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
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
History of the Alphabet: From Cuneiform to Greek Writing

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

Cuneiform writing, which first appeared in 3,500 BCE, eventually evolved into the much easier-to-read Greek alphabet. Learn about the history of the alphabet, the problems of cuneiform, and how the Greeks created vowels to write poetry and improve readability.

Greek Gods & Greek Mythology

2. Greek Gods & Greek Mythology

The Greeks sought to explain the world via tales of magic, heroism, and chaos. Explore Greek mythology and its fantastic stories of the creation of the world, gods, heroes, and monsters.

The Iliad: Greek Epic

3. The Iliad: Greek Epic

The Iliad is a Greek epic poem written by Homer and contains 15,000 lines of verse. Discover the concept of Xenia, learn about the characters of Paris, Helen, Achilles, Agamemnon, Patroclus, and Hector, and explore the themes of the Iliad.

The Odyssey: Greek Epic

4. The Odyssey: Greek Epic

'The Odyssey' is a Greek epic poem by Homer. Explore the plot of this poem and its characters including Odysseus, and consider how this poem 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

Modern linguistics and literature has roots in the ancient Greek works including mythology and history. Explore the impact of legendary Greek literature, and the effects of theater on modern Western literature.

Greek City-States and Governments

6. Greek City-States and Governments

In ancient Greece, a city-state, or polis, was the major center of government. Compare the geographies and governments of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece, then explore the Greek city-states' constitutions, acts of colonialism, and fixation on competition.

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

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

Ancient Greek city-states developed economically through trade and commerce with the nearby regions. See how the Mediterranean area became rich through this trade, which countries were principally involved, and the products and methods of trading.

Women of Greece

8. Women of Greece

While the Greeks are considered to be responsible for starting many of the great aspects of Western culture, they largely treated women as second-class citizens. Learn more about the role of Greek women during the Archaic and Classical periods, and some of the surprising rights women had in Greek society including inheriting land, getting divorced, and a small amount of trading.

The Birth of Philosophy: The Presocratics

9. The Birth of Philosophy: The Presocratics

Ancient philosophy arose from the careful observation of reality by deep thinkers who lived more than 200 years before the births of the great Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle and are collectively referred to as Presocratics. Learn more about the Presocratics and the birth of philosophical thought among the Monists, Pythagoreans, Eleatics, Pluralists, and Atomists.

History of Sparta

10. History of Sparta

The whole life of a Spartan warrior is a preparation for his duty and role in his society. Discover Sparta's crisis, Lycurgus' significance in the formation of Spartan society, what Agoge is, and the Sparta Caste system.

Birth of History: Herodotus' Persian War

11. Birth of History: Herodotus' Persian War

Herodotus' history of the Persian War is the first contemporary record of wars. Learn about contemporary history versus historical records, Herodotus and his account of the Persian conflict with the Greeks, as well as Darius the Great versus Athens, Xerxes and the Battle of Thermopylae, and the Battle of Salamis.

Athenian Democracy: Solon and Cleisthenes

12. Athenian Democracy: Solon and Cleisthenes

In Ancient Greece, Athens led the way in establishing constitutional governments and direct democracy. Explore the history of how Athenian democracy developed and the role that Solon and Cleisthenes played in the formation of this novice form of government.

Pericles, the Delian League, and the Athenian Golden Age

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

The Delian League was an alliance formed by the Athenians against the Persians and this started the Golden Age of Athens. Learn about the history of the Delian League, the Athenian Golden Age, and the contributions of Pericles in this period.

Peloponnesian War and Thucydides

14. Peloponnesian War and Thucydides

Waged for nearly 30 years, the Peloponnesian War was a prolonged conflict that destroyed the Athenian empire. Explore the historic account of the war by Thucydides, causes of the war, and how Pericles' grand strategy fell apart.

Socrates: Life, Death and Philosophy

15. Socrates: Life, Death and Philosophy

Socrates is considered the Father of Philosophy. Learn what is known about the beliefs and life of Socrates, discover the Socratic Problem, and explore an example of a Socratic dialogue.

Platonic Idealism: Plato and His Influence

16. Platonic Idealism: Plato and His Influence

Plato's ideas profoundly influenced the Western world through such dialogues as the Allegory of the Cave. Through this writing, Plato sought to highlight the importance of understanding the difference between opinion and knowledge, based on the teachings of Socrates. This lesson examines Platonic idealism of humanity, logic, and the philosophy of universal truth.

Aristotelian Logic: Aristotle's Central Concepts and Influence

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

Aristotle is one of the most well-known Greek philosophers and a student of Plato. Explore Aristotle's life and examine the influence of his teachings, known as Aristotelian logic, focusing on the central concepts of syllogism, causality, and mean.

Alexander the Great and the Birth of Hellenism

18. Alexander the Great and the Birth of Hellenism

Learn about the efforts of Alexander the Great and his father, King Phillip II of Macedonia, to advance Greek culture and language throughout neighboring empires. Understand their conquests and political cunning through discussion of Hellenism, a strategy used by Alexander in persuading his adversaries to embrace Greek culture.

The Library of Alexandria & The Benefits of Hellenization

19. The Library of Alexandria & The Benefits of Hellenization

The ancient Library of Alexandria in Egypt housed tens of thousands of documents and letters, all handwritten and many instrumental in advancing the world's understanding of sciences like philosophy, mathematics, and astrononomy. Learn about the ways Western civilization benefitted from the data included in the library's massive collection and the spread of Greek Hellenization.

Euclid, Archimedes & Ptolemy: Alexandrian Hellenistic Philosophers

20. Euclid, Archimedes & Ptolemy: Alexandrian Hellenistic Philosophers

Alexandria was considered the center of scholarship in the Hellenistic world and beyond, with breakthroughs in science, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, and even engineering. Discover the inventions and achievements of legendary Alexandrian philosophers such as Euclid, Archimedes, Herophilos, Erasistratus, Aristarchus, Eratosthenes, and Ptolemy.

Forms of Government in Ancient Greece

21. Forms of Government in Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece was home to various forms of government within each of their city-states. Explore how Sparta used dual-monarchy, and how Athens used democracy as their forms of government to become powerful city-states in Ancient Greece.

Life in Athens vs. Life in Sparta

22. Life in Athens vs. Life in Sparta

Athens and Sparta were powerful cities that contrasted greatly in structure and everyday life. Explore the very different lives in Athens and Sparta, with their unity in the Persian Wars and the power struggle that led to the Peloponnesian War.

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