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Was Greece the Ideal Society?

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Was Greece the ideal society? It is an intriguing question, one that begs asking and answering. Let's examine some points:
  • The Greeks invented mathematics. Pythagoras, Euclid, and others invented a system of number manipulation that is the basis for all higher math today.
  • Greek scientists were the first to pursue science systematically. Aristotle, the father of modern science, believed that inductive reasoning was key to an understanding of science. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, based his work on observation. Thales developed the first two steps of the scientific method: collect information, then make a hypothesis about that information. Aristotle, studying later, completed the scientific method theory by stating the need to test a hypothesis. Thales also correctly predicted a solar eclipse. Aristarchus concluded that Earth revolves around the Sun. Hipparchus created a system of celestial mechanics to explain how the planets moved.
  • The Greeks fought each other for nearly their entire independent existence. From the first glimpses of Minoan and Mycenean civilizations, wartime strife was rampant. The victory over Persia was a brief respite from the continual infighting that defined the Greek existence. Athens, in all its cultural glory, fell the victim to its own hubris and was defeated in the Peleponnesian War. Sparta, the main victor in that war, itself fell to Thebes 30 years later. These constant wars served only to weaken the Greeks as a whole and make them ripe for takeover&emdash;first by Alexander and finally by Rome. The Greeks were proud but too proud.
  • Transportation was difficult at times and impossible at others. The valleys containing some city-states were surrounded by high mountains. The Greeks built relatively few roads or bridges. Transport of goods was done mainly by water. But harsh winters made water transportation risky and land transportation almost impossible. This served to further the individualism of the city-states.
  • In Athens especially but in other city-states as well laws were passed by the people, who were elected to their posts. In Athens, all government officials were chosen annually by drawing lots. If an official was unpopular, he could be banished for 10 years. Even in Sparta, which was ruled by one or two kings, the people formed an Assembly and Senate and followed a constitution of laws.


Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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