Introduction to Ancient Greece


The Ancient Greek World





Magna Graecia in Italy



Ionia in Asia Minor

Cultural Centers:












Black Sea

Mediterranean Sea


Aegean Sea

Ionian Sea



Agriculture - the Mediterranean Triad


Grape Vines



Types of Land in Greek Thought

Astu - the city and inhabited areas

Chora - the fertile farmland and grazing areas

Eschatia - the boundaries, the wild lands


Forms of Social Organization

Oikos - home and family

Genos - clan or tribe, collection of related families

Polis - the people of a city-state

Ethnos - a collection of people not concentrated in an urban area


Problems of History

The past is passed

Ancient and modern ways of recording the past

The winnowing of the past

The remains of the past


The Ancient Greek Historians

Herodotus  c. 484 - 420 BCE - History of the Persian Wars

Plutarch c. 40/50 - 120  CE - Lives of Illustrious Greeks and Romans

Thucydides – c. 450 - 400? BCE - The Peloponnesian War

Xenophon  c. 428/7 - 354 BCE - Hellenica

Aristotle – c. 384 - 322 BCE - Athenaion Politeia (The Constitution of the Athenians)

Diodorus Siculus - c. 90 BCE - between 27BCE-14CE  - Bibliotheke (Library of World History)


Discussion Questions for Friday:

What are these historians' reasons for writing their histories?

How will they write?  With what aims and ideals?

What sources do they draw on?

How do they evaluate conflicting sources?

map quiz - be able to locate places listed on handout



For Next Week Read:

Homer, Odyssey I-II, XIV-XV

Homer, Iliad (selections - Shield of Achilles & Hektor's Farewell)

Hesiod, Works & Days, Theogony


What are the strengths and weaknesses of Homer and Hesiod as sources for history?


What are the social structures of the society depicted in Homer? 

What forms the community? 

How is the community governed? 

By whom? 

What problems beset the community? 

What mechanisms are there to deal with these problems?


How does the life described by Hesiod differ from that of Homer?

How does marriage function as an institution in the societies described by Homer and Hesiod?

What do the accounts of the creation and mythic past of the world tell us about the way Homer and Hesiod's audience saw their world?

How do the descriptions of the relations between gods and humans help us understand the ancient Greeks?