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An anonymous modern philosopher once said, "Nothing moves the world which is not Greek in origin."

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Introduction

An anonymous modern philosopher once said, "Nothing moves the world which is not Greek in origin." The influence of the Ancient Greeks upon the rest of the world is debatable. However, the question addressed here is not one of how the Greeks moved our modern world; instead, it is one about the forces that steered the Greek world. There were many different aspects of Greek life that formed their culture; however, the myths about Helen of Troy, and men and women from that period, were what most influenced Greek life. The first settlers in Ancient Greece were composed of two breeds of people: one was a group from the north, who are known as Indo-Europeans; the other were indigenous people, about whom historians know very little. These people settled in Peloponnesia, a land mass of good size to the south of mainland Greece; however, the most dense and enriched part of their culture was located on the island of Crete. These settlers, known to modern historians as Mycenaeans, were the founders of Ancient Greece.1 The Mycenaeans were the most powerful community in the Aegean after 1450 BC. Because the land on which they lived was not suitable for an agricultural lifestyle, the Mycenaeans depended on the Mediterranean - thus, they became a mostly naval community. ...read more.

Middle

Quite the same was true for women. The female characters in the myths were always beautiful, contained, and served their husbands faithfully. This standard set by the myths provided something for which both men and women could reach. Just as gods and goddesses were created in humans' image, (they possessed jealousy, envy, and vanity, among others) heroes and heroines were created to inspire humans to reach a higher level of being.7 The first hero depicted in Greek myths was Prometheus. He risked his own life to improve the life of others - thereby displaying generosity, bravery, kindness, and unselfishness. Any human man who heard this myth would have tried to attain those qualities. Hercules, another hero in early Greek myths, was described as the strongest man ever. His strength couldn't possibly be attained by any mortal human being, but simply hearing about Hercules' deeds made Mycenaean men want to become more like him.8 Even women had certain heroines that provided inspiration for them. While most of them were beautiful, meek, and self-contained, one woman who defied all of these traits was Antigone. She followed through with what she believed was morally correct. Antigone was beautiful, defiant, slightly fanatic and certainly eccentric. ...read more.

Conclusion

Fathers introduced their distorted place in society upon their sons, as mothers did with their daughters.11 The battles and everyday events which were translated into spoken word, which were then translated into written word, fueled many of the Greek stereotypes and pre-conceived notions about men and women. The Iliad in particular propelled the social and moral expectations of the Mycenaeans. And although he lived many years later, Oscar Wilde summarized the Ancient Grecian culture: "All that I desire to point out is the general principle that Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life." The Mycenaean's culture and everyday life imitated their myths and embroidered stories, which were their most influential and beautiful art form. 1 Robinson, CE. Hellas: A Short History of Ancient Greece. Pgs. 13 - 15. 2 Ibid, pg. 16. 3 Ibid, pg. 16 4 World Book Encyclopedia, Millennium Edition. Pg. 567. 5 The Historians' History of the World, Volume III - Greece to the Peloponnesian War. Pgs. 66 - 68. 6 Ibid. Pgs. 66 - 68. 7 Mahaffy, JP. Social Life in Greece. Pgs. 16 - 17. 8 Grant, Michael. The Rise of the Greeks. Pgs. 56 -58. 9 Ibid. Pgs. 56 - 58. 10 Fleishman, Paul. Dateline: Troy. Pgs. 1 - 26. 11 Mahaffy, JP. Social Life in Greece, Pgs. 10 - 75. ...read more.

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