The Tyrants of Ancient Greece

A tyrant was a sole ruler in a Greek city-state, usually a usurper, who held power in defiance of a city’s constitution. The Greek word tyrannos is probably derived from Lydian tûran, “lord”, and simply means “sole ruler”. The word is neutral, has associations with wealth and power and can therefore be synonymous with expressions[…]

The Legendary (or Not) Ancient Funerary Mask of Agamemnon

In the latter half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, the authenticity of the mask has been formally questioned, Introduction The Mask of Agamemnon is a gold funeral mask discovered at the ancient Greek site of Mycenae. The mask, displayed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, has been described[…]

The François Vase: Story Book of Ancient Greek Mythology

The neat labels of Greek text that accompany and identify many of the characters on the vase still help us understand its imagery today. Introduction 270 figures run, fight, and dance across the surface of the François Vase. While the decoration seems dense and busy to our modern eyes, an ancient viewer would have known[…]

Were Women the True Artisans Behind Ancient Greek Ceramics?

A new paper makes the case that scholars have ignored the role of female ceramicists in Greece going back some 3,000 years. By Dr. Max G. Levy Painted over the enormous midsection of the Dipylon amphora—a nearly 2,800-year-old clay vase from Greece—silhouetted figures surround a corpse in a funeral scene. Intricate geometric patterns zig and[…]

Greek Government in the Medieval Duchy of Athens

Exploring the establishment of the Duchy following the Fourth Crusade. Introduction The Duchy of Athens was a Latin or Frankish state in Greece that existed from 1205 to 1458 CE. It was created in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204 CE) and would be ruled for the majority of its history by the Burgundian[…]

Out of the Ashes: The Enduring Stories of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’

Odysseus’s natural leadership, smarts, and cool head are exceptional, and he is entertainingly deceptive and tricky. Introduction The Homeric epics, which tell stories of war, heroism, and coming home, have endured for perhaps 3,500 years. From their start as performances by oral poets to the books we read today, the tales have been told and[…]

The Areopagite Constitution and the Reforms of Ephialtes in Ancient Athens

Ephialtes’ reforms are considered by Aristotle and modern scholars to mark the end of the Areopagite constitution. The Areopagite constitution is the modern name for a period in ancient Athens described by Aristotle in his Constitution of the Athenians. According to that work, the Athenian political scene was dominated, between the ostracism of Themistocles in[…]

The Draconian Constitution: The First Written Legal Code in Ancient Athens

The people of Athens commissioned Draco to devise a written law code and constitution, giving him the title of the first legislator of Athens. Introduction The Draconian constitution, or Draco’s code, was a written law code created by Draco near the end of the 7th century BC in response to the unjust interpretation and modification[…]

William Strickland and Greek Temple Architecture in the Early United States

In the architectural void of a new nation, he borrowed from ancient Athens to express America’s democratic ethos. President Andrew Jackson took a keen interest in the construction of the federal mint in Philadelphia, a grand, columned edifice, inspired by the temples of ancient Greece, that opened in 1833. Jackson was not a man known for his appreciation of cultural and artistic pursuits.[…]

The Exile of Anaxagoras in Ancient Greece for Blaspheming the Moon

2,500 years ago, Anaxagoras correctly determined that the rocky moon reflects light from the sun, explaining lunar phases and eclipses. Close to the north pole of the moon lies the crater Anaxagoras, named for a Greek philosopher who lived in the fifth century B.C. The eponym is fitting, as Anaxagoras the man was one of[…]

Poverty in Ancient Greece and Israel: Plato’s Nomoi and Deuteronomy, a Comparison

Plato’s Nomoi and the Book of Deuteronomy dealt intensively with the fissures between rich and poor within society. Abstract The way in which a nation’s economy is structured is of great importance for the material welfare of its people as well as the people’s relationship with the state and the operation of the state itself.[…]

Poverty in Ancient Greece

Elites feared falling into poverty and tried to keep the evil eye away with laughable figures. By Estelle Galbois and Sylvie Rougier-Blanc The poor and poverty in Antiquity must be considered as true objects of historical, philosophical, anthropological and sociological study, despite the fact that the available sources, which were written by the elites, rarely[…]

The Legislation of Lycurgus and Solon: Politics and Law in Ancient Greece

Two alternative conceptions of government – a republic and an oligarchy. By Friedrich Schiller18th-Century Philosopher and Historian Schiller delivered his essay on Lycurgus and Solon in the context of his lectures on Universal History, at Jena University, in August 1789. The essay puts forth two alternative conceptions of government—a republican and an oligarchic form—which have[…]

Hippocrates on Respiratory Tract Infections in Ancient Greece

Hippocrates used the “four humours” theory to explain the origins of these infections but understood the environment’s effect. By Dr. Gregory RsoucalasProfessor of the History of MedicineUniversity of Thessaly By Dr. Sgantzos MarkosAssociate Professor of the History of MedicineUniversity of Thessaly Originally published by General Medicine 4:5 (2016), free and open access, republished for educational,[…]

‘On the Sublime’: Ancient Greek Rhetoric and Literary Criticism

Given his positive reference to Genesis, Longinus has been assumed to be either a Hellenized Jew or readily familiar with the Jewish culture. Introduction Longinus is the conventional name of the author of the treatise, On the Sublime (Περὶ ὕψους), a work which focuses on the effect of good writing (Russell xlii). Longinus, sometimes referred[…]

Gorgias of Ancient Greece: An Orator with Artistic Prose

Gorgias was a native of Leontini, a Greek colony in Sicily, which is often called the home of Greek rhetoric. Introduction Gorgias (c. 483 – 375 B.C.E.), was one of the most important Greek sophists of the fifth century B.C.E., a philosopher, rhetorician, and a gifted writer of artistic prose. Originally a native of Leontini[…]

Black Figures in Classical Greek Art

Museum and academic scholars are key players in the fight for contextualized and equitable perspectives of black people in antiquity. In ancient Greece, men often escaped their daily grind to socialize at a symposium, or formalized drinking party. In the symposium, revelers indulged in numerous leisure activities centered around the consumption of wine. Among the[…]

Alexander I the Philhellene and Reform of the Ancient Macedonian Army

He is known for his participation in the Olympic Games and his attempt to expand his kingdom and reform the Macedonian army. Introduction Alexander I of Macedon, also known as Alexander I the Philhellene (‘friend of the Greeks’) or ‘The Wealthy’, was king of ancient Macedon from around 498 to 454 BCE. He is known for the role he[…]

Achilles: Pride and Reckless Rage in the Story of the Trojan War

Achilles was too proud and bad-tempered for his own good, and his reckless rage would cost both his countrymen and the enemy dearly. Introduction Leader of the fearsome Myrmidons, sacker of cities, and slayer of Hector, godlike Achilles was quite simply invincible in battle, and only the divine intervention of Apollo finally put an end[…]

Telling the Story of the Trojan War in Ancient Greece and Rome

Exploring how manuscripts reveal the evolution of the tale of Troy in ancient Greek and Latin traditions. For over 3000 years, people have told legends of a long and bloody war between the Greeks and the Trojans, sparked by the abduction of the beautiful Queen Helen of Sparta by Paris, the Trojan prince. In response,[…]

Thrasybulus: The Mysterious Expedition of the Tyrant of Ancient Miletus

Thrasybulus was helping his ally Periander, the tyrant of Corinth. By Sergey M. ZhestokanovProfessor of ArchaeologySt. Petersburg State University A cursory mention of a mysterious expedition against Sicyon, mounted by Thrasybulus, the tyrant of Miletus, can be found in Frontinus’ “Strategemata”. The author of the present article is of the opinion that in this way[…]

Tyranny in Ancient Greece and Rome

The classics contain many references to tyranny and its causes, effects, methods, practitioners, alternatives. Introduction In the modern English-language’s usage of the word, a tyrant (derived from Ancient Greek τύραννος, tyrannos) is an absolute ruler who is unrestrained by law, or one who has usurped a legitimate ruler’s sovereignty. Often portrayed as cruel, tyrants may[…]

Gods and Religious Practices in Ancient Greece

Ancient Greek religious practice was essentially conservative in nature and was based on time-honored observances By Colette Hemingway, Independent Scholar and Seán Hemingway, Department of Greek and Roman Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art The ancient Greeks worshipped many gods, each with a distinct personality and domain. Greek myths explained the origins of the gods[…]

Alexander the Great: The Royal and Funerary Thrones of Macedonia

In archaic and classical Greece thrones were reserved for the gods and by extension, their priests and priestesses. There is no evidence in either Greece or Macedon in the archaic and classical periods that the throne functioned as a symbol of royalty. Thrones were for the gods and their priests. Only the king of Persia[…]

Alexander the Great, the King in Shining Armour

Examining the Macedonian king in combat. In his account of the preparations for the battle at Granicus, Arrian notes that the Persians could easily identify Alexander on the other bank of the river by his armour: “he was unmistakable ‒ Arrian (An. 1.14.4) says ‒ from the splendour of his equipment and the enthusiasm of[…]

Identity and Superiority in Ancient Greek and Egyptian Interactions

Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, Egypt was taken over by a Greco-Macedonian dynasty based in the new city of Alexandria. “You Greeks are children.” That’s what an Egyptian priest is supposed to have said to a visiting Greek in the 6th century BC. And in a sense he was right. We think of[…]

Culture and Identity in Classical Greece

Classical Greece saw a flourishing of philosophers, especially in Athens during its Golden Age. Philosophy Socrates Socrates, born in Athens in the 5th century BCE, marks a watershed in ancient Greek philosophy. Athens was a center of learning, with sophists and philosophers traveling from across Greece to teach rhetoric, astronomy, cosmology, geometry, and the like.[…]

Ten Noble and Notorious Women of Ancient Greece

Many women in ancient Greece led interesting lives and performed heroic acts and who remain lesser known in the modern day. Introduction There were, no doubt, many notable women in ancient Greece, but history books are usually silent on female accomplishments. According to the historian and novelist Helena P. Schrader, this is because, “Herodotus and[…]

The Last Tyrants of Ancient Athens

Economic crisis, impoverishment, and elite conflict led Athens to be managed by individual rulers, the last tyrants of Athens. Introduction The period of the first decades of the Ist Century BC was certainly one of the most conflictive and notable moments in the history of ancient Athens. Thus, since the excellent prosperity gained as a[…]

An Ill-Defined Rule: Cassander’s Consolidation of Power in Ancient Macedonia

Cassander embarked on an ambitious plan to control the region and solidify his power in Macedonia. Cassander’s implementation of power during the early stages of his rule of Macedonia was wide ranging and multifaceted. He employed numerous different strategies to gain support from a variety of influential groups within the Macedonian homeland and adjacent areas[…]