Ancient Greek was the language of Homer and of fifth-century Athenian historians, playwrights, and philosophers. It has contributed many words to English vocabulary and has been a standard subject of study in educational institutions of the Western world since the Renaissance.
Ancient Greek was a pluricentric language, divided into many dialects. The main dialect groups are Attic and Ionic, Aeolic, Arcadocypriot, and Doric, many of them with several subdivisions. Some dialects are found in standardized literary forms used in literature, while others are attested only in inscriptions.
Ancient Greek civilization was the period following Mycenaean civilization, which ended about 1200 BCE, to the death of Alexander the Great, in 323 BCE. It was a period of political, philosophical, artistic, and scientific achievements that formed a legacy with unparalleled influence on Western civilization.
Ancient Greece was a northeastern Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12thâ9th centuries BC to the end of classical antiquity ( c. 600 AD ), that comprised a loose collection of culturally and linguistically related city-states and other territories. The most prominent city-states were Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Corinth, and Delphi.
Ancient Greeks developed a rich and diverse culture that included mythology, religion, philosophy, literature, art, architecture, science, mathematics, medicine, warfare, sports, and democracy. They also explored and colonized other regions of the Mediterranean and beyond.
Ancient Greek culture is widely recognized as one of the foundations of Western civilization and an enduring source of inspiration for modern thinkers and artists.
One of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek civilization was the polis, or city-state. A polis was a self-governing community of citizens that had its own laws, customs, institutions, and army. The citizens of a polis were usually related by blood, kinship, or religion, and shared a common identity and loyalty. The polis was also the center of cultural and social life, where citizens participated in public festivals, religious ceremonies, athletic competitions, and political debates.
The most famous polis in ancient Greece was Athens, which became a leading cultural and intellectual center in the 5th century BCE. Athens was the birthplace of democracy, which gave political power to the male citizens through assemblies and councils. Athens was also renowned for its achievements in philosophy, literature, drama, art, and architecture. Some of the most influential figures of ancient Greek culture, such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Euripides, and Pericles, were Athenians.
Another prominent polis in ancient Greece was Sparta, which was known for its militaristic and austere way of life. Sparta was ruled by two kings and a council of elders, who valued discipline, courage, and obedience above all. Sparta had a rigid social structure that divided the population into three classes: the Spartiates, who were full citizens and soldiers; the Perioeci, who were free but had no political rights; and the Helots, who were enslaved peasants. Sparta was famous for its army, which was trained from childhood to be loyal and fearless warriors.