Among the several dictionary definitions of culture, the one that best expresses the word’suse in this annual survey of books on the Bible involves the beliefs, attitudes, goals, socialforms and material traits of a group or a people. In some ways, ancient culture and modernculture are alike.
Any culture is a system of learned and shared meanings. People learn andshare things over the course of generations, and so we say they are a culture. Ancient andmodern culture function similarly because both are ways of thinking, ways of relating topeople and to the universe.History has no natural divisions. A woman living in Florence in the 15th century did notthink of herself as a woman of the Renaissance. Historians divide history into large andsmall units in order to make characteristics and changes clear to themselves and to students.
It’s important to remember that any historical period is a construction and a simplification.All ancient civilisations have contributed in some way to the development of modernsociety. The Ancient Greece culture has made many contributions to western civilization.Ancient Greece is not just ancient history. The legacy of this classical culture has had asignificant influence on culture today, from athletic spectacles such as the Olympics to thestorytelling structure of Hollywood films. Even if someone has never read a single scrollby Plato or Aristotle, they have most likely encountered one of the many ways that ancientGreece remains a presence in contemporary life.Olympics and International SportsEvery four years in ancient Greece, rival city-states entered into a formal armistice, settingaside political intrigue, legal disputes and weapons of war to send their best athletes to theOlympic Games.
Although the original tradition of the Olympics died out in the 5th centuryA.D., the ideal of a sports competition that would bring nations together inspired the revivalof the Olympic Games in 1896.MythologyThe pagan religion of the ancient Greeks may no longer be the established faith of theAegean peninsula, but references to the legends of its gods and heroes continue to pervadeour own culture. Common expressions such as “Pandora’s box,” “harpy” and “Herculean”are among the many modern-day references to ancient Greek mythology. Its influence canalso be detected in a more oblique way; for instance, a number of commentators haveobserved that modern comic book superheroes bear the stamp of Greek myth. The Greekperiod lasted for around 1300 years, yet with their extreme leaps and bounds in technologyand innovation, their mark lasted long after that. There are many words and phrases thatwe can credit to Greek gods, goddesses, and the world of Greek mythology.
Here are a fewexamples.1Atlas: Atlas was a Titan who lead the titan battle against the Olympic gods. When theTitans were defeated, Atlas was condemned to a separate corner of the Underworld, where he was forced to carry the entire sky on his shoulders, to prevent it from falling.
Today, theword ‘atlas’ refers to a book filled with maps.2Narcissus: Narcissus was a renowned hunter who was known for his extreme skill anddashing good looks. The problem was that he was all too aware of his charm and beauty,and he thought himself above anyone who attempted to reach out to him. Nemesis, the godof divine retribution, decided that he had to be punished, and condemned him to find noother love than his own reflection in a pool of water.
The word narcissism is derived fromhis name, meaning to be vain and vapid.3Chaos; in Greek mythology, chaos is the empty, profound and unfathomable black voidat the beginning of time, in which everything sprang from. It now refers to anything thatcan be known as a combination of mayhem and confusion.4Nike: Nike was the Greek goddess of victory, and was known for how fast she couldmove. Her name can be found using to sell one of the most famous lines of sport wear.5Pandora: Pandora was in Greek mythology the first woman on Earth.
She was given avase when she entered Earth, and instructed not to open it. She did however end up openingthe vase (often referred to as Pandora’s Box) and unleashed upon the world was everyailment we now know today. She is used to sell women’s jewelery.6Midas: Midas was a mythical king who was given the power to turn everything hetouched into gold by Dionysus, yet he soon realized that this would bring upon him his owndeath, as he couldn’t eat.
He is associated with a mechanic chain. Grecian architecture hada large influence on the buildings of today. The most common thing we take from Greekarchitecture would be pillars, or columns. They can be found in ancient greek buildings likethe Parthenon, and modern buildings like the White House.Dramatic StructureIn his “Poetics,” the 4th-century B.
C. philosopher Aristotle observed that plays in the genreof tragedy tended to follow a recurring pattern: the story has a beginning, middle and end,with more complex plots involving some form of reversal, crisis and resolution. Aristotle’sbreakdown of ancient Greek tragedy has provided a ready-made template for contemporaryscreenwriters, not to mention screenwriting instructors.FashionThe hallmark of ancient Greek fashion was elaborate draping, and images of Greek stylesabound in statuary and images painted on painted on pottery.
As the “Berg Encyclopediaof World Dress and Fashion” notes, revolutionary Parisian fashion designers such as PaulPoiret and Madeleine Vionnet pioneered contemporary style with neoclassical creations,some of which even were given Greek names. Designers continue to draw inspiration fromancient Greek clothing even today, most notably in the popular style known as the goddessgown.DemocracyOf all of the contributions of ancient Greece to modern culture, arguably the greatest isdemocracy, which is itself a Greek word literally meaning “people power.” The democratictradition in city-states such as Athens embodied the ideals of legal equality, personalfreedom and governance by the people. These principles have been influential around theglobe, shaping political institutions, revolutionary movements and, as Alexis deTocqueville famously observed regarding the U.S., even the spirit of society itself.
For at least 10,000 years, humans have inhabited nearly every corner of the Earth—onlyAntarctica was free of human settlement. Human populations adapted to deserts, mountains,jungles, river valleys, and treeless plains, and in the process these groups created distinctivecultures. Each group used their knowledge of their environment and their ability to usetools to make shelters, gather or raise food, and find or manipulate water to suit their needs.The isolation of these groups meant that strategies for survival varied from place to place,but similar ideas developed in completely isolated cultures. This was the case with thedomestication of plants. Agriculture revolutionized human societies in Central America ,Asia, and the Middle East.
Villages developed around the first small farms, and a way oflife rooted firmly in one place replaced the nomadic existence of hunters and gatherers inthe first farming areas. Cities, governments, and class systems developed. In short,civilization, as we know it, began.The unique character of these civilizations remained even though material goods and ideaswere shared through trade networks linking Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.Similar networks were found in the New World (Western Hemisphere), but changesaffected by this diffusion process were relatively slight and slow.Through increased travel, the world became linked together, and the interchange of ideas,foods and resources, and material goods increased dramatically. The late 20th century,however, saw the pace of change accelerate to a degree never before imaginable. Journeysthat once took months now take only a few hours, thanks to modern air travel.
Satellitecommunications and the Internet enable messages to whiz around the world in fractions ofa second. International capitalism and trade now tie the economies of the world together innumerous ways. No longer are the world’s cultures isolated.Increasingly, peoples of the world are sharing many of the same ideas and values. Thereare advantages to this, such as the possibility of an increased standard of living for manypeople in the world, or the prospect of peace and increased human rights, but thisglobalization is also a threat to the traditional values and beliefs of many cultures. Fear ofglobalization is behind everything from trade disputes to international terrorism.
The 21stcentury may well be focused on learning to live with the challenges and benefits of aninterconnected world.