Ancient Greek Contributions

Ancient Greek inventions have influenced western civilization in more ways than one. Ancient Greece had great warriors, leaders, and philosophers that made some of the greatest discoveries known to man.  A few of the major discoveries were in the areas of democracy, geometry, the Olympics, the Hippocratic Oath, and architecture. Without some of these, our world would be very different and not in a good way.

Probably the least known contribution, but a very important one is the Hippocratic Oath. It is named after Hippocrates, who was called the Father of Modern Medicine. It is used by doctors, who swear to be truthful and kind to their patients while not issuing harmful medicine to them even if asked. A few sentences state, “I will follow that (treatment) which, according to my ability and judgment, I will consider for the benefit of my patients. I will abstain from whatever is (harmful). I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such (advice).” (Doc. 4) If we didn’t have the oath, our doctors might not be as moral as they are today.

Another important Greek invention is democracy.  This is considered to have had the biggest impact on American society and without it, our country would be run very differently. Democracy is a big part of our lives. It ensures that every citizen can equally participate in voting and public service. It was first founded in the city-state of Athens which was ruled at the time by Pericles. His support of democracy helped it grow to what it is today. In an adopted excerpt from his funeral it states, “Our plan of government favors the many instead of the few: that is why it is called a democracy.” (Doc. 3) The word democracy came from two ancient Greek words, Demos meaning people and Kratos meaning power. If Pericles and the people of Athens did not believe in democracy, it might not have flourished and today we might be ruled by a dictator.

Another impact was created by Euclid.  Not many know of him, but I bet they are familiar with his creation: geometry. He had the theorem that if two straight lines cut one another, the vertical or opposite angles would be equal. (Doc. 5) Euclid was the father of geometry, but many others helped build it into the complex math that it is today, which is why geometry is fully developed and why we are able to fully understand it.

One of the world’s biggest athletic events also has Greek beginnings.  It comes every four years and takes place all over the world. Yes, it is the Olympics. The Olympics have changed through the generations, but its mission is the same: to unite countries from all over the world. (Actually, in the beginning, the Olympics used to be just for city-states). All wars were stopped temporarily during the time of the Olympics to assure safe travel to the games, which shows they were very important. In Ancient Greece, only citizens were allowed to participate in the games, and men were the only citizens. The women were allowed to participate in a similar contest to worship the goddess Hera. One thing the Greeks thought was very important was glory.  They thought winning was everything, so they sent their best athletes to compete in the activities. Also, they thought the human body was the most beautiful thing in the world, so all contestants competed naked in the games. (Doc. 8) The Olympics traveled through the ages to western civilization, and they are still a very important part of our world today.

A very noticeable impact from Greece is in our architecture. Much of the architecture in our world is based upon Ancient Greek buildings. The buildings constructed during Greece’s Golden Age are some of the greatest works of art in the world. One of the finest examples of these is the Parthenon. (Doc. 7)  The Parthenon is the shining glory of Greek architecture which has taught us so many things.  Columns are adapted from Greek Architecture: Dorian, Ionian and Corinthian being the most common. Also, the importance of having a stable structure without something supporting it from the inside is adapted from Greece. Even the geometric shapes of our modern buildings were learned from Greece. Our buildings and structures would not be as strong, stable or as beautiful as they are if not for the Greeks.

From the smallest corner of a building to the way we run our Government, the Greeks have impacted us in more ways than we can count. It’s difficult to imagine how weird and undeveloped our lives would be without them. This document is dedicated to thanking the people of Sparta, Athens and ancient Greece.



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