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Ancient Greek history and culture vocab

Minoan civilization

a civilization that existed on the mediterranean island of Crete, with its center in Knossos (ca. 2000 BC - 1400 BC)


A Greek-speaking people who migrated into mainland Greece after the destruction of the Mycenaean civilization.

Mycenaean civilization

a greek civilization that took off where the Minoans left off (possibly conquered the Minoans), militaristic, expanded trade through sea raids, piracy, colonization - fought Troy in Trojan war, written about in Iliad (ca. 1400-1200 BC)

Greek Dark Ages

Period in Greek history from 1150-750 BC. New intruders came to the land, neglected older palaces, etc. Decline of Mycenaeans. Most of what we know about this period comes from Homer's Odyssey and Iliad.


a Greek epic poem (attributed to Homer) describing the siege of Troy


a Greek epic poem (attributed to Homer) describing the journey of Odysseus after the fall of Troy


ancient Greek epic poet who is believed to have written the Iliad and the Odyssey (circa 850 BC)


(Greek mythology) the supreme god of ancient Greek mythology


(Greek mythology) goddess of wisdom and useful arts and prudent warfare


attributing human characteristics or qualities to objects, animals, or gods


one of the 4-year intervals between Olympic Games




rule by a single person


rule by few


a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator - often tried to champion the cause of the common people


rule by the people


slaves in Sparta

Peloponnesian League

an alliance of Greek city-states on the Peloponnesus, led by Sparta


leader of Athens (ca. 590 BC) under whom the city-state took some of its first steps toward democracy, forbade enslavement of debtors, allowed greater representation in the government

Darius I

Persian king who attacked Greece at Marathon in 490 BC where the Persian forces were defeated by a surprise attack by the Greeks


Persian king who renewed the struggle against the Athenians that his father had begun. 480 BC Crossed the Hellespont with a bridge made of boats, defeated at the battle of Salamis when the Athenians lured the Persians into fighting by sea in a narrow strait next to Salamis island.

Delian League

an alliance headed by Athens that says that all Greek city-states will come together and help fight the Persians


Athenian statesman whose leadership contributed to Athen's political and cultural supremacy in Greece

Peloponnesian War

A Greek civil war between Athens and her allies and Sparta and her allies (5th century B.C.) Sparta emerged victorious and became the most powerful city-state in Greece

Philip II

ambitious King of Macedonia and father of Alexander the Great, assasinated in 336 before he could completely unify the Greeks

Darius III

Persian king who was defeated by Alexander the Great






Branches of knowledge concerned with human beings and their culture (ie. philosophy, history, literature)


"Lovers of wisdom", a thinker who uses logic and reason


Father of Philosophy, thought that the original substance of all things is water


Athenian philosopher (ca. 470-399 B.C.E.) who shifted the emphasis of philosophical investigation from questions of natural science to ethics and human behavior. He made enemies in government by revealing the ignorance of others.


Most famous pupil of Socrates, founded Academy for the study of philosophy and science outside of Athens, thought that things in earth are reflections of their eternal counterparts


the breakdown of government and order


most famous pupil of Plato, studied at Plato's Academy, thought that reality was in the world not outside it - developed study of all parts of the world (science) and developed system of logic, taught Alexander the Great


a three-step logical process of thinking: (1) All Greeks are human, (2) Aristotle is a Greek, (3) Therefore, Aristotle is a human


Hellenistic philosopher that believed happiness and pleasure could be gained by avoiding pain and fear, founder of the Epicurean school of philosophy


Hellenistic philosopher that taught that the affairs of men and the universe were ordered by fixed laws. Man must accept his fate and live a life of duty and self-control. Founder of the Stoic school of philosophy


a philosopher and mathematician of the sixth century BC - concluded that the universe could be explained by math - famous for his theorem: a^2 + b^2 = c^2


famed physician of the Golden Age, known as the father of medicine


Father of Geometry, wrote Elements which was THE textbook on Geometry for centuries and is still the basis of geometry textbooks today


Father of Geography, Greek astronomer and geographer - determined the circumference of the globe using Euclid's geometry


Father of History, wrote history of Persian Wars


Historian, contemporary of Herodotus, wrote history of Peloponnesian Wars, considered to be more objective in his history than Herodotus


Famous Greek dramatist who wrote many tragedies


Famous Greek dramatist who wrote many comedies


temple in Athens built to honor the goddess Athena

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