Eureka!: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Ancient Greeks But Were Afraid to Ask

Eureka!: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Ancient Greeks But Were Afraid to Ask

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 1782395164

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The ancient Greeks gave us our alphabet and much of our scientific, medical and cultural language; they invented democracy, atomic theory, and the rules of logic and geometry; laid the foundations of philosophy, history, tragedy and comedy; and debated everything from the good life and the role of women, to making sense of foreigners and the best form of government, all in the most sophisticated terms. But who were they? Peter Jones tells their epic story by breaking down each major period into a series of informative nuggets. Along the way he introduces the major figures of the age, including Homer, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Euclid and Archimedes; explores the Greek myths and the role of the gods; provides fascinating insights into everyday life in ancient times; and shows us the very foundations of Western culture.

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Pelops (see below) and a few altars. Indeed, Olympia never developed into a community at all; it remained a sacred precinct and nothing else. THEY’RE OFF (I): PELOPS THE CHEAT The Greeks told two stories about how the Olympic Games started. The first featured Oinomaus, king of nearby Pisa. He challenged any suitor for his daughter Hippodameia’s hand in marriage to a chariot-race – the challenger to forfeit his life if he lost. Pelops fancied his chances, but just to make sure he persuaded the

their names to the four different linguistic branches of the Greek people: Dorus (the Dorians, i.e. mainly Spartans); Aeolus (the Aeolians); Ion (the Ionians, associated with the Athenians); and Achaeus (the Achaeans – one of Homer’s names for Greeks). Note that ‘Ionia’ refers to that part of the central western coast of Asia Minor inhabited by those who spoke in the Ionian dialect. And so on. All this became real, dated history for Greeks, on the strength of which the origin of many

knowing that the people hated him, rendered them incapable of moving against him by adopting three main strategies: he stamped out anyone with any independence of mind or spirit; ensured no one had any trust in anyone else; and deprived his subjects of the chance of building up a power base. So he kept the people leaderless, obsequious, uneducated, disassociated, poor, working and under a constant watchful eye. The alternative tyrant ensured that people did not want to move against him. So he

authority on Greek oared ships, Professor John Morrison. Others followed, mathematicians in particular. Scornful of mere classicists’ calculations, they wielded computers, slide-rules and envelopes to predict with sublime confidence the absolute maximum speed of such a vessel; their answers ranged from 7 to 13.5 knots. After five weeks, thirty-one letters, one fourth leader, two Latin elegiac couplets and with many theories now sunk, listing badly or completely abandoned, it became clear that the

GREEK DATING SYSTEMS The marmor Parium is a marble inscription from the island of Paros. It was composed in the middle of the third century BC, and its ‘base’ date, from which everything else was reckoned, was ‘when Diognetus was archon’ (by our reckoning, that is 264 BC). So the dates are expressed as ‘x years before the archonship of Diognetus’. This system depended, of course, on the existence of chronological lists of priests/officials (see above). It is one of the three methods by which

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