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Ancient Greek facts

While investigating facts about Ancient Greek Sandals and Ancient Greek Names, I found out little known, but curios details like:

When Diogenes, the ancient Greek philosopher, noticed a prostitute's son throwing rocks at a crowd, he said, "Careful, son. Don't hit your father."

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The scientist John von Neumann (1903-1957) could by the age of 6, divide two 8 digit numbers in his head and converse in ancient Greek. He published over 150 papers during his lifetime, and is considered by many to be among the most intellegent humans to have ever lived.

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In my opinion, it is useful to put together a list of the most interesting details from trusted sources that I've come across answering what's ancient greek. Here are 50 of the best facts about Ancient Greek City and Ancient Greek Alphabet I managed to collect.

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  1. According to ancient Greek literature, when Odysseus arrived home after an absence of 20 years, disguised as a beggar, the only one to recognize him was his aged dog Argos, who wagged his tail at his master, and then died.

  2. An Ancient Greek philosopher was exiled for claiming the moon was a rock, not a god.

  3. Each year ancient Greeks had the option to pick a politician to exile for 10 years. They’d cast their vote with pieces of pottery called ‘ostraka’ - it’s where we get the word ostracise from.

  4. The Ancient Greeks would have treated the Illiad and the Odyssey as part of a series of eight books by various authors. However, only Homer's books have survived in full, perhaps because they were the most popular.

  5. In 458 BC Aeschylus, an ancient Greek tragedian, was killed by a tortoise dropped by an eagle that had mistaken his bald head for a rock suitable for shattering the shell of the reptile.

  6. Sea silk is an extremely fine, rare, and valuable fabric made from the long silky filaments which are secreted by a gland in the foot of a clam (Pinna nobilis) to anchor itself to the ocean floor. The material has been used since ancient times by Greek, Roman and Chinese cultures.

  7. The ancient Greeks had known the world is round since Pythagoras, and successfully calculated the circumference of the globe when Eratosthenes measued the angles of the mid-day sun between two towns of a known distance. His calculation had only about a 10% margin of error.

  8. The Ancient Greeks had 6 different distinct words for love. Eros, sexual passion or desire. Philia, deep friendship. Ludus, playful love. Agape, selfless love. Pragma, a long standing love. Philautia, love of the self.

  9. Apelles, an ancient Greek painter, was considered by many, including Pliny, to be the greatest artist in the world. Pliny recorded that Alexander the Great so admired Apelles's work that he gave his concubine to him. Today, none of Apelles's original works have survived.

ancient greek facts
What's ancient greek religion?

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You can easily fact check why in ancient greek by examining the linked well-known sources.

The ancient greeks used to choose their politicians via a method called "sortition", much like how potential jurors are selected today. And, like jury duty, it was seen as an inconvenience to those selected.

In the Ancient Greek Olympics, competitors found cheating were fined. The money would pay for a statue of Zeus with a plaque shaming the offender, and placed on the road to the stadium. - source

The Ancient Greeks didn't like Ares that much. He represented the violent and untamed parts of War, as opposed to Athena, who was the goddess of Military Strategy. - source

Ancient Greek historian Polybius came up with a cyclical theory of government (anacyclosis), where governments start off as monarchies, the final stage is ochlocracy, when a democracy degenerates into chaos and mob-rule. Then the cycle resets itself.

The 13 languages attested from before 1000BC, only two (Ancient Chinese and Mycenaean Greek) have descendants which continue to be spoken to this day - source

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The Ancient Greeks had a word, akrasia, to describe the lack of will that prevents us from doing something that we know is good for us

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Ancient Greeks invented the modern shower using piped water. Rich and poor used large locker-room showers with bars to hang up clothing. Ancient Romans did the same, bringing showers to as far as England. The systems and habits of bathing every day disappeared after the fall of Rome.

Ancient Greek mathematician Hero of Alexandria invented the first vending machine which dispensed holy water after you put in a coin. He also invented the first steam engine and the first wind powered machine, 2000 years before the industrial revolution.

One of the seven wonders of the world, the Temple of Artemis, was burned down by an arson who wished to be famous for his crime. Following his execution, the Ancient Greeks made it an offence subject to the death penalty to mention his name.

The movie "The Warriors", about a Brooklyn gang fighting its way past rivals to make it back to Coney Island, was an adaptation from the Ancient Greek text "Anabasis" by Xenophon about Greek mercenaries stranded 1,000 miles behind Persian lines trying to fight their way back home.

The ancient Greeks didn't wear pants because they found them "ridiculous". The Romans didn't wear them because it was seen as uncivilized and only Barbarians wore pants.

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The ancient Greeks used the term barbarian for anyone who didn't speed Greek, including ancient Egyptians, as another language sounded like 'bar bar bar' to the Greeks which lead to the term 'barbarian'

There's an ancient Greek play where the women of Greece end a war by withholding sex until the men of Greece agree to peace.

The world’s first theater devoted exclusively to moving pictures appeared in Pittsburgh in 1905. Its founders called the place Nickelodeon, from the price of admission (a nickel) and “Odeon” the ancient Greek word for theatre.

Wealthy Ancient Greeks sometimes sent their slaves to sit on the public toilets (made from slabs of marble) to warm it up "in anticipation of their arrival"

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Draco, the Ancient Greek legislator who wrote the first code of law in Athens. Over time his laws were seen as increasingly harsh and punitive, which is why we say a law is "draconian" when the punishment is too extreme for the crime.

Both ancient Greek and Egyptian medicine recognized obesity as a medical disorder. Hippocrates wrote that "corpulence is not only a disease itself, but the harbinger of others".

The ancient greeks had a system where every citizen could vote to exile any politician for 10 years - ostracism.

The Olympic Rings (actually designed in 1912) were mistakingly thought to be an ancient Greek symbol, after researchers in the 1950s found a stone with the symbol carved on it in Delphi. The stone turned out to be a leftover from a ceremony held there for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Ancient Greek marble statues were not originally white. They were actually painted bright colours but the paint has worn off over thousands of years.

Divers in 1900 discovered an ancient Greek shipwreck with an odd-looking bronze device on board. The device was later determined to be the world's oldest analog computer, dating back to the 1st century B.C.E., thousands of years before similar technologies would be re-discovered

Ancient Greek and Roman statues were actually brilliantly colored and not just bare marble/stone.

The reason ancient Greek and Roman male statues wave such small willies, is because having a big penis was associated with stupidity, indecency, and being easily tempted. But having a small junk was associated with wisdom, willpower and rationalism.

Former US president James A. Garfield knew both Ancient Greek and Latin. Along with being ambidextrous, he could write in both languages at the same time.

Pyrrhus of Epirus, an ancient Greek General, died while fighting an enemy soldier in the streets of Sparta. The soldier's mother, who was watching their battle from a rooftop, threw a tile that hit Pyrrhus in the head and paralyzed him, sealing his fate.

Putting candles on birthday cakes dates back to the Ancient Greeks, who often burned candles as offerings to their many gods & goddesses. It was their way to pay tribute to the Greek moon goddess, Artemis. Round cakes symbolized the moon. Candles were added to represent the reflected moonlight.

The Spartans still live in Greece as a distinct ethnic group and speak their own language descending from Ancient Greek

Diogenes, an ancient Greek philosopher, would masturbate in public. When asked why he would respond, "If only it were as easy to banish hunger by rubbing my belly."

Ancient Greek and Roman statues weren't originally just white marble. They were painted with bright, vivid colors which simply faded away over the centuries.

The ancient Greek astronomer Eratosthenes of Cyrene, proved that the earth was round in 240 B.C. and also came up with latitude/longitude and was able to calculate the earth's circumference within 2%.

This is our collection of basic interesting facts about Ancient Greek. The fact lists are intended for research in school, for college students or just to feed your brain with new realities. Possible use cases are in quizzes, differences, riddles, homework facts legend, cover facts, and many more. Whatever your case, learn the truth of the matter why is Ancient Greek so important!

Editor Veselin Nedev Editor