The 20 important people in Ancient Greece
“There is not any people in the world who has contributed so much to mankind as the Greek has been so much fought by so many peoples who did not offer anything to it.” (Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche said)
Ancient Greeks… Ancient Greece… A different people… Mysterious people full of historical upheavals, victories and defeats… Ancient Greeks were people full of bravery, ethos and heroism, who left the mark of their rich history and wonderful culture around the world. Ancient Greeks marked the history of mankind and still have a huge impact on it. Ancient Greeks were brave individuals who, despite the difficulties of life, managed to stand out and be remembered in people’s memories over time.
Ancient Greeks were associated with the start of the first Olympic Games that still inspire and unite people across borders. Ancient Greeks are associated with literature, mathematics, democracy… Ancient Greece is still associated with philosophy, music and fine arts.
Ancient Greeks have become an inspirational model and an example to others. There is a powerful influence on future generations and they have become a reference point for them. They contributed greatly to the evolution of other people and cities. Ancient Greeks are more than ordinary people. Ancient Greece is more than a nation that, despite its small geographical area, has been one of the greatest influences on the peoples of the world. These people are wonderful people, great personalities…
“Break down all Greece in depth 100 meters… Break down everything Greek from around the globe… You can say “it cannot happen”… Well, You Can’t… because after that you will not be able to foothold even one sentence!
Greece cannot be extinguished…the Greeks (Hellenes) , their offer on this planet… The challenge, however, still stands…The last word of humanity, when she’ll leave her last breath, will be HELLAS!” – Jean Rispen (French poet and theatrical writer)
It goes without saying that we should make a reference of 20 of the most significant figures, the most prominent people to know about in Ancient Greece who were a role model and made us understand the notion of education, the concept of unity, the concept of love and freedom.
“For the Greeks, values existed a priori and marked out the exact limits of every action. Modern philosophy places its values at the completion of action. They are not, but they become, and we shall know them completely only at the end of history. When they disappear, limits vanish as well, and since ideas differ as to what these values will be, since there is no struggle which, unhindered by these same values, does not extend indefinitely, we are now witnessing the Messianic forces confronting one another, their clamors merging in the shock of empires. Excess is a fire, according to Heraclitus. The fire is gaining ground; Nietzsche has been overtaken. It is no longer with hammer blows but with cannon shots that Europe philosophizes.” – Albert Camus
According to a recent research conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), there was a ranking of the analytical data on the history and culture of peoples around the world. According to the findings of this research, Ancient Greek figures occupy the first places in this ranking. Listed below are the top 20 most significant personalities of Ancient Greece:
Alexander the Great (356 BC – 323 BC)
“I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.”
- Alexander III of Macedon, commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia; he led the Pan-Hellenic alliance against the Persians and he was crowned Pharaoh of Egypt and King of Asia and Northwestern India.
- He had great abilities as a military leader and politician.
- He was educated by the great philosopher Aristotle.
- He conducted military campaigns to the East
“There is nothing impossible to him who will try.”
Homer (800-750 BC)
“One omen is best; defending the fatherland.”
- Ancient poet;
- The legendary author of Iliad and Odyssey (“Homeric Poems”);
- He traveled around the Greek cities, reciting his poems;
- Homer wrote other epic poems related to the Trojan War.
“The difficulty is not so great to die for a friend, as to find a friend worth dying for.”
Socrates (470 MC/469 – 399 BC)
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
- He is considered the father of western philosophy;
- He was the personality between the philosophers before and after Socrates;
- Socrates was Plato’s mentor, and teacher;
- Socrates changed how philosophy itself was to be conceived;
- Socrates had a lot of listeners;
- Socrates did not have a systematic teaching;
- Socrates used a teaching method called known as maieutics, method of elenchus, elenctic method, or Socratic debate, a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions;
- Socrates used to socialize with people from different social classes;
- Socrates did not accept any payment for his teaching;
- Socrates believed in self-knowledge;
- Socrates believed that knowledge is virtue;
- Socrates believed that a continuous journey of self–improvement was essential for every person and this concept prevailed in his method of teaching.
Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)
“Man is the only animal capable of reasoning, though many others possess the faculty of memory and instruction in common with him.”
- He was a philosopher and a scientist;
- He was a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great;
- His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology, zoology, etc;
- Aristotle was the first person to study biology systematically; he was the father of biology,
- His philosophy is called Aristotelian Philosophy or
“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice, he is the worst.”
Plato (427 BC – 347 BC)
“You cannot ask for something you don’t know.”
- He was the student of Socrates;
- He was a philosopher;
- He was the teacher of Aristotle;
- He had a massive influence on the ancient Greek philosophy;
- Plato wrote about the life and death of Socrates (The Apology of Socrates);
- His works are in the form of dialogues, where several characters argue a topic by asking questions of each other. This form allows Plato to raise various points of view and let the reader decide which is valid.
Pericles (495-429 BC)
“Thinking is the talking of the soul with itself”
- Pericles was a prominent and influential Greek statesman, orator and general of Athens during the Golden Age;
- Pericles was a dominant figure during the period between the Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War.
Hippocrates (460 BC – 377 BC.)
“Hippocrates: There is no big difference between philosophy and medicine”
- A Greek physician of the Age of Pericles and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine;
- He was regarded as the greatest physician of his time and the father of modern medicine;;
- He became known as the founder of Hippocratic Medical School at Cos;
- He was the founder of rational medicine which is based on observation of clinical signs and rational conclusions, without being influenced by any superstitions.
“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.”
Solon (640 BC – 558 BC)
- Solon was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet;
- Solon traveled to many countries, studying foreign cultures and laws, that helped him to contribute in the economic recovery of his homeland;
- He wrote poetry for pleasure, as patriotic propaganda and in defence of his constitutional reforms (political elegies).
“No one can be said to be happy until he is dead”.
Archimedes (287 BC – 212 BC)
“Give me somewhere to stand, and I will move the earth.”
- Archimedes of Syracuse was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer of Classical Antiquity;
- He is most famous for discovering the law of hydrostatics, sometimes known as ‘Archimedes’ principle’, stating that a body immersed in fluid loses weight equal to the weight of the amount of fluid it displaces. Archimedes is supposed to have made this discovery when stepping into his bath, causing him to exclaim ‘Eureka!’; he studied on statics and the law of the levier, the method of exhaustion and he created an algorithm for calculating the number “π” (one of the fundamental constants of mathematics;
- The origin of the screw propeller starts with Archimedes, who used a screw to lift water for irrigation and bailing boats, so famously that it became known as Archimedes’ screw. It was probably an application of spiral movement in space (spirals were a special study of Archimedes) to a hollow segmented water-wheel used for irrigation by Egyptians for centuries.
“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.”
C.P. Cavafis (1863- 1933)
- He was one of the most important contemporary Greek poets;
- He wrote historical, erotic and philosophical poems.
“When you set sail for Ithaca, wish for the road to be long, full of adventures, full of knowledge…”
Kazantzakis (1883 –1957)
- Kazantzakis was a writer, journalist, statesman, musician, poet and philosopher;
- Kazantzakis was not always liked by the public;
- Kazantzakis has produced lyric poetry, philosophic essays, travel books, tragedies, and modern Greek translations of such classics as Dante’s Divine Comedy and Goethe’s Faust; he has also produced historic books, school books, books for children, novels for children, vocabularies, articles, travel journals and several reviews.
“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free…”
Sophocles (496 BC- 406 BC)
“No one can take an oath for anything and the second opinion disproves the first one.”
- Sophocles was an ancient Greek tragedian;
- He was Sophocles the most celebrated playwright in the dramatic competitions;
- The most famous tragedies of Sophocles feature Oedipus, Antigone and Electra;
- Throughout all of Sophocles plays, he shows the fight of the individual against the will of the gods.
“Despair often breeds disease…”
Euripides (480 BC – 406 BC)
“If I had succeeded in life, they would surely place me among the wise men, for all who succeeded call them wise men.”
- Euripides was a tragedian of classical Athens;
- He was one of the three ancient Greek tragedians of Classical Athens for whom a significant number of plays have survived;
- Euripides composed tragedies and tetralogies;
- He took part in in the dramatic competitions.
“Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.”
Aristophanes (445 BC – 386 BC)
“Death is the only power that despises gifts.”
- Aristophanes is the greatest representative of ancient Greek comedy in the city-state of Athens;
- His work was characterized by bold fantasy, merciless invective and outrageous satire, unabashedly licentious humour, and a marked freedom of political criticism;
- Among his surviving plays are: “the Acharnanians”, the Clouds”, “the Wasps”, “Peace”, “the Birds”, “Lysistrata”, etc.
“Wise people, even though all laws were abolished, would still lead the same life.”
Pythagoras (580 BC – 496 BC)
“The art of living a happy life is in living in the present.”
- Greek philosopher and mathematician;
- He formulated the Phythagorian Theorem (geometry);
- He considered the numbers as the essence of the universe (Number is the ruler of forms and ideas, and the cause of gods and daemons)
- He was the founder of the “Pythagorean School”;
- He regarded the planets as celestial beings… he believed that planets were deities;
- He believed that Earth rotates around its axis and around the Sun;
- He invented the diatonic climax, in music.
“Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life.”
Thucydides (460 BC – 399 BC)
“The first task of the historian is to seek the truth with persistence and perseverance.”
- Thucydides was an Athenian historian and general;
- He wrote the History of the Peloponnesian War;
- Thucydides wrote an account about events that took place up to the Peloponnesian War.
“The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage.”
Empedocles (495 BC – 435 BC)
- Empedocles was a Greek pre-Socratic philosopher and a citizen of Akragas, a Greek city in Sicily.
- He was physicist, engineer, inventor, physician, shaman, musician and poet.
- Empedocles believed the world to be made up of the four primary elements: earth, water, wind and fire which are interrelated.
- He believed everything in the universe was made of four elements, including living organisms. He also believed all matter, whether alive or not, was conscious.
- Rather mystically, he believed matter was held together by a fundamental force of the universe he described as Love and pushed apart by another force – Strife.
- Empedocles also speculated on the nature of human physiology. He believed that blood represented the most perfect intermingling of the four natural elements and that the heart was the center of the blood-vessel system. He therefore believed that the heart was the seat of life itself.
- In the area of astronomy, he knew that the moon shines by reflected light and thought that this is also true of the sun. He said that light takes time to travel, but so little time that, we cannot observe it. He knew that solar eclipses are caused by the interposition of the moon.
- He explained cosmic nature, the functions of the human body, and the activities of the soul as the result of the conflicting forces.
- He studied the reflection of the light and the nature of shadows.
“Nothing new comes or can come into being; the only change that can occur is a change in the arrangement of the elements.”
Democritus (460 BC – 370 BC)
“The world is a stage, life a passage. You came, you saw, you left”
- He is a pre-Socratic philosopher.
- Democritus taught that objects are formed of atoms that interact among themselves mechanically, in various manners including collision, attraction, repulsion, and spiral whirling, the latter resulting in the formation of bodies.
- He formulated the concept of the Milky Way Galaxy and referred to the existence of distant stars.
- Democritus was among the first to propose that the universe contains many worlds, some of them inhabited.
“Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.”
Thales of Miletus (640 or 624 BC – 546 BC)
“There are three attributes for which I am grateful to Fortune: that I was born, first, human and not animal; second, man and not woman; and third, Greek and not barbarian.”
- He was the oldest philosopher.
- He was the first pre-Socratic Greek philosopher
- He was also a mathematician, a physician, an astronomer, an engineer and a meteorologist.
- He was from Miletus, in Asia Minor and he was called Thales of Miletus..
- He founded the Ionian School in Miletus.
- According to Bertrand Russell, he is considered to be the first philosopher of the Western Philosophy.
- He used science, logic, physical sciences and astrology in order to perceive the world, the universe and the physical phenomena.
- Thales is recognized for breaking from the use of mythology and religious beliefs to explain the world and the universe.
- He discovered that the Moon does not have its own light; he also discovered static electricity and magnetism.
- He was a pioneer of Geometry, by formulating theories that:
- any angle inscribed in a semicircle is a right angle. This is known as Thales’ Theorem;
- a circle is bisected by its diameter;
- if two straight lines intersect, the opposite angles formed are equal;
- angles at the base of any isosceles triangle are equal;
- If one triangle has two angles and one side equal to another triangle, the two triangles are equal in all respects (Criterion of congruent triangles).
- the angle inscribed inside a semicircle is a right angle
“The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.”
Twenty great people… Twenty names of personalities that are still remembered by people…. Twenty ancient Greek personalities, each one of them with its own particular features that provide hope and knowledge to mankind..
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