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Ch 4: Ancient Greek Civilization

About This Chapter

Watch comprehensive and engaging video lessons on ancient Greek civilization. Take the self-assessment quizzes to make sure you understand the subject matter.

Ancient Greek Civilization - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

A wealth of ideas, government forms and literary works that we're familiar with today originated in ancient Greece. You're probably familiar with The Iliad and The Odyssey, but ancient Greece was also responsible for the birth of philosophy and the concept of citizenship. Lessons on these topics and much more are led by subject matter experts who use dynamic animations and on-screen graphics to bring ancient Greece to life. When you're done with this chapter, you'll be familiar with:

  • History of the alphabet
  • Ancient Greek literature
  • Greek city-states
  • Women in Greece
  • Life in Athens and Sparta
  • Athenian democracy
  • Plato and Aristotle
  • Alexandrian Hellenistic philosophers

Video Objectives
History of the Alphabet: From Cuneiform to Greek Writing Follow the evolution of writing from the early use of pictographs through the incorporation of vowels into the alphabet.
The Iliad: Greek Epic Revisit the central themes and plot of The Iliad and summarize the history of Greek epics.
The Odyssey: Greek Epic Examine the connection between Greek culture and this epic poem. Discuss the plot and events of the poem.
Who Were the Greek Gods? Characterize the gods of Greek mythology and religion.
Ancient Greek Literature: Impact on Today's Literature and Language Discuss the influence of Greek mythology and literature on present-day language and literature.
Forms of Government in Ancient Greece Delineate ancient Greece's transition from tyranny and oligarchy to an early democratic government to dictatorship. Highlight the significance of the birth of the idea of citizenship.
Greek City-States and Governments Determine how geography influenced Greek politics then examine concepts of constitutions, colonialism and competition in ancient Greece.
Trade and Commerce Among Greek City-States and the Mediterranean Region Trace trade and commerce patterns within Greek city-states and the Mediterranean region.
Women of Greece Find out how women were portrayed in Greek myths and literature. Describe the lives of women in ancient Greece. Contrast their lives with those of women in Sparta.
The Birth of Philosophy: The Presocratics Distinguish between religion and philosophy and examine the initial questions that led to the birth of philosophy.
History of Sparta Uncover the reasons that led to the formation of Sparta's society of warriors. Assess the stratified caste system.
Life in Athens vs. Life in Sparta Differentiate between life in Sparta and life in Athens. Characterize each of their roles in the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars.
Birth of History: Herodotus' Persian War Summarize key details in the Persian War and the importance of Herodotus in history.
Athenian Democracy: Solon and Cleisthenes Depict the leaders of Athenian democracy and the reforms they made.
Pericles, the Delian League, and the Athenian Golden Age Follow the formation of the Delian League and its transition to the Athenian Empire. Describe Pericles' role.
Peloponnesian War and Thucydides Describe the causes of the war and Pericles' strategy for winning.
Socrates: Life, Death and Philosophy Delve into the life of Socrates and his legacy. Analyze his philosophy.
Platonic Idealism: Plato and His Influence Uncover Plato's legacy and his influence on politics and science.
Aristotelian Logic: Aristotle's Central Concepts and Influence Examine Aristotle's life and his ideas and teachings.
Alexander the Great and the Birth of Hellenism Get an in-depth look at Alexander the Great's empire and conquests. Describe his role in the birth of Hellenism.
The Library of Alexandria & The Benefits of Hellenization Assess the spread of the Greek language and alphabet. Explore the legacies of Alexandria.
Euclid, Archimedes & Ptolemy: Alexandrian Hellenistic Philosophers Discover the innovations made in math, science, engineering and astronomy by these philosophers.

22 Lessons in Chapter 4: Ancient Greek Civilization
History of the Alphabet: From Cuneiform to Greek Writing

1. History of the Alphabet: From Cuneiform to Greek Writing

This lecture follows the development of writing, from the pictographs of proto-cuneiform to the symbolic phonemes of cuneiform and hieroglyphics. Then from the abjads of the Phoenecians, Minoans, Hebrews and Arabs to the complete alphabets of the Greeks. It explores the limitations and strengths of each development and draws modern parallels.

Greek Gods & Greek Mythology

2. Greek Gods & Greek Mythology

In this lesson, you will explore the mythology of ancient Greek civilization, including the gods, heroes and monsters of legend. Then, test you understanding with a brief quiz.

The Iliad: Greek Epic

3. The Iliad: Greek Epic

This lecture traces the history of Greek epics. It then examines the central themes of 'The Iliad': Xenia, Achilles' wrath, and his quest for immortality. The plot of 'The Iliad' is summarized and attention is drawn to themes from the Sumerian tradition.

The Odyssey: Greek Epic

4. The Odyssey: Greek Epic

This lecture provides a rough outline of the exploits of Odysseus in Homer's epic poem ''The Odyssey''. You'll learn plot details about this epic poem, in addition to hearing about how this important tale relates to Greek culture and literary works throughout history.

Impact of Ancient Greek Literature on Modern Literature & Language

5. Impact of Ancient Greek Literature on Modern Literature & Language

In this lesson, you will explore the various ways that ancient Greek literature has impacted our modern language and literature. Then,you can test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Greek City-States and Governments

6. Greek City-States and Governments

This is a lecture about Greek city states. It begins with an examination of the influence geography had on Greek politics, by comparing Greece to Egypt and Mesopotamia. This is followed by a loose characterization of Greek poleis in general, with specific attention paid to constitutions, colonialism and competition.

Trade & Commerce in Greek City-States & the Mediterranean Region

7. Trade & Commerce in Greek City-States & the Mediterranean Region

In this lesson, you will explore the commerce of the Ancient Greek city-states as they became involved with an early network of international trade. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Women of Greece

8. Women of Greece

The Greeks were one of the most progressive ancient civilizations, but that wasn't true in how they treated women. This lesson goes over facts about how women were treated and explains how the best place to be a woman in Greece was Sparta.

The Birth of Philosophy: The Presocratics

9. The Birth of Philosophy: The Presocratics

This lecture covers the advent of philosophy. It first differentiates philosophy from religion, drawing parallels to modern science. It then establishes the basic questions of Presocratic philosophy: What is matter? and What causes change? The rest of the lecture demonstrates how these questions developed as they were tackled by generations of Presocratic philosophers. Finally, it makes plain our incredible debt to the Presocratics.

History of Sparta

10. History of Sparta

In this lesson, you'll examine forces that shaped a Spartan society of elite warriors. We'll also explore the stratified caste system created by Lycurgus.

Birth of History: Herodotus' Persian War

11. Birth of History: Herodotus' Persian War

This lecture begins with Herodotus' special place in history. It then looks at the miracle at Marathon and seeks to explain how it happened by comparing phalanx warfare to Persian warfare. Following that, we'll run through a brief summary of the rest of the war, with special attention drawn to Greek triremes.

Athenian Democracy: Solon and Cleisthenes

12. Athenian Democracy: Solon and Cleisthenes

Although Athens is remembered for creating the first democracy, it took many years and multiple leaders to develop the system we think of today. Learn about who took control, what reforms they made and how the people revolted against the old system.

Pericles, the Delian League, and the Athenian Golden Age

13. Pericles, the Delian League, and the Athenian Golden Age

This lecture covers the formation of the Delian League, its development into the Athenian Empire and the peculiar place of Pericles in the midst of it all, turning the city of Athens into the seat of an empire.

Peloponnesian War and Thucydides

14. Peloponnesian War and Thucydides

This lecture covers the Peloponnesian War. First we enumerate the causes of the war. Then we examine Pericles' plan to win it. We see how Pericles' plan eventually fell apart and how the Athenians struggled without leadership until their eventual destruction at the hands of the Spartans.

Socrates: Life, Death and Philosophy

15. Socrates: Life, Death and Philosophy

This lecture is a whirlwind tour through the life of Socrates. It begins with an explanation of the Socratic problem, followed by an examination of his philosophy. The lecture ends with a summary of Socrates' legacy.

Platonic Idealism: Plato and His Influence

16. Platonic Idealism: Plato and His Influence

This lecture examines the philosophy and legacy of Plato. It covers the Allegory of the Cave, the Realm of Forms and Plato's views on politics and the soul. Finally, it shows Plato's enduring legacy in modern science.

Aristotelian Logic: Aristotle's Central Concepts and Influence

17. Aristotelian Logic: Aristotle's Central Concepts and Influence

This lesson will explore the life of the famous philosopher Aristotle. It will highlight his life in Northern Greece and Athens, as well as his interactions with Alexander the Great. It will also explain the main tenants of Aristotelian logic.

Alexander the Great and the Birth of Hellenism

18. Alexander the Great and the Birth of Hellenism

This lesson describes Alexander the Great's mighty empire. Beginning with a brief account of his father Philip, the lecture then turns to an enumeration of Alexander's conquests. Next, Alexander's methods are explored. Finally, we will discuss Alexander's legacy of Hellenization.

The Library of Alexandria & The Benefits of Hellenization

19. The Library of Alexandria & The Benefits of Hellenization

This lecture begins by examining the spread of the Greek language and alphabet during the Hellenistic period and noting the implications of a universal language. Next we look at four factors that combined to make Alexandria the heart of Hellenistic scholarship: common language, a convenient alphabet, papyrus and climate.

Euclid, Archimedes & Ptolemy: Alexandrian Hellenistic Philosophers

20. Euclid, Archimedes & Ptolemy: Alexandrian Hellenistic Philosophers

This lecture recounts the achievements of the many great minds that called Alexandria home. We will look at Euclid, Ptolemy, Archimedes, Aristarchus, Herophilos, Erasistratus and Eratosthenes.

Forms of Government in Ancient Greece

21. Forms of Government in Ancient Greece

In this lesson, you will explore several forms of government that could be found in ancient Greece. Then, you can test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Life in Athens vs. Life in Sparta

22. Life in Athens vs. Life in Sparta

In this lesson, you will explore the societies of Athens and Sparta and discover how they interacted in the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars. Then, you can test your understanding with a brief quiz.

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