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What is the influence of Ancient Greece on Western civilisation?

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yangzurn | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 17, 2011 at 12:17 PM via web

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What is the influence of Ancient Greece on Western civilisation?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 17, 2011 at 7:18 PM (Answer #1)

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This is a big question to answer, so I have included a few links below to help you out and to enable you to investigate this question further. It is generally accepted, however, that the cultural advances that occurred during the Greek civilisation were adopted by the Romans and then in turn became the cornerstone of Western civilisation as we know it today. You only have to look at the advances that were made in philosophy, science, art and culture and government to see how so many principles of our lives today are based on Greek culture. For example, many critics argue that the philosophical approach that resulted in the Enlightenment can be traced back to Greek philosophy. The important place that Greek epics such as The Iliad and The Odyssey occupy in the canon of literature helped form literature as we know it today. Advances in mathematics, astronomy and medicine again helped shaped our understanding of science, and we still use so many of the scientific discoveries and breakthroughs that occurred at the time of Ancient Greece as the basis of our scientific thought today. Even the Hippocratic Oath that is so important to medical practitioners today emerged from this time period. In short, so much of who we are and what we are is based on this time period that is so distant to us, and yet so foundational.

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danimai | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 17, 2011 at 12:27 PM (Answer #2)

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t is always important to look to the past in order to move towards the future. This was done in the formation of Western Society, and more specifically the formation of American society. The Greek culture served as a frame of reference for many aspects of Western life including government, architecture, math and the arts. Ancient Greek culture served as a very broad base for our society to be built upon.
During the age of Pericles, the ideal form of government was believed to be a government formed by all of the citizens regardless of wealth or social standing. This was known as democracy, literally meaning “ government of the people” [Document 3.] This government favored the many instead of the few. Athens was a direct democracy, meaning every citizen participated in debates. Western civilization used this philosophy of government by many, and created an indirect democracy where citizens elect officials to make and enforce laws.
Geometry, a cornerstone in modern civilization, also had its beginnings in Ancient Greece. Euclid, a mathematician, formed many geometric proofs and theories [Document 5]. He also came to one of the most significant discoveries of math, Pi. This number showed the ratio between the diameter and circumference of a circle.
Grecian architecture formed its own conventions in the ancient world, buildings in Greece were built with meticulous mathematic design. Great buildings were believed to be symmetrical, and perfectly proportioned [Document 7]. Another prominent aspect of ancient Greek architecture is the extensive use of columns. There were three basic types used, Doric which were plain capitals, ionic in which the capitals were fashioned after ram’s horns, and Corinthian which were made to mirror acanthus leaves. These three styles superimposed themselves in modern architecture.
Ancient Greek culture has become one of the most profound examples that Western civilization has mimicked. Not only did Greek culture influence one area, it influenced a multitude of aspects of advanced civilization. Although this civilization fell many centuries ago, its contributions to the world will not be soon forgotten.

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