Greek Vocabulary

50 terms by 13klacey 

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acropolis

"upper city"; a common feature of ancient Greek cities; an elevated site for religious observances.

agora

the open space that served as the civic center and market place of ancient Greek cities.

amphora

a two-handled jar used for the storage and transport of wine, oil, dried fish, and other commodities.

aristocracy

meaning "power of the best"; hereditary, landowning nobility in charge of Greece.

aristotle

was a pupil of Plato; did not accept Plato's theory of ideal forms.

Asia minor

the western Asian peninsula comprising most of modern-day Turkey, known to the Greeks as Anatolia.

asklepios

god of medicine, with sanctuaries throughout the Greek world.

attica

a 1,000 square mile promontory in southeast central Greece that formed the territory of the Athenian city-state; rugged terrain that yielded high-quality marble and potter's clay as well as silver and lead.

cella

the chief room of a Greek temple, where the statue of the god was located and, frequently, the temple's treasure was kept.

Classical Age

term referring to the period of Greek history that begins with the defeat of the Persian invaders in 480 - 479 BC and ends with Alexander the Great's accession in 336 BC or with his death in 323 BC.

comedy

a contrast to Greek tragedies ... scenes filled with lots of humor.

Corinth

a leading city of ancient Greece famous for its architecture, pottery, and shipbuilding.

Dark Ages

term for the roughly 200-year period in Greek history that followed the final collapse of the Mycenaean civilization in the 12th century BC.

democracy

"power of the people" or "rule by the people"; form of government that originated in Athens in which political institutions were open to all male citizens rather than being controlled by the wealthy few.

direct democracy

a form of government in which citizens rule directly and not through representatives.

drachma

Greek silver coin; its name derives from the word for "handful."

epic poem

long poem that tells the deeds of a great hero.

ephors

a group of five men who were elected each year and were responsible for the education of the youth.

grammatistes

a poorly paid male instructor who taught reading, writing arithmetic, and literature, especially Homer poetry, to elementary-level students/ these teachers were not highly regarded.

gymnasium

a sports complex, which also functioned as an important social and educational center in classical Greece.

Hellenistic

a word meaning to "imitate Greeks"; Greek-speaking civilization which spread through many lands of the eastern Mediterranean and beyond following the conquests of Alexander the Great.

helots

peasants forced to stay on the land they worked.

hoplites

heavily armed Greek infantrymen who marched and fought in close ranks; most of the recruits were middle-class citizens.

Ionia

area along the central west coast of Asia Minor colonized by settlers from mainland Greece from about 1000 BC. Ionian Greeks, including Homer, played a central role in the early development of Greek history and literature following the Dark Ages.

libation

ritual pouring of a liquid on an altar or on the ground to honor gods, heroes, of the dead; wine, water, milk, oil, or honey were used.

Linear B

the modern name for the script, composed of signs and pictures, in which Mycenaean Greeks kept records on tablets of clay.

Minoan

the name given to the great civilization of Crete; the word comes from the name of King Minos, a character of Greek legend who was remembered as having ruled in Crete before the Trojan War.

Mount Olympus

the highest mountain in Greece.

myths

traditional stories ... usually about their gods.

Nike

goddess of victory in military or athletic contests, characteristically depicted with wings.

oligarchy

"leadership of the few"; a form of government in which the full exercise of political rights and power in a city-state was limited to the affluent ... many of them were aristocrats. In the 5th century BC, Sparta was the leading proponent of oligarchy.

Olympian Gods

the most important gods of the Greek pantheon, who were believed by Greeks to inhabit Mount Olympus. Some of the Olympians include: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Hermes, Demeter, Dionysos, and Ares. Other gods, such as, Hestia and Hades, were sometimes described as Olympians.

oracle

a sacred shrine where a god or goddess revealed the future through a priest or a priestess.

ostracism

procedure used by the Athenian assembly in the 5th century BC to banish an unpopular or potentially dangerous citizen for ten years, without revoking his citizenship or property rights. Each voter wrote the name of the individual he wanted exiled on an ostrakon, which was then placed in an urn. There had to be at least 6,000 votes against one man.

ostrakon

a broken piece of clay pottery used for writing. In Athens, most ostrakon that was found was used as tablets for inscribing the name of candidates for ostracism.

peplos

the traditional garment of Greek women; a sleeveless typically ankle-length tunic formed from a single squarish piece of wool/ generally worn pinned at the shoulders and belted.

Peloponnese

the large land-mass which forms the southern part of mainland Greece.

phalanx

term for the battle formation of Greek hoplites; it consisted of tightly packed rows of hoplites, typically 8 ranks deep. The formation was suited for fighting on level ground but did not work well in difficult terrain.

philosophy

an organized system of thought.

Plato

one of Socrates' students; was considered by many to be the GREATEST philosopher of western civilization. Plato explained his ideas about government in a work entitled The Republic. In his ideal state, the people were divided into three different groups.

Plutarch

Greek biographer of the first to early second century AD. Author of Parallel Lives which compared famous men of classical Greece and republican Rome.

polis

a self-governing city-state; the basic political unit of the Greek world. The polis comprised a city, with its acropolis and agora and the surrounding territory.

rituals

another name for ceremonies or rites.

Sicily

the Mediterranean's largest island, colonized from the eighth century BC by Greeks and Carthaginians who frequently warred with each other or the island's native people.

Socrates

started off as a sculptor, but his true love was philosophy. The Socratic-Method used a question and answer format that led others to discover things for themselves by using their own reason.

symposium

from the word for "drinking together"; an after-dinner drinking party attended by elite males. According to the protocol of a symposium, they sang poems, posed riddles, played drinking games, and delivered philosophical speeches. Other entertainment was provided by musicians, jugglers, acrobats, and prostitutes.

Terrra-cotta

baked clay; commonly used to fabricate such items as roof tiles, figurines and household vessels.

Thessaly

fertile region in northeastern Greece bounded by mountains, the most famous of which was Mount Olympus, the legendary home of the major gods of the Greek pantheon.

tragedies

the first Greek dramas; presented in a trilogy ... serious drama about common themes such as love, hate, war or betrayal.

tyrant

term for a new type of monarch that first appeared in various Greek states in the seventh century BC. The term acquired negative connotations because of the dictatorial manner in which many tyrants ruled. Very few tyrants succeeded in establishing dynasties.

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