus: The Art of Eloquence

Aspasia was a woman of formidable intelligence and eloquence who influenced many of the important writers, thinkers, and statesmen of her time. Aspasia of Miletus (470-410 BCE, approximately) is best known as the consort and close companion of the great Athenian statesman Pericles. She was a metic (a person not born in Athens) and, accordingly, was not allowed to marry[…]

Acoustics of Ancient Greek Theaters

The sound quality in ancient times was likely much better than it is today. By Brigit Katz It is often said that the acoustics of ancient Greek theaters were so sophisticated that spectators in the back row could hear the actors with perfect clarity, long before microphones came into the picture. In modern times, tour guides will[…]

Ptolemy I Soter: Greek Founder of Egypt’s Ptolemaic Dynasty

The synthesis of Greek and Egyptian customs, beliefs and practices created by Ptolemy I and his heirs remains a subject for study and research. Introduction Ptolemy I Soter (Greek: Πτολεμαῖος Σωτήρ, Ptolemaĩos Sōtḗr, i.e., Ptolemy the Savior, (ca. 367 B.C.E. — ca. 283 B.C.E.) was a Macedoniaian general under Alexander the Great who became ruler of Egypt (323 B.C.E. — 283 B.C.E.) and founder of Ptolemaic dynasty which ruled Egypt until the Roman conquest in 30 C.E. In[…]

Dividing the Spoils: The Babylon Conferences for the Empire of Alexander the Great

Immediately after the death of Alexander the Great, the power play began. By Robin WaterfieldBritish Classics Scholar and Author Introduction Immediately after Alexander’s death, while the embalmers got busy with his body, those of his senior officers who were present in Babylon met and began to make arrangements for the future. The power play began.[…]

Freedom and Destiny in Ancient Greek Thought

Examining the ancient Greek interpretation of freedom and its collateral of responsibility. Scientific Deliberation and Practical Wisdom―Exclusive Skills? In the history of ancient Greek thought the question of how to live a livable life is the principal arouser of those who dedicate time to think about the meaning and sense of the human being and[…]