By: Rachel Davidson, Erin Hylen, Kevin Chen, and Rhea Bennett


Government In Ancient Greece

Athens: The government in Athens used to be an aristocracy, in which the city-state thrived. There was the Ecclesia (Athenian Assembly) which represented all 4 classes of wealth in citizens, voted on policy, and served as a court as well. There was also the council of 400 which took care of the day to day business of Athens. However citizens felt as though they did not have enough say in the government and its decisions. Athenians then looked for a solution, and found it in democracy, which gives power to the people, and is even the basic building blocks of our government today. People believe that a man named Cleisthenes of Athens is most responsible for this type of government. As a ruler, he gave the Ecclesia more power, turned to the council of 400 in the council of 500, and allowed citizens to be involved with their government directly, also known as a direct democracy. However involvement in the government was limited to free men only at that time like most civilizations. That meant no women or slaves could vote. Democracy had remained in Athens until the time of Pericles.

external image athens_parthenon1.JPG
external image athens_parthenon1.JPG

Sparta Sparta was ruled by 2 kings, who were the heads of the richest aristocratic families in the land. In addition to the kings, there was also the Council of Elders, 28 strong, they proposed laws and settled court cases. To make sure that the Council of Elders power was always in check, there was the Spartan assembly as well, which represented all the male Spartans on Sparta, and they could either approve or reject the council’s decision. Sparta also elected 5 Ephors to oversee the military and monitor the actions of other factions. Military was Sparta’s main objective, and with this in mind they formed a military oligarchy after they conquered Messina as the Helots there outnumbered them terribly, so they had to keep a strong military at all times to prevent revolt.

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external image sparta.gif

Religion of Ancient Greece
Greek religion is based on thousands of myths, tales, and legends. These stories usually gave explanations of how the world came to be the way it was. The Greeks worshipped many immortal gods and goddesses, who lived on Mount Olympus. The most important was Zeus. Zeus was the god of lightning, and the Greeks believed he controlled the weather. He had many children, who were gods and goddesses as well; They each had a title, making them god of that emotion, object, nature disaster, or art form. For example, there is Aphrodite, the goddess of love, Dionysus, the god of wine, and Apollo, god of the sun. Humans, compared to gods, were unimportant, weak, and meaningless, while the gods were the exact opposite. Even though one was thought of as less significant, relationships between the two were re-occuring in Greek Mythology. There were "Demi-gods", children who were half-god, half-mortal. When the gods decided to communicate with mortals, they would often do it through dreams, omens, and oracles. Oracles were people who predicted the future and your destiny. Since humans believed that the gods influenced their lives, they would make sacrifices to please them, and would pray to them often. Being the home of the gods, Olympia, a city located on the peninsula of Peloponnesus, was a highly religious place for Greeks. Temples were named after gods, like the Temple of Hera and the Temple of Zeus, both in Olympia. The Parthenon in Athens was also used for religious ceremonies, which took place in a courtyard.
Economy of Ancient Greece
  • Because Greece lacked natural resources such as timber, valuable metals, and fertile farm land,sea travel and trade were very important to the Greek economy.
  • Greeks traded in a marketplace called an agora. This was the center of commerce.

Spartan Economy:
  • Spartans isolated themselves from other Greeks and looked down on trading with them.
  • The Spartan Economy was based on agriculture; citizens could only work in agriculture, they weren't allowed to do anything else.
  • All the farm work was done by Greeks who were enslaved when Sparta conquered their land, these people were called helots.
  • A small group of aristocrats owned their own land, but most people had state-owned plots.
  • Because citizens couldn't manufacture goods, perioeci, free people who were not citizens, took over the trade industries
Greek Pottery

Athenian Econcomy:
  • Because there was a shortage of good farm land in Athens, a small group of wealthy aristocrats owned most of the land.
  • During hard times, the poorer farmers were forced to sell their plots
  • Later in 546 B.C. a Athenian tyrant named Pisistratus will help the less wealthy farmers by giving them loans, taking land from nobles and creating new building projects that will provide jobs for the poor.
  • Most Athenian farmers worked alone or with the help of a few slaves.
  • When it came time to plant or harvest the crops, the whole family pitched in.
  • In Athens, foreign artisans produced much of the goods that were traded abroad; sadly they weren't able to become citizens.
  • Athenian pottery was a very valuable export throughout the Mediterranean region.
  • In 594 B.C. chief official Solon introduced economic reforms that encouraged the trade and export of olive oil and wine. This help the farmers and merchants of Athens by creating a higher demand for their products.

Olive oil and Wine

Art of Ancient Greece
The art in Ancient Greece involved many statues, sculptures, paintings, music, and theatrical performances. Greek artists paved the way to modern statues, as their artwork was more realistic and life-like than any other civilization before them. Artists used incredible clays, and marble to create there masterpieces. In the earlier artworks the artists created less life-like figures, but as time went on new techniques were discovered that made the sculpture appear more realistic. Artists often carved out of marble to have a realistic skin portrayal. The Greek people were famous for there incredibly beautiful images of the human body. Their art is still popular today in modern society Europe. The beautiful statues and paintings are still proudly displayed through out the cities of Greece.

Another one of the main parts of art and culture in ancient Greece was theater. Greek dramas were a major deal and a main part of the Ancient Greek's entertainment. The scripts and plays were typically based on Greek Mythology and religion. The theater in Greece originated in Athens, and it was the center of the city. All of the people went to the plays that took place in an
amphitheater. It is a giant open building with stadium seating in which the people can sit all around the stage. The drama in Athens was so important to the community that there was a Theoric Fund that financed the audiences attendance to the performance, the rulers of the city made it a crime for that money to be used for any other purpose. All performances took place at the City Dionysia, which was a theatrical festival that held great meaning to the Athenians. It would last three days in which play writers competed in front of their audiences. The topic of the festival usually was to lighten the mood and poke fun at current events in society. Although the festival focused on theatrical performances there were also musical acts as well comedians.

Technology of Ancient Greece

The Greek alphabet

  • The Greeks developed a 24 letter alphabet
  • Between 750 B.C. and 500 b.c. the military and other wealthy land owners had weapons, helmets and chariots made out of bronze
  • Around 650 B.C. the use of iron to make tools and weapons replaced the use of bronze, this made helmets, shields and swords affordable for ordinary citizens

Greek-style bronze armor
Greek-style bronze armor

Athens Education:

  • Only the sons of wealthy families could afford to attend formal education
  • Boys started school at the age of 7
  • The purpose of school was to prepare them to be good citizens and skilled public speakers when they grew up
  • At school they study poetry, grammar, history, mathematics and music; they also learned to read and write, and were trained in logic and public speaking
  • The boys spent part of every day participating in athletics
  • And when they were older they received military training
  • Girls did not attend a formal school
  • They were educated at home by their mothers
  • They learned how to weave cloth, make clothing, cook meals, manage a household, raise children and other skills they needed to become good wives and mothers
  • Some girls learned to read and write and even a few girls became accomplished writers

Education in Classical Greece: pottery depicting students being instructed in speech and learning to play the lyre
Education in Classical Greece: pottery depicting students being instructed in speech and learning to play the lyre

Spartan Education:

  • At the age of 7 boys began their military training
  • The moved into military barracks were they live until they are 30 years old
  • The living conditions in the barracks were harsh: they endured hard exercise (marching, fighting, ext.), slept on wooden benches with no blankets for warmth, and received a coarse diet of about 1 bowl of black porridge a day
  • "To develop cunning and supplement their diet, boys were encouraged to steal food. If caught, thought, they were beaten."
  • Girls also recieved some military training and were tought to exercise and strengthen themselves
  • Unlike other Greek women, Spartan girls ran, wrestled and played sports

Society of Ancient Greece


The people of Athens were classified in three social categories: citizen (Adult men),

Freemen (women and foreigners), and slaves. The life of a woman in Athens was to generally stay at home, tend to the house, the slaves and anything else that needed to be done. However women were allowed to leave the home and visit others in their homes, as well as attend events such as festivals, wedding, parties, etc. If a family was especially poor and could not afford a slave for labor, the women would sometimes work outside on the field or alongside the husband if he worked at home. Citizens were expected to be at the meetings of the Ecclesia serve and serve as a juror in court from time to time. A popular place where many citizens would socialize is the agora, which was a marketplace. Many Athenians were involved in many activities for example, discussion groups, poetry writing, plays, and anything else to make their lives more interesting, not to mention there fashionable style and hair, which they would wear often.

Athenians not only believed in education of the mind, but in the body as well. Boys would got to school from the age of 7 to either 14 or 18, depending on whether or not a student wanted to continue his learning or not. In school they learned how to read and write, they studied music and learned about their religion through Greek mythology. Aside from learning they would also participate in physical activities such as wrestling, running, and other sports. If a student chose to seek higher education, they could turn to Plato, or his student, Aristotle, who taught at the Lyceum. Women weren’t formally educated, but if from a wealthy family her parents could hire a tutor.

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external image 5299248.5bf547e5.560.jpg


Sparta’s main focus was maintain a powerful military force, and with that being said, they needed their armies to be the best of the best. When babies were born, they were examined at birth. If they appeared healthy, they would be given to a nurse to care for them instead of a mother. If they appeared weak or disabled however, they would be left on the hills to die. After 7 years, the children would be then grouped by an instructor, who was usually very harsh and used physical punishment to harden to boys. They would engage in many activities to prepare them for the army, while also teaching obedience, one of the most important characteristics of a good soldier.

Women could not join the army, yet they still made sure to be in good shape, because the healthier they were the more likely the healthier the baby would be if she should have one. They also competed in sporting events and exercise, and even when they were pregnant they would still participate in physical activity.

Marriage was of utmost importance to the Spartans, as marriage, essentially, produced babies, which would be the brand new generation of the Spartan army. It was considered “the most noblest duty of the free” by Spartans. Like most other civilizations at that time, women were not allowed to be involved with the politics of Sparta.

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external image fm300a.jpg