A History of World Societies,
Web Exercises |
Chapter 5: The Greek Experience
Ancient Greek civilization laid the
foundation for modern Western society through its experimentation in politics,
science, and philosophy. It also played a crucial role in world history. This
series of web activities will stress both of these themes as it reinforces
and elaborates on key issues developed in Chapter 5.
- You may want to begin by printing this page. As you explore
different sites, use the printout to refer back to the instructions and
questions detailed in each activity.
- On many web sites you can increase the size of the images
by clicking on them. Whenever possible, use the larger images to examine
fine details in photographs.
- To begin your investigation, familiarize yourself with
Greek history. Using McKay, A History of World Societies (Sixth Edition),
as reference, make a chronological list of the major periods in ancient
Greek history starting with the Minoans and ending with Hellenistic society.
(Hint: Look at the subheadings in the chapter for clues. You can also look
at the chronology at The
Ancient Greek World or Ancient
- Go to Map
1 to orient yourself to the Mediterranean basin. What three continents
does the Mediterranean Sea unite? What previous civilizations that you studied
in Chapters 1–4 could you place on this map?
- Locate the Greek homeland on this map. Note
the physical environment of the Greek world. After reviewing pages 107 and
113–114 in McKay, A History of World Societies (Sixth Edition), make
a list of how this physical environment shaped Greek civilization. You also
might want to look at National
Geographic's View from Above: The Mediterranean and Map 5.1 on page
106 of McKay.
- List several examples of how other civilizations might
have affected Greek culture. Hint: consider the history of writing. Examine
this example of Greek
writing: what other writing system(s) does Greek writing resemble?
- Another Greek tradition that most of the nations
of the world celebrate today is the Olympic games. Yet, the ancient games
were quite different from their modern counterparts. To better understand
the ancient games, read the following history of the
Olympic Games. Make sure to click on and read the pages on Olympia.
How did the ancient games reflect Greek values and culture? What were the
major events? Which events have modern equivalents and which are unique
to the ancient games? What were the important buildings at ancient Olympia
and what was their significance?
- The Greek philosophical tradition has profoundly influenced
the modern world, especially Western views on science and mathematics. In
Chapter 5 of McKay, A History of World Societies (Sixth Edition),
you read overviews so the thought of Plato and Aristotle. Take a moment
to consider specific examples from the work of each. Read the following
excerpts from Plato's
Republic and Aristotle's
Politics. Aside from the fact that both of these texts concern the
state and how it should be governed, how do they resemble and differ from
each other in their style, tone, and emphasis? What principles of government
does each text articulate, and how do those principles differ from each
other? How do these texts exemplify the thought of these important philosophers
as you understand it? (Feel free to review McKay pp. 122-123.)
- As you know, drama, both tragedy and comedy, played an
important role in the social life of Athens and other city-states. (See
McKay, A History of World Societies [Sixth Edition], pp. 116-118.)
To learn more about this art form, read this brief history of Greek drama.
What were its origins? What was the religious dimension of the drama? how
did the theatrical competition develop? Who were the major figures in the
evolution of Greek drama?
- The short historical piece ends with a diagram of the
great theater at Epidauros. Take a look at the archeological remains of
the theater at Epidauros
(you can click on the images to enlarge them).
- Finally read these short documents
on Greek drama: what do they tell you about the social significance
of and philosophical attitudes toward drama?
- Among their many achievements, the ancient Greeks laid
the foundations of Western art. The basic Greek artistic values of realism
and correct proportion would shape the work of Western artists until the
late nineteenth century. However, Greek art did not develop in isolation
from larger developments in the Mediterranean world. For example compare
sculptures with this early Archaic Greek Kouros
(i.e. Youth). How does the Greek statue resemble the Egyptian and Persian
pieces? How do you think the Egyptian and Mesopotamian art came to influence
- Now trace the development from Archaic to Classical art.
Look again at the early Archaic Kouros,
as well as the Archaic Kleobis
and Biton. Now examine the classical Kritios
(discus thrower), Zeus, and
Antikythera. What has changed in artistic technique from the Archaic
period to the Classical age? What continuities and differences can you see
between the Archaic and Classical sculptures?
- Finally, consider the development of sculpture
during the Hellenistic period. Look back at the Classical pieces. Now compare
them with the following Hellenistic sculptures: Apoxyomenos
(a young athlete removing dirt and sweat with a scraper), Seated
(or Cupid) Sleeping, and two of the most famous Hellenistic statues,
the Nike of Samothrace.
How do the Hellenistic sculptures resemble and differ from their Classical
precursors? What new artistic interests and techniques do the Hellenistic
pieces display? Recall what you have read In McKay, A History of World
Societies, about Hellenistic civilization: what characteristics of the
civilization might explain the distinctive features of Hellenistic sculpture?