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The Persians & Greeks

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Herodotus (c. 484 – 425/413 BCE) was a writer who invented the field of study known today as `history’. He was called `The Father of History’ by the Roman writer and orator Cicero for his famous work The Histories but has also been called “The Father of Lies” by critics who claim these `histories’ are little more than tall tales.

Posted by Visual science
Posted by Visual science
Empire of Cyrus the Great

The Achaemenid Empire during the reign of Cyrus the Great, 559 BCE-530 BCE. Major cities are marked and modern borders are superimposed.

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Darius I

Darius I "the Great" (549-486 BCE) was a king of Persia who ruled for 35 years, from September 522 BCE to October 486 BCE. He was the third Achaemenian king and was considered by many to be “the greatest of the Achaemenian kings.” During his reign, Darius completed the work of his predecessors, and not only did he “hold together the empire,” but he also extended it in all directions. Thus, with Darius as Great King, Achaemenian Persia became the largest empire in the world.

Illustration: Persian Archers at Darius' palace at Susa. Exhibited in Pergamon Museum / Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin.

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King of Kings

The genitive phrase King of Kings (Assyrian šar šarrāni, Hebrew מֶלֶךְ מְלָכִים melek mĕlakîm) is a superlative expression for "great king" or high king; it is originally of Semitic origins (compare the superlatives Lord of Lords, Song of Songs or Holy of Holies), but from there was also adopted in Persian (Shahanshah), Hellenistic and Christian traditions.

The first written record of its consistent use dates to Iranian Kings of the Persian Empire or Iranian High Kings of the Persian Empire (pronounced Shahanshah or Great Shahanshah). Because the Persian kings ruled in a format where conquered rulers were allowed to rule over provinces (Satraps), while being loyal to the King of kings of the Persian Empire, the fact that the Persian kings ruled over other kings gave them the title king of kings.

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Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions. It was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster in ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago.

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Ancient Greece

The term Ancient, or Archaic, Greece refers to the time three centuries before the classical age, between 800 B.C. and 500 B.C.—a relatively sophisticated period in world history. Archaic Greece saw advances in art, poetry and technology, but most of all it was the age in which the polis, or city-state, was invented. The polis became the defining feature of Greek political life for hundreds of years.

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Ancient Greece c. 750 BC Map

Located in southern Europe, Greece is made up of the mainland and hundreds of small islands spread throughout the Ioanian, Aegean, and Mediterranean Seas. As a peninsula, the people of Greece took advantage of living by the sea.

- They were fishermen
- They were traders
- They were sailors

The mountains in Greece did not have fertile soil good for growing crops, like in Mesopotamia, but the mild climate allowed for some farming.

- They grew barley, wheat, olives, and grapes
- They raised sheep

Posted by Visual science
Posted by Visual science
Posted by Visual science
The Golden Age of Greece

The Classical Period or Golden Age of Greece, from around 500 to 300 BC, has given us the great monuments, art, philosophy, architecture and literature which are the building blocks of our own civilization.

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Pericles (495–429 BCE, whose name means "surrounded by glory") was a prominent statesman, famous orator, and general (in Greek 'Strategos’) of Athens during the Golden Age of Athens. So profound was his influence that the period in which he led Athens has been called the 'Age of Pericles’.

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Peloponnesian War

Athens and Sparta, both powerful Greek city-states, had fought as allies in the Greco-Persian Wars between 499 and 449 BC In the wake of the Persian retreat, however, Athens grew more powerful and tensions rose, escalating into nearly three decades of war. Sparta emerged victorious, while the constant fighting left Athens bankrupt, exhausted and demoralized. Neither city-state regained the military strength they once had.

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Socrates was born circa 470 BC, in Athens, Greece. We know of his life through the writings of his students, including Plato and Xenophon. His "Socratic method," laid the groundwork for Western systems of logic and philosophy. When the political climate of Greece turned, Socrates was sentenced to death by hemlock poisoning in 399 BC. He accepted this judgment rather than fleeing into exile.

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Greek Religion

Polytheistic Greek religion encompassed a myriad of gods, each representing a certain facet of the human condition, and even abstract ideas such as justice and wisdom could have their own personification. The most important gods, though, were the Olympian gods led by Zeus. These were Athena, Apollo, Poseidon, Hermes, Hera, Aphrodite, Demeter, Ares, Artemis, Hades, Hephaistos, and Dionysos. These gods were believed to reside on Mt. Olympos and would have been recognised across Greece, albeit, with some local variations and perhaps particular attributes and associations.

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Oracle at Delphi

Delphi was inhabited since Mycenaean times (14th - 11th c. B.C.) by small settlements who were dedicated to the Mother Earth deity. The worship of Apollo as the god of light, harmony, and order was established between the 11th and 9th centuries. Slowly over the next five centuries the sanctuary grew in size and importance. During the 8th c. B.C. Delphi became internationally known for the Oracular powers of Pythia--the priestess who sat on a tripod, inhaled ethylene gasses, and muttered incomprehensible words that foretold the future.

The ancient people of the Mediterranean had such faith in Pythia's view of the future that no major decision was made without consulting the Oracle of Delphi first. Greek and foreign dignitaries, heads of state, and common folk made the pilgrimage to the Delphi sanctuary, and paid great sums for Pythia's oracles. Since the sanctuary only served the public a few days over nine months out of the year, great sums were paid by the more affluent ones in order to bypass the long line of pilgrims.

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History of the first ancient Olympic Games

The ancient Olympic Games, as far as we know today, have a long history. It all began in Greece, in the Peloponnese about 3,000 years ago. According to existing historic manuscripts, the first ancient Olympic Games were celebrated in 776 BC in Olympia. They were dedicated to the Greek god Zeus and took place in the same place every four years. This four-year period became known as an “Olympiad”.

Posted by Visual science