Kratos: Brutal Tyrant of Ancient Greek Mythology

Kratos is characterized as brutal and merciless, advocating for the use of unnecessary violence. Introduction In Greek mythology, Kratos (or Cratos) is the divine personification of strength. He is the son of Pallas and Styx. Kratos and his siblings Nike (“Victory”), Bia (“Force”), and Zelus (“Zeal”) are all essentially personifications of a trait.[5] Kratos is[…]

Sisyphus: Deceitful Trickster God of Ancient Greek Mythology

As a punishment for his trickery, Hades made King Sisyphus roll a huge boulder endlessly up a steep hill. Introduction In Greek mythology Sisyphus, or Sisyphos, was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill[…]

Ancient Athens in the Hellenistic World

Apart from some futile attempts to recapture their freedom, for well over a century the Greeks remained under Macedonian rule. Introduction When we think about ancient Athens, it is almost always about the classical city. We think of such things as its numerous monuments (the Parthenon on the Acropolis for example), beautifying everywhere, the Agora swarming with people doing business, discussing current affairs,[…]

Minoans and Mycenaeans: Comparing Two Bronze Age Civilizations

These cultures are often examined separately, and thus the ample cross-cultural transmission between them is overlooked. By Kelly MacquireHistorian Introduction The Bronze Age Aegean in the eastern Mediterranean encompassed several powerful entities: the Minoans on Crete; the Mycenaeans on mainland Greece, and the Cypriots on Cyprus. These cultures are often examined separately, and thus the ample cross-cultural transmission between them is overlooked. Focussing on[…]

The Dorian Tribal Invasion of Ancient Greece

Intense tribalism in a pre-Hellenic world was deep and civilization itself would collapse in the region. Introduction The Ancient Greeks divided themselves into three tribes; the Aeolians, Ionians, and Dorians. The Mycenaeans (referred to as Argives, Achaeans, and Danaans by Homer in the Iliad) were Aeolians and Ionians. Sometime around 1100 BCE, the Dorians, who[…]

The ‘Fall’ of Classical Athens?: Problems with Historical Periodization

“Hellenistic” Athens may not shine as brightly as Classical Athens, but it has lived unfairly in the shadow of its famous predecessor. Athens: the most powerful city in ancient Greece; the birthplace of democracy; home to the great tragedies of Aeschylus. Sophocles, and Euripides; philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; brimming with large monuments[…]

Medicus: The Doctor in Ancient Greece and Rome

Me’dicus (ἰατρός), the name given by the ancients to every professor of the healing art, whether physician or surgeon, and accordingly both divisions of the medical profession will here be included under that term. In Greece and Asia Minor physicians seem to have been held in high esteem; for, not to mention the apotheosis of[…]

Chirurgia: Surgery in Ancient Greece and Rome

The earliest remaining surgical writings are those of Hippocrates. The practice of surgery was, for a long time, considered by the ancients to be merely a part of a physician’s duty; but as it is now almost universally allowed to be a separate branch of the profession, it will perhaps be more convenient to treat[…]

The Hyphasis Mutiny: Alexander the Great Pushing the Troops too Far

The men reached a consensus; they did not want to follow Alexander further into Indian territory. By Philip MathewHistorian Introduction The so-called Hyphasis Mutiny was a conflict between Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE) and his army following their victory at the river Hydaspes in 326 BCE. Alexander voiced plans for further conquests in the Indian subcontinent, however, when[…]

An Introduction to Ancient Mycenaean Art

We know a lot about the Mycenaeans because they left written records which can be read. Introduction The ancient citadel (fortified city) at Mycenae is located on top of an isolated hill and provides truly spectacular views of the surrounding area, making it an ideal location for a defensive stronghold. Mycenaean culture dominated southern Greece,[…]

An Introduction to Ancient Minoan Art

The Bronze Age history of the island is one of development, increasing influence, and eventual destruction. Introduction The Bronze Age culture of Crete, called Minoan, after King Minos of Crete from Greek mythology, is one of the most vibrant and admired in all of European prehistory. According to the myth, the city of Athens was[…]

Exploring Ancient Minoan Knossos

Bronze Age Knossos is traditionally called a palace, a description used by its most famous excavator, Sir Arthur Evans. Introduction There aren’t many places in the world like Knossos. Situated 6km south of the sea, on the north central coast of Crete, several things make this archaeological site important: its great antiquity (it is 9,000[…]

Law and Politics in the Ancient Athenian Agora

The Agora was the central gathering place for all of Athens, where social and commercial dealings took place. Arguably, it’s most important purpose was as the home base for all of the city-state’s administrative, legal and political functions. Some of the most important, yet least acclaimed, buildings of ancient history and Classical Athens were located[…]

The Boetian War: Ancient Thebes Revolts against Sparta, 378 BCE

The Spartan Eurypontid king Agesilaus led two expeditions against Thebes but achieved little. Introduction and Background The Boeotian or Theban War broke out in 378 BCE as the result of a revolt in Thebes against Sparta. The war saw Thebes become dominant in the Greek World at the expense of Sparta. However by the end[…]

Overthrowing Oligarchy in the Athenian Revolution of 508-507 BCE

Athens had the largest and wealthiest city-state, but they also had a larger class of people excluded from political life by the nobility. Introduction and Background The Athenian Revolution (508–507 BCE) was a revolt by the people of Athens that overthrew the ruling aristocratic oligarchy, establishing the almost century-long self-governance of Athens in the form[…]

The Political and Cultural Legacy of Ancient Greece

Greek civilization had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and many others that followed through today. Introduction The civilization of Ancient Greece emerged into the light of world history in the 8th century BC. Normally it is regarded as coming to an end when Greece fell to the Romans, in 146 BC. However, major[…]

Religion in the Ancient Graeco-Roman World

The idea of a single, unified, and dominant religion shared by all members of a single culture was aberration from the norm. Introduction One single word that can accurately be used to describe the religious situation of the Mediterranean world is “complex.” all kind of religion was manifested in some form or other around the[…]

Life Is Flux: Heraclitus, Ancient Greek Presocratic Philosopher

Heraclitus maintained that the very nature of life is flux, is change, and that to resist this change was to resist the essence of our existence. Introduction Heraclitus of Ephesus (l. c. 500 BCE) is probably best known for his oft-misquoted assertion, “You cannot step twice into the same river” (first mis-quoted by Plato in his[…]

Pre-Socratic Philosophers in Ancient Greece

There are over 90 Pre-Socratic philosophers, all of whom contributed something to world knowledge. Introduction The Pre-Socratic Philosophers are defined as the Greek thinkers who developed independent and original schools of thought from the time of Thales of Miletus (l. c. 546 BCE) to that of Socrates of Athens (470/469-399 BCE). They are known as[…]

The Golden Age of Ancient Athens in the Fifth Century BCE

The famous Greek playwrights, historians, and physicians familiar to us today lived in the fifth century. Introduction Fifth-century Athens is the Greek city-state of Athens in the time from 480 to 404 BC. Formerly known as the Golden Age of Athens, the later part being the Age of Pericles, it was buoyed by political hegemony,[…]

The Battle of Salamis: Opening the Door for Ancient Greece’s Golden Age

Salamis has come down to us as a key event in the early history of Western Civilization. Twenty-five hundred years ago in the Battle of Salamis (dated to September, 480 BC), the ancient Greeks defeated the invading Persians and paved the way for Greece’s Golden Age of the 5th century, BCE, a foundation period for Western[…]

The Battle of Corinth and the Rise of Roman Domination over Greece in 146 BCE

Corinth was utterly destroyed in this year by the victorious Roman army and all of her treasures and art plundered. Overview The Battle of Corinth was a battle fought between the Roman Republic and the Greek city-state of Corinth and its allies in the Achaean League in 146 BC, which resulted in the complete and[…]

The Siege and Fall of Ancient Tyre to Alexander the Great in 332 BCE

Alexander, unable to attack from the sea, built causeway stretching out to the island on a natural land bridge no more than two meters deep. Introduction The Siege of Tyre was orchestrated by Alexander the Great in 332 BC during his campaigns against the Persians. The Macedonian army was unable to capture the city, which[…]

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[…]