Portal:Ancient Greece

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The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to Athena, located on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Ancient Greece (Greek: Ἑλλάς, romanizedHellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of classical antiquity (c. AD 600), that comprised a loose collection of culturally and linguistically related city-states and other territories—unified only once, for 13 years, under Alexander the Great's empire (336-323 BC). In Western history, the era of classical antiquity was immediately followed by the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine period.

Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the age of Classical Greece, from the Greco-Persian Wars to the 5th to 4th centuries BC. The conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedon spread Hellenistic civilization from the western Mediterranean to Central Asia. The Hellenistic period ended with the conquest of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, and the annexation of the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.

Classical Greek culture, especially philosophy, had a powerful influence on ancient Rome, which carried a version of it throughout the Mediterranean and much of Europe. For this reason, Classical Greece is generally considered the cradle of Western civilization, the seminal culture from which the modern West derives many of its founding archetypes and ideas in politics, philosophy, science, and art. (Full article...)

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15th-century manuscript of Book I written by scribe John Rhosos (British Museum)

The Odyssey (/ˈɒdəsi/; Ancient Greek: Ὀδύσσεια, romanizedOdýsseia, Attic Greek[o.dýs.seː.a]) is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still read by contemporary audiences. As with the Iliad, the poem is divided into 24 books. It follows the Greek hero Odysseus, king of Ithaca, and his journey home after the Trojan War. After the war itself, which lasted ten years, his journey lasted for ten additional years, during which time he encountered many perils and all his crew mates were killed. In his absence, Odysseus was assumed dead, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus had to contend with a group of unruly suitors who were competing for Penelope's hand in marriage.

The Odyssey was originally composed in Homeric Greek in around the 8th or 7th century BCE and, by the mid-6th century BCE, had become part of the Greek literary canon. In antiquity, Homer's authorship of the poem was not questioned, but contemporary scholarship predominantly assumes that the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed independently, and the stories themselves formed as part of a long oral tradition. Given widespread illiteracy, the poem was performed by an aoidos or rhapsode, and more likely to be heard than read. (Full article...)
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Marseille 20131005 17.jpg

Marseille (/mɑːrˈs/ mar-SAY, French: [maʁsɛj] (About this soundlisten), locally [maχˈsɛjə] (About this soundlisten); also spelled in English as Marseilles; Occitan: Marselha [maʀˈsejɔ, -ˈsijɔ]) is the prefecture of the Bouches-du-Rhône department and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in France. Situated in the Provence historical province, it is located on the coast of the Gulf of Lion, part of the Mediterranean Sea, near the mouth of the Rhône. Marseille is the second-largest city in France, covering an area of 241 km2 (93 sq mi); it had a population of 870,018 in 2016. Its metropolitan area, which extends over 3,174 km2 (1,225 sq mi), is the third-largest in France after those of Paris and Lyon, with a population of 1,760,653 as of 2017, or 3,100,329 (2019) by the broader Eurostat definition of metropolitan region. Its inhabitants are called Marseillais.

Founded around 600 BC by Greek settlers from Phocaea, Marseille is the oldest city of France, as well as one of Europe's oldest continuously inhabited settlements. It was known to the ancient Greeks as Massalia (Greek: Μασσαλία, romanizedMassalía) and to Romans as Massilia. Marseille has been a trading port since ancient times. In particular, it experienced a considerable commercial boom during the colonial period and especially during the 19th century, becoming a prosperous industrial and trading city. Nowadays the Old Port still lies at the heart of the city where the manufacturing of soap, its famous savon de Marseille, began some 6 centuries ago. Overlooking the port is the Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde or "Bonne-mère" for the people of Marseille, a Romano-Byzantine church and the symbol of the city. Inherited from this past, the Grand Port Maritime de Marseille (GPMM) and the maritime economy are major poles of regional and national activity and Marseille remains the first French port, the second Mediterranean port and the fifth European port. Since its origins, Marseille's openness to the Mediterranean Sea has made it a cosmopolitan city marked by cultural and economic exchanges with Southern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. In Europe, the city has the third largest Jewish community after London and Paris. (Full article...)

Did you know...

  • Aesopnurembergchronicle.jpg
    ... that the place of Aesop's birth was and still is disputed?
  • Sparta territory.jpg
    ... that Spartan women enjoyed a status, power and respect that was unknown in the rest of the classical world?

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A marble head of Socrates
A marble head of Socrates in the Louvre (copy of bronze head by Lysippus)

Socrates (/ˈsɒkrətz/; Ancient Greek: Σωκράτης Sōkrátēs [sɔːkrátɛːs]; c. 470–399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens who is credited as a founder of Western philosophy and the first moral philosopher of the ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, Socrates authored no texts and is known mainly through the posthumous accounts of classical writers, particularly his students Plato and Xenophon. These accounts are written as dialogues, in which Socrates and his interlocutors examine a subject in the style of question and answer; they gave rise to the Socratic dialogue literary genre. Contradictory accounts of Socrates make a reconstruction of the history of his life nearly impossible, a situation known as the Socratic problem. Socrates was a polarizing figure in Athenian society. In 399 BC, he was accused of corrupting the youth and failing to acknowledge the city's official gods. After a trial that lasted a day, he was sentenced to death. He spent his last day in prison, refusing to escape.

Plato's dialogues are among the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates to survive from antiquity, from which Socrates has become renowned for his contributions to the fields of rationalism and ethics. This Platonic Socrates lends his name to the concept of the Socratic method, and also to Socratic irony. The Socratic method of questioning, or elenchus, takes shape in dialogue using short questions and answers, epitomized by those Platonic texts in which Socrates and his interlocutors examine various aspects of an issue or an abstract meaning, usually relating to one of the virtues, and find themselves completely unable to define what they thought they understood. Socrates is known for proclaiming his total ignorance; he used to say that the only thing he was aware of was his ignorance, seeking to imply that the realization of our ignorance is the first step in philosophizing. (Full article...)

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The great theater of Epidaurus, designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century BC, Sanctuary of Asklepeios at Epidaurus, Greece (14038572644).jpg

Photo credit: Morn

The theater at Epidaurus.The prosperity brought by the Asklepieion enabled Epidauros to construct civic monuments too: the huge theater that delighted Pausanias for its symmetry and beauty, which is used once again for dramatic performances, the ceremonial Hestiatoreion (banqueting hall), baths and a palaestra.

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