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Historical Ancient Greeks

Historical Ancient Greeks

Solon

Solon, born circa 639 BC died circa 559 BC, he was an Athenian diplomat and reformer. In 594 BC, he became archon, (chief magistrate/ruler) of Athens and the Attica region, at a time of political and economic unrest. The rich families controlled much of the city and therefore the lives of the poorer residents. Solon led wide reaching reforms in the city, annulling all mortgages and loans, restricting the amount of land one could own and banning borrowing that would lead to the borrower pledging his life to the loaner. Other reforms included the restriction on export of all agricultural produce except olive oil. Immigrant artisans working in the region could not apply for citizenship. The Athenian Assembly was reorganised so not only the wealthy could decide on political issues, but also all freemen. There were many who opposed these reforms, but these reforms soon came to be the basis for a more open and fairer system in the region. Today historians recognise Solon as being the father of democracy.

Aristides, The Athenian general

Aristides, Died circa 468 BC, Athenian general and diplomat, he led the Athenians in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. In 491 BC, he became chief archon of the region, but the year after he lost his position due to his opposition of naval policy. In 480 BC, he fought in the Battle of Salamis and later he led the Athenian forces at the Battle of Plataea and due to his honesty and virtue, people called him Aristides the Just.

Perickles

Pericles, born circa 495 BC, died circa 429 BC was another Athenian diplomat. He was the popular leader in Athens. He was also a military commander, 453 BC he campaigned against the Sicyon and Oeniadae, who resisted coming under the Control of the Athenians, the campaign was unsuccessful. Pericles made a number of reforms in Athens that included that all officials of the state would receive a salary and office was open to all Athenians. He tried to arrange a conference with all sides in the region, but the Spartans rejected the idea. Under his leadership, the Delian League attained a level of high efficiency as an instrument of Athenian imperialism; in 446 Pericles destroyed Euboea (now Evia), which had revolted against the league. In 445 a truce between Sparta and Athens resulted, a period of peace in the region, Pericles decided to develop Athens in the realms of art and culture. The construction of the Parthenon and other buildings were taking place on the Acropolis. Peace in the region only lasted 14 years with the start of the Peloponnesian Wars in 431 BC, a war that saw Athens left in ruins. Pericles lost his position as leader of Athens, and died in 429 BC.

Dion, of Syracuse born circa 409 BC died circa 354 BC, he was a Sicilian-Greek political leader, and related by marriage to Dionysius the Elder, the tyrant of Syracuse. Dion through his friendship with Plato became interested in philosophy, and he tried to establish a system of democracy, due to his hatred of tyranny. He became unpopular and retired to Athens in 366 BC. Hearing that Dionysius the Younger was making plans against him, he assembled an army, sailed to Sicily, and fought against Dionysius who lost the battle in 357 BC. A friend from Athens assassinated Dion in 54 BC.

Phocion, born circa 402 BC died 318 BC; He was an Athenian general and fought against the armies of Philip of Macedon in 348 BC on the island of Euboea (Evia), and later in 339 BC at Byzantium, where Philip was holding the city under siege. Phocion, later tried to bring the opposing factions to come to an agreement on peace, but he was opposed, finally, democracy was restored, but his enemies poisoned Phocion with hemlock, strangely enough after the assassination, they erected a statue in his honour.

Timoleon, died circa 337 BC, was a Greek diplomat and general, famed for his opposition to tyrannical rulers. He fought against Dionysius the Younger, in 344 BC after the city of Syracuse requested aid from the city of Corinth. Timoleon also fought against Hicetas, the tyrant of Leontini, He expelled Dionysius and Hicetas from the city, and he established a new fairer government in the city. He continued his fight against tyranny until he retired from office due to ill health.

Phillip II , King of Macedonia

Philip II, born 382 BC died 336 BC, King of Macedon (359–336 BC).He became regent for Amyntas, young son of his brother Perdikas III; in 359, he seized the throne for himself, ruthlessly suppressing all opposition. The military was reorganised and became an effective tool in his conquest of other regions. In the following years, he had taken control of Amphipolis, Thrace and Chalcidice (Halkidiki). In 348, after being involved in a war over the control Delphi he became a member of the Delphic council. In the year 340 Philip decided to take control of the eastern seaboard and the Dardanelles, Demosthenes, who had long opposed Philip and had been a thorn in his side, along with the cities of Athens Thebes rose against him, they met in the Battle of Chaeronea in 338, where the armies of Philip defeated them. Philip now took control of Greece, and he established a federation of Greek states. Whilst making plans to go to war against Persia he was murdered, his wife Olympias, rightly or wrongly was the accused of the murder. His son Alexander came to the throne and continued the expansions planned by his father.

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great, Alexander was born on 356 BC died 323 BC. He was born in Pella the ancient capital of Macedonia, was the son of Philip II, king of Macedonia, and of Olympias, a princess of Epirus. His tutor was Aristotle. In the year 336 BC, Alexander became King; the empire was in disorder, and his enemies of which there were many plotted against him. Rebellions in the region and abroad threatened the stability of the empire. Alexander’s armies soon crushed the rebellions; the leaders executed and restored order in the Macedonian empire.

In 335 BC, he carried out a campaign planned by his father before his death, against the Persians, also he campaigned against the Thracians and his army reached the Danube River. On his return from these campaigns, he had to do battle with the Illyrians and put down a revolt in the city of Thebes. He destroyed the city of Thebes, except for the temples and the house belonging to the Greek poet Pinder. Other Greek city-states soon bowed down to the might of Alexander after the raid on Thebes. Alexander was becoming a powerful ruler in the region; he travelled to the Oracle at Delphi, he forced the priestess to go to the site of the Oracles, whilst being pulled she screamed at Alexander “my son you are invincible”. This was music to Alexander’s ears and in the year 334 BC, he travelled to Asia.

Alexander thought after this prophecy he was an indestructible god, and he told people he was a descendent of Hercules. He also says his mother became pregnant by a serpent, rather than by his father, strengthening his belief in himself that he was a god. His death at the age of 33 has raised many questions about his demise, and historians have tried to unravel this mystery. Though Alexander was married and had a son, some people think he was a homosexual, Alexander’s closest friend was, Hephaestion, and they spent a lot of time together discussing matters of life and the future. This may be the reason for the discussions about his sexual preferences, whatever his preferences, he will be remembered as one of the most powerful Kings of the time, one who conquered and ruled most of the known world at that time.

Greek philosophers opened the world into the study of science and mathematics and astronomy. These new ideas and theories did not go down well with the church and the establishment in the years to come. They believed at many of these theories went against the natural order of life they professed to have exclusive knowledge of, fortunately, these ideas and theories were taken up by others and led to more research and eventually shape the progress of the modern world.

Pythagoras

Pythagoras, born circa 580 BC, and known for formulating the Pythagorean Theorem, his childhood remains a mystery but historians believe he was born on the island of Samos. Circa 529 BC, he moved to Crotona in Italy. Pythagoras taught that numbers were the essence of all things and was responsible for starting the Pythagorean Brotherhood. The local people were suspicious of them, and during a political uprising, many of the students lost their lives. Pythagoras believed that the earth was round and that the planets had their own orbits. His successors developed his idea the earth revolved around a central fire (the sun).

Platon, The great philosoph

Plato, whose real name was Aristocles, was born circa 427 BC in Athens of a notable family. He became a philosopher and educator; he became interested in politics, but became disillusioned with the politicians whose practices offended him, the same politicians condemned his good friend Socrates to death. In 387 BC, he founded the Academy, a school of philosophy and science in Athens. One of his more notable students was Aristotle.

Aristotle

Aristotle, Aristotle was born in 384 BC in Stagira Macedonia. His father, Nikomahos was the personal doctor of King Amyntas B' of Macedonia, His mother Faistis, had come in Stagira with the Halkideis and belonged to the race of Asklipiades. Aristotle became prematurely an orphan and Proxenos, a friend of his late father, took custody of him. Proxenos took care of him, as he was his own child, and send him in Athens at the age of 17 in 367 BC to become a student of Plato. Aristotle studied at Plato's Academy for 20 years, until the day his tutor died. In the Academy, he left everyone speechless, even his own tutor, with his intelligence and his hard work.

In 347 BC, when Plato died, Aristotle and hid friend Xenokratis left Athens and went to Assos. Here tutored for three years along side his friends at the School of Philosophy,

In 345 BC, Aristotle took the advice of his student Theofrastos, went across to Lesvos and settled in Mytilene, where he remained and tutored until 342 BC. He married the niece and stepdaughter of Ermias, Pythiada. They had a daughter also named Pythiada after her mother. After his wife’s death, Aristotle had a relationship with a woman called Athina, who gave him a son, Nikomahos.

In 342 BC, Philip invited him in Macedonia, to tutor his son Alexander who was then 13 years old. Aristotle willingly accepted the tutoring of the young heir. Alexander's education took place in Pella and in Mieza; Aristotle lived in the Macedonian court for six years. When Alexander battered the resistance of the Thebans and brought peace in South Greece, Aristotle went in Athens and founded his own philosophical school. The place he chose was the Gymnasium, which also called Lyceum, between Lykabetus and Ilisos, close to the gate of Dioxaris, today the site of the National Garden of Athens.

The school, founded on the lines of the Platonic Academy were advanced courses took place during the morning and elementary courses during the afternoon. Morning tutoring was strictly philosophical. The afternoon tutoring was "rhetorical" and "exterior". The school library became a model for the establishment libraries of Alexandria and Pergamo's. Aristotle collected maps and all kinds of instruments he thought useful in order to teach scientific courses.

In 323 BC, when Alexander died, the followers of the anti-Macedonian party saw their chance to get revenge on the Macedonians through Aristotle. The clergy accused Aristotle of impiety, because he had made his own altar to Ermia. However, Aristotle knew the true motives and intentions of his complainants, so he left for Halkida, before his trial in 323 BC. He stayed in his mother's house with his second wife Erpyllida and his two children Nikomahos and Pythiada. In 322 BC, he died in Halkida from an illness in his stomach; his body now rests in his hometown, Stagira.

Euclid , born circa 300 BC, Euclid is reputed to be the father geometry, his most famous book Elements remained a textbook for scholars until 1903. This book showed his system of geometry known as Euclidean geometry. The system, divided into two categories, plane geometry and solid geometry. Plane geometry relates to shapes and concepts on a two dimensional plane, solid geometry relates to the study of three-dimensional shapes such as cones and spheres.

Archimedes, born circa 287 BC, and called the father of experimental science. He discovered the laws of levers and pulleys and the laws of hydrostatics. He also found a more precise way of calculating the value of pi and invented a number system that was more feasible than the Roman system. Among his more famous inventions are the catapult and the Archimedean screw. He is most famous for finding a way of determining whether King Hiero’s crown was made of pure gold. He dipped a lump of solid gold, which was the same weight as the crown into a container of water, and measured the amount of water that overflowed form the container. He then dipped the crown into the container and measured the water that overflowed this time. If the amounts of water were equal, then the crown was solid gold, they were not, and by this, he deducted that the goldsmith had cheated the King. Archimedes returned to Syracuse the town where he was born, and despite that, the Romans leaders who had taken control of the town wanted to take him alive; a Roman soldier killed him.

Eratosthenes, born circa 276 BC was an astronomer, who found a way to determine the size of the earth. He assumed that the earth was a sphere and that the sun was far enough away from the earth that the light rays coming to it would be almost parallel. Then he found that at the sun was directly overhead on the summer solstice at noon at a town called Syene because a pole set in the ground cast no shadow. He also found that at noon of the same day at Alexandra, which was about 7 degrees or 4900 stadia (one stadia equals about 0.16 km) to the north, a vertical pole casts no shadow. He then used Euclidean geometry to calculate the circumference of the earth at about 252,000 stadia (40,320 km) which was close to today’s mean value of 40,030 km.

Aristarchus, born circa BC was a Greek astronomer who was the first to say that the earth revolves around the sun. The life and works of Aristarchus remain a mystery as many of his works have been lost, but in the later years, Archimedes took and improved his ideas.

Hipparchus, born circa 180 BC was also an astronomer; he was born in Nicaea he later discovered the precession of the equinoxes. He found from records of earlier observations that the stars had moved eastward. He explained this phenomenon by a slow westward motion of the equinoxes called the precession of the equinoxes. Hipparchus created the first star chart, which showed their brightness and position on a celestial sphere. He also distinguished between the different lengths of the solar and sidereal years. Based on his observations of the unequal length of the seasons, he drew up an improved description of the sun’s movement.

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