The Legacy of Ancient Greece Greek Contributions



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The Legacy of Ancient Greece


Greek Contributions

  • Greek contributions: influence from the Greeks that affects us today, as in the areas of:

    • Language
    • Government
    • Medicine
    • Mathematics
    • Science
    • Architecture
    • Entertainment
    • Sports


Greek Contributions

  • Alphabet

    • Our alphabet grew out of the one the Greeks used.
  • How many letters look familiar?

  • How many of their names do you recognize?



Greek Contributions

  • Literature:

    • Drama
      • Comedy, Tragedy
    • Historical writing


Greek Contributions

  • Our form of government was a Greek idea.

    • Democracy, or rule by the people, began in Athens.
    • The practice of having citizens serve on juries also began in Greece.


Greek Contributions



Greek Contributions

  • For centuries, the Greeks believed that the gods and goddesses controlled natural events, including health and sickness.

    • The earliest Greeks thought that illness and accidents were punishments sent by the gods.
      • They didn’t know about the natural causes of disease and healing.


Greek Contributions

  • A Greek man named Hippocrates changed the way people thought about health and medicine.

    • Hippocrates brought a scientific way of thinking to his work as a doctor.
      • He believed that diseases had natural causes.
      • He taught his students to carefully observe their patients and write down what they saw.


Greek Contributions

  • As you know, the Greeks loved sports.

    • Their interest in athletics gave them some knowledge about the way people’s bodies move.
    • But their understanding of the body was limited.
    • Partly because they couldn’t look inside to see how the body works.
    • As these beliefs changed over time, the Greeks made new discoveries.


Greek Contributions

  • The Greeks loved reasoning and looked for answers to nature’s mysteries in mathematics.

  • One such scientist, Pythagoras, believed that numbers were the key to understanding nature.

    • He started a school where students developed mathematical theories.
    • – Like many Greeks, Pythagoras was especially fascinated by geometry.


Greek Contributions

  • How far away are the sun and moon?

  • How do planets move in space?

    • These are the kinds of questions asked by astronomers.
    • The word, Astronomy comes from the Greek word astronomia meaning “star.”
    • Astronomy means the study of stars, planets, and other objects in space.
  • Once again, the Greeks were pioneers in this field.



Greek Contributions

  • • People in all civilizations observed the sun, moon, and stars.

    • But a Greek scientist named Aristarchus was the first person to suggest that Earth moves around the sun.
      • This idea upset many Greeks who believed that Earth was the center of the universe.


Greek Contributions

  • The work of Greek astronomers also contributed to geography, the study of the Earth’s surfaces.

  • The word, geography, comes from the Greek word geographia which means “writing about the Earth.”

  • To describe where places were, they developed a system of longitude and latitude.



Greek Contributions

  • The Greeks identified many types of plants and named their parts.

    • They learned how plants reproduce by spreading seeds.
    • They also discovered that some plants are useful as medicines.
    • Greek doctors used many plants, especially herbs, to reduce pain and help people heal.


Greek Contributions

  • • The philosopher Aristotle was fascinated by living things.

    • – He collected information about many types of animals and plants.
    • – Then he organized animals into groups such as “those with backbones” and “those without backbones.”
    • – He also divided plants into groups such as herbs, shrubs, and trees.
  • • The way we classify, or group, animals and plants today reflects Aristotle’s work.



Greek Contributions

  • The word architecture comes from the Greek word, arkhitekton which means "master builder," from arkhi- "chief" + tekton "builder, carpenter."

  • The Greeks used:



Greek Contributions

  • Greek styles are still used in many buildings today.



Greek Contributions

  • • The word, theater, comes from the Greek word theatron, which means "place for viewing," from theasthai "to behold" (cf. thea "a view," theates "spectator") + -tron, suffix denoting place

  • • Greek theaters were built as semicircles.

    • The rows of seats rose steeply from the stage so that everyone in the audience could see and hear.
  • These ideas influence the way

  • theaters are built today.



Greek Contributions

  • The Greeks even invented special effects. They used hoists to make people appear to fly.

  • They also created scenery that revolved, or turned.

  • -Perhaps the greatest Greek contributions to the theater are their stories and plays.

    • Writers throughout the ages have been inspired by Greek myths and stories.
    • Greek dramas are still performed today all over the world.


Greek Contributions

  • • The first Olympics were held in 776 B.C.E. to honor the Greek god Zeus.

  • • Today’s Olympics reflect ancient Greek customs.

  • -During the opening ceremony, an athlete lights the Olympic flame.

  • -This custom comes from the time when the first Olympic athletes lit a fire on the altar of Zeus.



Greek Contributions

  • Many modern Olympic events grew out of Greek contests.

    • One example is the pentathlon.
    • The word, pentathlon, which means “five contests,” comes from the Greek words pente meaning "five" and athlon meaning "prize, contest.“
    • The Greek pentathlon included:


Greek Contributions

  • The Greeks invented the pentathlon as a test of all-around athletic skill.

  • Although the five contests are different today, the pentathlon is still an Olympic event.



Review – The Legacy of Ancient Greece

  • Language and Literature

  • Government

  • Medicine

  • Understanding of the Body

  • Mathematics

  • Astronomy

  • Geography

  • Understanding of Plants and Animals

  • Architecture

  • Theater

  • Sports




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