Greek Art, Culture, Architecture and Philosophy

The people of Athens have contributed greatly to the civilization of Greece. We have a unique social life, political, and economic way of living. We created the first stirrings of democracy. Leaders such as Solon and Pericles put in place laws and changed government structures to a more democratic practice.Solon introduced economic reform to forgive the debts of the lower classes, therefore providing some much-needed economic equality. The change from aristocratic leaders to more democratic leadership happened after urging from an aristocrat named Cleisthenes, who encouraged wider civic involvement in government. Pericles moved forward these initial reforms by encouraging equal rights for all free citizens. Although not all people were able to vote in ancient Greece (women, slaves and male Athenians who did not live within the city limits of Athens could not vote), these changes in Athens created the first stirrings of democracy in history.

Philosophy was what the Golden age of Greece was best known for. The three greatest philosophers were Aristotle, Plato and Socrates. Socrates was willing to radically challenge the cultural norms of his time, which finally resulted in him being sentenced to death by poison for "corrupting the youth" of Athens. Plato, Socrates' student, is the next major philosopher of the Golden Age of the Greeks. Plato's accounts of Socrates, his treatise on government called "The Republic" and his concept of "forms" versus material reality is still studied by philosophy students today. While Aristotle was never a citizen of Athens, he lived in Athens for much of his life and was Plato's student. Aristotle's writing about politics, literature and the natural world paved the way for future thinkers and scientists. The most significant advances in art during the Greek Golden Age were in sculpture, architecture and pottery. Greek sculpture during this time moved from a rigid, unnatural form to more realistic and natural human forms, as demonstrated in famous surviving sculptures such as the Venus de Milo. Greek architecture is known for its "post and lintel" style, in which a horizontal block is laid across pillars or columns. The three major styles are Doric, Ionic and Corinthian.


Best Part of Athens

Unlike the Sparta, Athenians established colonies far from home. Spartans did not seek to establish colonies far from home as other city-states did but instead sought to conquering neighboring peoples. This act led them to building a strong army.Spartans had a strong army but were overly cautious and generally lacked any creativity or excitement of mind. Athenians, on the other hand, were open to new ideas and always eager to learn. They had been educated to think and act as a free people. Spartans were ruled by a form of government in which all power is invested in few people or in a dominant class or clique government by the few but the Athens, through the leadership of Draco, Solon and Cleisthenes were able to practice and spread Athenian democracy.

Athenians kept record and history for future generation unlike Sparta who did not keep any history. Unlike Athens, Sparta strict laws were instituted to govern the people. These laws were designed to encourage self-discipline and endurance within the Spartan people. These laws controlled the lives of Spartans from birth to death. Babies were examined at birth to see if they were healthy. If not, they were left in the hills to die. All fit children stayed with their mothers until their seventh birthdays. Then the boys were sent to army barracks, and their training began. They are sent into the army at the age of 20 and were made to serve until the age of 60. The democracy made live in Athens very comfortable and interesting.