Ancient Greece

In the ancient world, the Greek world encompassed a far larger area than that currently occupied by the modern country of Greece. In the first half of the first millennium BC, they spread to the western coast of Asia Minor, Southern Italy, Sicily, Spain, southern France, and the coast of the Black Sea. By the fourth century BC, the Athenian philosopher Plato was able to state that the Greeks had spread around the Mediterranean Sea “like frogs around a pond” (Phaedo 109b).

The grave stele of Demetrius

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The grave stele of Demetrius

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A closer look at a stele from the fourth century BC, currently in Munich, that marked the grave of Demetrius, who probably died in battle.

The modern Odysseus

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The modern Odysseus

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Odysseus’ performs many ill-deeds on his twenty-year journey from Ithaca to Troy and back again. In the modern world, we are often enraptured by the details of his journey, but we can also be deeply ambivalent about the complicated man himself.

The blinding of Polyphemus

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The blinding of Polyphemus

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A scene on an amphora from Eleusis, near Athens, is the earliest representation of the blinding of Polyphemus by Odysseus and his men.

Odysseus the jerk

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Odysseus the jerk

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While modern audiences tend to be sympathetic towards the trickster hero Odysseus, a closer look reveals him to be a terrible person.

The language of tyranny

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The language of tyranny

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Different types of government use different language. A short treaty from Athens provides an example of this from the ancient world.

The suicide of Ajax

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The suicide of Ajax

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The suicide of the hero Ajax, the result of a dispute over the ownership of Achilles’ armour, was a popular motif in Archaic Greek art.

The death penalty in Athens

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The death penalty in Athens

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In ancient Greece, serious crimes were punishable by death. What forms did the death penalty take in Classical Athens?