Ancient Greek Contributions
The ancient Greeks can be credited with many contributions to Western civilization. The Greeks helped influence us in many areas, from the arts, architecture and philosophy to math, drama and science. In each of these areas, the root of who we are today can be attributed to the contributions of the Ancient Greeks.
Although the Greeks fought many wars and had political turmoil, they always had confidence in the power of the human mind. They had natural curiosity and a belief in reason. Greek thinkers, artists, and writers explored the nature of the universe and the place of people in it. Socrates was not only an impressive figure, he was known as the wisest and justest philosopher of his time.(According to Plato) As stated in Document 1, ???The unexamined life is not worth living??? is a famous quote by Socrates that suggests if you don??™t reflect on how you live your life, there is no point in living it. Today, people still seek truth and self-knowledge. Aristotle was a student of Plato??™s and also a famous philosopher. He analyzed forms of government and questioned how people should live. He promoted reason as the guiding force for learning. As stated in Document 2, Aristotle said, ???A life guided by human reason is superior to any other??¦??? He believed in studying human nature. Our schools today still study all branches of knowledge, including politics and ethics.
During the Hellenistic age, thinkers built on early Greek knowledge. Mathematicians, such as Pythagoras and Euclid helped our advancement in learning. As stated in Document 5, the theorem, ???If two straight lines cut one another, the vertical, or opposite, angles shall be equal.??? This is an excerpt from the Elements, written by Euclid, a textbook that became the basis for modern geometry.
Greek architects wanted to convey a sense of perfect balance to reflect the harmony and order in the universe. The Parthenon as pictured in Document 7, is the most famous example of this. Today, many public buildings use the same kind of Greek columns in their architecture, especially buildings in Washington DC.
Early Greek sculptors carved figures in rigid poses but later developed a style of natural poses. For example, Myron??™s famous marble sculpture of The Discuss Thrower, as seen in Document 8, represents an Olympic event. The Greeks held athletic contests to honor Zeus, the most powerful Olympian. The Olympic Games helped unify the Greek world. Today, thousands of athletes from around the world compete in the summer and winter Olympics. To honor the Greek origins, relay runners carry a torch from Greece to the host city.
Perhaps the most important Greek contribution to literature was in the field of drama. Greek dramas were often based on popular myths and legends. Through these stories, playwrights described moral and social issues or explored the relationship between the people and the gods. One of the greatest playwrights was Sophocles, who wrote tragedies. An excerpt from the play ???Antigone??? is described in Document 6. He explores what happens when an individuals moral duties conflict with the laws of the state. Today, many dramas and plays deal with these same types of struggles.
As you can see, many of the contributions of the ancient Greeks influenced our world today. It is because of their great civilization we are who we are today. From the arts, architecture and philosophy to math, drama and science.
Ancient Greek Contributions