If you decide to go to Greece on your holidays this year, you are in for a historical experience! Not only will you receive a wealth of knowledge, but you are set to save a lot of money on your trip (thanks to their economic downturn). It’s not surprising that people keep coming back to Greece year after year – there is just far too much to see and do. If you are in any doubt of the historical mettle that Greece has, here is a list of some great things that the modern day world takes for granted that came right out of the Hellenic Republic.
The very building blocks of the written word, the alphabet as we know it has Greek origins. If you take apart the word ‘alphabet’, you will get ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’, the first two letters of the Greek alphabet. In turn, alpha and beta came from the two letters of the Phoenician alphabet, which originally meant ox and house, respectively!
Neo-classical styles of architecture come almost entirely from the Greeks – we’re talking pediments and porticoes, triglyphs and metopes. Also, having sculptures as ornaments was popularised by Ancient Greek culture. For a gorgeous representation of Greek architecture, you have to visit the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike (not the sports brand – they took that from Ancient Greece too!).
Tragedy, comedy, history…the Greeks gave us the stage theatre performances that we know and love today. Throughout Greece, you can find ruined open-air theatres – created for festivals in honour of the gods – possible of housing literally tens of thousands of people, in its perfectly constructed acoustic set-up.
Politics, Democracy, and Philosophy
Basically the foundation stones of civilization as we know it, the Greeks designed and implemented the democratic model that we enjoy today. As well as that, the Ancient Greeks took philosophy a long way, with some notable figures being Socrates and Aristotle (you’ve probably heard of them!).
Let’s take you back to 490 BC, and the Persian army had invaded Greece. Although the Greek army was outnumbered, they had an ace up their sleeve – Pheidippides. He was an Athenian “day runner” who was sent to Sparta to ask for help, when the Persians landed at Marathon.
He ran 240 km (150 miles) over the space of 2 days, and then ran the 42 km (26 miles) from the battlefield to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia. He apparently then uttered the words “we have won” and then collapsed and died. From this story, we get our marathon competitions!
The Olympic Games
The Olympic Games are unsurprisingly named after the sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia. Originally, this took place amongst city-states and kingdoms in Ancient Greece, but instead of horse and chariot races, we now have cycling races. According to legend, Heracles (Hercules) first called the games ‘Olympic’ and created the tradition of holding them every 4 years.
The Hippocratic Oath
Historically taken by physicians, The Hippocratic Oath calls on medical practitioners to swear on a number of gods that they will uphold certain ethical standards. It’s thought that Hippocrates (or one of his students) wrote this oath, and the original is written in Ionic Greek. There is a modern version of this now, and swearing on the Hippocratic Oath is seen as a rite of passage for many medical professionals across the world.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the Greeks gave us the screw! Developed by famous mathematician, Archimedes, it was originally used as a pump for removing and raising water. This was used to help stop ships from sinking and for irrigation.
And this is just a fraction of all of the things that the Greeks have given us!