Ancient Greece invented many things that help society today. The United States today uses a government based on ancient Greece, and invented a method to help solve problems today. They have lasting effects in many different areas of thinking and knowledge like government, medicine and math. You will now see the different areas Greecehas made an enduring impact, but I will focus on the government.
Greece made impacts on government today around the world. The Greeks had city-states or polises which each had their own separate governments. Greece was the birthplace of democracy which means “rule of the people”. City-states did not start as democracies, but most changed. Some city states used a oligarchy which meant only a few people had power. The Aristocrats or rich landowners had most of the power.

In the 600s B.C. rebels tried to overthrow the Aristocrats but failed. Draco, an Aristocrat, created a harsh set of laws because of the war. A law made minor crimes punishable by death. The people of Athens thought Draco’s laws were harsh, so a man named Solon created a set of laws that were much less harsh and gave more rights to non-aristocrats. Under his laws all free men living in Athens became citizens. A citizen is a person who has the right to participate in the government. The non-aristocrat Athenians still did not like the Aristocrat rule. Since the non-Aristocrats were not pleased with the government they wanted a new government. A noble named Peisistratus overthrew the oligarchy. He became the ruler of Athens, and was called a tyrant. A tyrant was a leader who took power by using force. Peisistratus brought peace and prosperity to Athens. He created new policies that helped unify the city. New festivals, temples, and monuments were also created under his rule. After he died his son took over, but many aristocrats were unhappy because their power was gone. Some of the aristocrats convinced a rival city-state to attack Athens. After the invasion the tyrants lost power and for a short time aristocrats ruled Athens.

Around 500 B.C. someone named Cleisthenes gained power in Athens. Although his was a member of a powerful aristocrat family he did not want aristocrats to rule. He overthrew aristocracy and established a new form of government called Athenian Democracy or Direct Democracy. All citizens in Athens had the right to participate in assemblies and help create laws. The direct democracy had all citizens participate in every decision. In our democracy we elect representatives.

Soon after democracy took power in Athens, the city was forced to fight many wars to keep the democracy. The Persian kings Darius and Xerxes launched invasions of Greece, but were turned back. Even though the Persian threat was gone, Greeks still fought with each other. The Delian League and the Peloponnesian League fought on and off for about forty years. At the end of the wars, Sparta captured Athens, and abolished the democracy.

Power among the city-states shifted, but finally Phillip II, king of Macedon, a northern kingdom, conquered the Greek city-states. Soon his son, Alexander III, better known as Alexander the Great took power when Pausanias assassinated Phillip, and conquered the entire Persian empire.

Macedonian power continued until Alexander died, and his generals split up the empire, fighting wars for power , but none lasted long.

Along with government Greece made the following contributions, but made many more not listed.

Scientific Method- Many science problems today are solved using this strategy. It creates a way to test hypothesis and try to draw conclusions.

Lever and pulley- Still used today. Made lifting heavy things much easier and made building things like buildings easier.
The Olympics- Contest containing many physical challenges. Used to decide which people were fit to join the army and possibly become military leaders.
Theater: A show or play performed to entertain people. Many great play writers came from Greece.

Ancient Greek Geography
Ancient Greece’s geography is very complicated. The land was very rugged and jagged because of the many mountains that covered the countryside. There were very few places in Greece where farming could be accomplished, and this caused very few people to live in the interior of Ancient Greece. The coast was one place where farming could be accomplished, so the population there grew. Another reason that the population grew here is because the Mediterranean Sea allowed for easy trade and commerce. This also allowed for economic growth. The Ancient Greeks also gained from their geography. The mountainous terrain created a natural barrier for the Ancient Greeks. It slowed invaders trying to conquer Ancient Greece. This allowed the Ancient Greek armies to prepare for attack. The Mediterranean Sea also provided a natural barrier and a trade route. It took a long time for invaders to cross the Mediterranean, so many of the enemies of Ancient Greece didn’t attack. The Mediterranean Sea provided a trade route because it provided a shortcut for merchants and traders. It took less time and was more comfortable than traveling over the rugged and jagged terrain of Ancient Greece. Below is a chart of some of the pros and cons of Ancient Greek geography.

Archimedes screw-
made transporting water much easier. It was a hollow pipe with a screw in it.
Archimedes Screw (CC)

Statue of Plato (CC)

Portrait of Socrates (CC)
Philosophers- Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were Greek philosophers who made many contributions to the world. The links on the name will lead you to more information on these men.

Hippocratic Oath- Oath doctors must take that says they will keep all personal things said confidential and that they will not say that they won't help a person.

Famous Buildings:
The Greeks had many great buildings. Their temples were grand and architecturally better. The pillars holding up the roofs of Greek temples were angled and made to cause an illusion that they were straight. One of the greatest temples was the Parthenon in Athens. The Parthenon was made in honor of the goddess of the city, Athena.

__**Gods And Goddesses:**__
The Greeks had twelve major gods and goddesses. The gods and goddesses were portrayed as greedy and human like creatures. They were supposed to have great powers and famed strength. These major Gods and Goddesses were:
Zeus- Ruler of Mount Olympus and king of the gods and goddesses. His Roman name was Jupiter.
Apollo- Son of Zeus. King of light and the sun. He is the twin brother of Diana. His Roman name was Apollo, just like his Greek name.
Poseidon- Zeus's eldest brother. King of the sea and all waters. His Roman name was Neptune.
Hades- Zeus's second brother. He was given control of the Underworld. His Roman name was Pluto.
Dionysus- Son of Zeus. King of wine, grapes, and other grape products.
Aries- First son of Zeus and his wife. King of murder and bloody wars. Had an affair with Hephaestus's wife. His throne was draped and covered in human skins. He played a major part in many of the Greek wars. His Roman name was Mars.
Athena- Woman and goddess who sprung from Zeus's head. She is the goddess of strategy, strategic warfare, and domestication. Her Roman name was Minerva.
Hephaestus- The second son of Zeus and his wife. He was the ugliest of the gods and goddesses. His mother made him king of forging weapons and jewelry. He married Venus. His Roman name was Vulcan.
Hera- The goddess of marriage. She was the wife of Zeus. She often became jealous when Zeus had an affair with another woman. Her Roman name was Juno.
Aphrodite- The goddess of love. She married Hephaestus, but had an affair with Aries. Her Roman name was Venus.
Artemis- She was the goddess of the hunt and the moon. She is Apollo's twin sister and her Roman name was Diana.
Hermes- The messenger for the gods and goddesses. He helped many of the Greek heroes. He was the son of Zeus, and was immortal. He was not known as the son of Zeus because Zeus didn't want his wife Hera to kill him. His Roman name was Mercury.

In conclusion, Ancient Greece contributed to the world in many ways such as government, medicine, and math.

"Democracy." Wikipedia "2009" Web.8 Jun 2009. < >. "Democracy." Wikipedia "2009" Web.8 Jun 2009. <>

"Ancient Greece." Wikipedia "2009" Web.8 Jun 2009. <>

"Archimedes Screw." Wikipedia "2009" Web.8 Jun 2009. <>.

Shek, Richard."World History". New York, USA: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2006.

Carr, Karen. "Ancient Greece Government." History for Kids 15/1/2009 Web.8 Jun 2009. <>.

US Supreme Court Building (CC)
external image ParthenonRec01.jpg
The Image to the top left is the US Supreme Court. The image on the top right is a color reconstruction of the Parthenon in Greece.
What are the similarities between the two images?
Find any state house in America; can you see Greek in the building?

Created by Maddie February 12, 2011

Geography Section created by Connor P. November 8, 2012