The Ancient Greeks may have lived over 2000 years ago, but they left a lasting legacy that still affects Western culture and way of life. During the height of the Greek civilization, Greek culture spread throughout the Mediterranean. It was then imitated by the Ancient Romans. After the Middle Ages, the European Renaissance brought back many aspects of the Greek culture. As a result, we see the affects of Ancient Greece throughout the world today.
The Greek city-state of Athens first introduced the world to the idea of a true democracy. Citizens were allowed to vote for their leaders and on new laws. This idea is prevalent in our world today. Most of the world's governments today have some sort of democracy where the people get to vote and participate in the government.
U.S. Supreme Court Building Source: USDA photo by Ken Hammond
Some of history's greatest philosophers were Ancient Greeks including Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates. Today, philosophy students still study the writings and teachings of Greek philosophers. Much of western philosophy is based on the ideas of the Ancient Greeks.
The Greeks invented the western drama where written work is performed by actors. Greek theater introduced the ideas of the comedy and the tragedy. Greek theater influenced art throughout Europe including plays such as those written by William Shakespeare. Today, we imitate the Greeks with Broadway plays, Television shows, and movies.
Greek architecture has been imitated throughout history. The Romans copied many of the Greek ideas into their buildings. Later, Renaissance architects tried to imitate the Greek style of architecture. Today, many government buildings are built in the Greek classical style including the U.S. Capitol Building and the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.
Science and Technology
The Greeks made many advancements in the areas of science and technology. They excelled in the field of mathematics and we still use many of their theories and ideas today. You've probably used the Pythagorean theorem (discovered by the Greek mathematician Pythagoras) to find the sides of a right triangle in geometry. Other areas of Greek technology included medicine (the Hippocratic Oath), astronomy, urban planning, and plumbing.
Olympic Rings by Pierre de Coubertin
The Ancient Greeks loved athletics and sports. Their legacy is exemplified in the modern-day Olympic Games which began with the Ancient Greeks in 776 B.C. During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London over 10,000 athletes participated from over 200 nations. It is estimated that around 4 billion people around the world watched some portion of the 2012 games.
Greek art heavily influenced western art throughout history. The Greeks are most known for their realistic sculpture which tried to capture the beauty and perfection in the subject. Roman art copied the Greeks, and the Romans often had Greeks create sculpture for them. The Renaissance later revived the Greek style and it still can be seen in artwork today.
Interesting Facts About the Legacy of Ancient Greece
Greek was spoken throughout eastern Europe for hundreds of years. Today, many European languages have words that come from Greek.
Greek letters are still commonly used in math, science, and engineering equations.
Many college fraternities and sororities use Greek letters in their names.
The New Testament of the Bible was originally written in Greek.