Portal:Classical antiquity

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The Classical Antiquity Portal

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The Parthenon is one of the most iconic symbols of the classical era, exemplifying ancient Greek culture.

Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 6th century AD centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome known as the Greco-Roman world. It is the period in which Greek and Roman society flourished and wielded great influence throughout Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.

Conventionally, it is taken to begin with the earliest-recorded Epic Greek poetry of Homer (8th–7th century BC), and continues through the emergence of Christianity and the fall of the Western Roman Empire (5th century AD). It ends with the dissolution of classical culture at the close of Late Antiquity (300–600), blending into the Early Middle Ages (600–1000). Such a wide sampling of history and territory covers many disparate cultures and periods. Classical antiquity may also refer to an idealised vision among later people of what was, in Edgar Allan Poe's words, "the glory that was Greece, and the grandeur that was Rome".

The culture of the ancient Greeks, together with some influences from the ancient Near East, was the basis of art, philosophy, society, and educational ideals, until the Roman imperial period. The Romans preserved, imitated and spread over Europe these ideals until they were able to competitively rival the Greek culture, as the Latin language became widespread and the classical world became bilingual, Greek and Latin. This Greco-Roman cultural foundation has been immensely influential on the language, politics, law, educational systems, philosophy, science, warfare, poetry, historiography, ethics, rhetoric, art and architecture of the modern world. From the surviving fragments of classical antiquity, a revival movement was gradually formed from the 14th century onwards which came to be known later in Europe as the Renaissance, and again resurgent during various neo-classical revivals in the 18th and 19th centuries. Read more...

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The Odyssey is, along with the Iliad, one of the two earliest pieces of Greek epic poetry to have survived, and is a story that many consider central to the evolution of Western civilization. Centred upon the eponymous hero Odysseus, it describes the adventures of the great Trojan War hero as he attempts to get home. Deprived slowly by Poseidon of men, supplies, and eventually his last ship, he struggles to return home. The book depicts Odysseus as a very human character driven by his desire to return home to his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus, whom he has not seen since he set off to war some twenty years prior.

Added drama revolves around Penelope's despair of seeing her husband again, and Odysseus' fear that she will be forced to re-marry in his absence. Additional themes include the question of how a father/son relationship is possible when neither know each other, the loyalty or otherwise of one's servants and the role of the Gods (the dilemma of being aloof and ignored, or intervening and making humans dependent).

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A panorama of the Forum in Rome - once the center of social and political life in ancient Italy.

Did you know

DYK question mark

...Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, dressed in a toga to promote A Level Ancient History when it was in danger of being axed?

...that Roman law is one of the bases of the Scottish legal system?

...that Cicero's famous speech Pro Milone was ruined when Cicero had an attack of nerves delivering it, and his client Milo was forced to flee Rome for Gaul?

Featured Archaeology

Modern Baalbek in Lebanon, ancient Heliopolis, was made a colonia by the Roman Empire in 15 BC and a legion was stationed there. Work on the religious complex there lasted over a century and a half and was never completed. The dedication of the present temple ruins, the largest religious building in the entire Roman empire, dates from the reign of Septimius Severus, whose coins first show the two temples. The great courts of approach were not finished before the reigns of Caracalla and Philip. In commemoration, no doubt, of the dedication of the new sanctuaries, Severus conferred the rights of the jus italicum on the city. Today, only six Corinthian columns remain standing. Eight more were disassembled and shipped to Constantinople under Justinian's orders, for his basilica of Hagia Sophia.

The greatest of the three temples was sacred to Jupiter Baal, ("Heliopolitan Zeus"), identified here with the sun, with whom were associated a temple to Venus and a lesser temple in honor of Bacchus (though it was traditionally referred to by Neoclassical visitors as "Temple of the Sun"). Thus three Eastern deities were worshipped in Roman guise: thundering Jove, the god of storms, stood in for Baal-Hadad, Venus for ‘Ashtart (known in English as Astarte) and Bacchus for Anatolian Dionysus.

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News

Diagnol newspaper
  • The recent book Odysseus Unbound offers a compelling argument that the Odyssey's "Ithaca," the island home of cunning Odysseus, refers not to the island today known as Ithaca, but rather to the Paliki peninsula of Kefalonia, which geological changes would have transformed from island to peninsula..

Featured Quote


Νόμος ὁ πάντων βασιλεύς
θνατῶν τε καὶ ἀθανάτων
ἄγει δικαιῶν τὸ βιαιότατον
ὑπερτάτᾳ χειρί.

      Pindar, fragment 169a

Law, the king of all,
of mortals and immortals,
guides them as it justifies the utmost violence
with a sovereign hand.

      (translated by William H. Race)

Subcategories

Although major articles are listed at the bottom of this page, all classics-related articles can be found in the categories below. Note that some articles may be found in subcategories, e.g. for the Parthenon, follow the Greek architecture link, then select the Ancient Greek Structures subcategory.

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Classical Studies

Things you can do

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  • Complete standardisation for transliterating Greek.
  • Confirm, when making edits to classics related pages, that spellings are disambiguated — e.g., Klytaimnestra to Clytaemnestra - many classicists accept both, depending on the translation used. See above for more help.
  • Proof-read articles for grammar and spellings.

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Reconstitution du Parthenon

History - Geography

Alexander the Great

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Ancienne carte d'Athènes

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Amphore à figures rouges

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The colossus of Rhodes
Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Pindar, Sappho
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Aristophanes, Menander
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Euclid, Pythagoras, Eratosthenes

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Pégase

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Roman Army

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Discus throw
Olympic Games, Pythian Games, Nemean Games, Isthmian Games

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Corinthian helmet

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