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[background from <http://www.macalester.edu/~rife/courses/clas269/Parthenon.jpg>]


Greek Culture

A. Government

external image Government_Branches.jpg 1. Athenian Government

Athenians had the first example of democracy, but it isn't like the United States' democracy in the sense that it's a pure democracy, where there isn't a single person handling the entire matter. Our Founding Fathers took this idea of a democracy and mixed it in with other forms of governments, like a republic and an oligarchy. United States, in some ways, is like a republic. They have a senate, with representatives from every state. Like an oligarchy, the President and the other branches of government control the affairs of the nation.

B. Religion

1. Gods

The Greeks had many gods. The Greeks had 12 main gods and goddess. Each city-state had it's own patron god.
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For example, Athen's patron god was the goddess of wisdom and war, Athena. She was the protector of the city of Athens. The Athenians also built a temple for her so that they could worship her.
Today, people in many countries still have patron gods, but mankind has strayed from polytheism. It has moved towards monotheistic religions, such as Christianity and Buddhism, yet people are still pagan these days.

2. Myths

The Greeks had myths about their various gods & goddesses. The myths explained why the seasons changed and other things. The Greek gods were given human qualities, so they also had their downfalls. Homer was a blind poet that went around telling the epic of the Trojan Wars to many people. He was famous for his two writings, The Iliad and The Odyssey. Throughout the years, these stories have been passed down through generations and generations that we can now read the stories on our own.

C. Society

1. Citizens

In Greek society, the citizens were not treated the same way as the people in the United States are treated today. The Greek women were not allowed to participate in political affairs nor have many of the rights that the men had. In the United States, women are treated more equally with men than in many places.

2. Olympics

The Greeks started the Olympic games to honor Zeus, their main god. This tradition of having the Olympics every four years still continues today. Though the types of sports played in the Olympics have changed, the basics are still the same. Athletes gather to compete to win. However, when it first started, only free Greek men could compete. Now, athletes from any country all over the world can come and compete. [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Olympics/sports.html]

D. Thoughts and Learning

1. Hippocratic Oath
a. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, left a legacy. It lives today. Doctors take the Hippocratic oath, which states that they cannot use what they know to harm people. That is one big controversy today. The lethal injection, modern capital punishment, is a medication. The citizens want certified people doing it, and the people that give the injections nowadays aren't. Doctors are certified to do so, but in doing so, they break their oath.

HIPPOCRATIC OATH; parts 3, 4, and 5:
I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

E. Arts

1. Columns
a. One famous part of their arts are their columns. Their columns were multipurpose: They had dual responsbilities to both support the build and to beautify the structure. These columns not only exist in Greece and Rome, but they also reside in America.

Example: Parthenon [left] and Lincoln Memorial [right]
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2. Theatre and Drama

This is the theater at Delphi. People would come here to watch the many Greek tragedies and comedies. The actors would all wear masks on their faces. The masks would be big and showy, as well as their costumes. When the people acted, they would make their motions wide and big so that everyone could tell what they were doing. Drama became one of the favorites in Greek art. Nowadays, drama is also very popular. Although it is more advanced than what the Greeks had, it was still the Greeks idea to begin with. Without the Greeks there, we would never have the idea of acting, backgrounds, or anything like that.

3. Epic Poetry

The Greeks also started epic poems, with Homer's The Odyssey. Writers throughout history have been writing epic poems since then, such as Beowulf. Today, the epic poems are not as well known, such as The Changing Light at Sandover, by James Merill. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_poetry]
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