The Greek civilization
The Greek civilization
The Greek civilization is one of the most important civilizations of man, whose relevance is widely reflected in today’s modern world. Civilizations are noted for their features or characteristics, which vary vastly from one to another. While some might have made significant strides in architecture, some in art forms etc. But rarely do we ever come across a civilization that has set new standards in everything associated with it. Right from architecture, performing arts, entertainment and sports, philosophy, technology, government etc. , the Greeks have excelled.
The pursuit of excellence in almost every field is evident from the achievements and ideas propagated by people of that era. Even with regard to thinking and mathematics, much of our current knowledge base widely rests on the works of these Greek intellectuals. The democracy which we strive to promote in the modern world of today was first conceived by the Greeks. In fact it is their own works in the form of pottery, paintings, sculpture and architecture, which has stood the test of time to reveal the greatness of this civilization across generations. The Greek civilization perhaps has very few comparisons in the history of mankind.
There are innumerable civilizations that sprang up much after the Greeks but have failed to make a mark in the history of mankind. Architecture, arts, music, theatre, science, sports or entertainment, the ancient Greeks had a passion in all, and set accomplishments in every field. Most of their findings and activities now have a modern connection, with the most notable one being the Olympics. With huge stadiums and sport competitions, the Greeks conducted the ancient Olympics of Delphi about 2700 years back. Sports and sport facilities, recognition for sportsmen and spectator participation was a notable feature of ancient Greece.
Track events, throw events, wrestling and boxing were part of their games, which we still retain. The Greek civilization would always be remembered by the future generations just like the past generations, because they have become embedded in many aspects of our lives just as they had been several thousand years earlier. ANCIENT GREECE The history of ancient Greece dates back to the Stone Age. Greece has cradled several civilizations, with early Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations, followed by the Dorians in 100 B. C. It should be noted here that around 500 to 339 B.
C, Greece consisted of several city like states, with each state actually being a city, with its countryside surrounding it. Much of what we know of ancient Greece today, we owe it to the historians of that era and their art reflected through their temple sculpture, paintings and artifacts, that have stood the test of time. With religion dominating Greek life, the temples of ancient Greece were remarkable with their beauty and size. There was varied entertainment for the ancient Greek people. Greeks had a notable passion for sports and entertainment too. The family gathered at the courtyard to share stories.
The head of the family generally narrated these stories, which also contributed to family bonding. The family courtyard also served as a venue for food and drinks. Symposium was an important aspect of Greek life, where men met for drinking and entertainment, and sometimes even indulged in it throughout the night, while guests, sang or danced by themselves. The occasion also had dancers and singers to entertain everyone. It is widely believed the symposiums were originally intended for drinking parties but gradually expanded to include entertainments and later even intellectual discussions and lectures.
The bards provided one of the most important forms of entertainment, which was to recite poems. These poets traveled widely to recite their poems to listeners. Music was very important to the Greeks with both men and women performing with their flute and lair at their symposiums and weddings. The symposiums had a unique intellectual association despite all the entertainment and fun. It should be emphasized here that the Greeks are recognized for developing the concept of tragedy in plays.. I chose this topic because the Greek Civilization is perhaps the best known civilizations of mankind.
In fact many aspects of their life and culture have been incorporated by many in today’s society. Be it politics, philosophy, art, science, sports or entertainment, the Greek Civilization has been involved with it. It is to be noted here that although many civilizations had existed after the Greek, not many are noted or looked with awe and inspiration, compared to the Greek civilization. In architecture, the colossal buildings had several remarkable styles with unique pillars. Apart from supporting the structures, the columns appeared to be at perfect ninety degrees, though they may be off. The columns were narrower as they went up.
The three architectural systems namely Doric, Ionic and Corinthian were developed by the Greeks, which had their own distinctive detailing. The Doric style is more sturdy with a plain top and was common in mainland Greece, while the Ionic style was thinner and more elegant with designs resembling a scroll. The temple of Athena Parthenos for the Greek goddess of wisdom on the Acropolis is an example of the Doric Order. The Erechtheum, temple of Apollo and the temple of Athena Nike are instances of the Ionic Order. The Corinthian Order is reflected by the choragic monument of Lysicrates and the temple of Zeus at Athens.
These were found in eastern Greece. The Corinthian style was less used by the Greek, but more by the Romans, and often observed in the Roman temples. These elaborate decorations mainly portray acanthus leaves. Architecture was just one of the many contributions of the ancient Greek to the Western civilization. The innumerable art forms including paintings, sculpture and pottery that have stood the test of time to reveal the Greek culture and tradition even today, is a testimony to the talents of the artisans of that era. The art and sculpture of ancient Greek has had a great influence through the centuries.
Many of the ancient Greek styles have been reproduced even to this day. Any modern art lover would classify many of the ancient Greek artists as being among the best artists to have ever lived. The Greeks used many materials including stone, limestone and marble that were in abundance. Greek sculptures are particularly very important as they portray the story of the Gods, mythical creatures, heroes and the Greek culture and tradition in general. However it is their involvement in entertainment and sports that have fascinated me. Not many civilizations have indulged in leisure activities and sports.
Many of the sporting activities of today may be attributed to the Greek Civilization. The track events like sprints, throw events like discuss and javelin all dates back to this era. Their idea of having stadiums to hold sporting events, watched by public and having gyms for physical fitness show the importance of these activities. No one can deny that today’s sporting activities have strong links with the practices of the Greek era. The attachment of the Greeks to their entertainment is reflected by the close association of entertainment and religion. Most entertainment focused on praising and pleasing the deities.
The religious festivals that are held by the Greeks have also been speculated to actually be directed at entertainment rather than religion. Their zeal for entertainment included the Agora or the marketplace and the gymnasia or the gym. The marketplace was ideally for men though young boys and women were welcome till noon. Their marketplaces were about 100 to 200 sq. m and housed barber shops, vendors selling several items like perfume and handicrafts, bath houses. The marketplace also had facilities for drinking, and had brothels too. The gymnasia of the Greeks resembled like the modern ones we have today.
These were usually huge open spaces for exercising and were surrounded by changing rooms, practice rooms and included baths too. Greeks were very conscious of their health and physique and spend considerable time everyday exercising in the gym. Sports was an integral aspect of the Greek culture. Most people in ancient Greece participated in the various sporting activities and sports was considered as the earliest form of entertainment in the country. The ancient Olympics of Delphi was also an important aspect of religion, which was started in Olympia in the southwest of Greece. The Greek Olympics is considered to have been started in 776 B.
C, about 2700 years back. The modern Olympic games which began in 1896 was only inspired by the Greek games. The religious festival of the Olympic games was actually held in honor of the Greek God, Zeus. The games were then held once in four years and people from far and near came to watch and participate in the games. The stadium could accommodate about 50,000 spectators. After the games there was a feast. The games also provided an opportunity for the traders to do business. Entertainers like jugglers and acrobats too show cased their talents. The events included long jump, boxing, wrestling and the throw events of javelin and discuss.
One of the nastiest events of the Greek Olympics was the Pankration which was an all inclusive wrestling event, without any rules. Although biting and poking eyes were banned, some competitors indulged in both. Married women were not allowed to witness the games. There was an exclusive festival for the unmarried women called Heraia. The games were held in honor of Zeus’ wife Hera. The marathon event has an important association to the ancient Greek. The name ‘marathon’ commemorates the non-stop running of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, who was an ambassador to the town of Marathon.
Pheidippides ran the entire route to convey the message that the Persians were defeated. However he died of exhaustion soon after conveying the message. This exhaustive run was first published in the first century AD by Plutarch. The Greek civilization is one of the greatest civilizations mankind has ever seen. The Greek empire around 300 BC extended far across the Middle East to India. The Greeks had great thinkers and scientists and were the first to establish democracy. The contributions of great men like Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and Pythagoras are still taught in the universities of today.
The Great Greek Civilization was indeed ahead of its time and would be recognized for in all the future generations. Ancient Greeks may rightly be said to be the basis of the Western Civilization whose contributions is evident in architecture, government formation, mathematics, athletics and philosophy. The Greeks strived for excellence in all walks of life which is well reflected in their phenomenal accomplishments. The Greek Civilization would be well remembered, as we owe many aspects of our contemporary lives, to this great civilization.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 8 October 2016
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