Classic Greek Fashion

In Ancient Greece, clothing was not about fashion but practicality. Overall there were about four types of clothes among both men and women and were all in the shape of squares when they were not worn. These four types of clothes were; the ChitonPeplosHimation, and Chlamys. The Chiton was a type of tunic worn by men that was folded over one shoulder or both. If the Chiton was folded over one shoulder it was known as an Exomie. The Chiton was usually made out of imported linen or a light wool-like material because men were usually outdoors, typically working or exercising.

The Peplos was a full body dress/tunic worn by women that was usually made from a heavy wool-like material. It was designed to cover most of a women’s body because it was considered proper for a Greek women to reveal nothing. The Peplos was typically fastened with brooches, buttons, or pins. This style is actually fairly popular in modern times among dressmakers.

The Himation was typically worn in the winter and was a heavy wool fabric worn like a Roman toga and was meant to keep the wearer warm. It was also popular among soldiers whom were away from home because it could be used as a blanket during the night.

The Chlamys was worn by young active men and was a thin piece of cloth/wool that was pinned around one shoulder.

The Greeks often colored/dyed their clothes or embroidered patterns in them to make them more appealing to the eyes. Contrary to popular belief, the Greeks enjoyed bright colors and did not leave everything white.

These four types of clothes were usually the only items that were worn, the Greeks typically walked around barefoot, only wearing boots or sandals during formal events. Many Greeks went their entire lives without ever wearing and sandals or boots. Just like shoes, hats were an uncommon item, sometimes men wore a wide brimmed hat called Petasos which was designed to reduce heat from the sun when working outdoors. women were also known to occasionally wear a ha with crowns, but this was probably only worn for very formal occasions. Overall, the Greeks valued practicality over fashion.

Sources:

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/grdr/hd_grdr.htm

http://www.ancient.eu/article/20/

http://www.novaroma.org/nr/Ancient_Greek_Clothing

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The Politics of Ancient Greece

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the idea of Ancient Greece creating the first democratic government system. However, only a few Ancient Greek city-states actually utilized this system. Altogether there were almost 1,500 (all numbers will be based around 500 BCE) city-states, however many of these were so small that in modern times we could barely call them towns. In fact, Athens, the largest city-state, had an estimated population of 200,000. As a comparison, in 2013 the city of Denver had a population of around 649,000. Anyway, the Greek city-states had many different government systems. These systems included, but were not limited to; monarchies, tyrants, oligarchies and democracy. I will discuss the political sysems of the two most powerful city-states starting with Sparta. The city-state of Sparta utilized a monarch/tyrant to rule their incredibly large land (around 4,000 square miles) despite having a small population of almost 16,000 (males). This harsh rule complimented their harsh society, boys were taken at the age of 7 to begin military training and remained in the military until the age of 60. Another harsh reality was that a majority of the population were Helot slaves. All of this allowed a small city-state to be arguably one of the two most powerful city-states with the other one being Athens. Athens utilized a democratic system where every male citizen was part of the government and was allowed to help make governmental decisions. This means that Athens had a government that consisted of almost 35,000 people. Just as the harsh monarch system complimented Sparta, this democratic system complimented Athens. The Athenian people were always trying to work for the future and military service was optional. The democratic system is often considered the best thing to come out of Ancient Greece which also compliments Athens as the people were always looking to the future and wanting to create a positive influence and it is for this reason that most of the great Ancient Greek philosophers originated in Athens.

Sources:

http://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Government/

http://www.pbs.org/empires/thegreeks/background/9a.html

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=denver%20population

http://www.diffen.com/difference/Athens_vs_Sparta

Greek Religious Values Through the Ages

I’m sure that many people are familiar with Classical Greek Religion. However, modern Greece is now a very Christian country with many of the old traditions fading away. The first time Classical Geek Mythology was compiled together was around the 8th century by the Greek poet Hesoid. Hesoid combined the many Greek Creation myths about the foundation of Earth and the universe into one story about Gaia and Eros creating Earth in the Void in order to give a place to the gods which ultimately led to the creation of the Titans, Gods and Mankind. Greek mythology continued to evolve from there through countless sources into what we know today and call Classical Greek Mythology. Classical Greek Mythology continued it’s existence until the Roman Emperor Theodosius I ordered the closure of Greek Pagan sites in 379 CE, then ends Pagan games in 393 CE and finally orders the destruction of Olympia in 426 CE. Theodosius declared that Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire in 392 CE which included modern day Greece. Christianity became so popular through the Roman Empire that the city of Constantinople  (formerly the Greek city Byzantine) became a cultural hub of Christianity. Constantinople remained a center of Christian Ideology (specifically Orthodox Christianity) until the sack of Constantinople in 1453 CE. After this the city was once again renamed this time to Istanbul by Islamic invaders. This did not hinder Christianity very much because the Islamic people tolerated Christians and recognized Jesus as a great prophet and declared the Christian populace as another People of the Book. When Greece was finally able to break away from Roman Catholics and Islam, it was allowed to elect it’s own Kephale in 1850. Today the Church of Greece is governed by the Archbishop of Athens and Christianity is important to the vast majority of the Greek people.

Sources:

http://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-folklore/greek-mythology-and-human-origins-0064

http://www.ancient.eu/timeline/Greek_Religion/

http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7053

Greek Holidays

In modern Greece the citizens practice several holidays that we are familiar with, but with a twist unique to Greece. For example, in Greece the people don’t celebrate their birthdays, instead they celebrate the “Name-day” of the Saint that they are named after. Let’s say your name is Daniel and you were born on January 10th, some people may wish you a happy birthday on the 10th, but chances are you won’t have a party. However, you and everyone else named Daniel will celebrate on December 17th in the name of Saint Daniel. I find this very interesting and it shows how important religion is to the Greek people today.

Another interesting holiday is Christmas. In Greece Christmas is celebrated over the course of 12 days ending on the 6th of January. During these 12 days children walk up and down the streets and sing Christmas carols to people in their houses. Traditionally the children were given sweets and pastries for doing this, but recently they started getting money for doing this. According to the people, during these 12 days hobgoblins called “kallikántzari” climb out of the Earth’s core and like to cause trouble, even though they are said to be friendly. The Greek people perform various rituals to prevent the Kallikántzari from getting inside their houses. This lasts until Epiphany (the last day of Christmas) where Earth’s waters are blessed forcing the Kallikántzari back into Earth’s core. As one can see, Christmas is very important to the Greeks with lots of tradition behind it.

The most popular holiday among the Greeks is Easter which has far too many customs to go into for this blog. Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the full moon of the spring equinox in Greece and takes place over the course of a week known as Holy Week. On Holy Thursday the housewives start preparations for the celebration of Resurrection by making sweets and painting eggs red (eggs are a symbol of rebirth while red symbolizes the blood of Christ). Holy Friday is the most sacred day of the week representing the burial of Christ. Housewives avoid housework, women ad children go to church to decorate the Epitaph (Bier of Christ) and in the evening the Epitaph procession begins. Many Greeks leave the cities to celebrate in the countryside for the celebrations and festivities. There are many more Greek Holidays that I am unable to cover and many traditions and customs for these three holidays that I can’t fit into this blog, so I encourage you to do some more research if this interests you.

Sources:

“Culture.” : Greek Customs. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.

“GREEK NAME DAYS.” GREEK NAME DAYS. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.

Greek food you may recognize

The Greeks throughout history have inspired the  western cultures, even after what we consider to be “Ancient Greece” fell. There influence can be found throughout modern thinking, philosophy, architecture, politics and even culture. This is all well-known to a broad spectrum of the world, but what if I told you that they might have inspired modern cooking too. There are several Greek recipes that have existed for centuries that are similar to recipes that we all know and love. Now some of these recipes may just be similar to modern recipes, but it is the similarities that are important.

Pancakes, we all know about pancakes and many of us probably love having pancakes in the morning, maybe with some eggs and bacon. Now what if I told you that Greeks have been enjoying pancakes as a breakfast food since as early as the 5th century…B.C.E! The ancient Greek poets Cratinus and Magnes referenced tēganitēs, tagēnitēs and tagēnias, which are all words deriving from the Greek word tagēnon which translates to “frying pan”. These early pancakes were made with wheat flour, olive oil, honey and curdled milk. These early pancakes may not sound as appetizing to us now, but it was a favorite breakfast dish to the ancient Greeks.

Another common type of food was soups. There were many recipes for ancient Greek soups and stews, one popular one is known as Avgolemono, which still exists today. The earliest examples of Avgolemono occur around the time of Alexander the Great (356 B.C.E – 323 B.C.E). This recipe consists of a meat broth, eggs and lemons. Other cultures started using this recipe but turned it into a lemon sauce for meats such as chicken.

The final type of food that I’m going to talk about is probably well known to have been developed by the Greeks and is actually not a food but a drink. This drink, which inspired a lot of Greek culture and is used in modern cooking and formal meetings, is wine. There are over 300 types of grapes in the Greek area and wine is made from grapes, which leads to many varieties of wine. To make this even crazier, remember that there are multiple processes, aging techniques and added ingredients which makes countless possibilities. Hesiod, a Greek poet around 750 B.C.E. described the method to create a basic but popular wine known as “Passum”. It’s hard to tell how old wine is but it is undeniable the role it played in the future.

Sources:

“Pancakes.” Pancakes. World Public Library, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2015. <http://www.worldlibrary.org/articles/Pancakes&gt;

“Avgolemono.” IFood.tv. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2015. <http://ifood.tv/greek/avgolemono/about&gt;.

“History of Greek Wine – Wine Tours.” Wine Tours History of Greek Wine Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2015. <http://winetours.co.uk/destinations/all-wine-notes/history-of-greek-wine/&gt;.

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek_cuisine&gt;.

The Second Persian Invasion of Greece (480 B.C.E.-479 B.C.E)

    The Second Persian Invasion of Greece took place about 10 years after the first invasion where the Persian Kin Darius suffered from an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Athenians (Greeks from the city of Athens). By the time of the Second Invasion King Darius had died and the throne was given to his son Xerxes who became known as “The King of Kings”. After 10 years of preparation the Persian army and navy departed for Greece. Within these 10 years the Athenians were able to build a large navy of their own due to the recent opening of a silver mine. Once word reached the Greeks that Xerxes was bringing an army so large that it “drank rivers dry as it passed”. Modern estimates place the Persian army at about 500,000 men (the Persians claimed to have over 5 million) and the navy at 1,207 ships. Many of the Greek city-states submitted to Xerxes by giving gifts of water and earth, however, the two most powerful city-states, Athens and Sparta, refused to surrender and lead the defenses. The Spartan King Leonidas led his 300 elite Spartan  Bodyguards and roughly 6,000 other Greeks to defend Thermopylae, the only point on land that the Persians had to cross in order to reach Athens. Meanwhile, Themistocles led the Athenian navy to hold Artemisium, the easiest point for the Persian navy to cross. This dual strategy of holding the navy and army at bay could only work if both points were successfully held and both the Persian army and navy were defeated. This was not the case, King Leonidas and his soldiers were able to repel the Persian army for several days with few casualties to the Greeks and large casualties to the Persians, but a Greek traitor named Ephialtes was able to lead the Persian forces around the Greeks and flank them. Upon realizing this most of the Greeks retreated with the exception of Leonidas and his Spartans who were all slain in battle. The Athenian navy was forced to retreat after learning of this defeat but were able to to send falsified information to King Xerxes regarding their tactics and successfully split his army. Once the Persian navy reached Athens, it found itself completely surrounded by Greek ships and due to the size of the Persian fleet they were unable to maneuver to avoid damage. Xerxes retreated and left 300,000 soldiers and his best general to continue the fight but this army was defeated by an alliance of Athenian and Spartan soldiers at Plataea. This and another great victory against the Persian navy in the same month ultimately won the war for Greece and Persia never retaliated.

Sources:

http://www.historynet.com/greco-persian-wars-xerxes-invasion.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_Greece

Donovan’s Bio

Personally, I, Donovan, have always loved history and I am thrilled to be writing reports on history. I will deliver history about Greece, both ancient and modern, to the eyes of the public. I have always been fascinated by Greece and their countless influences throughout history and the world but I don’t really know that much about Greece as a whole. This project will be a learning experience for myself and others.