Are you interested to know Weird Facts About Ancient Greece? The ancient Greek period lasted approximately a thousand years and ended with the arrival of Christianity. Certain historians believe it was the first Western civilization. Greek culture had a huge influence on the Roman Empire, allowing it to be adapted and spread throughout Europe. The ancient Greeks had a significant impact on language, legislation, education, reasoning, science, and culture, which led to the Renaissance in Western Europe and, later, various neo-Classical revivals in 18th and 19th century Europe and the Americas. Here are the top 12 weird facts about Ancient Greece.
Athens is the birthplace of majority rule (democratic) government.
It is widely accepted that Athens was the birthplace of a vote-based system of government, and despite several competing hypotheses, Athens continues to serve as an inspiration for later democracies.
Ancient Greece had a complex government system because each of its urban communities had its own way of ruling, and the concept of rule by majority evolved over time in response to a series of localized political and social issues. Prior to democracy, there was a great deal of social inequality, and the vote-based belief system arose from a desire to address elitism and a lack of opportunity for the lower classes.
The Greeks Didn’t Name Their Country “Greece.”
This is a truly bizarre statement, but the Greeks have long referred to their country as Hellas or Hellada, with the Hellenic Republic serving as its official name. The English word “Greece” is derived from the Latin word Graecia, which means “the land of the Greeks.”
The Olympic Games It all started in Greece.
Greece is well known as the birthplace of the modern Olympics, with historians believing that the first-ever Greek Olympics were held in 776 BC as a religious celebration in honor of Zeus, the mighty god.
However, sporting events were very different back then than they are now. The exciting but dangerous chariot race and an ancient sport known as pankration, which was a combination of wrestling and boxing, were two of the most popular events. Boxing was a separate event that was not divided into weight classes. You could also consider ancient Greece to be the first location to host highly competitive events such as modern-day mixed martial arts competitions.
One final point of interest is that the ancient Greeks competed in the naked or wearing only a thong for the most part.
Shake on It
The practice of shaking hands to greet someone dates back to the ancient Greeks. One section of the Acropolis depicts Hera, the Greek goddess of marriage, shaking hands with Athena, the Greek goddess of intelligence.
Slaves made up between 40 and 80 percent of the population in Classical Athens, and historians believe that the ratio of slaves to the rest of the population could have been around 2:5. Slaves were common in all households, with the majority of Greek families owning at least one slave. Other slaves, such as the “helots,” were owned by the state.
At its economic peak in the fifth and fourth centuries BC, ancient Greece had the world’s most developed economy. This is evident from the average daily Greek wage, which was approximately 12kg of wheat. During the Roman era, an Egyptian laborer’s average wage was around 3.75kg.
Architecture, Craftsmanship, and Philosophy
Pericles, a Greek statesman, bolstered the Athenian state through taxes and contributions from the wealthy. The magnificent Parthenon, built to honor the goddess Athena on the Acropolis, is an example of this.
Pericles also paid for annual plays at the Acropolis, such as comedies and tragedies. These plays embodied the ancient Greeks’ social and cultural achievements, while the Parthenon demonstrated how advanced their architecture had become.
The ancient Greeks demonstrated a great aptitude for rational thinking, philosophy, and public speaking through the narratives of Herodotus and Thucydides, as well as Hippocrates’ medical insights.
The great architecture of the ancient Greeks attests to their advanced craftsmanship and building techniques, and it is woven into the fabric of their daily and political life.
Beginning in the late third millennium BC, the Greeks moved southward into the Balkan promontory in waves, the most recent being the Dorian invasion. The proto-Greek language is thought to have originated between the 23rd and 17th centuries BC. The period from 1600 BC to around 1100 BC is known as Mycenaean Greece, and it is best known for King Agamemnon’s rule and the wars against Troy, as described in Homer’s sagas.
From 1100 BC to the eighth century BC, there was a “dark age” in which no essential writings were preserved and only scant archeological evidence remained. Third-hand accounts, such as Herodotus’ Histories, Pausanias’ Description of Greece, Diodorus’ Bibliotheca, and Jerome’s Chronicon, mention this period and document some of its rulers. The history of ancient Greece is widely thought to have ended with Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BC.
The history of ancient Greece is heavily based on modern sources. The majority of the Greek historians and political journalists whose works have survived, most notably Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Demosthenes, Plato, and Aristotle, were Athenians. As a result, many of these accounts favor Athens’ history and legislative issues over those of other cities. They provide little insight into community life and contain little social history; their focus is entirely on political, military, and strategic issues.
Education was mostly a private matter, and most well-off families could afford a private tutor. During the Hellenistic period, however, some city-states established government-funded schools. Young men were taught to write, sing, and play one melodic instrument as part of their preparation for a career in military administration. Many of them were upper-class citizens who did not require employment. To assist them in running a household, young ladies were taught how to write and do basic math.
With the exception of the Spartans, who underwent extensive military training, few young men continued their education into adulthood. Most young men had a mentor and learned by watching him debate legal issues in the marketplace, assisting him with his public duties, practicing in the recreation center with him, and attending symposia with him. Some students went on to train at city colleges such as the Lyceum and the Academy, where they were taught by the most notable instructors.
The Term “Idiot”
An “idiot” in ancient Greece was anyone who did not participate in political or public arenas. Their adversaries were the “polites,” who were regarded as honorable public citizens.
“Idiot” (I) is derived from the Greek word idios, which means “self” or a selfish person who ignores political debate, does not participate in decision making, and does not participate in politics in general. As the term implies, it was someone who was “separated from the whole,” or someone who only cared about himself.
Politics was a serious business in ancient Greece, and determining how the city-state would rule was critical for everyone. This was especially true in democratic Athens, where every citizen had the right, if not the obligation, to express their views publicly. Any man had the right to be heard and respectfully debated by his peers.
Being an idiot was thus regarded as a serious flaw. Idiots were thought to be weak-minded people who let others control their lives, and the term has since evolved into a common insult.
No Warfare Prior to the Olympic Games
No fighting was permitted in the month preceding the ancient Olympic Games, allowing spectators to safely travel across Greece to the games. To encourage this, and in recognition of the religious significance of the games, a ceasefire, or ekecheiria, was imposed throughout Greece.
The ceasefire was initially for one month, but it was gradually extended to three months over hundreds of years. No wars were permitted, no weapons were permitted in the Elis region, and no impediment was to be placed in the way of spectators, competitors, or “theories,” the officials who had to travel from their homes to the games. Envoys, or spondophoroi, were dispatched from Elis to publicize the games throughout Greece, and spectators came from both mainland Greece and the islands of Ionia and Magna Graecia.
In Athens, the population was divided into four social classes based on wealth, and individuals could only move up a class if they earned more money.
In Sparta, all male natives were referred to as homoioi, which means “peers,” but Spartan lords, who served as the city-military state’s and religious leaders, were descended from only two families. In a city-state, only free, land-owning, locally born men were eligible for full assurance under the law. Unlike in Rome, high social standing did not confer additional rights on a man in most city-states.