In Sparta, for example, girls had more freedom and they were taught how to fight. They were taught how to read, write and learned a lot of poetry by heart. The second photograph here shows a Greek inscription in stone. The Greeks had their own letter alphabet. Boys learned to write on pieces of clay and wax tablets, which they could use again and again by smoothing the surface over. The plant Cyperus papyrus was made into paper see the picture of Egyptian papyrus, top right and used in books for children to read from, and for older children to write in.
Young boys also learned how to play a musical instrument, as music was an important part of festivals and celebrations. Greeks were thought to be well-educated if they could play an instrument called a lyre. This is an instrument made from a tortoise shell covered on the hollow side by ox skin. It was a popular instrument to play at evening parties to accompany singers and people reciting poetry. Sport was another key part of Greek life.
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Fitness and skill were very important in Greek sports and at the Olympic games athletes enjoyed showing off these qualities. In the palaistra boys were taught different sports, in the hope that some of them would become athletes or soldiers.
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Some characters from Greek mythology were thought to become part of the constellation when they died. They were often used to teach people about events that they could not always understand, such as illness and death, or earthquakes and floods.
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Legends are like myths, but they are slightly different. While myths are completely made up, legends are based on events that really happened. The Ancient Greeks believed that they had to pray to the gods for help and protection, because if the gods were unhappy with someone, then they would punish them. They made special places in their homes and temples where they could pray to statues of the gods and leave presents for them.
The Greeks had a different god for almost everything. They imagined that the gods lived together, as a family, up on the top of Mount Olympus. They did not see them as perfect, but just like people.
Daily life of the ancient Greeks
In the Greek myths the gods argue, fall in love, get jealous of each other and make mistakes. This sculpture shows the head of the Gorgon Medusa. Once a beautiful woman, she was punished by the Gods for being so vain and turned into a Gorgon. She had snakes for hair and a stare that instantly turned people to stone if they looked directly at her.
There are many famous Greek myths and legends. Some of them are reused in stories and films today! When someone died in Ancient Greece, they would be washed. A coin would be placed in their mouth, to pay the ferrymen who took the dead across the rivers in the different parts of the Underworld. When the Greeks conquered Egypt, they adopted the Egyptian tradition of mummification.
They used simple boxes for burying their dead or the deceased would be burned, and their ashes buried in a special pot. Entrances to tombs, where the dead were laid to rest, were made of marble. Heads of Gorgons were carved on to the tomb doors to ward off evil.
Acropolis Museum’s huge archaeology dig disclosed the daily lives of the Ancient Greeks
The tombs were made to stop the dead being forgotten and sometimes they were carved with pictures, showing the deceased with people they knew in life. Inside the tomb the family of the deceased person placed valuable objects with their body, like pottery, jewellery and coins. It was believed that they would be able to use these objects in the Underworld. Every year families visited the tombs of their dead relatives, making offerings and decorating the tomb.
Introduction to the Ancient Greeks
Real — or replica? Arts and Entertainment in Ancient Greece Tragedy and Comedy: Greek Theatre Ancient Greek actors wore masks similar to the one in this picture, which is called an antefix. Music: Young boys also learned how to play a musical instrument, as music was an important part of festivals and celebrations. Physical Education: Sport was another key part of Greek life. In one, a woman called Pandora opens up a box full of all the bad things in the world, and lets them out.
In another tale, two inventors called Icarus and Daedalus try to build wings so they can fly away from prison. The Greeks believed that after death, a soul went on a journey to a place called the Underworld which they called Hades. This is what they thought would happen:. First, Thanatos, the God of Death, would reach down and cut a lock of hair from your head, as you died. Then, Hermes, the messenger of the gods, led you to the River Styx. If your body had been buried, then Charon, the ferryman, transported you across the river. On the bank of the river, you would encounter Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guarded the Underworld.
His job was to stop people from leaving and returning to the world of the living. After crossing the river, you would leave the ferry and walk on to a place called the Asphodel Fields, where people forget all memories of their former life. Then, at a fork in the road three judges would decide where to send souls: good people were allowed to go onwards to Elysium a comfortable place where the sun always shone , but those who needed to be punished were sent to Tartarus.
Sometimes, when the judges could not decide, souls would be sent back to the Asphodel Fields. While Hippocrates did some of the basics, Omar Habbal of the Sultan Qaboos University says serious advances in Greek knowledge of anatomy only really started coming with Aristotle — and his anatomical work led him to declare that the thing that gave life to the body was the soul, so Greenhill says the ancient doctors should be lauded for doing so much with so little basic knowledge, and literally no patient ever has said that of their doctor.
What do patients actually say?
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Anyone who headed to a doctor in ancient Greece — especially a doctor that came after the time of Hippocrates pictured and Galen — would probably be diagnosed according to humoral theory. And this wasn't just popular in ancient Greece. It was so important it would be used well into the 19th century. Basically, the theory said that there are four humors in the body: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. Those were associated with both the four seasons spring, winter, summer, and autumn, respectively and with the elements air, water, fire, and earth, also respectively.
Children of Ancient Greece
When the humors were in balance, all was well. When they were out of balance, that's when problems started. According to the Science Museum , treatments were all about restoring balance. Being diagnosed with too much blood would mean a prescription of bloodletting , for example. There was a lot of purging going on in ancient Greece, a lot of laxatives, and, well, that's the general idea.
Psychology Today says it was about maintaining balance, too, and that could be as weird as eating cold, wet vegetables to reduce black bile. The big problem was that a lot of the time, the treatment was exhausting. In fact, it could do more harm than good, making an already ill person too weak to fight off an infection or illness. Here are the basics via the University of Hawaii. It was during the Peloponnesian War , and Athens was under siege when an illness broke out.
It lasted for around five years, and the death toll was catastrophic. Most of what historians know about the plague comes from the writings of the Athenian general Thucydides, but what he describes isn't anything clearly recognizable as one particular plague or illness, but for a while, it was believed to be either smallpox or typhus. Victims suffered from fevers, bloody and swollen throats and tongues, and finally a violent diarrhea that drained the last of the life out of many victims.
In , Scientific American reported on a study where DNA collected from the teeth of ancient Athenians swiftly buried in a mass grave suggested it was typhoid fever. Not everyone is convinced, though, and according to The Atlantic , some historians claimed that study's methodology and testing were flawed. One of the most recent suggestions is that it was actually an outbreak of Ebola. Whatever it was, though, it killed a lot of people in a very, very bad way. War is human nature, and the ancient Greeks were no exception.
According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia , they were frequently at war with other city-states and with other peoples. In the earliest days of ancient Greece, advancing armies would be made up entirely of private citizens, and not only were they tasked with fighting, they had to supply their own weapons and equipment.
Their gear was rarely the best, and in many cases, farmers were pulled off their farms to fight, and — if they survived — they were sent back to their farms at the end. Sometimes they were paid, but it was more to cover expenses than get ahead in the world. There was nothing in the way of organization, insignias, or defining features to conveniently illustrate who was fighting for whom.
The organization of these citizen armies varied. Take Athens, for example. What citizens were expected to do depended on their wealth and social status, says the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The citizens not quite at the top of the pecking order but pretty darn close were the horsemen, because they were wealthy enough to keep horses. The next group were the hoplites, because they could afford the odd pounds of armor and weapons they needed to supply and carry, while the poorest class acted as the grunts, the pawns, and the oarsmen.
The richest were the officers, and things haven't changed that much after all. Sparta has a reputation as the most militaristic of the Greek city-states, and at the height of their power — around BC — Sparta was so confident in their military might that their city didn't have walls. They didn't need them. They had Spartans. Figuring out what's real and what's fiction is tough when it comes to Sparta because, LiveScience says, a lot of what historians know comes not from them but their enemies.
We do know Sparta was very fertile, and not having to worry too much about food gave them the chance to focus on other things, like fighting and poetry. Their bloody-minded militaristic nature started when they decided they were going to turn neighbors into slaves, and that freed up the actual Spartans to fight more.
Boys were trained from the age of 7 to 20, when they were given little food, clothing, and supplies, and were expected to be resistant to things like hunger and cold.